The Galileo positioning system is a proposed satellite navigation system, to be built by the European Union as an alternative to GPS (which is controlled by the United States military) and the Russian GLONASS. The system should be operational by 2010, two years later than originally anticipated. The first stage of the Galileo program was agreed upon officially on May 26, 2003 by the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA).
It is named after the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. The Galileo positioning system should not be referred to as GPS, which refers specifically to the existing United States system, but as "Galileo." Galileo is intended to provide: greater precision to all users, improved coverage of satellite signals at higher latitudes, which northern regions such as Scandinavia will benefit from, a positioning system upon which European nations can rely even in times of war or political disagreement.
, capital city
of the Netherlands
, lies on the banks of two bodies of water, the IJ bay
and the Amstel
river. Founded in the late 12th century
as a small fishing village on the banks of the Amstel
, it is now the largest city in the country and is a financial and cultural centre. In 2006, the population of the municipality proper was 741,329; the population of the official Greater Amsterdam area is approximately 1.5 million, but the real agglomeration is estimated at 2 to 2.5 million. Amsterdam is also one of the core urban centres of the greater metropolitan area called Randstad
(English: "Ring City") which encompasses other Dutch cities and has a population of over 7.5 million.
Amsterdam has one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, dating largely from the 17th century. At this time, a series of concentric, semi-circular canals (grachten) were dug around the old city centre. Along the canals houses and warehouses were built. The canals still define Amsterdam's layout and appearance today. Amsterdam is famous for its free-spirited liberalism, diversity and tolerance.