Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. The Palace is a setting for state occasions and royal entertaining, a base for many officially visiting Heads of State, and a major tourist attraction. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing, crisis or grief. "Buckingham Palace" or simply "The Palace" commonly refers to the source of press statements issued by the offices of the Royal Household.
In the Middle Ages, Buckingham Palace's site formed part of the Manor of Ebury. It had several royal owners from Edward the Confessor onwards and was also the object of much property speculation. Precursors of Buckingham Palace were Blake House, Goring House, and Arlington House. The State Rooms form the nucleus of the working Palace and are used regularly by The Queen and members of the royal family for official and state entertaining. Buckingham Palace is one of the world's most familiar buildings and more than 50,000 people visit the palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the royal garden parties.
, capital city
of the Netherlands
, lies on the banks of two bodies of water, the IJ bay
and the Amstel
river. Founded in the late 12th century
as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel
, it is now the largest city in the country and is a financial and cultural centre. In 2006, the population of the municipality proper was 741,329; the population of the official Greater Amsterdam area is approximately 1.5 million, but the real agglomeration is estimated at 2 to 2.5 million. Amsterdam is also one of the core urban centres of the greater metropolitan area called Randstad
(English: "Ring City") which encompasses other Dutch cities and has a population of over 7.5 million.
Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, dating largely from the 17th century. At this time, a series of concentric, semi-circular canals (grachten) were dug around the old city centre. Along the canals houses and warehouses were built. The canals still define Amsterdam's layout and appearance today. Amsterdam is famous for its free-spirited liberalism, diversity and tolerance.