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City (pop., 2010 est.: city, 767,457; 2008 est., metro. area, 1,482,287), western Netherlands. It lies at the head of the IJsselmeer. It is the nominal capital of the Netherlands, whose seat of government is at The Hague. Originally a fishing village, it received its charter as a town in 1306. It joined the Hanseatic League in 1369 and grew steadily in the 14th and 15th centuries. After the decline of Antwerp at the end of the 16th century, Amsterdam became the source of growing Dutch commercial and naval power. It was the centre for the Dutch East India and West India companies and became the leading trade metropolis of Europe. It became part of the Kingdom of Holland, which entered the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. After suffering a partial decline in the 18th century, its prosperity increased when it became connected by canal to the North Sea in the late 19th century. It was occupied by Germany in World War II. After the war Amsterdam became known as a place of tolerance and liberalism. The city is now a major European port and a hub for international finance and trade.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Amsterdam, visit Britannica.com.