Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam constructed in 1270 on the Rotte River, 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 is the reason that Rotterdam is often called the "Gateway to Europe".
Located in the province of South Holland, Rotterdam is in the west of Netherlands and the south of the Randstad. The population of the city was 624,799 in 2014. The population of the greater Rotterdam area, called "Rotterdam-Rijnmond" or just "Rijnmond", is approximately 1.3 million. The combined urban area of Rotterdam and The Hague with a population of approximately 2.9 million is the 206th largest urban area in the world and the most populous in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is known for its university (Erasmus), cutting-edge architecture, lively cultural life, striking riverside setting and maritime heritage. It is also known for the Rotterdam Blitz.