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major center city north

Amsterdam (pop. 721,600), capital and largest city of the Netherlands, and one of Europe's great commercial, financial, and cultural centers. In the province of North Holland, it lies on the IJ and Amstel rivers, at the south end of Lake IJsselmeer. The city center is built on a series of concentric semicircular canals. Other canals link it to the Rhine River and the North Sea and make Amsterdam one of Europe's major ports. It is also a major rail center and has an international airport. Amsterdam is a diamond-cutting center and produces chemicals, machinery, bicycles, electronics, beer, and textiles. It has an important stock exchange, two universities, and about 50 museums, and is home to major collections of works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Amsterdam grew from a medieval fishing village, becoming a major city by the 17th century. Amsterdam was under German occupation 1940–45.

See also: Netherlands.

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