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NETHERLANDS
 
   
   
 

Netherlands Identity Card

Country name:
~ conventional long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands
~ conventional short form: Netherlands
~ local long form: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
~ local short form: Nederland
 
Area: 41,526 sq km
Coastline: 451 km
Highest point: Vaalserberg 322 m
Population: 16,407,491
Density: 395/km2
Population growth rate: 0.53%
Official Languages: Dutch and Frisian
Religions: Roman Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Calvinist, Muslim
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: Amsterdam (official), The Hague (administrative, legislative, and judicial)
GDP - per capita: $29,500
Inflation rate: 1.4%
Currency (code): euro (EUR)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: NL
ISO CODE Alpha2: NL
ISO CODE Alpha3: NLD
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 528
Calling code: +31
Internet country code: .nl
Time Zone: + 1.0 H

 
 
 
 

Netherlands can well be described through the paradoxical adage that goes as ‘a land of waters’. The fact that a quarter of the country is below sea level along with the existence of an unending number of canals, lakes, dykes, bridges and polders give the Netherlands this special character. The low lands catch up the moment you step in to the tarmac of Schiphol Airport in Netherlands, an area four metres below the sea level. Situated in Western Europe, by the side of the North Sea, Belgium and Germany, the land is an autonomous part of the extended Kingdom of Netherlands. Amsterdam is the capital city but the political headquarter of the country is located in The Hague. Rotterdam is another major city of Netherlands and harbours the second largest port in the world.


Kinderdijk Windmills

Although Netherlands is also familiar to many as Holland or the Dutch Land, but in reality, Holland is just another province of the country and Dutch is the local dialect that refers the country as Nederland. Like its various names, the country itself witnessed numerous turning points of history and every time emerged as a winner. By the seventeenth century Amsterdam was Europe's wealthiest trading city and it became a capitalist nation in true sense. Netherlands first came up with the very new age concept of stocks and shares and fiddles with structured financial policies and schemes. Amsterdam's golden era saw the development of town planning in the capital. House tax was introduced as the wealthiest merchants arrived to inhabit in the city centre.
Netherlands is bubbling with tourism opportunities. It has an extensive network of waterways, with every possible arrangement for accommodation on and close to the water, many maritime museums, set on the backdrop of picturesque old towns and a plethora of panoramic attractions and events on the water. In fact, the country tops in Europe with its record number of museums where the city of Amsterdam houses 42 of them alone. It is home to the International Court of Justice. Netherlands is also one of the most densely populated countries in Europe with an estimated count of 16,407,491 in 2005. Native Dutch bloodline dominates the country race with a minor share of Moroccan, Turkish workers and French Huguenots who migrated to the Netherlands. Dutch is the official language, though Frisian is spoken in Friesland and English is widely used too. The society is divided religiously, with over thirty-five per cent of the population practising Roman Catholicism and just twenty-five per cent of them following Protestant tenets.


Amsterdam canal

Geography

Netherlands’ geographical features are a composition of nature’s frenzy and man made miracles. The country is encompassed by the North Sea on the north and west, by Belgium on the south, and by Germany on the east. Netherlands, or popularly known as Holland, is the European half of the Kingdom of Netherlands that also includes two overseas territories of the Netherlands; Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean Sea. All these three territories have an autonomous administration.
The major parts of Netherlands’ surface area consist of low and flat land except some parts in Limburg in the southeast, where some hills rise up to 322 m (1056 ft). Natural and artificial elevations in the form of dunes and dikes stand guard to safeguard the half of the country that is located below the sea level area from being immersed. To accommodate the rising head count, Netherlands engaged in a unique method of reclamation of land from the sea through dikes known as polders. The main rivers of the country are the Rhine (Waal and Lek), the Maas or Meuse, the Scheldt, and the IJssel. Apart from these, there are innumerable canals and drains that are cluttered over the country and are interconnected by artificial waterways. Some of them find their way to the river and canal systems of Belgium and Germany. The IJsselmeer Lake is situated in north at the former Zuider Zee, which is separated from the North Sea by an eighteen mile long dike.


Rotterdam View

Climate

The climate of Netherlands changes its course according to the varying landscape. Predominantly, the country experiences temperate weather conditions featured by cool summers and mild winters. In the delta regions the south western winds play havoc and contribute largely for the rising wild waves in the sea front.


Utrecht

History

Netherlands was inhabited by the Germanic tribes of Nervii, Frisii, and Batavi until Julius Caesar found the present-day Dutch lowlands and conquered them in the first century. Roman settlements were built in Utrecht and Maastricht in 48 AD and 50 AD respectively. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the control of the country passed to the Franks who controlled the region from the 4th to the 8th century. In succeeding years, Netherlands became part of Charlemagne's empire in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Burgundy and the Austrian Hapsburgs ruled the region for a while and finally in the 16th century the Spanish arrived and left a deep impression on the Dutch lands.
During this time, under the reign of Spanish King Charles V, "the Seventeen Provinces of Netherlands" came into existence including the surrounding countries of Belgium, Luxembourg and the north-eastern part of France. These were also known as the Low Countries.
But a revolt led by William of Orange broke out in 1568 against the suppressive policies of Philip II of Spain. The Protestant movement gained momentum too during this period. The middle half of the sixteenth century witnessed the outburst of the devastating Eighty Years' War. Under the ensuing situations, the Union of Utrecht was formed in 1579 when the seven Northern provinces became the United Provinces of the Netherlands. War between the United Provinces and Spain continued into the 17th century, but in 1648 Spain finally recognised Dutch independence.
After this, the commercial path of Netherlands took a skyrocketing turn and it emerged as a great trading nation. The frontline trading organisations of United East India Company and the West India Company were established in 1602 and contributed largely for Dutch expansion. But the Golden age of Dutch mercantile and maritime success brought an enemy out of Britain, which led to the Anglo-Dutch wars. The conflict continued through out the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). In 1810 Netherlands became part of Napoleon's French Empire. But following Napoleon's defeat, all the provinces of Holland and Belgium were amalgamated into the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Belgians longed for independence and in 1830 formed their own kingdom. Netherlands eventually came out with its own constitution in 1848 and continued to conquer and liberalise different colonies round the world. Luxembourg severed its ties with Netherlands in the last decade of the nineteenth century.
The neutrality status of Netherlands in the World War I was not respected in World War I and the German army occupied the country. The nation was liberated in May 1945. In 1949, after a four-year war, the Netherlands granted independence to the Dutch East Indies, which later became the Republic of Indonesia. The Netherlands also joined NATO that year. It is also a BENELUX country, an economic union between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Netherlands joined the European Economic Community in 1958, which later graduated as the European Union.


The Hoftoren, Zurich tower and Castalia in the heart oh The Hague

Economy

Dutch wooden shoe

Netherlands adopted the single European currency, the euro in 1999. From the medieval times, the country has taken pioneering stand in foreign trade and well structured economic models. Netherlands leaned heavily on industrialisation in its post-independence era. A glimpse of this is most evident in the agricultural field. The mechanisation of the sector may prevent a large scale employment opportunity but it produces in substantial amounts to bring in foreign currency through exports. Among the agricultural produce the world famous Edam and Gouda cheese requires special mention. It is also well known for its production of bulbs such as tulips. The GDP/PPP of the country ranks at a whooping $481.1 billion with an impressive per capita of $29,500.
Netherlands has a well-developed transport system that includes water transport and excellent ports. In fact a considerable amount of the country's wealth is contributed annually by the financial and transportation services. Amsterdam is the den of the world's major financial centres, and Rotterdam is one of the world's busiest ports. The service sector and tourism industry absorbs a major share of the work force in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the headquarters for a number of multinational companies such as Unilever and Shell Nederland.


The Hofvijver in The Hague

Politics

The political structure of Netherlands revolves around a centralised democratic parliament and a dozen of regional ones. For administrative conveniences Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces that consist of Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-
Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland. The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815. The ruling monarchy belongs to the royal lineage of the house of Orange, which adheres to the Dutch Reformed Church. Though the executive power rests formally with the crown, but when it comes to wielding of powers in real life, the royal successor has to be satisfied with ceremonial implications only.
The monarch appoints the premier and his corresponding cabinet members and they run the government on behalf of His Majesty. The Dutch system has hardly seen any single party majority, so, the prime minister is usually the leader of the biggest coalition. The legislative power is vested in the bicameral parliament of Netherlands, known as the States-General. The 12 provincial estates elect the members of the upper chamber or Eerste Kamer. The 150-member strong lower chamber or Tweede Kamer, are chosen by direct votes by general public for four years. The same process applies for the provincial parliaments.


Utrecht
 



 

 

 
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