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Amsterdam Netherlands History


Holland is known for its long history of struggle against the sea, constantly drowning the lowlands. Many parts of the country are situated below the sea level, and they entirely depend on the dams, encircling vast parts of coastline.  

Amsterdam was founded as a fishing village in late 12th century. The damming of the river Amstel gave the city its name. The traditional founding of the city is 27 October 1275, when the inhabitants of the settlement were granted freedom from paying  the tolls associated with locks and bridges of Holland. It was given city rights in 1300. Since that time the city acquired great economic influence mainly for the trade with Hanseatic League. In 16th century the city rebelled against Philip II of Spain and his successors. The insurgence resulted in Eighty Years' War, which led to Dutch independence.

The state was one of the first to manifest relative religious tolerance. Jewish merchants and French Huguenots sought refuge from persecutions. After the break with Spain the state largely converted to Protestant Calvinism, in 1578 the previously Catholic Amsterdam established protestant worship.

The city became one of the wealthiest in the world, major revenues coming from sea trade, including various destinations in Baltic Sea, North America, Africa, Indonesia, Brazil. Amsterdam merchants held shares of overseas possession, later forming the base of Dutch colonialism. Amsterdam stock exchange was the first to trade continuously.

In 18th and 19th centuries the city declined in prosperity due to wars with England and France. Industrial Revolution in the end of 19th century revived its economic influence, waterways to the North Sea and river Rhine improved the old trade routes, but the city never reached previous level. New developments were started, promoting the growth of modern districts. The museums, train station, concert halls were constructed. In 1924 it hosted International Eucharistic Congress, one of major Catholic Church events.

Netherlands were invaded by Germany on 10 May 1940, after five days of fighting. The city did not suffer from bombardments, but continuous occupational regime resulted in severe famine in the last months of the war. Almost all Jewish community was wiped out. After the war the city recovered quickly, gaining the notoriety as a centre of hippie movement. The clashes with the police reached the peak in 1980, when one of them occurred during the coronation of Queen Beatrix. Nowadays the city is much more peaceful, and more famous for nightlife, entertainment and shopping, though it retained tolerance to the use of soft drugs and certain social issues.  

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