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City Population: 600,000
Size: 117.4 square miles (304 km2)
Country: The Netherlands
Province: South Holland
Language: Dutch (Nederlands)
Time difference:
6 hours later than Baltimore
Distance from Baltimore:
3812 miles (6135 km)

Flags of the Netherlands and Rotterdam City

Rotterdam is an ethnically diverse city of about 600,000 in a very small country: The Kingdom of the Netherlands, also known as Holland. The population in the greater Rotterdam region (called Rijnmond) is over 1 million.

Situated in Western Europe on the North Sea, Holland is surrounded by Germany and Belgium. It is home to the Dutch and a growing number of immigrants from many countries (with 160 different nationalities), and has a population of about 16 million. Rotterdam is its second largest city, after Amsterdam.



Roughly the same size as Baltimore, Rotterdam originated in a settlement that developed around a dam on the Rotte River near its confluence with the larger Maas River (called the Meuse in France). It was granted city rights in 1340 and came to be known as Rotterdam, the dam on the Rotte. By 1600 it was the busiest port in Holland and was destined to become the largest in the world.

The city center was destroyed in 1940, at the beginning of World War II, and its harbor was destroyed at the end of the war. After the war, the Dutch quickly began rebuilding Rotterdam. In the short space of 50 years it has emerged as a modern metropolis and a showplace of forward-looking architecture.

Erasmus Bridge, looking towards Kop van Zuid
Erasmus Bridge (Photo: © BRSCC)

Port of Rotterdam

Since 1965 Rotterdam has been one of the largest and busiest ports in the world, serving some 30 thousand sea vessels ships annually. Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and serves as the main distribution center for all of Western Europe. With major activity in bulk goods and containers, the Port of Rotterdam handles more than 460 million tons of goods annually.

Rotterdam’s World Trade Center is a counterpoint to Baltimore’s — both work to promote international trade and stimulate their regions’ economies.


Example of postcard artwork
The playful Schouwbergplein (Theater Square) is built on the roof of a parking garage with four red "performing hydraulic pylons" and a special lighting system. Water fountains spurt water into the air.
© Rob Hollis)

The Erasmus Bridge and the Euromast are well-known features of the Rotterdam landscape. In addition to its fine modern architecture, Rotterdam is home to many cultural and historical attractions. These include the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; a dance group and a ballet group; the Pilgrim Fathers Church, built in 1580 (whence the Pilgrims departed in 1620 for America); and a multitude of museums, including the Prince Hendrik Maritime Museum, a city historical museum, the world-class Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum of Art, De Kunsthal modern art museum, and the Hendrik Chabot Museum for the native-son expressionist.

Erasmus University, one of Holland’s most prestigious universities, is named after the father of humanism, Erasmus Roterodamus (1467-1536).

Famous Rotterdammers include:

  • Pieter de Hooch, 17th century artist
  • Willem de Kooning, 20th century artist
  • Rem Koolhaas, contemporary architect


Rotterdam has a temperate maritime climate with plenty of rain. January is usually 34-37° F  (1-4° C) ; August is usually 60-68° F (15-20° C).