Rotterdam is the 2nd-largest city by population in the Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland in the west of the country. The city, which had a population of 584,046 on 1 January 2007, comprises the southern part of the Randstad, the 6th-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of 6.7 million inhabitants.
The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe and was the world's busiest port from 1962 to 2004, until it was overtaken by Shanghai. Rotterdam is situated on the banks of the river Nieuwe Maas ('New Meuse'), one of the channels in the delta formed by the Rhine and Meuse rivers. The name Rotterdam derives from a dam in the Rotte river.
On 1 January 2007 (source: Statistics Netherlands), the municipality covered an area of 319 km² (206.44 km² of which is land) with a population of 584,046. It is part of a larger metropolitan area called Rijnmond ('Mouth of the Rhine') with a total population of about 1.2 million. In 1965, the municipal population of Rotterdam reached its peak of 731,000, but by 1984 it had decreased to 555,000 as a result of suburbanization.
Rotterdam consists of 11 submunicipalities: Charlois (including Heijplaat), Delfshaven, Feijenoord, Hillegersberg-Schiebroek, Hoek van Holland, Hoogvliet, IJsselmonde, Kralingen-Crooswijk, Noord, Overschie, and Prins Alexander (the most populous submunicipality with around 85,000 inhabitants). Two other areas, Centrum ('Center') and Pernis, do not have official submunicipality status.
As partly mentioned above already, Rotterdam is situated in the Zuidvleugel ('South Wing') of the Randstad ('Rim City') conurbation, with 6.7 million inhabitants, the sixth largest metropolitan area in Europe (after Moscow, London, the Ruhr Area, Istanbul, and Paris). The Zuidvleugel includes Leiden, The Hague, Zoetermeer, Delft, Vlaardingen, Schiedam, Capelle aan den IJssel, Spijkenisse and Dordrecht, and has a population of around 3 million.