Amsterdam People - What's the Population of Amsterdam Like?

The Amsterdam people are known for their openness to to foreigners.

Almost the entire population of Amsterdam speaks English, and usually some German and/or French (in that sequence) as well.

If you start speaking to a Dutchman in broken or accented Dutch, you will often be replied in English.

Cosmopolitan and Diverse

The international mindset is due to the Netherlands being a small country that always went accross the borders. For many centuries, the Dutch held colonies and trading posts all accross the world. Today, the Dutch are strong in multinational corporations and trade.

It's only logical, then, that the Amsterdam people are very diverse. According to the city administration, with 175 nationalities as inhabitants (of 194 countries in the world!), Amsterdam is the most international city in the world.

This is even more remarkable if you know that the population of Amsterdam is surprisingly small compared to other European capitals: only 750,000 inhabitants. This gives Amsterdam a kind of cozy, trusted village feeling. Foreigners are sometimes surprised how quickly they get into conversation with perfect strangers.

Authentic Amsterdammers

Brown cafe, Amsterdam

Brown cafe Hegeraad

Because of its two universities and vibrant cultural and economic life, the majority of Amsterdam inhabitants are 'import', as Amsterdammers call it. However, authentic Amsterdammers are immediately recognized by their typical accent and expressions, and quick and dry humour. Original Amsterdammers are known for their big mouths, but always accompanied by a wink and a smile.

To sample true authentic Amsterdam people, you can always visit a brown café or bar in the Jordaan area of the city, where you will find the real icons of Amsterdam and locals speaking original Amsterdam slang, and singing Amsterdam 'songs of life'. Another authentic neighbourhood is De Pijp, which has become increasingly hip these days. More about this on our folk culture in Amsterdam page.

Central to experiencing folksy Amsterdam are the brown cafes (bruine kroegen). Visit for example:

  • Cafe Nol (Westerstraat 109)
  • Cafe Bolle Jan (Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat 3, near Rembrandtplein)
  • Cafe De Twee Zwaantjes (Prinsengracht 114)
  • Cafe 't Smalle (Egelantiersgracht 12)

"At the end of the evening, everyone should go home with their own coat, hat and woman", says one of the house rule of Café Bolle Jan - a typical example of the dry Amsterdam humour.

Find more brown cafes in our Amsterdam pub guide.

Amsterdam Gay Community

Gay Pride Amsterdam

The annual Gay Pride

Amsterdam is known as one of the gay capitals of the world. In 2001, the Netherlands were the first country to allow same sex marriages.

It's also one of the few cities that can lay claim to having a Homomonument (Gay Monument) that commemorates all gay men and women who lost their lives due to persecution in the Second World War and beyond.

Since August 2009, Amsterdam even has a special official tourist office for gays, GayTIC (Spuistraat 33).

Amsterdam people on the whole are tolerant and the attitude towards gay couples is quite relaxed. There are quite some gay bars and hotels, but openly gay couples are welcome in any bar, restaurant or hotel.

The following annual events are organised for and by the gay population of Amsterdam:

  • Roze Zaterdag (Pink Saturday), held on the last Saturday in June
  • Gay Pride or 'Canal Pride', held on the 1st Saturday in August
  • Leather Pride, held in November

Details are on our page about gay Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Students

Due to its two large universities and other colleges (HBO), over 10% of the Amsterdam population consists of students. Its one of the things that makes Amsterdam a vibrant and creative city. If you want to sample the student atmosphere, try one of the these popular student cafes:

  • Café Crea, located on the grounds of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Turfdraagsterpad 17
  • Café Kotoen, very near to the UvA, Oude Turfmarkt 153

Famous Residents Past & Present

Rembrandt, self portrait

Rembrandt, self portrait

Amsterdam has been the home to several famous figures from the world of art, music, sport, and politics. Here are just a short list of some famous Amsterdam people.

  • Vincent van Gogh - One of the most important 19th century painter (1853-1890)
  • Rembrandt van Rijn - Most famous Dutch painter ('Nightwatch') (1606-1669)
  • Anne Frank - Holocaust diarist (1929-1945)
  • Theo van Gogh - Libertarian film director and actor, murdered by a radical Islamist (1957-2004)
  • Andre Hazes - Most popular Amsterdam 'folk' singer - (1951-2004)
  • Johan Cruijjf - Best-known Dutch soccer player, now commentator (1947-)
  • Paul Verhoeven - Film director with international fame (RoboCop, Basic instinct, Total Recall) (1938-)
  • Candy Dulfer - Saxophonist, played with Prince and other celebs (1969-)

You can find longer biographies on our famous people from Amsterdam page.

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