Located in the Province of South Holland, Rotterdam is found in the west of the Netherlands and at the south end of the Randstad. The population of the city proper was 616,003 in November 2011. The population of the greater Rotterdam area, called "Rotterdam-Rijnmond" or just "Rijnmond", is around 1.3 million people. Rotterdam is one of Europe's most vibrant and multicultural cities. It is known for its university (Erasmus), its cutting-edge architecture, and lively cultural life. A striking riverside setting, Rotterdam's maritime heritage and the Rotterdam Blitz should also be added to the list.
Along the center of Rotterdam, one can experience the thriving river with lots of traffic, a freeway on water if you wish, connecting its huge, modern port with the hinterland of Europe. The largest port in Europe and still one of the busiest ports in the world, the port of Rotterdam was the world's busiest port from 1962 to 2004, at which point it was surpassed by Shanghai. Rotterdam's commercial and strategic importance is based on its location near the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse), one of the channels in the delta formed by the Rhine and Meuse on the North Sea. These rivers lead directly into the centre of Europe, including the industrial Ruhr region.
The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, located in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands. From 1962 until 2004 it was the world's busiest port, now overtaken by first Shanghai and then Singapore. In 2009, Rotterdam was the world's tenth-largest container port in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled (2008: ninth, 2006: sixth).
Covering 105 square kilometres (41 sq mi), the port of Rotterdam now stretches over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 mi). It consists of the city center's historic harbor area, including Delfshaven; the Maashaven/Rijnhaven/Feijenoord complex; the harbours around Nieuw-Mathenesse; Waalhaven; Vondelingenplaat; Eemhaven; Botlek; Europoort, situated along the Calandkanaal, Nieuwe Waterweg and Scheur (the latter two being continuations of the Nieuwe Maas); and the reclaimed Maasvlakte area, which projects into the North Sea.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, built in 1270, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre. Its strategic location at the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta on the North Sea and at the heart of a massive rail, road, air
and inland waterway distribution system extending throughout Europe deliver the reason that Rotterdam is often called the Gateway to Europe.