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The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam and the 19–20th century Defence Line of Amsterdam are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (Ga WC) study group.indicative of the city's origin around a dam in the river Amstel.Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century), a result of its innovative developments in trade.There, perhaps more than anywhere else in the country, the Dutch tradition of social tolerance is readily encountered.Prostitution, “soft-drug” (This relative independence of outlook was evident as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Dutch rejected monarchical controls and took a relatively enlightened view of other cultures, especially when they brought wealth and capital to the country’s trading centres.In that period Dutch merchant ships sailed the world and helped lay the foundations of a great trading country characterized by a vigorous spirit of enterprise.In later centuries, the Netherlands continued to have one of the most advanced economies in the world, despite the country’s modest size.

Estimates suggest that less than 400,000 people speak Frisian, so far more Dutch people speak English.

, the result of a process of careful water management dating back to medieval times.

Along the coasts, land was reclaimed from the sea, and, in the interior, lakes and marshes were drained, especially alongside the many rivers.

The city is also the cultural capital of the Netherlands.

Famous Amsterdam residents include the diarist Anne Frank, artists Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

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