Facts about Amsterdam and the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a small, densely populated country located in Western Europe with three island territories in the Caribbean. Amsterdam is the country’s capital, while The Hague holds the Dutch seat of government and parliament. The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and was the world’s largest port between 1962 and 2004. The name Holland is also frequently and incorrectly used to refer informally to the whole of the country of the Netherlands.
“Netherlands” literally means “lower countries”, influenced by its low land and at geography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding one metre above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are man-made. Since the late 16th Century, large areas (polders) have been reclaimed from the sea and lakes, amounting to nearly 17% of the country’s current land mass.
The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, after the United States. This is partly due to the fertility of the soil and the mild climate. The Netherlands was the third country in the world to have an elected parliament, and since 1848 it has been governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, organised as a unitary state. The Netherlands has a long history of social tolerance and is generally regarded as a liberal country, having legalised abortion, prostitution and euthanasia, while maintaining a progressive drugs policy. In 2001, it became the world’s first country to legalise same-sex marriage.
The Netherlands is also a part of the Schengen Area. The Netherlands has a market-based mixed economy. In 2013, the United Nations World Happiness Report ranked the Netherlands as the seventh-happiest country in the world, reflecting its high quality of life.
When people think of the Netherlands, many of them think of tulips and windmills but the country has much more to offer.
Amsterdam was founded in the middle Ages near a dam on the River Amstel. The city truly blossomed in the early 17th Century, when it became the world’s largest centre for art and trade. The historic heart of the city, known as the “Grachtengordel” (canal ring), has remained beautifully intact to this day.
Today, with two leading universities and several laboratories, Amsterdam is now firmly on the world map as a knowledge centre. The city attracts many prominent academics as well as those involved in innovative science and research.
Amsterdam is a historic city with a modern outlook that meshes business growth with sustainable initiatives. The city is regarded as one of the top 10 most important commercial centres in the world.
Amsterdam has been a centre of creativity and culture for centuries. The famous Rijksmuseum features works by 17th Century Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. The Van Gogh Museum houses some of the eponymous artist’s greatest works. Other heritage treasures include the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt House and the baroque Royal Palace on Dam Square. Even frequent visitors will always find something new to appreciate!
Amsterdam is a vibrant, dynamic city in which people feel free - free to be who they area, and to write or say what they want. The city is famous for its tolerance. This has been expressed since the 17th Century through the city’s wide diversity of people, businesses and events. With 180 different cultures, Amsterdam is one of the most diverse cities in the world.
A recent report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that Amsterdam is among the safest cities in the world, ranking fifth on the global index and second in Europe. Amsterdam is therefore a place in which international EULAR delegates will be able to move freely and safely.
Just 15 minutes from the centre of Amsterdam, the villages of Marken and Volendam offer an unrivalled collection of authentic Dutch houses and windmills.
Free things to do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam - 10 top quick tips
Good to know
The Dutch currency is Euro (1 Euro = 100 cents).
Major Credit Cards (Visa, American Express, Eurocard/Mastercard, Diners Club) are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops.
Amsterdam is as its best from May (when the tulips are out) to August (when the days are the longest). The climate is moderate maritime, with warm summers and cool winters, and typically high humidity - you always have a chance of seeing rain in Amsterdam!
Insurance and liability
It is recommended that participants obtain adequate cover for travel, health and accident insurance before they depart from their respective country. EULAR and MCI as organisers cannot accept responsibility for personal injuries, or loss of, or damage to, private property that belongs to congress participants.
The electricity power supply in Amsterdam is 220 Volt with a European standard plug.
The official language in the Netherlands is Dutch, however nearly everybody speaks English.
Amsterdam’s specialist stores make shopping in the city an unique experience. Amsterdam’s best shops are in charming canal houses on cobblestoned streets. This village-like atmosphere makes shopping a delight.
Locals in Amsterdam usually tip when they have received a good service. In general, people tend to tip 10% in restaurants (however restaurants do not charge extra on the bill). Tipping taxicab drivers and hotel personnel is also customary in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands follow Central European Time (CET) which is GMT +1 hour in winter and GMT + 2 in summer.
You may need a Schengen visa to stay in the Netherlands for a period of maximum 90 days in any 180-days period (short stay visa). Whether you need a Schengen visa or not depends on your nationality. An application for a Schengen visa must be submitted to the consulate at least 15 working days before the intended visit.
You do NOT need a visa for Netherlands if you are :
- a citizen of any EU country/Schengen country
- from a country listed on the Foreign Ministry list
Read the list here
- and not staying more than 90 days
In this case, a passport or ID Card valid for the duration of your stay is sufficient.
For more detailed information, please visit this page.
If you should need a visa, please apply early enough to allow sufficient handling time for the authorities. You may ask the EULAR Organising Secretariat for an official letter of invitation (proof of registration required).
The official Amsterdam tourist site
- The Netherlands Government website
- Amsterdam city map as PDF
- Virtual Amsterdam tour
- Top 10 free things to do in Amsterdam
- Cycling in Amsterdam
- Museums in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam apps
- Walking tours in Amsterdam
- The 15 Best Cozy Places in Amsterdam
- Cheap eats in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam secret places
- Best jazz bars in Amsterdam
- Upcoming classical music concerts in Amsterdam