Review of higher education institutions in regional development 2008-10: The City-Region of Rotterdam in brief


Region under review: boundaries, geography and population
Economy | Governance   


The region under review:
boundaries, geography and population


The city-region comprises 16 neighbouring municipalities which co-operate in matters of traffic and transportation, environmental protection, public housing, physical planning and land development policy, and youth welfare.

The city of Rotterdam has a population of about 600,000 people from 174 nationalities. The population of the whole city-region is approximately 1.2 million.





Rotterdam is Europe’s largest and one of the 5 most important ports in the world. The port has more than 400 years of experience in trade and shipping.
The city is known for its architectural heritage and design. Rotterdam focuses on the further development of three viable economic sectors. Those three clusters have a significant share in the overall employment of 262 000: 

  • Port and industrial complex: ca. 75 000 employees
  • Health care and medical industry: ca. 95 000 employees
  • Creative industries especially the architecture and design sector, audio-visual media: ca. 12 000 employees

The unemployment rate was 8.6% in 2006.
The share of small and medium sized enterprises in all enterprises was 33% in 2006.




The Netherlands is a unitary state with three tiers of governmen: central, provincial and municipal with direct elections taking place for all three tiers. There are currently 12 provinces and 458 municipalities.

Provinces are responsible for land use planning and physical infrastructure such as planning, building and operating regional roads. They also have legal control over the municipalities (notably in the domain of planning where they approve the municipal land use plan) and over water boards.

Municipalities are responsible for a wide range of policy sectors like roads, public transport, housing, local planning, environment, social affairs, economic development, education, health care, etc.
The municipalities share many of their responsibilities with the central government, but they are relatively independent. The central government establishes the general framework, rules and norms that local authorities must follow, monitors most policies' implementation and controls the funding for most policy sectors (OECD 2007: 156-160).

Rotterdam is run by a city council and the municipal executive board which comprises the Mayor and Aldermen. The council consists of 45 elected members. Further, Rotterdam has a decentralised form of administration with district councils, which can independently make decisions relating to parts of the city. The Rotterdam municipal authority employs nearly 17 000 people. 

The Economic Development Board Rotterdam (EDBR) is a municipal department. It consists of more than thirty opinion leaders from the business community and the educational, scientific and cultural sectors. It advises the Municipal Executive on which economically successful sectors are in need of investments during the next years. At the same time they promote the implementation of (economically) promising projects. They contribute additional knowledge, information and funds by providing their expertise and the access to their networks.

The municipality of Rotterdam is the main shareholder of the Port of Rotterdam. This company is responsible for the physical and economic development of the port.



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