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Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands, 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 the small river Rotte, which joins the Nieuwe Maas at the location of the city. Rotterdam was given cityrights on June 7, 1340 by Willem IV. As of January 1, 1999 the municipality had an area of 30424 hectares (20861 land) with a total population of 600,000.

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 by some accounts the largest harbour in the world, and 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.

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 has since the 1990s been a subject of political debate.

On May 14, 1940 Rotterdam was bombarded by the German Luftwaffe, on the last of five days of war in the Netherlands. 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 fifties through the seventies of the 20th century the city was rebuilt. It remained quite windy and open until the city councils from the eighties 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 nineties a new business center on the south bank of the river, the Kop van Zuid has been built.

Rotterdam is divided into 'Rotterdam-North' and ' Rotterdam-South' by the river Nieuwe Maas (for connections see that article). A former railway bridge, movable upward to let ships pass, is preserved as a monument, now permanently in upward position ("De Hef", picture (http://www.homepages.hetnet.nl/~ons_rotterdam/nl_special/lvh_dehef2.jpg)). Rotterdam South is on the island of IJsselmonde. Rotterdam has the second largest airport of the country, Rotterdam Airport (formerly known as Zestienhoven), which is located north of the city.

Rotterdam has one major university, the Erasmus University Rotterdam[?], named after one of its famous former inhabitants, Desiderius Erasmus.

Well known museums are the Boymans-van Beuningen (arts) Museum , the Historisch Museum, the Volkenkundig Museum (foreign peoples and cultures), 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[?], 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. The architect J. J. P. Oud[?] was a famous Rotterdammer in his days.

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.

Well-known streets in Rotterdam are the shopping center the Lijnbaan (the first one of the country with streets for pedestrians only, opened in 1953), the Coolsingel with the city hall, and the Weena, which runs from the Central Station to the Hofplein (square).

During the summer of 2003 there is an artificial beach at the Boompjeskade along the Nieuwe Maas, between the Erasmus Bridge and the Willems Bridge. Swimming is not possible, digging pits it limited to the height of the layer of sand, ca. 50 cm. Alternatively people go the beach of Hoek van Holland.

Public transport

  • Metro:
    • 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 third-rail, the vehicles can handle both.

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