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Schiphol Haarlemmermeer Velsen Delft The Hague Alphen aan den Rijn Zaanstad Lelystad Hilversum Gouda Zoetermeer Amersfoort Alkmaar Haarlem Dordrecht Leiden Almere Rotterdam Port of Rotterdam Port of Rotterdam Port of Rotterdam Port of Rotterdam Port of Rotterdam Utrecht (city) Amsterdam
Schematic map of the Randstad

The Randstad (Dutch: rim city, i.e. a city at the edge of a circle, with empty space in the centre) or Randstad Holland is a conurbation in the Netherlands. It consists of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), and the surrounding areas. With its 7.5 million inhabitants (almost half of the population of the Netherlands; when other conurbations connected to this area are also taken into consideration, it would have a population a little over 10 million, almost 2/3 of the entire Dutch population) it is one of the largest conurbations in Europe. Its main cities are Amersfoort, Almere, Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Hilversum, Leiden, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Zoetermeer. Other centres include Alphen aan den Rijn, Amstelveen, Capelle aan den IJssel, Hoofddorp, Katwijk, Leidschendam, Maassluis, Nieuwegein, Houten, Purmerend, Rijswijk, Schiedam, Spijkenisse, Vlaardingen, Voorburg, Zeist and Zaanstad.

The cities of the Randstad more or less form a crescent or chain. This shape has given the Randstad its name (rand means rim or edge and stad means city or town). The area that is enclosed by the larger cities is called the Green Heart (Groene Hart).



Over the last few decades, a major topic in the Randstad is the "conflict" between the cities and the towns in between. These towns, known as the Groene Hart (Green Heart), are usually much greener than the cities, they house many commuters that work in the cities and the former strongly depend on the latter for facilities such as hospitals and large scale entertainment. Cities need more space to expand, yet the towns fear losing their identity and autonomy.

Another 'hot issue' about the Randstad, is the question about its borders. Nobody can tell where the Randstad begins, and where it ends. Some will say that only the four biggest cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) are part of this Metropole, others would say that areas such as Alkmaar-Hoorn, Arnhem-Nijmegen and Eindhoven-Tilburg-Breda-Den Bosch are also part of this conurbation. All of these conurbations are self-sufficient areas, but for many things, they still rely upon the bigger cities.

Culture in the Randstad

The Randstad has a history of competition. For instance, between Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the two main cities compete on many levels, from football to art. Lately the cultural sector has tried to limit this rivalry and look for mutual strength. The main cultural organisations in Amsterdam, such as the Concertgebouw and Holland Festival, have joined forces with similar organisations in Rotterdam, via A'R'dam. In 2007 these organisations published a manifesto with plans for co-operation. One of the goals is to strengthen the international position of culture and art in the Netherlands in the international context.

Randstadwings and other planners thoughts

Recently, Dutch planners have started to refer to the Randstad as Deltametropool [1]. Deltametropolis actually consists of two large metropolitan areas:

1. The Noordvleugel (North Wing, with a population of around 4.5 million people), consisting of the Haarlem and IJmuiden conurbations in the west, Amsterdam at the centre and Almere and the Gooi area in the east. The conurbation of Utrecht (pop. around an extra 1 million) could also be considered to be part of the North Wing. The main center is however clearly Amsterdam, which could - as such - be considered a classical centralistic metropole. Amsterdam recently started to present itself as the Amsterdam metropolitan area (Metropool regio Amsterdam). The expectation is that the use of Noordvleugel and the Randstad will become less as a result [1].

2. The Zuidvleugel (South Wing, with a population of around 3.5 million people), stretching some 60 kilometers from Dordrecht in the South East to Leiden in the North. The main conurbations are the Rotterdam and The Hague areas. The virtual centre of the Zuidvleugel lies in between these two major cities, near Delft. The first steps toward this development are currently being taken with the construction of a new fast light-rail connection between Rotterdam and The Hague: RandstadRail. A long delayed extension of the western A4-motorway from the south of Delft to Rotterdam has also been put back on the administrative agenda, creating a second connection between Rotterdam, via The Hague, to Amsterdam.

Knowledge and Innovation Community.

Randstad is one of co-location centres of Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation) of The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) [2]

The Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) met on 16 December in Budapest to designate the first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).

Sustainable energy - Co-location centres :[3] Karlsruhe,Krakow,Grenoble,Eindhoven / Leuven,Barcelona,Stockholm.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation - Co-location centres[4] : London,Zurich,Berlin metropolitan area,Paris metropolitan area,Randstad metropolitan area.

Future information and communication society - Co-location centres:[5] Berlin, Eindhoven, Helsinki, Paris and Stockholm.


The Randstad possesses a large infrastructure system, with many railways, motorways, trams and subways in various cities. Home to various mainports, transport is an important issue in the Randstad, with the port of Rotterdam, and Schiphol airport. There are various smaller ports and airports in the Randstad, like the ports of IJmuiden, Amsterdam and Dordrecht, as well as Rotterdam airport.



The Randstad has various motorways, most of them starting around Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Many international corridors start in the Randstad, including the A1, A2, A4, A7, A12, A15, A16 and A20 motorways, as well as various commuter routes.

Most motorways suffer from severe congestion, and are home to many bottlenecks, mostly outdated tunnels, viaducts and bridges. The Randstad, like much of the Netherlands, has a large number of waterways, and motorway tunnels and bridges are usually the only way to cross major bodies of water. Additionally, the canals in the Randstad are often spanned by raising briges, including bridges carrying major roads and motorways. Problems are commonly found at the Coentunnel, Ringvaart Aqueduct, Vechtbridge, Moerdijkbridge, Heinenoordtunnel, Beneluxtunnel and Brienenoordbridge.

Traffic jams can occur at any time of the day; however rush hour lasts from 6.00 am to 10.00 am and from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm.

Major bottlenecks can create traffic jams up to 30 kilometers in length. Most motorways are no wider than 2x2 or 2x3 lanes, despite having some of the highest traffic volumes in Europe. Some hard shoulders are in use as peak hour lanes - traffic is allowed to use the hard shoulder as a 3rd lane during periods of congestion, when signs indicate. Because of the lack of sufficient minor roads, a lot of local traffic also uses the motorways.

There are a few missing links in the motorway network of the Randstad, especially on the A4 motorway, where construction has been a topic of debate since the 1960s.

Another growing issue is the number of trucks on the radiating motorways from the Randstad: truck volumes can be as high as 20,000 trucks per day, occupying the entire right lane on some motorways.


The Randstad is the keystone of the Dutch railway network; most intercity connections terminate in one of the key cities in the Randstad. The railway network in the area is dense and heavily used. Delays used to be common, but in the last few years services have improved - currently the only country in Europe that has fewer delays is Switzerland. Larger cities in the Randstad have many railway stations, as well as light rail, subway or tram networks.

See also

Publications online


External links

Coordinates: 52°11′27″N 4°39′20″E / 52.19083°N 4.65556°E / 52.19083; 4.65556

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Western Netherlands article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Benelux : Netherlands : Western Netherlands

The West of the Netherlands, commonly called the Randstad, is the most urban area of the country with most sights and activities. Host to the Big Four, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, it has the most important airports, ports, museums, restaurants and nightlife. However, also the typical Dutch rural areas can be found here, such as Kinderdijk, Marken, Volendam and Zaanse Schans.

Flevoland (Almere, Dronten, Lelystad, Noordoostpolder, Urk, Walibi World, Zeewolde)
The Netherlands' newest province, completely formed through land reclamation.
North-Holland (Amsterdam-Amstelland, Gooi and Vecht Region, Kennemerland, Kop van Noord-Holland, West-Friesland, Waterland and Zaan Region)
Most visited region with Amsterdam and traditional Dutch rural villages
South-Holland (Bulb Region, Green Heart, Haaglanden, Rijnmond, South-Holland-South, South-Hollandic Islands)
Most densely populated region with plenty of different rural landscapes - polders, bulb fields, dunes, islands, lakes and agricultural areas
Utrecht (Crooked Rhine, Eemland, Hollandic IJssel, Utrecht City, Utrecht Hill Ridge, Vecht and Lakes)
Rivers, lakes and nature, and some historic towns
  • Amsterdam — Traveller magnet due to its impressive architecture, lovely canals (grachten), museums and naughty nightlife.
  • Alkmaar — popular for it's cheese market
  • Delft — historic unspoiled town with traditional architecture, canals, bikes, and the world famous blue and white ceramics
  • Haarlem — 17th-century town center, shops and numerous museums
  • Hilversum — cycling tours around architectural marvels, forests and the heath.
  • Leiden — historic student city with the oldest university in the country and three national museums
  • Rotterdam — modern architecture, as well as one of the largest harbors in the world
  • The Hague — judicial capital of the world, as well as the seat of the Dutch government and the royal family
  • Utrecht — historic city, host to the largest shopping center of the country and the largest university in the Netherlands
  • Keukenhof — millions of tourists visit these enormous flower fields.
  • Kinderdijk — these mills show the typical Dutch landscape in all it's glory.
  • Scheveningen — largest and most-populous beach of the Netherlands. A part of the city of The Hague
  • Schokland — this used to be a village, but an evacuation in 1870 put an end to it all. It is an interesting place to go.
  • Texel — one of the West-Frisian Islands, it houses great tourist resorts for it's beaches.
  • Urk — a small fishing community. This was once an island.
  • Volendam — typical Dutch village with clogs and traditional costumes.
  • Walibi World — vibrant theme park with thrilling roller coasters.
  • Zaanse Schans — very touristic display of Dutch windmills.



The Randstad is a conurbation that comprises most of the Western Netherlands. It consists of the Big Four (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), as well as Amersfoort, Almere, Haarlem, Leiden, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda and Hilversum. With its 7.5 million inhabitants, almost half of the population of the Netherlands live in this area. It is one of the largest urban areas in Europe. Randstad means Rim City, as it's formed like a circle with empty space in the middle. The center is the Green Heart, green farmland in the middle of the conurbation.

Get around

By car

The Randstad has various motorways. Traffic jams can occur at any time of the day; however rush hour lasts from 6.00 am to 10.00 am and from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm. Major bottlenecks can create traffic jams up to 20 kilometers in length. Most motorways are no wider than 2x2 or 2x3 lanes, despite having some of the highest traffic volumes in Europe. Some hard shoulders are in use as peak hour lanes - traffic is allowed to use the hard shoulder as a 3rd lane during periods of congestion, when signs indicate. Because of the lack of sufficient minor roads, a lot of local traffic also uses the motorways.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun


  1. a conurbation in the Netherlands which includes the four largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and which is roughly crescent-shaped


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