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(CC) Image: Geo Swan
Rotterdam, at the mouth of the Rhine River.

Rotterdam is the second largest city in The Netherlands by population size (584.046 inhabitants on January 1 2007). The city is situated in the province of Zuid-Holland (South Holland). The seaport of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe and is the third largest in the world. Rotterdam is situated on the banks of the river Nieuwe Maas ('New Meuse') in the delta formed by the river Rhine and the river Meuse. The name Rotterdam derives from a dam in the Rotte river. Rotterdam covers an area of 304.22 km² (97.78 km² of which is water). It is part of a larger metropolitan area called Rijnmond ('Mouth of the Rhine') with a total population of about 1.6 million.

Rotterdam lies in the southern part of an urban region named the "Randstad", (Border city) which is the region encircled by the cities Amsterdam, Almere, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amersfoort, Dordrecht, Hilversum, and Haarlem. This region is with 7.5 million inhabitants the sixth largest metropolitan area in Europe .

Through the years Rotterdam grew by annexation of the following formerly independent municipalities (in brackets the annexation date):

  • Delfshaven (January 30, 1886)
  • Charlois (February 28, 1895)
  • Kralingen (February 28, 1895)
  • Hoogvliet (May 1, 1934)
  • Pernis (May 1, 1934)
  • Hillegersberg (August 1, 1941)
  • IJsselmonde (August 1, 1941)
  • Overschie (August 1, 1941)
  • Schiebroek (August 1, 1941)

Rotterdam was the first city during the second world war that suffered aerial bombardment by the German Airforce. This occurred on 14 May 1940, four days after the German invasion of the Netherlands.

Rotterdam has a university called after Erasmus, who was born in this city. The university has faculties of Economics, Social Sciences, Law, Medicine, Philosophy, History and Arts.