Haarlem is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. The population of Haarlem was 153,123 at the end of 2012.
Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270. The modern city encompasses the former municipality of Schoten as well as parts that previously belonged to Bloemendaal and Heemstede. Apart from the city, the municipality of Haarlem also includes the western part of the village of Spaarndam. Newer sections of Spaarndam lie within the neighbouring municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude.
The city is located on the river Spaarne, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It has been the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname ‘Bloemenstad’ (flower city), for this reason.
Haarlem is served by two railway stations of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways). From Haarlem railway station there are 6 trains an hour to Amsterdam, with a journey time of 15 to 20 minutes, 6 trains an hour to Leiden and The Hague (two stations), and 2 trains an hour to Zandvoort aan Zee. On the east of Haarlem, there is Haarlem Spaarnwoude, which has 4 trains per hour to Amsterdam.
The city is also served by several bus lines of Connexxion. These buses traverse a large region around Haarlem, including Amsterdam. There is a special bus rapid transit too, called the Zuidtangent which is operated by Connexxion. This bus goes from Haarlem to Amsterdam South East via Schiphol Airport.