By Anton Constantinou
Did you know there are more women than men in Amsterdam? Are you also aware that the Dutch capital has more than 150 kilometres of canals? For a city with so much to offer, Amsterdam certainly isn’t short of a fun fact or two. Here are ten of the most interesting facts about Amsterdam we’ve come across:
- Its houses have historically been built on wooden poles
Given Amsterdam’s unstable soil, builders were forced to drill metres deep to stop properties from sinking. Lengthy periods of dry weather have led to many of these wooden poles rotting over time, causing houses to stand crooked as a result.
- The city has a nightlife mayor
That’s right – a government leader in charge of bars, clubs and music venues. Whilst Londoners fight to keep venues like Fabric open, Amsterdam’s Mirik Milan pours money into the city’s night-time economy. “Late-night culture is a massive motor for cities’ economic wellbeing,” says Milan.
- It’s the most multicultural city in the world
Celebrated for its welcoming attitude towards immigrants and asylum seekers, Amsterdam is home to roughly 178 different cultural backgrounds. New residents who cannot speak Dutch are even offered language lessons – many of which are free.
- It’s a bilingual hotspot
Being a cosmopolitan city, lots of different languages are spoken in Amsterdam. In fact, over 85% of the city’s population are said to speak more than one language, with many residents conversant in up to three.
- It’s not short of a bike or two
For every 850,000 residents in Amsterdam, there are an estimated 847,000 bicycles. That’s pretty much a bike per person. In short, cycling is a way of life in Amsterdam, due in large part to an established network of bike paths and cycle routes.
- Its main airport is underwater
At its lowest point, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is 11 feet below sea level. Should the sea level rise further, there’s every possibility that the airport might get transformed into a shipping port.
- You won’t find the Dutch government in Amsterdam
Even though Amsterdam is the capital city, all government buildings, including the Supreme Court lie in The Hague, on the west coast of the Netherlands. Why? It seems history is to blame for this strange anomaly.
- Amsterdam natives are the tallest on the planet
At a staggering height of 1.8 metres, the Dutch tower above both Germans and Danes. And with Amsterdam being the capital, you’ll find many of the country’s giants there.
- It has more than 1,500 bridges
That’s a whole lot of bridges for a single city, and it’s one of the main reasons why there are so many canals. Otherwise known as the “Venice of the North”, Amsterdam outranks both New York and Venice in this regard.
- It ranks among the safest cities the world
Given its seedy underbelly, you’d assume Amsterdam to be on the risky side. However, as a modern city, it’s scored highly for infrastructure safety and personal safety as a result of falling crime rates and a low number of traffic accidents.