Rotterdam is a city in South Holland, the Netherlands, located geographically within the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt river delta at the North Sea. Its history goes back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the Rotte river and people settled around it for safety. In 1340 Rotterdam was granted city rights by the Count of Holland and slowly grew into a major logistic and economic centre. Nowadays it is home to Europe’s largest port and has a population of 624,799 (2014, city proper), ranking second in the Netherlands. The Greater Rijnmond area is home to approximately 1.4 million people and the Rotterdam The Hague urban area makes for the 168th most populous urban area in the world. Rotterdam is part of the yet larger Randstad conurbation with a total population of 7,100,000. The city of Rotterdam is known for the Erasmus university, riverside setting, lively cultural life and its maritime heritage. The near-complete destruction of Rotterdam’s city centre during World War II (known as the Rotterdam Blitz) has resulted in a varied architectural landscape including sky-scrapers, which are an uncommon sight in other Dutch cities. Rotterdam is home to some world-famous architecture from renowned architects like Rem Koolhaas, Piet Blom, Ben van Berkel and others. Recently Rotterdam was listed 8th in The Rough Guide Top 10 Cities to Visit and was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.
The port of Rotterdam is the largest cargo port in Europe and the 10th largest in the world. Rotterdam’s logistic success is based on its strategic location on the North Sea, directly at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse) channel leading into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta. The rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt give waterway access into the heart of Western Europe, including the highly industrialized Ruhr region. The extensive distribution system including rail, roads and waterways have earned Rotterdam the nickname “Gateway to Europe”, and, conversely; “Gateway to the World” in Europe.