Rotterdam is a major Dutch port city. Located in the Province of South Holland, Rotterdam is found in the west of the Netherlands and at the south end of the Randstad.
Settlement at the lower end of the fen stream Rotte (or Rotta, as it was then known, from rot, 'muddy' and a, 'water', thus 'muddy water') dates from at least 900 CE. Around 1150, large floods in the area ended development, leading to the construction of protective dikes and dams, including Schielands Hoge Zeedijk ('Schieland’s High Sea Dike') along the northern banks of the present-day Nieuwe Maas. A dam on the Rotte or 'Rotterdam' was built in the 1260s and was located at the present-day Hoogstraat ('High Street').
On 7 July 1340, Count Willem IV of Holland granted city rights to Rotterdam, which then had approximately 2000 inhabitants. Around 1350 a shipping canal, the Rotterdamse Schie was completed, which provided Rotterdam access to the larger towns in the north, allowing it to become a local transshipment centre between Holland, England and Germany, and to urbanize.
The port of Rotterdam grew slowly but steadily into a port of importance, becoming the seat of one of the six 'chambers' of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), the Dutch East India Company. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam