The capital of the Netherlands is one of Europe's most frequently visited cities. As the Lonely Planet notes, ‘Amsterdam combines a huge case of big city exuberance with smalltown manageability; it doesn't take much more than chaining your bike to a bridge to feel like you've got a handle on the place.' It is this mixture that makes Amsterdam a pleasure to visit or live in. It is a real cosmopolitan capital and one of Europe's most beautiful at that, with an enormous number of attractions. It is also relatively small, peaceful, well organized and an easy place to find your way around.
The historic city centre is famous for its architecture and canals. Amsterdam also has an outstanding and well deserved reputation for its variety of entertainment. If you have a look at the tourist websites or for a less formal view the Lonely Planet, Time Out or Rough Guide sites, you will find an unparalleled list of options. In addition, Amsterdam has always been known for its intellectual freedom, which has greatly stimulated the international exchange of ideas and research. Again and again, Amsterdam has proven itself an important centre for cultural, social and financial developments. Its liberal approach to social issues might well be even more important to the visitor. The city is a melting pot of cultures and races that are welcome in a way that is probably unmatched throughout Europe.
An annual survey conducted in December 2007 by Simon Anholt (the City Brands Index) and a marketing research agency called Global Market Insite measured the strength of city brands based on the opinions of international consumers. The main criteria for the survey were Presence (contribution to culture/science), Place (physical aspects), Potential (job/education opportunities), Pulse (urban lifestyle), People (welcome/ diversity), and Prerequisites (basic qualities). Ranking 9th, Amsterdam was well ahead of cities like Berlin, Madrid, Geneva, Milan, Auckland and Tokyo.
With its proximity to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, about half an hour from the UvA, there is easy access to the rest of the world. Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, Edinburgh, Geneva, Paris, London, and Rome are only a few hours away. Public transport around Amsterdam and the Netherlands is excellent, which makes living in Amsterdam or visiting the Netherlands all the more convenient.
Another study on the quality of life in major cities worldwide (William M. Mercer, 2008) ranked Amsterdam 13th out of 235 and Time Out called Amsterdam ‘in a nutshell, one of the most consistently surprising, thrilling, intriguing (and) compelling cities on earth.' William Mercer also called Amsterdam one of the safest capital cities in Europe.
The Dutch capital is a leader in finance and trade, and is at the heart of Europe in more ways than one. International finance was born in Amsterdam, built on the capital amassed by the merchants of the seventeenth century known as the Golden Age. The world's first public stock exchange was founded in Amsterdam, and served as an example for stock markets all over the world. The first multinational, the Dutch East India Company or VOC, was established in Amsterdam; further evidence of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Netherlands in general and Amsterdam in particular. Amsterdam now has a broadbased economy, but the most important sectors with over 120,000 jobs are still business and financial services. Together, the stock exchange, the central bank and the regional head offices of numerous Dutch and international firms make Amsterdam the financial and business heart of the Netherlands and a prestigious international business centre. The study programmes at the FEB benefit greatly from this real business environment, which is literally right around the corner.