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Amsterdam

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Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of 24 August 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 780,152 within city limits, an urban population of 1,209,419 and a metropolitan population of 2,158,592. The city is in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. It comprises the northern part of the Randstad, one of the larger conurbations in Europe, with a population of approximately 7 million. Its name is derived from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th 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 the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were formed. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam, located in the heart of Amsterdam, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010. The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. In 2010, Amsterdam was ranked 13th globally on quality of living by Mercer, and previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2thinknow in the Innovation Cities Index 2009. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam Museum, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually. Contrary to wide spread rumours, Amsterdam's coffee shops will not be closing their doors to tourists any time soon. A controversial measure to introduce a "wietpas" (Dutch) or "weed-pass" is in the works; this pass would restrict coffee shop cannabis sales to residents of the Netherlands with a membership card only. The plan is widely unpopular and proponents face stiff opposition from figures such as Amsterdam's mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, and the Maastricht city council. Others have argued that the plan may indeed violate not only the constitution of the Netherlands but also that of the European Union. It is thus expected that the measure will fail before it is more closely considered. As of July 2011, it is safe to say that no "wietpas" will be implemented until 2015 - at the earliest.

Website: http://www.amsterdam.nl/

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