The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, located in the city of Rotterdam, South Holland, the Netherlands. From 1962 until 2004 it was the world's busiest port, now overtaken by first Shanghai and then Singapore. In 2009, Rotterdam was the world's tenth-largest container port in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled (2008: ninth, 2006: sixth). The port is operated by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, originally a municipal body of the municipality of Rotterdam, but since 1 January 2004, a government corporation jointly owned by the municipality of Rotterdam and the Dutch State. Covering 105 square kilometers (40.5 sq mi), the port of Rotterdam now stretches over a distance of 40 kilometers (25 mi). It consists of the city center's historic harbor area, including Delfshaven; the Maashaven/Rijnhaven/Feijenoord complex; the harbours around Nieuw-Mathenesse; Waalhaven; Vondelingenplaat; Eemhaven; Botlek; Europoort, situated along the Calandkanaal, Nieuwe Waterweg and Scheur (the latter two being continuations of the Nieuwe Maas); and the reclaimed Maasvlakte area, which projects into the North Sea. In the first half of the twentieth century the port activities moved from the centre westward towards the North Sea. The Nieuwe Waterweg was dug from Rotterdam to the North Sea, a canal to disembogue the shallow Rhine and Meuse. The Nieuwe Waterweg was ready in 1872 and all sorts of industrial activity formed on the banks of this canal. Rotterdam's harbour territory has been enlarged by the construction of the Europoort (gate to Europe) complex along the mouth of the Nieuwe Waterweg, and by the Maasvlakte in the North Sea near Hoek van Holland. The construction of a second Maasvlakte received initial political approval in 2004, but was stopped by the Raad van State (the Dutch Council of State, which advises the government and parliament on legislation and governance) in 2005, because the plans did not take enough account of environmental issues. On October 10, 2006, however, approval was acquired to start construction in 2008, aiming for the first ship to anchor in 2013. Most important for the port of Rotterdam are the petrochemical industry and general cargo transshipment handlings. The harbour functions as an important transit point for transport of bulk and other goods between the European continent and other parts of the world. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. Since 2000 the Betuweroute, a fast cargo railway from Rotterdam to Germany, has been under construction. The Dutch part of this railway has been opened in 2007. Large oil refineries are located west of the city. The river Meuse and Rhine also provide excellent access to the hinterland. The EECV-quay of the port has a draft of 24 meters (78 feet), making it, along with Terminal Marítimo de Ponta da Madeira in Brazil, one of only two available mooring locations for the largest bulk cargo ship in the world, the iron ore bulk carrier Berge Stahl. The ship's draft of 23 meters (75 feet) leaves only 1 meter (3 feet) of under keel clearance, therefore it can only dock in a restricted tidal-window. COO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority is former Nedlloyd ship officer Andre Toet (ex CEO of P&O Nedlloyd and Maersk Line Europe).
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.