A brief guide to the city of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the capital city of the
Netherlands, which you might know as the country of Holland. It is known throughout the world as one
of the greatest small cities in the world. It lies on the banks of river Amstel and IJ bay, which is also
Amsterdam's waterfront. From its canals to the world famous museums and historical sights, Amsterdam has long
been considered as one of the most romantic and wonderful cities in the whole continent of
One of the largest historical cities in
Established in the later 12th century as a small fishing village on the
banks of the Amstel River, Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centers in Europe. One of the focal point
of interest in this city is the Golden Age of Netherlands that dates largely from the
It was noted that at this time, a row of concentric, semi-circular canals were
built around the older city center, but this establishment still defines the city’s layout and appearance today.
Amsterdam now has fine houses and mansions that are situated along the canals. Most of these houses and mansions
are lived in, while others are now offices and public buildings.
The City Government
A busy street lane in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, as all Dutch municipalities, is governed by a mayor, his wethouders
(aldermen), and the municipal council. Nevertheless, the city is subdivided into fifteen stadsdelen (boroughs),
which is a system implemented in the 1980s to improve local governance. The establishment of this system is what
sets Amsterdam unique from other Dutch municipalities.
The stadsdelen are said to be responsible for a number of activities that
previously had been governed and managed by the central city. Fourteen of these have their respective council,
which is chosen by a popular election. Westerpoort, the fifteenth, covers the harbour of the city and has very few
inhabitants. It is also governed by the central municipal council.
Languages Spoken in
AmsterdamWhen it comes to language, many of the people in
Amsterdam are proud of the fact that just about everyone speaks English. Although many also speak German and
French, it is worth noting that in this capital city of Netherlands, it is a tradition that if you are
English speaking, then speak English, unless you speak Dutch too because you are more likely to offend than
do anyone a favor by trying out your French or German.
There is a common misconception in the language of Amsterdam; one of
those is that Dutch is very close to German. The truth is, they are not mutually intelligible: Dutch people have to
learn German at school, and in general they speak better English than German. However, Dutch and German are similar
in the same sort of way that French and Italian are similar.
In Amsterdam, the typical
weather ranges from a little around freezing in the depths of winter to typically pleasant sunny days of 20 to
25 degrees Celsius in the summer. There is also a little snow during the winter season. Furthermore, the spring and
autumn are pleasant in Amsterdam; however these seasons can be wet, with 100+ mm of rain per month.
Safety and Health in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a safe city, thus there is nothing really to fear from
walking in any part of the city. It has been noted that even in Amsterdam's red-light district around the Oude
Kerk, tourists are always spotted wandering around. However, as in any large cities in other parts of the world,
you should beware of pickpockets in Amsterdam. And, don’t try to photograph the women in the red-light district for
that would be risky. In terms of drinking water, the water from taps is perfectly drinkable.