Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands (after Amsterdam), located in the province of South Holland. The city is situated on the banks of the Nieuwe Maas River. The name "Rotterdam" is derived from a dam in a small river, the Rotte, which joins the Nieuwe Maas at the location of the city.
As of January 1, 1999 the municipality had an area of 304.22 km² (206.44 km² land) with a total population of 598,923 (01-01-2004).
Apart from the center the municipality consists of the following towns, villages and townships: Charlois (including Heijplaat), Delfshaven, Feijenoord, Hillegersberg-Schiebroek, Hoek van Holland, Hoogvliet, IJsselmonde, Kralingen-Crooswijk, Noord, Overschie, Pernis, Prins Alexander, and the industrial and port areas Botlek, Eemhaven, Europoort, Maasvlakte, Spaanse Polder, Vondelingenplaat, Waalhaven.
Rotterdam has the third largest port in the world (after Singapore and Shanghai); it functions as an important transit point for goods transported between the European continent and other parts of the world: by ship, river barge, train and road. A faster, new cargo railway to Germany, the Betuweroute, has been under construction since 2000. The city is in constant struggle to maintain its prominent position as a world leader in container, petrol, and general cargo transhipment handlings. Large oil refineries are located west of the city along the Nieuwe Waterweg. The Maas provides excellent access to the hinterland.
Its harbour territory has been enlarged by the construction of the Europoort complex along the mouth of the Nieuwe Waterweg, and the Maasvlakte in the North Sea near Hoek van Holland. The lay-out of a second Maasvlakte was the subject of political debate since the 1990s; its construction has now been agreed and will be partly government-financed, as announced in a June 25 2004 press release (PDF, in Dutch) from the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.
History and recent developments
Rotterdam was given city rights on June 7, 1340 by Willem IV of Holland.
On May 14, 1940 Rotterdam was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, on the last of five days of war in the Netherlands (save Zeeland). The heart of the city was almost completely destroyed, which Ossip Zadkine later expressed strikingly with his statue Stad zonder hart (City without a heart). The statue is located near the Leuvehaven, not far from the Erasmusbrug in the north of the city. From the 1950s through the 1970s the city was rebuilt. It remained quite windy and open until the city councils from the 1980s on began developing an active architectural policy. Daring and new styles of apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities resulted in a more 'livable' city center with a new skyline. In the 1990s a new business center on the south bank of the river, the Kop van Zuid has been built.
Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and a number of smaller cities in the west of the country are expanding towards each other to the extent that the entire area is sometimes denoted as a single metropole known as Randstad.
With 55% of the inhabitants earning a low income, Rotterdam has its fair share of typical urban problems, such as dilapidated inner city areas.
1796: 53,200 inhabitants
Rotterdam is divided into 'Rotterdam-North' and ' Rotterdam-South' by the river Nieuwe Maas (for connections see that article). A former railway lift bridge "De Hef" is preserved as a monument, in lifted position. It connects the Noordereiland island with 'Rotterdam-South'.
Rotterdam has one major university, the Erasmus University Rotterdam , named after one of its famous former inhabitants, Desiderius Erasmus. Connected to the Erasmus University is the Rotterdam School of Management, a top ranked MBA school.
Well known museums are the Boijmans-van Beuningen (arts) Museum, the Historisch Museum, the Volkenkundig Museum (foreign peoples and cultures), the KunstHal (arthall), the Maritiem Museum and the Brandweermuseum (Fire brigade museum). The Euromast (Eurotower) has long been a major tourist attraction.
Rotterdam was the European Culture Capital of 2001. The city has its own orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra with its world famous musical director Valery Gergiev, a large congress and concert building De Doelen, plus many theatres (among which the new Luxor theatre) and movie theatres. The spacious Ahoy-complex in the south of the city is being used for pop concerts, exhibitions, tennis tournaments and other such activities. A big animal Zoo called "Blijdorp" is situated at the North side of Rotterdam , complete with a walkthrough sea aquarium called "Oceanium". The hard techno music style Gabber originated from Rotterdam. The architect J. J. P. Oud was a famous Rotterdammer in his days.
The city is home to the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts .
Rotterdam is currently going through somewhat of a renaissance, with some moderately successful urban renewal projects featuring ambitious architecture ('Manhattan on The Maas'), an increasingly sparkling nightlife, and a host of summer festivals celebrating the city's multicultural population and identity, such as the Caraibean-inspired 'Summer Carnival', the Dance Parade, the Metropolis popfestival and the World Port days. With the International Filmfestival in january, Potery International Festival in June, the Valery Gergiev Festival in September they make Rotterdam a real event city.
The self-image of the city is that of a no-nonsense workers' city. In that sense, there is a healthy competition with Amsterdam, which is often viewed as the 'cultural' capital of the Netherlands.
Rotterdam has the tallest building of the Netherlands, called Delftse Poort: 151 m. It houses Nationale Nederlanden insurance company, part of ING Group. , 
Rotterdam is the home of three professional football teams: Feyenoord, Sparta (Schiedam-Spangen) and Excelsior. The large Feyenoord stadium with its popular name De Kuip (The Tub) in the southeast of the city has hosted many international soccer games. Rotterdam has its own annual international marathon, which offers one of the fastest courses in the world. It is the home of Gabber music, a type of techno music with fast beats and samples.
Well-known streets in Rotterdam are the shopping center the Lijnbaan (the first set of pedestrian streets of the country, opened in 1953), the Coolsingel with the city hall, and the Weena, which runs from the Central Station to the Hofplein (square).
A modern shopping venue is de 'Beurstraverse', also informally called 'Koopgoot '. The Koopgoot crosses the Coolsingel at substreet level.
Commerce and Industry
Rotterdam is home to the Dutch half of Unilever.
Rotterdam has the largest Port of Europe. The Port of Rotterdam has a strong relationship with the Port of Sjang Hai, the only port in the world exceeding the port of Rotterdam in terms of containers and oil shipped.
The Erasmus University has a strong focus on research and education in management and economics. The University is located on the east side of the city and is surrounded by numerous multinational firms. On Brainpark I, Brainpark II, Brainpark III and 'Het Rivium' you can find offices from Deloitte, PWC, KPMG, CMG, Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola Company, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young etc. In the centre of the city you find the above mentioned Unilever offices, but also Robeco, Fortis (including Mees Pierson and Stad Rotterdam Verzekeringen) ABN AMRO, ING (Nationale Nederlanden) and the Rotterdam WTC.
- Erasmus Line: Rotterdam Central station - Albrandswaard (Rhoon, Poortugaal) - Hoogvliet - Spijkenisse
- Caland Line: two lines from the northeast of Rotterdam and one from Capelle aan den IJssel join; the combined line terminated in the west of Rotterdam, but on November 4, 2002, an extension was opened: the line now connects to the main railway network at Schiedam railway station, has a stop in Pernis and joins the Erasmus Line in Hoogvliet; trains on the Caland Line, like those on the Erasmus Line, terminate in Spijkenisse.
The eastern parts of the Caland Line have some level crossings (with priority), and could therefore be called light rail instead of underground; however, they are integrated in the system; these parts have overhead wires, while the rest has a third rail, the vehicles can handle both.
See also List of Rotterdam metro stations.
Rotterdam has the second largest airport of the country, Rotterdam Airport (formerly known as Zestienhoven), which is located north of the city.
During the summer of 2003 there was an artificial beach at the Boompjeskade along the Nieuwe Maas, between the Erasmus Bridge and the Willems Bridge. Swimming was not possible, digging pits was limited to the height of the layer of sand, ca. 50 cm. Alternatively people go the beach of Hoek van Holland.