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Rotterdam is a city in the Netherlands, located in South Holland, 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 by 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 633,471 (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 Metropolitan 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 eighth in The Rough Guide Top 10 Cities to Visit and fifth in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2016 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.
'Rotterdam' is divided into a northern and a southern part by the river Nieuwe Maas, connected by (from west to east): the Beneluxtunnel; the Maastunnel; the Erasmusbrug ('Erasmus Bridge'); a subway tunnel; the Willemsspoortunnel ('Willems railway tunnel'); the Willemsbrug ('Willems Bridge'); the Koninginnebrug ('Queen's Bridge'); and the Van Brienenoordbrug ('Van Brienenoord Bridge'). The former railway lift bridge De Hef ('the Lift') is preserved as a monument in lifted position between the Noordereiland ('North Island') and the south of Rotterdam.
The city centre is located on the northern bank of the Nieuwe Maas, although recent urban development has extended the centre to parts of southern Rotterdam known as De Kop van Zuid ('the Head of South', i.e. the northern part of southern Rotterdam). From its inland core, Rotterdam reaches the North Sea by a swathe of predominantly harbour area.
Built mostly behind dikes, large parts of the Rotterdam are below sea level. For instance, the Prins Alexander Polder in the northeast of Rotterdam extends 6 metres (20 ft) below sea level, or rather below Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP) or 'Amsterdam Ordnance Datum'. The lowest point in the Netherlands (6.76 metres (22.2 ft) below NAP) is situated just to the east of Rotterdam, in the municipality of Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel.
The Rotte river no longer joins the Nieuwe Maas directly. Since the early 1980s, when the construction of Rotterdam's second subway line interfered with the Rotte's course, its waters have been pumped through a pipe into the Nieuwe Maas via the Boerengat.
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