Dam Square
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A Cacophony of Cultures in a Global Village
With more than 170 different nationalities and a 45% ethnic minority, Amsterdam is a global village that boasts Europe's most diverse population. Over the last half-century, immigrants from Suriname, Turkey and Morocco have flocked to a city known for its cultural diversity and tolerance for alternative lifestyles. More recently, there's been an influx of residents from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. While ethnic pockets exist in the city―Moroccans congregate in the Oude West while many Turkish families live in the Oost―city streets, trams and squares are a melting pot of languages that come together in a lively cacophony. Thankfully, most Dutchies under age 50 speak English fluently, so there's common communication ground. Even young street performers capitalize on Amsterdam's tolerance for cultural diversity. The costumed creatures in this photo are teenage students from Hong Kong. They were chaperoned on a trip to Amsterdam by a university professor keen on encouraging Chinese youth to travel and to learn about cultural differences outside the classroom. Left to their own devices for accommodations, two of the young girls couchsurfed with me before suiting up in alter-ego costumes and performing with their friends in Dam Square.
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