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Traveling to the Netherlands
Information for attendees travelling to the Netherlands can be found on the following pages:
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Netherlands is made up of twelve provinces in Europe and three islands in the Caribbean. Amsterdam is the capital, and most populous city, though the seat of government is The Hague. In its entirety, The Netherlands is often referred to as “Holland.” The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, with the King as the head of state in a parliamentary democracy. King Willem-Alexander, head of state since April 2013, along with the ministers, make up the Dutch government. The Dutch Royal House is the House of Orange-Nassau, which dates back to William of Orange (1533-1584). This is the reason that the color orange features prominently in the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, though the majority of Amsterdam’s residents speak English and are often fluent in multiple languages.
Amsterdam’s name derives from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city’s origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 13th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading center for finance and diamonds. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company, the first multinational company in the world, was founded, in which the city of Amsterdam had a majority share. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were planned and built.
A widely recognized symbol of Dutch heritage, the first clog appeared 850 years ago. In fact, the oldest wooden shoe known was found in the Nieuwendijk in Amsterdam. Wooden shoes were made in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on who would wear them. While you may not see many people wearing clogs in Amsterdam, they are still popular among those working in agriculture.
Today, with a population of 2,349,870 in the greater metropolitan area, Amsterdam is the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centers in Europe. Many large Dutch institutions are headquartered there, and seven of the world’s top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands with a rich legacy of Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, and Jan Steen from the Dutch Golden Age. The 17th-century canals and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city center. Amsterdam’s main attractions, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam Museum, its historic canals, draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually.