The cities of Amsterdam, including Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht make up what area that is home to more than 40% of the population of The Netherlands
Moreover, the “four big cities” (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) can in many ways be regarded as a single metropolitan area, the Randstad (“rim city” or “edge city”) with about 7 million inhabitants around an agricultural “green heart”
The Randstad (Dutch pronunciation: [?r?ntst?t]) is a megalopolis in the central-western Netherlands consisting primarily of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and their surrounding areas. Among other things, it contains the Port of Rotterdam (the largest seaport in Europe, and until 2004 also the world’s busiest seaport), and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (one of the largest European airports). With a population of 7,100,000 it is one of the largest metropolitan regions in Europe,[b] comparable in size to Milan or the San Francisco Bay Area, and covers an area of approximately 8,287 km².[a] It’s also one of the most important and densely populated economic areas in northwestern Europe.
The Randstad’s main cities are Almere, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Zoetermeer. Other centres include Alphen aan den Rijn, Amstelveen, Barendrecht, Capelle aan den IJssel, Hilversum, Hoofddorp, Hoek van Holland, Houten, Katwijk, Leidschendam, Maarssen, Maassluis, Nieuwegein, Oostzaan, Purmerend, Rijswijk, Schiedam, Spijkenisse, Vlaardingen, Voorburg, Zeist and Zaanstad.
Although the name Randstad is often translated into English as “edge city” or “border city”, a more accurate translation would be “rim city”. The Dutch name was coined in 1938 by KLM founder Albert Plesman who, while flying over the region, used it to describe a strip of cities at the rim of a large green agricultural area (the Green Heart). While technically more of a crescent (the southeastern edge of the rim is significantly less populated), the ring shape formed by connecting the four major cities of the region led to the use of the name “Ring City”