5 October 2012
Last updated at 02:45
Amsterdam is the most watery city in the world. A quarter of its surface is covered by canals and harbours and the water has been part of the city's culture since it was created with the building of a dam nearly 800 years ago. It attracts millions of tourists every year.
Tourist canal cruises are popular. More than 200 canal tour companies now operate on Amsterdam's waterways, carrying more than three million passengers a year.
The success of the canal cruises is causing concern among some locals with fears the tour boats are pushing the smaller local vessels out of the water.
Tourists also take advantage of the canals as unusual party venues. There are strict rules governing noise levels and if revellers get too loud, police boat patrols can be called.
The canals are home to many Amsterdam residents, but the cost is rising. The average vessel and mooring now costs about the same as a small apartment.
The canals are also host to businesses. This home for unwanted cats aboard a canal boat claims to be the only floating cattery.
It is illegal to swim in the canals apart from on special occasions. In September more than 1,000 swimmers took part in the Amsterdam City Swim to raise money for charity (photo: Matt Knight).
Boats are popular, but bikes are the favoured form of transport. The bridges across the canals function as parking spaces for Amsterdam's estimated two million bikes.
Amsterdam's canals criss-cross the city, including its famous red light zone, where an estimated 1,000 legal prostitutes work.
Amsterdam's three main canals were placed on Unesco's world heritage list in 2009. Amsterdam's authorities are trying to balance the demands of the tourism industry with the need to preserve them for future generations. Words and pictures by Anna Holligan, BBC News, unless marked otherwise.