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Urban problems in Amsterdam Essay

Introduction:Amsterdam, a city of exquisite beauty and unimaginably rare cultural items & artifacts. That’s how we all know Amsterdam to be, that is what one call’s a stereotype. Unfortunately, the truth is far from this. In fact, there are quite a few extremely severe urban problems there. The reason why I chose Amsterdam as the target city of my essay is my sincere interest in this city. I have always been fascinated by the rich culture of Amsterdam… But I could never have imagined that a city of this status could have so many problems. This essay will describe the major problems, and also give some slight advices and theories on how to improve the condition of this magnificent city.

Evidence:Since Amsterdam is such a big city, the crime rates are quite high. No wonder, if you consider how much money is exchanged in the form of art and jewelry! The largest diamond in the world has been cut there, Rembrandt’s paintings have been sold & painted there, in other words, it is a rogue’s heaven… Not to mention that Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most important and largest port cities. And one form of organized crime which goes with sailor’s all around the world, is prostitution, though prostitution is perfectly legal in Holland. Probably due to this Amsterdam is very famous (or infamous) for its Red Light Districts. Also drugs are a major problem there, as some of the drug addicts might just die in the middle of the street due to over dosage in broad daylight, even though Marijuana is the only “legal” drug in Netherlands… Here’s some statistics about the problems;

* 80,000 – 100,000 unemployed

* 18,000+ illegal immigrants

* 3,000+ homeless

* 7,000 drug addicts of which some 2,000 live on the streets.

* 8,000 prostitutes of which 80% operate in Amsterdam’s central red-light district.

* Increasing incidence of violent and racist crime.

Also, since Amsterdam is so densely populated city, the traffic jams there are becoming a major problem quickly. It would be such a shame if all the fine 17th century buildings and streets would end up being corroded by the acid rains. Naturally for a city of such importance, Amsterdam is one of Netherlands most famous tourist attractions. Of course the harbor shouldn’t be forgotten, and due to the harbor a major part of Amsterdam’s population consists of immigrants. In 1994, 41% of Amsterdam’s population consisted of immigrants. Immigrants, in this case refer to the people living in Amsterdam, but who do not posses a Dutch nationality.

Of all the problems, the drugs are the most severe one. The drug lords and addicts are always finding new ways to get “high”. The latest trend & problem in Amsterdam is that drug addicts lick the backs of a special toad breed. The South American giant cane toad produces a white milky substance from behind its eyes, this liquid when licked gives ten times stronger hallucinations than LSD. Enough about the problems, now it is time for solutions.

Analysis:Problem number 1, the drug addicts:. Well the drug problem has already gotten out of hands, and there is very little anyone can do to stop people from using them. But then, if you can’t make people stop using the drugs, make it as hard as just possible. The toad issue is probably by far the easiest to handle, as it’s such a new trend. The Dutch government could ban the selling, or even importing of these animals. Of course this wouldn’t stop these drug addicts from obtaining these toads, as they would just simply be smuggled into the country. But that would naturally also increase the price, and the quantities would be quite small. So that would most certainly lower the number of “toad lickers” in Amsterdam, as the price and accessibility of the toads would become much less “user” friendly. As for rest of the drug’s and users, only real thing that you can do is to increase the number of law enforcement officers. To make the job seem more pleasurable, the government and police forces should do some work together, like raise the pay of police officers and the working conditions.

Problem number 2, the massive traffic congestions: The government has already tried to decrease the amount of traffic, but so far these attempts have more or less failed. One method was to persuade the people to use bicycles instead of cars. A decent idea, though unsuccessful which didn’t really work after all. This just caused traffic of bikes. Also this caused much more danger to pedestrians than cars, as bikes and pedestrians are somewhat forced to use the same sidewalks. My personal idea is that the government should increase the number and quality of public transportation, and naturally minimize the price of the tickets. This would naturally attract customers of all age groups. Also if the government would wish to attract even more customers for public transport, building separate bus lanes all over the city would hasten the movement of buses.

This of course would mean that moving with public transport would be far quicker than with an own car. Problem number 3, prostitution: Well this probably only one of these problems that is not really that harmful. Naturally it gives the city a bad reputation, and is considered by some a way of organized crime. But what can you really do, when the prostitution industry has already become one of Amsterdam’s land marks, and without a doubt, one of the most famous tourist attractions? Well one thing the government could easily organize, they should make a separate red light district, which would be the only area in the city where prostitution would be allowed. To some extent, this has already been done, except that only 80% of the prostitutes work in the central red light district. There isn’t really much anyone can do about this problem, it is even harder to control than the drug problem, though not as severe of a problem.

Conclusion:Reading this document has made me realize, that these problems do not seem that terrible. The old culture & history of Amsterdam will still stay the same, even if the city’s younger people do become drug addicts or so. When you look at Amsterdam, and compare it to rest of its neighboring major cities, it is somewhat unique. There aren’t that many as culturally rich cities in the whole Europe as Amsterdam is. That is probably the reason why we consider Amsterdam so weird, it is after all a totally different city from rest of Europe.


Independent, The (London, England)

Edition: FOREIGN

Section: Foreign News

Page: 10

Author: Isabel Conway

Date: December 10, 2002


Independent, The (London, England)

Edition: FOREIGN

Section: Foreign News

Page: 9

Author: Isabel Conway

Date: September 1, 2003


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