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 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's main attractions include its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw, the Anne Frank House, the Scheepvaartmuseum, the Amsterdam Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Natura Artis Magistra, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, NEMO, the red-light district and many cannabis coffee shops. It drew more than 5 million international visitors in 2014.The city is also well known for its nightlife and festival activity; with several of its nightclubs (Melkweg, Paradiso) among the world's most famous. Primarily known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled façades; well-preserved legacies of the city's 17th-century Golden Age. These characteristics are arguably responsible for attracting millions of Amsterdam's visitors annually. Cycling is key to the city's character, and there are numerous bike paths.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is considered the oldest "modern" securities market stock exchange in the world. As the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe, Amsterdam is considered an alpha world city by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC)