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Amsterdam Information

Amsterdam, Netherlands, began its life as a tiny, 12th century fishing village and over the years has grown and changed into a bustling city that in total encompasses more than 2 million people. Amsterdam, located in the North Holland province of the Netherlands, is the country's capital, and is also one of the top financial centers of the entire continent of Europe.

The area that is now Amsterdam was settled in the 1300s, when a bridge was built across the Amstel River and people who lived in the area were allowed to skip paying bridge tolls. The people were described in certificates from the era as "homines manentes apud Amestelledamme," and that name was shortened to just "Amsterdam" to describe the entire area before 1327.

Amsterdam became a city in or around 1300, and quickly began to grow and change. Trade was a major source of money and growth for the city, and its rapid population growth was attributed to its status as a very important place of pilgrimage following the Eucharistic miracle experienced there. The Netherlands became independent when the Dutch staged a rebellion against Spain and its rulers. The 80 Years' War resulted from the revolt, and ended with the Dutch people gaining independence from Spanish rule.

From there, Amsterdam became a center for religious tolerance; therefore, craftsmen and artisans from all around the world, of all different faiths and belief systems, began to flock there. This ushered in the Golden Age for Amsterdam in the 17th century, and led to its status as the world's wealthiest city for many years. Amsterdam remained a large economic force in Europe due to its location on the coast and its major presence as a base for trading.

Plague struck Amsterdam in the 1600s, and knocked out a huge chunk of its population on three separate occasions. In spite of this fact, the population of Amsterdam rose to 200,000 by the end of the 17th century. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established in the 1800s and began a second, prosperous Golden Age for Amsterdam.

Canal work during the Industrial Revolution increased Amsterdam's usefulness in many ways, and made it quite valuable as an asset during war time. Germany took control of the country through an invasion in 1940, and tens of thousands of Dutch Jews were imprisoned by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. The city fell on hard times at the end of World War II. It took time, but many of the neighborhoods that had been destroyed were rebuilt. A massive redesign and revitalization project was undertaken in the 20th century, including the start of a metro line, and the restoration of the city's entire central district. Today much of the city has been rebuilt to its original splendor, and business and commerce are once again on the rise.

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