Amsterdam， seaport and principal city of the western Netherlands， in North Holland Province， near The Hague（海牙）。 Amsterdam is the country's constitutional capital； the real seat of government， however， is in The Hague. Amsterdam is divided by more than 80 km of canals into about 90 islands joined by about 400 bridges.
Amsterdam， chartered as a city in 1300， became a member of the Hanseatic League（汉萨同盟） in 1369. In the 17th century， after the successful conclusion of the Dutch wars for independence from Spain， Amsterdam became the chief commercial center of northern Europe. The city held this position until the late 18th century， when trade declined as a result of the silting（淤积；淤塞） of the Zuider Zee（须德海） and the British blockade before and during the Napoleonic Wars （1799-1815）。 In 1810 Napoleon incorporated the Netherlands into the French Empire. After his downfall（衰败，垮台） the Netherlands regained its independence and the seat of government was moved to The Hague. In the latter part of the 19th century， commercial activities revived with the opening of the North Sea and North Holland canals. During World War II （1939-1945）， Amsterdam was occupied by the German army for five years. The people suffered great hardship and the port was badly damaged， but it has since been rebuilt and improved.
Amsterdam is one of the most important commercial centers in Europe. The city is a major port linked to the North Sea and other European countries by a network of railways and canals， notably the North Sea Canal， which is navigable（适于航行的）by oceangoing（远洋航行的） vessels. Among leading industries in the city are shipbuilding， sugar refining， publishing， and the manufacture of heavy machinery， paper products， textiles and clothing， porcelain and glass， aircraft， automobiles， and chemicals. The city is also famous as a center for polishing and cutting diamonds and as the chief financial center of the Netherlands. A major European stock exchange is located in Amsterdam， as are the Bank of the Netherlands and several insurance firms.
Amsterdam has been an important center of European cultural life since the 17th century. The city is the site of the National Academy of Art， the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences， and the University of Amsterdam （1632）。 Its Rijksmuseum（阿姆斯特丹国立博物馆） contains one of the largest collections of Dutch and Flemish paintings in the world， and its Stedelijk Museum（市立现代美术馆） has an extensive collection of modern works.
The Van Gogh Museum（凡·高博物馆） includes about 800 works by 19th-century painter Vincent van Gogh（文森特 . 凡高）in its collection. Amsterdam is also noted as the home of the renowned 17th-century painter Rembrandt（伦布兰特）； his home is now a museum. The Concert-gebouw， completed in 1883， is the home of Amsterdam's renowned orchestra. The city has numerous examples of 16th- and 17th-century architecture， as well as two historic churches： Oude Kerk （Old Church）， built about 1300， and Nieuwe Kerk （New Church）， built in the 15th century. The royal palace， originally built in the 17th century as the town hall， stands on a large square in the center of the city.