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Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands; with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the urban area and 2,480,394 in the metropolitan area. Found within the Dutch province of North Holland, Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the "Venice of the North", due to the large number of canals which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amsterdam was founded at the Amstel, that was dammed to control flooding; the city's name derives from the Amstel dam. 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 of the 17th century, and became the leading centre for the finance and trade sectors. Wikipedia