Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. The city, which had a population of 1.36 million (with suburbs) on 1 January 2008, comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the 6th-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of around 6.7 million.

Its name is derived from Amstel dam, indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel, where the Dam Square is today. 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.[8] In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded and many new neighborhoods and suburbs were formed.

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. 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, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many cannabis coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually, as of 2009.

Amsterdam figures
Population: 751,000
Country: The Netherlands
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1
Telephone area code: 020

Climate in the Netherlands
The warmest weather is from June to August, with temperatures between 21 - 26 degrees Celsius. There are rarely extreme temperatures. The air is relatively humid and fog is common in autumn and spring. There are stronger winds from October to March.

Money and currency
In Amsterdam, as well as in all the Netherlands and many other countries of European Community the accepted currency is Euro (EUR, €), no other currencies are commonly accepted, so you will have to change your dollars, sterling, yens, etc to Euros. Credit cards are widely accepted too, though in some small shops or hotels, there might an extra charge (2-6%) if you pay by a credit card, passport may be required. Generally, the most preferred payment method is Euro cash with the banknotes up to 50 Euro bill.

Dutch language
Dutch is the national language of Holland. However, English is spoken by everyone in Amsterdam. In addition, many Dutch people speak German and French. Dutch is the mother tongue of well over 21 million Dutch people and Flemish people (Dutch- speaking nationals of Belgium).

For more info on Amsterdam, visit the website http://www.amsterdam.info/

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