the capital of the Netherlands, lies on the banks of two bodies of water,
the IJ bay and the Amstel river. |
Founded in the late 12th century as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel, it is now the largest city in the country and its financial and cultural centre. As of 2005, the population of the city proper is 742,951;
At this time, a series of concentric, semi-circular canals were built around the older city centre, which still defines its layout and appearance today. Many fine houses and mansions are situated along the canals; most are lived in, others are now offices, and some are public buildings.
Some of the narrow brick houses are gradually sinking because they are built on wooden piles to cope with the marshy subsoil.
Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, it is neither the capital of the province in which it is located, North Holland (which is Haarlem), nor the seat of government of the Netherlands (which is The Hague).