The Randstad (Dutch: Randstad or Randstad Holland, pronounced [ˈrɑntstɑt ˈɦɔlɑnt]) 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 a population of 7,100,000 it is one of the largest conurbations in Europe,[b] comparable in size to Milan or the San Francisco Bay Area and covers an area of approximately 8287 km² [a].
The Randstad's main cities are Almere, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam, The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch), Utrecht, and Zoetermeer. Other centres include Alphen aan den Rijn, Amstelveen, Barendrecht, Capelle aan den IJssel, Hilversum, Hoofddorp, Hoek van Holland, Houten, Katwijk, Leidschendam, Maassluis, Nieuwegein, Oostzaan, Purmerend, Rijswijk, Schiedam, Spijkenisse, Vlaardingen, Voorburg, Zeist and Zaanstad.
Rotterdam (pron.: //; Dutch: [ˌrɔtərˈdɑm] ( listen)) is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam constructed in 1270 on the Rotte River, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre. Its strategic location at the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta on the North Sea and at the heart of a massive rail, road, air and inland waterway distribution system extending throughout Europe is the reason that Rotterdam is often called the "Gateway to Europe".