Netherlands

Netherlands

Overview
The Netherlands is a constituent country
Constituent country
Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts in which a country makes up a part of a larger entity. The term constituent country does not have any defined legal meaning, and is used simply to refer to a country which is a part Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts...

 of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

, located mainly in North-West Europe
North-West Europe
North-West Europe is a term that refers to a northern area of Western Europe, although the exact area or countries it comprises varies.-Geographic definition:...

 and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to the north and west, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 to the south, and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It is a parliamentary
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 organised as a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

. The country capital
Capital of the Netherlands
The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, even though the States-General and the government have been both situated in The Hague since 1588. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of 24 August 1815 and its...

 is Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 and the seat of government is The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North
North Holland
North Holland |West Frisian]]: Noard-Holland) is a province situated on the North Sea in the northwest part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is Haarlem and its largest city is Amsterdam.-Geography:...

 and South Holland
South Holland
South Holland is a province situated on the North Sea in the western part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is The Hague and its largest city is Rotterdam.South Holland is one of the most densely populated and industrialised areas in the world...

 are actually only two of its twelve provinces
Provinces of the Netherlands
A Dutch province represents the administrative layer in between the national government and the local municipalities, having the responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance. The government of each province consists of three major parts: the Provinciale Staten which is the...

 (a case of pars pro toto
Pars pro toto
Pars pro toto is Latin for "a part for the whole" where the name of a portion of an object or concept represents the entire object or context....

; see terminology of "the Netherlands"
Netherlands (terminology)
More than one name is used to refer to the Netherlands, both in English and in other languages. Some of these names refer to different, but overlapping geographical, linguistic and political areas of the country. This is a common source of confusion for outsiders...

).

The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 25% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Netherlands'
Start a new discussion about 'Netherlands'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Timeline

69   Batavian rebellion: The Batavians in Germania Inferior (Netherlands) revolt under the leadership of Gaius Julius Civilis.

1248   The Dutch city of Ommen receives city rights and fortification rights from Otto III, the Archbishop of Utrecht.

1287   St. Lucia's flood: The Zuider Zee sea wall in the Netherlands collapses, killing over 50,000 people.

1421   A seawall at the Zuiderzee dike in the Netherlands breaks, flooding 72 villages and killing about 10,000 people.

1487   Citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands strike against ban on foreign beer.

1530   The St. Felix's Flood destroys the city of Reimerswaal in the Netherlands.

1554   A great fire occurs in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

1555   Calvinists are granted rights in the Netherlands.

1566   Two-hundred Dutch noblemen, led by Hendrik van Brederode, force themselves into the presence of Margaret of Parma and present the Petition of Compromise, denouncing the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. The Inquisition is suspended and a delegation is sent to Spain to petition Philip II.

1568   The Netherlands declare their independence from Spain.

 
Encyclopedia
The Netherlands is a constituent country
Constituent country
Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts in which a country makes up a part of a larger entity. The term constituent country does not have any defined legal meaning, and is used simply to refer to a country which is a part Constituent country is a phrase sometimes used in contexts...

 of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

, located mainly in North-West Europe
North-West Europe
North-West Europe is a term that refers to a northern area of Western Europe, although the exact area or countries it comprises varies.-Geographic definition:...

 and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to the north and west, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 to the south, and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. It is a parliamentary
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 organised as a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

. The country capital
Capital of the Netherlands
The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, even though the States-General and the government have been both situated in The Hague since 1588. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of 24 August 1815 and its...

 is Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 and the seat of government is The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North
North Holland
North Holland |West Frisian]]: Noard-Holland) is a province situated on the North Sea in the northwest part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is Haarlem and its largest city is Amsterdam.-Geography:...

 and South Holland
South Holland
South Holland is a province situated on the North Sea in the western part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is The Hague and its largest city is Rotterdam.South Holland is one of the most densely populated and industrialised areas in the world...

 are actually only two of its twelve provinces
Provinces of the Netherlands
A Dutch province represents the administrative layer in between the national government and the local municipalities, having the responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance. The government of each province consists of three major parts: the Provinciale Staten which is the...

 (a case of pars pro toto
Pars pro toto
Pars pro toto is Latin for "a part for the whole" where the name of a portion of an object or concept represents the entire object or context....

; see terminology of "the Netherlands"
Netherlands (terminology)
More than one name is used to refer to the Netherlands, both in English and in other languages. Some of these names refer to different, but overlapping geographical, linguistic and political areas of the country. This is a common source of confusion for outsiders...

).

The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 25% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

. This distinct feature contributes to the country's name in many other European languages (e.g. German: Niederlande, French: Les Pays-Bas and Spanish: Países Bajos, literally mean "(The) Low Countries").
Significant land area has been gained through land reclamation
Land reclamation
Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...

 and preserved through an elaborate system of polder
Polder
A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices...

s and dikes. Much of the Netherlands is formed by the estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 of three important European rivers, which together with their distributaries
Distributary
A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. They are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary...

 form the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta
Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta
The Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta is a river delta in the Netherlands and Belgium formed by the confluence of the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt rivers. The result is a multitude of islands, branches and branch names that may at first sight look bewildering, especially as a waterway that appears to...

. Most of the country is very flat, with the exception of foothills in the far southeast and several low-hill ranges in the central parts.

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to have an elected parliament
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

. Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the EU
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, NATO, OECD
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade...

 and WTO
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

. With Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 it forms the Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

 economic union. The country is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration , is an international organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands.-History:The court was established in 1899 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution.The creation of...

, the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, is a...

, the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Special Tribunal for Lebanon
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an international tribunal for the prosecution under Lebanese law of those responsible for the assassination of Rafic Hariri on February 14, 2005. The tribunal also has jurisdiction over a series of other attacks in Lebanon if they are proven to be connected...

. The first four are situated in The Hague as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol
Europol
Europol is the European Union's criminal intelligence agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999....

 and judicial co-operation agency Eurojust
Eurojust
Eurojust is an agency of the European Union dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters....

. This has led to the city being dubbed "the world's legal capital". The Netherlands has a capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 market-based economy, ranking 13th of 157 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom
Index of Economic Freedom
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

. In May 2011, the Netherlands was ranked as the 'happiest' country according to results published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade...

.

Habsburg Netherlands 1519–1581







Under Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 and King of Spain
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

, the Netherlands region was part of the Seventeen Provinces
Seventeen Provinces
The Seventeen Provinces were a personal union of states in the Low Countries in the 15th century and 16th century, roughly covering the current Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, a good part of the North of France , and a small part of Western Germany.The Seventeen Provinces were originally held by...

, which also included most of present-day Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and some land in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

The Eighty Years' War between the provinces and Spain began in 1568. In 1579, the northern half of the Seventeen Provinces formed the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

, a treaty in which they promised to support each other in their defense against the Spanish army. The Union of Utrecht is seen as the foundation of the modern Netherlands. In 1581 the northern provinces adopted the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence in which the provinces officially deposed Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 as reigning monarch in the northern provinces.

Queen Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 sympathised with the Dutch struggle against the Spanish, and in 1585 she concluded a treaty with the Dutch whereby she promised to send an English army to the Netherlands to aid the Dutch in their war with the Spanish. In December 1585, 7,600 soldiers were sent to the Netherlands from England under the command of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, KG was an English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Elizabeth I from her first year on the throne until his death...

. However, the English army was of no real benefit to the Dutch rebellion.

Although Robert Dudley returned to the Netherlands in November 1586 with another army, the army still had little effect in the rebellion. Philip II, the son of Charles V, was not prepared to let them go easily, and war continued until 1648, when Spain under King Philip IV
Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV was King of Spain between 1621 and 1665, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and King of Portugal until 1640...

 finally recognised the independence of the seven northwestern provinces in the Peace of Münster
Peace of Münster
The Peace of Münster was a treaty between the Dutch Republic and Spain signed in 1648. It was a landmark treaty for the Dutch republic and one of the key events in Dutch history; with it, the United Netherlands finally became independent from the Spanish Crown...

. Parts of the southern provinces became de facto colonies of the new republican-mercantile empire.

Dutch Republic 1581–1795



After independence, the provinces of Holland, Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

, Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

, Friesland
Friesland
Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

, Utrecht
Utrecht (province)
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest...

, Overijssel
Overijssel
Overijssel is a province of the Netherlands in the central eastern part of the country. The region has a NUTS classification of NL21. The province's name means "Lands across river IJssel". The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede...

, and Gelre formed a confederation
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

 known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. All these provinces were autonomous and had their own government, the "States of the Province". The States-General
States-General of the Netherlands
The States-General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The parliament meets in at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The archaic Dutch word "staten" originally related to the feudal classes in which medieval...

, the confederal government, were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives from each of the seven provinces. The sparsely populated region of Drenthe
Drenthe
Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, located in the north-east of the country. The capital city is Assen. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany to the east.-History:Drenthe, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands, has been a...

, mainly consisting of poor peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

land, was part of the republic too, although Drenthe was not considered one of the provinces; it had its own States, but the landdrost
Landdrost
Landdrost was the title of various officials with local jurisdiction. It is of Dutch origin, with land- corresponding to the English meaning of an area, suggesting a somewhat larger jurisdiction than just a village or estate; and drost being a short form of Drossaard, one of many similar titles in...

 of Drenthe was appointed by the States-General. Moreover, the Republic had come to occupy during the Eighty Years' War a number of so-called Generality Lands
Generality Lands
The Generality Lands, Lands of the Generality or Common Lands were about one fifth of the territories of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, that were directly governed by the States-General...

 (Generaliteitslanden in Dutch). These territories were governed directly by the States-General. They did not have a government of their own and did not have representatives in the States-General. Their population was mainly Roman Catholic, and these areas were used as a buffer zone between the Republic and the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

.

The Dutch Empire
Dutch Empire
The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

 grew to become one of the major seafaring and economic powers of the 17th century. In the Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

 ("Gouden Eeuw"), colonies and trading post
Trading post
A trading post was a place or establishment in historic Northern America where the trading of goods took place. The preferred travel route to a trading post or between trading posts, was known as a trade route....

s were established all over the world. Dutch settlement in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 began with the founding of New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It later became New York City....

, on the southern tip of Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 in 1614. In South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, the Dutch settled the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 in 1652. By 1650, the Dutch owned 16,000 merchant ships. During the 17th century, the Dutch population increased from an estimated 1.5 million to almost 2 million.
Many economic historians regard the Netherlands as the first thoroughly capitalist
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 country in the world. In early modern Europe it featured the wealthiest trading city (Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

) and the first full-time stock exchange
Amsterdam Stock Exchange
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the former name for the stock exchange based in Amsterdam. It merged on 22 September 2000 with the Brussels Stock Exchange and the Paris Stock Exchange to form Euronext, and is now known as Euronext Amsterdam.-History:...

. The inventiveness of the traders led to insurance
Insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

 and retirement funds as well as phenomena such as the boom-bust cycle, the world's first asset-inflation bubble, the tulip mania
Tulip mania
Tulip mania or tulipomania was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed...

 of 1636–1637, and, according to Murray Sayle, the world's first bear raid
Bear raid
A bear raid is a type of stock market strategy, where a trader attempts to force down the price of a stock to cover a short position...

er, Isaac le Maire
Isaac Le Maire
Isaac le Maire was a merchant for the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie and later for the Austraalse Compagnie. He is best known for his constant strife with the VOC, which ultimately led to the discovery of Cape Horn.Isaac le Maire was born in 1558 or 1559 in Tournai...

, who forced prices down by dumping stock and then buying it back at a discount. The republic went into a state of general decline in the later 18th century, with economic competition from England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and long standing rivalries between the two main factions in Dutch society, the Staatsgezinden (Republicans) and the Prinsgezinden (Royalists or Orangists) as main factors.

In the 17th century, plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 colonies were established by the Dutch and English along the many rivers in the fertile Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

 plains. The earliest documented colony in Guiana
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

 was along the Suriname River
Suriname River
The Suriname River is 480 km long and flows through the country Suriname. Its sources are located in the Guiana Highlands on the border between the Wilhelmina Mountains and the Eilerts de Haan Mountains...

 and called Marshall's Creek. The area was named after an Englishman. Disputes arose between the Dutch and the English. In 1667, the Dutch decided to keep the nascent plantation colony of Suriname conquered from the English, resulting from the Treaty of Breda. The English were left with New Amsterdam, a small trading post in North America, which is now known as New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

French domination 1795–1814


On 19 January 1795, one day after stadtholder
Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 William V of Orange fled to England, the Bataafse Republiek (Batavian Republic
Batavian Republic
The Batavian Republic was the successor of the Republic of the United Netherlands. It was proclaimed on January 19, 1795, and ended on June 5, 1806, with the accession of Louis Bonaparte to the throne of the Kingdom of Holland....

) was proclaimed, rendering the Netherlands a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

. From 1795 to 1806, the Batavian Republic designated the Netherlands as a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 modelled after the French Republic
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

.

From 1806 to 1810, the Koninkrijk Holland (Kingdom of Holland
Kingdom of Holland
The Kingdom of Holland 1806–1810 was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Bonaparte, in order to better control the Netherlands. The name of the leading province, Holland, was now taken for the whole country...

) was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom governed by his brother Louis Bonaparte
Louis Bonaparte
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Français, Comte de Saint-Leu , King of Holland , was the fifth surviving child and the fourth surviving son of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino...

 in order to control the Netherlands more effectively. The name of the leading province, Holland, was used for the whole country. The Kingdom of Holland covered the area of the present day Netherlands, with the exception of Limburg and parts of Zeeland, which were French territory. In 1807, Prussian East Frisia
East Frisia
East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony....

 and Jever
Jever
Jever is the capital of the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony, Germany. The name Jever is usually associated with a major brand of beer which is produced here, the city is also a popular holiday resort. Jever was granted city status in 1536. Unofficially Jever is sometimes referred to as...

 were added to the kingdom. In 1809, however, after a failed British invasion
Walcheren Campaign
The Walcheren Campaign was an unsuccessful British expedition to the Netherlands in 1809 intended to open another front in the Austrian Empire's struggle with France during the War of the Fifth Coalition. Around 40,000 soldiers, 15,000 horses together with field artillery and two siege trains...

, Holland had to give over all territories south of the Rhine to France.

King Louis Bonaparte did not meet Napoleon's expectations – he tried to serve Dutch interests instead of his brother's, allowed trade with the British in spite of the Continental System
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

 and even tried to learn Dutch – and he was forced to abdicate on 1 July 1810. He was succeeded by his five-year-old son Napoleon Louis Bonaparte
Napoleon Louis Bonaparte
Napoléon Louis Bonaparte , or Louis II of Holland, was the middle son of Louis Napoléon, King of Holland, and Hortense de Beauharnais. His father was the younger brother of Emperor Napoléon I and king of Holland, while his mother was the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, Napoléon's first wife...

. Napoleon Louis reigned as Louis II for just ten days as Napoleon ignored his young nephew’s accession to the throne. The Emperor sent in an army to invade the country and dissolved the Kingdom of Holland. The Netherlands then became part of the French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

.

The Netherlands remained part of the French Empire until the autumn of 1813, when Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Leipzig
Battle of Leipzig
The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations, on 16–19 October 1813, was fought by the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden against the French army of Napoleon. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine...

 and forced to withdraw his troops from the country.

Kingdom of the Netherlands 1815–1940



William I of the Netherlands
William I of the Netherlands
William I Frederick, born Willem Frederik Prins van Oranje-Nassau , was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg....

, son of the last stadtholder William V van Oranje
William V, Prince of Orange
William V , Prince of Orange-Nassau was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, and between 1795 and 1806 he led the Government of the Dutch Republic in Exile in London. He was succeeded by his son William I...

, returned to the Netherlands in 1813 and became Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands. On 16 March 1815, the Sovereign Prince became King of the Netherlands.

In 1815, the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name used to refer to Kingdom of the Netherlands during the period after it was first created from part of the First French Empire and before the new kingdom of Belgium split out in 1830...

 by expanding the Netherlands with Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 in order to create a strong country on the northern border of France. In addition, William became hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg
The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg consists of the extended family of the sovereign Grand Duke....

. The Congress of Vienna gave Luxembourg to William as personal property in exchange for his German possessions, Nassau-Dillenburg, Siegen
Siegen
Siegen is a city in Germany, in the south Westphalian part of North Rhine-Westphalia.It is located in the district of Siegen-Wittgenstein in the Arnsberg region...

, Hadamar
Hadamar
Hadamar is a small town in Limburg-Weilburg district in Hesse, Germany.Hadamar is known for its Clinic for Forensic Psychiatry/Centre for Social Psychiatry, lying at the edge of town, in whose outlying buildings is also found the Hadamar Memorial...

, and Diez.

Belgium rebelled and gained independence in 1830, while the personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 between Luxembourg and the Netherlands was severed in 1890, when King William III of the Netherlands died with no surviving male heirs. Ascendancy laws
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

 prevented his daughter Queen Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Wilhelmina was Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. She ruled the Netherlands for fifty-eight years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw World War I and World War II, the economic crisis of 1933, and the decline of the Netherlands as a major colonial...

 from becoming the next Grand Duchess. Therefore the throne of Luxembourg passed over from the House of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

 to the House of Nassau-Weilburg, a junior branch of the House of Nassau
House of Nassau
The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The lords of Nassau were originally titled Count of Nassau, then elevated to the princely class as...

.

The largest Dutch settlement abroad was the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

. It was established by Jan van Riebeeck
Jan van Riebeeck
Johan Anthoniszoon "Jan" van Riebeeck was a Dutch colonial administrator and founder of Cape Town.-Biography:...

 on behalf of the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 at Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

  in 1652. The Prince of Orange acquiesced to British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 occupation and control of the Cape Colony in 1788. The Netherlands also possessed several other colonies
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

, but Dutch settlement in these lands was limited. Most notable were the vast Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

 (now Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

) and Dutch Guiana
Dutch Guiana
Dutch Guiana, also known as Netherlands Guyana or Dutch Guyana , is the name given to various Dutch colonies on the northern coast of South America, created by the Dutch West India Company...

 (now Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

). These 'colonies' were first administered by the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants. Among its founding fathers was Willem Usselincx...

, both collective private enterprises. Three centuries later these companies got into financial trouble, and the territories in which they operated were taken over by the Dutch government (in 1815 and 1791 respectively). Only then did they become official colonies.

During its colonial period the Netherlands was heavily involved in the slave trade. The Dutch planters
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 relied heavily on African slaves to cultivate the coffee, cocoa, sugar cane and cotton plantations along the rivers. Treatment of the slaves by their owners was notoriously bad, and many slaves escaped the plantations. Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in Dutch Guiana in 1863, but the slaves were not fully released until 1873, after a mandatory 10 year transition period during which time they were required to work on the plantations for minimal pay and without state sanctioned torture. As soon as they became truly free, the slaves largely abandoned the plantations where they had suffered for several generations in favor of the city Paramaribo
Paramaribo
Paramaribo is the capital and largest city of Suriname, located on banks of the Suriname River in the Paramaribo District. Paramaribo has a population of roughly 250,000 people, more than half of Suriname's population...

. Every year this is remembered during Keti Koti
Keti Koti
Keti Koti , July 1, is the Emancipation Day in Suriname.Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in Suriname in 1863. However, slaves in Suriname would not be fully free until 1873, after a mandatory 10 year transition period during which time they were required to work on the plantations for...

, 1 July, Emancipation Day (end of slavery).

During the 19th century, the Netherlands was slow to industrialize compared to neighbouring countries, mainly because of the great complexity involved in modernizing the infrastructure, consisting largely of waterways, and the great reliance its industry had on windpower.

Although the Netherlands remained neutral
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, it was heavily involved in the war. German general Count Schlieffen, who was Chief of the Imperial German General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

 had originally planned to invade the Netherlands while advancing into France in the original Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory in a possible future war in which the German Empire might find itself fighting on two fronts: France to the west and Russia to the east...

. This was changed by Schlieffen's successor Helmuth von Moltke the Younger
Helmuth von Moltke the Younger
Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke , also known as Moltke the Younger, was a nephew of Field Marshal Count Moltke and served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger...

 in order to maintain Dutch neutrality. Later during the war Dutch neutrality proved essential to German survival until the blockade by Great Britain in 1916, when the import of goods through the Netherlands was no longer possible. However, the Dutch were able to continue to remain neutral during the war using their diplomacy and their ability to trade.

Second World War 1940–1945




The Netherlands intended to remain neutral during the Second World War, although contingency plans involving the armies of Belgium, France and the United Kingdom were drawn up in case of German aggression. Despite this neutrality, Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 invaded the Netherlands
Battle of the Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was part of Case Yellow , the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until 14 May 1940 when the main Dutch forces surrendered...

 on 10 May 1940 as part of their campaign against the Allied forces. French forces in the south and British ships in the west came to help but turned around quickly, evacuating many civilians and several thousand German prisoners of war from the German elite airborne divisions.

The country was overrun in five days. Only after (but not because of) the bombing of Rotterdam, the main element of the Dutch army surrendered on 14 May 1940, although a Dutch and French force held the western part of Zeeland for some time after the surrender. The Kingdom as such, continued the war from the colonial empire; the government in exile
Government in exile
A government in exile is a political group that claims to be a country's legitimate government, but for various reasons is unable to exercise its legal power, and instead resides in a foreign country. Governments in exile usually operate under the assumption that they will one day return to their...

 resided in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.

During the occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

, over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up to be transported to Nazi German concentration camps in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, German-occupied Poland
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

 and German-occupied Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. By the time these camps were liberated, only 876 Dutch Jews survived. Dutch workers were conscripted for forced labour in German factories, civilians were killed in reprisal for attacks on German soldiers, and the countryside was plundered for food for German soldiers in the Netherlands and for shipment to Germany. Although there were thousands of Dutch who risked their lives by hiding Jews from the Germans, as recounted in The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom
Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom was a Dutch Christian, who with her father and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. Her family was arrested due to an informant in 1944, and her father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison where they were first held...

 and The Heart Has Reasons by Mark Klempner
Mark Klempner
Mark Klempner is a folklorist, oral historian and social commentator.-Early life:Klempner grew up in New York City, and attended Cornell University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1997, and winning a J. William Fulbright Fellowship. In 2000, he received an M.A...

, there were also thousands of Dutch who collaborated with the occupying force in hunting down hiding Jews. Local fascists and anti-Bolsheviks joined the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 in the 4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Netherlands
4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Netherlands
The 23rd SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Nederland. was a German Waffen SS volunteer division comprising volunteers of Dutch background...

, fighting on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 as well as other units. Racial restrictions were relaxed to the extent that even Asians from Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) units were recruited.

On 8 December 1941, the Netherlands declared war on Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. The government-in-exile then lost control of its major colonial stronghold, the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), to Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 forces in March 1942. "American-British-Dutch-Australian
American-British-Dutch-Australian Command
The American-British-Dutch-Australian Command, or ABDACOM, was a short-lived, supreme command for all Allied forces in South East Asia, in early 1942, during the Pacific War in World War II...

" (ABDA) forces fought hard in some instances but were overwhelmed. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia
Japanese Occupation of Indonesia
The Japanese Empire occupied Indonesia, known then as the Dutch East Indies, during World War II from March 1942 until after the end of War in 1945...

, the Japanese interned Dutch civilians and used Dutch and Indos (Eurasians of Dutch and Indonesian descent) alike as forced labour, both in the Netherlands East Indies and in neighbouring countries. This included forcing women to work as "comfort women
Comfort women
The term "comfort women" was a euphemism used to describe women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 from some Japanese scholars to as high as 410,000 from some Chinese...

" (sex slaves) for Japanese personnel.

The Dutch Red Cross reported the deaths in Japanese custody of 14,800 European civilians out of 80,000 interned and 12,500 of the 34,000 POW captured. A later UN report stated that 4 million people died in Indonesia as a result of famine and forced labour (known as romusha
Romusha
were forced laborers during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II. The U.S. Library of Congress estimates that in Java, between four and 10 million romusha were forced to work by the Japanese military. About 270,000 of these Javanese laborers were sent to other Japanese-held areas...

) during the Japanese occupation. Some military personnel escaped to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and other Allied countries from where they carried on the fight against Japan. The Japanese furthered the cause of independence for the colony, so that after VE day many young Dutchmen found themselves fighting a colonial war against the new republic of Indonesia.

Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and heir to the throne, sought refuge in Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, with her two daughters, Beatrix and Irene, during the war. During Princess Juliana’s stay in Canada, preparations were made for the birth of her third child. To ensure the Dutch citizenship of this royal baby, the Canadian Parliament passed a special law declaring Princess Juliana's suite at the Ottawa Civic Hospital “extraterritorial”.
On 19 January 1943, Princess Margriet was born. The day after Princess Margriet's birth, the Dutch flag was flown on the Peace Tower
Peace Tower
The Peace Tower is a focal bell and clock tower, sitting on the central axis of the Centre Block of the Canadian parliament buildings in Ottawa, Ontario. The present incarnation replaced the Victoria Tower after the latter burned down in 1916, along with most of the Centre Block...

. This was the only time in history a foreign flag has waved above Canada’s Parliament Buildings. In 1944–45, the First Canadian Army
First Canadian Army
The First Canadian Army was the senior Canadian operational formation in Europe during the Second World War.The Army was formed in early 1942, replacing the existing unnumbered Canadian Corps, as the growing number of Canadian forces in the United Kingdom necessitated an expansion to two corps...

 was responsible for liberating much of the Netherlands from German occupation. The joyous "Canadian summer" that ensued after the liberation, forged deep and long-lasting bonds of friendship between the Netherlands and Canada (See Canada–Netherlands relations). In 1949, Dutch troops occupied an area of 69 km² (27 sq mi) of the British zone of occupied Germany and annexed it. At that time, these areas were inhabited by almost 10,000 people.

Recent history 1945–present


After the war, the Dutch economy prospered by leaving behind an era of neutrality and gaining closer ties with neighbouring states. The Netherlands was one of the founding members of the Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

 (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) grouping, was among the twelve founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and was among the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community
European Coal and Steel Community
The European Coal and Steel Community was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union...

, which would later evolve, via the EEC
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 (Common Market), into the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

The 1960s and 1970s were a time of great social and cultural change, such as rapid ontzuiling (literally: depillarisation), a term that describes the decay of the old divisions along class and religious lines. Youths, and students in particular, rejected traditional mores and pushed for change in matters like women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

, sexuality
Human sexuality
Human sexuality is the awareness of gender differences, and the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses. Human sexuality can also be described as the way someone is sexually attracted to another person whether it is to opposite sexes , to the same sex , to either sexes , or not being...

, disarmament
Disarmament
Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms...

 and environmental issues.

Today, the Netherlands is regarded as a liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 country, considering its drugs policy
Drug policy of the Netherlands
The drug policy of the Netherlands officially has four major objectives:# To prevent recreational drug use and to treat and rehabilitate recreational drug users.# To reduce harm to users....

 and its legalisation of euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

. On 1 April 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation to allow same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 1 April 2001...

.

On 10 October 2010 the Netherlands Antilles
Netherlands Antilles
The Netherlands Antilles , also referred to informally as the Dutch Antilles, was an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of two groups of islands in the Lesser Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao , in Leeward Antilles just off the Venezuelan coast; and Sint...

—a former country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

 in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

—was dissolved. Referendums were held on each island of the Netherlands Antilles between June 2000 and April 2005 to determine their future status. As a result the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) were to obtain closer ties with the Netherlands. This led to the incorporation of these three islands into the country of the Netherlands as special municipalities upon the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles. The special municipalities are collectively known as the Caribbean Netherlands.

Geography



The European area of the Netherlands lies between latitudes 50°
50th parallel north
The 50th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 50 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 54° N
54th parallel north
The 54th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 54 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes
3rd meridian east
The meridian 3° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 8° E
8th meridian east
The meridian 8° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

The country is divided into two main parts by three large rivers, the Rhine (Rijn) and its main distributaries, the Waal and the Meuse
Meuse River
The Maas or Meuse is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea...

 (Maas). These rivers functioned as a natural barrier between earlier fiefdoms and hence created traditionally a cultural divide, as is evident in some phonetic traits that are recognizable north and south of these "Large Rivers" (de Grote Rivieren).

The southwestern part of the Netherlands is a river delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 and two tributaries of the Scheldt
Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

 (Westerschelde and Oosterschelde). Only one significant branch of the Rhine flows northeastward, the IJssel
IJssel
River IJssel , sometimes called Gelderse IJssel to avoid confusion with its Hollandse IJssel namesake in the west of the Netherlands, is a branch of the Rhine in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel...

 river, discharging into the IJsselmeer
IJsselmeer
IJsselmeer is a shallow artificial lake of 1100 km² in the central Netherlands bordering the provinces of Flevoland, North Holland and Friesland, with an average depth of 5 to 6 m. The IJsselmeer is the largest lake in Western Europe....

, the former Zuiderzee ('southern sea'). This river also forms a linguistic divide: people to the east of this river speak Dutch Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon is a group of Low Saxon, i.e. West Low German dialects spoken in the northeastern Netherlands. In comparison, the remainder of the Netherlands speak a collection of Low Franconian dialects.The class "Dutch Low Saxon" is not unanimous...

 dialects (except for the province of Friesland
Friesland
Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

, which has its own language).

Floods


Over the centuries, the Dutch coastline has changed considerably as a result of human intervention and natural disasters. Most notable in terms of land loss is the 1134 storm, which created the archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 of Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

 in the southwest.

On 14 December 1287, St. Lucia's flood
St. Lucia's flood
St. Lucia's flood was a storm tide that affected the Netherlands and Northern Germany on December 14, 1287 when a dike broke during a storm, killing approximately 50,000 to 80,000 people in the fifth largest flood in recorded history. Much land was permanently flooded in what is now the Waddenzee...

 affected the Netherlands and Germany killing more than 50,000 people in one of the most destructive floods in recorded history. The St. Elizabeth flood
St. Elizabeth's flood (1421)
The St. Elizabeth's flood of 1421 was a flooding of an area in what is now the Netherlands. It takes its name from the feast day of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary which was formerly November 19....

 of 1421 and the mismanagement in its aftermath destroyed a newly reclaimed polder
Polder
A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices...

, replacing it with the 72 square kilometre Biesbosch
Biesbosch
De Biesbosch , is one of the largest national parks of the Netherlands and one of the last freshwater tide areas in Europe. The Biesbosch consists of a rather large network of rivers and smaller and larger creeks with islands. The vegetation is mostly willow forests, although wet grasslands and...

tidal floodplains in the south-centre. The last major flood in the Netherlands
North Sea flood of 1953
The 1953 North Sea flood was a major flood caused by a heavy storm, that occurred on the night of Saturday 31 January 1953 and morning of 1 February 1953. The floods struck the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm caused a...

 took place in early February 1953, when a huge storm caused the collapse of several dikes in the southwest of the Netherlands. More than 1,800 people drowned in the ensuing inundations. The Dutch government subsequently decided on a large-scale program of public works (the "Delta Works") to protect the country against future flooding. The project took more than thirty years to complete.

The disasters were partially increased in severity through human influence. People had drained relatively high lying swampland to use it as farmland. This drainage caused the fertile peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

 to compress and the ground level to drop, whereby they would lower the water level to compensate for the drop in ground level, causing the underlying peat to compress even more. Due to the flooding, farming was difficult, which encouraged foreign trade, the result of which was that the Dutch were involved in world affairs since the early 14th/15th century. The flooding problem remains unsolvable to this day. Also, up until the 19th century peat was mined, dried, and used for fuel, further adding to the problem.

To guard against floods, a series of defences against the water were contrived. In the first millennium AD, villages and farmhouses were built on man-made hills called terps. Later, these terps were connected by dikes. In the 12th century, local government agencies called "waterschappen
Water board (The Netherlands)
Dutch water boards are regional government bodies charged with managing the water barriers, the waterways, the water levels, water quality and sewage treatment in their respective regions...

"
(English "water bodies") or "hoogheemraadschappen
Water board (The Netherlands)
Dutch water boards are regional government bodies charged with managing the water barriers, the waterways, the water levels, water quality and sewage treatment in their respective regions...

"
("high home councils") started to appear, whose job it was to maintain the water level and to protect a region from floods. (These agencies exist to this day, performing the same function.) As the ground level dropped, the dikes by necessity grew and merged into an integrated system. By the 13th century, windmill
Windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...

s had come into use in order to pump water out of areas below sea level. The windmills were later used to drain lakes, creating the famous polders.

In 1932, the Afsluitdijk
Afsluitdijk
The Afsluitdijk is a major causeway in the Netherlands, constructed between 1927 and 1933 and running from Den Oever on Wieringen in North Holland province, to the village of Zurich in Friesland province, over a length of and a width of 90 m, at an initial height of 7.25 m above sea-level.It is...

(English "Closure Dike") was completed, blocking the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) from the North Sea and thus creating the IJsselmeer
IJsselmeer
IJsselmeer is a shallow artificial lake of 1100 km² in the central Netherlands bordering the provinces of Flevoland, North Holland and Friesland, with an average depth of 5 to 6 m. The IJsselmeer is the largest lake in Western Europe....

 (IJssel
IJssel
River IJssel , sometimes called Gelderse IJssel to avoid confusion with its Hollandse IJssel namesake in the west of the Netherlands, is a branch of the Rhine in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel...

 Lake). It became part of the larger Zuiderzee Works
Zuiderzee Works
The Zuiderzee Works are a manmade system of dams, land reclamation and water drainage works, the largest hydraulic engineering project undertaken by the Netherlands during the twentieth century. The project involved the damming of the Zuiderzee, a large, shallow inlet of the North Sea, and the...

 in which four polders totalling 2500 square kilometre were reclaimed from the sea.

Additionally, the Netherlands is one of the countries that may suffer most from climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. Not only is the rising sea a problem, but also erratic weather patterns may cause the rivers to overflow.

Delta Works




After the 1953 disaster
North Sea flood of 1953
The 1953 North Sea flood was a major flood caused by a heavy storm, that occurred on the night of Saturday 31 January 1953 and morning of 1 February 1953. The floods struck the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm caused a...

, the Delta Works
Delta Works
The Delta Works is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, levees, and storm surge barriers...

 were constructed, a comprehensive set of civil works throughout the Dutch coast. The project started in 1958 and was largely completed in 1997 with the completion of the Maeslantkering
Maeslantkering
The Maeslantkering is a storm surge barrier in the Nieuwe Waterweg waterway located between the towns of Hoek van Holland and Maassluis, Netherlands, , which automatically closes when needed...

. A main goal of the Delta project was to reduce the risk of flooding in South Holland and Zeeland to once per 10,000 years (compared to1 per 4000 years for the rest of the country). This was achieved by raising 3000 kilometres (1,864 mi) of outer sea-dykes and 10000 kilometres (6,214 mi) of inner, canal, and river dikes, and by closing off the sea estuaries
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 of the Zeeland province. New risk assessments occasionally show problems requiring additional Delta project dyke reinforcements. The Delta project is one of the largest construction efforts in human history and is considered by the American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Civil Engineers
The American Society of Civil Engineers is a professional body founded in 1852 to represent members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. It is the oldest national engineering society in the United States. ASCE's vision is to have engineers positioned as global leaders who strive toward...

 as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

Climate


The predominant wind direction in the Netherlands is southwest, which causes a moderate maritime climate
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

, with cool summers and mild winters. This is especially the case with places within direct proximity of the Dutch coastline, which sometimes are over 10 C-change warmer (in winter) or cooler (in summer) than places in the (south)east of the country.

The following tables are based on mean measurements by the KNMI weather station in De Bilt
De Bilt
De Bilt is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht.-Population centres :The municipality of De Bilt consists of the following cities, towns, villages and/or districts: Bilthoven, De Bilt, Groenekan, Hollandsche Rading, Maartensdijk, Westbroek...

 between 1971 and 2000:
Ice days (maximum temperature below 0 °C) usually occur from December until February, with the occasional rare ice day prior to or after that period. Freezing days (minimum temperature below 0 °C) occur much more often, usually ranging from mid November to late March, but not rarely measured as early as mid October and as late as mid May. If one chooses the height of measurement to be 10 cm. above ground instead of 150 cm., one may even find such temperatures in the middle of the summer.

Warm days (maximum temperature above 20 °C) in De Bilt are usually measured in the time span of April until September, but in some parts of the country such temperatures can also occur in March and October (this is usually not in De Bilt, however). Summer days (maximum temperature above 25 °C) are usually measured in De Bilt from May until August, tropical days (maximum temperature above 30 °C) are rare and usually occur only from June until August.

Precipitation throughout the year is relatively equally shared by each month. Summer and autumn months tend to gather a little bit more precipitation than other months, mainly because of the intensity of the rainfall rather than the frequency of rain days (this is especially the case in summer, when lightning too is much more frequent than otherwise).

The number of sunshine hours is affected by the fact that due to the geographical latitude the length of the days varies between barely eight hours in December and nearly 17 hours in June.

Environment



The Netherlands has 20 national parks and hundreds of other nature reserves. Most are owned by Staatsbosbeheer
Staatsbosbeheer
Staatsbosbeheer is a Dutch organization founded in 1899 to control and conserve Dutch nature reserves.Staatsbosbeheer currently oversees over 250.000 hectares of land in the Netherlands. Usually this land is open to the public for recreational purposes, but restrictions often apply...

 and Natuurmonumenten
Natuurmonumenten
Vereniging tot Behoud van Natuurmonumenten in Nederland is a Dutch organisation founded in 1905 by Jac. P. Thijsse, that buys, protects and manages nature reserves in the Netherlands. It was awarded the Gouden Ganzenveer in 1986....

 and include lakes, heathland, woods
Woodland
Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of...

, dunes and other habitats.

Phytogeographically
Phytogeography
Phytogeography , also called geobotany, is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species...

, the Netherlands is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region
Circumboreal Region
The Circumboreal Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in Eurasia and North America, as delineated by such geobotanists as Josias Braun-Blanquet and Armen Takhtajan....

 within the Boreal Kingdom
Boreal Kingdom
The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good , which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia...

. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, the territory of the Netherlands belongs to the ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 of Atlantic mixed forests.

In 1871 the last old original natural woods (Beekbergerwoud) were cut down, and most woods today are planted monocultures of trees like Scots Pine
Scots Pine
Pinus sylvestris, commonly known as the Scots Pine, is a species of pine native to Europe and Asia, ranging from Scotland, Ireland and Portugal in the west, east to eastern Siberia, south to the Caucasus Mountains, and as far north as well inside the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia...

 and trees that are not native to the Netherlands. These woods were planted on anthropogenic heaths and sand-drifts (overgrazed heaths) (Veluwe
Veluwe
The Veluwe is a forest-rich ridge of hills in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands. The Veluwe features many different landscapes including woodland, heath, some small lakes and Europe's largest sand drifts....

).

Politics




The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 since 1848. The Netherlands is described as a consociational state. Dutch politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and governance are characterised by an effort to achieve broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole. In 2010, The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

ranked the Netherlands as the tenth most democratic country in the world
Democracy Index
The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit that claims to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are UN member states...

.

The monarch is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, at present Queen Beatrix. Constitutionally, the position is equipped with limited powers. The monarch can exert some influence during the formation of a new cabinet, where they serve as neutral arbiter between the political parties. Additionally, the king (the title queen has no constitutional significance) has the right to be informed and consulted. Depending on the personality and qualities of the king and the ministers, the king might have influence beyond the power granted by the constitution.

In practice, the executive power
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

 is formed by the ministerraad, the deliberative council of the Dutch cabinet
Cabinet of the Netherlands
The cabinet of the Netherlands is the main executive body of the Dutch government. The current cabinet of the Netherlands is the Rutte cabinet.-Composition and role:...

. The cabinet consists usually of thirteen to sixteen ministers and a varying number of state secretaries
State Secretary (Netherlands)
State Secretary is the title of a junior member of the Dutch or Belgian cabinet. Other terms for the title are deputy minister, junior minister or vice-minister...

. One to three ministers are ministers without portfolio
Minister without Portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...

. The head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 is the Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands is the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands. He is the de facto head of government of the Netherlands and coordinates the policy of the government...

, who often is the leader of the largest party of the coalition. In fact, this has been continuously the case since 1973. The Prime Minister is a primus inter pares
Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares is Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.When not used in reference to a specific title, it may indicate that the person so described is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance by their peers...

, meaning he has no explicit powers beyond those of the other ministers. Currently, the Prime Minister is Mark Rutte
Mark Rutte
Mark Rutte is a Dutch politician who has been Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 14 October 2010, as well as Minister of General Affairs in the Rutte cabinet...

.

The cabinet is responsible
Ministerial responsibility
Ministerial responsibility or individual ministerial responsibility is a constitutional convention in governments using the Westminster System that a cabinet minister bears the ultimate responsibility for the actions of their ministry or department...

 to the bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

, the States-General
States-General of the Netherlands
The States-General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The parliament meets in at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The archaic Dutch word "staten" originally related to the feudal classes in which medieval...

, which also has legislative powers. The 150 members of the House of Representatives, the Lower House
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

, are elected in direct election
Direct election
Direct election is a term describing a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the person, persons or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the...

s, which are held every four years or after the fall of the cabinet (by example: when one of the chambers carries a motion of no-confidence, the cabinet offers its resignation to the monarch). The States-Provincial
States-Provincial
The States'-Provincial is the provincial parliament and legislative assembly in each of the Provinces of the Netherlands. It is elected for each province simultaneously once every four years and has the responsibility for matters of sub-national or regional importance...

 are directly elected every four years as well. The members of the provincial assemblies elect the 75 members of the Senate, the upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

, which has less legislative powers, as it can merely reject laws, not propose or amend them.

Both trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s and employers organisations are consulted beforehand in policymaking in the financial, economic and social areas. They meet regularly with government in the Social-Economic Council
Social-Economic Council
The Sociaal-Economische Raad is a major economic advisory council of the Dutch government. Formally it heads a system of sector-based regulatory organizations. It represents the social partners trade unions and employers' organizations...

. This body advises government and its advice cannot be put aside easily.

The Netherlands has a long tradition of social tolerance
Toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

. In the 18th century, while the Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was a Reformed Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It existed from the 1570s to 2004, the year it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to form the Protestant Church in the...

 was the state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

, Catholicism
Roman Catholicism in the Netherlands
The Catholic Church in the Netherlands; , is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. Although the number of Catholics in the Netherlands has decreased significantly in recent decades, the Dutch Catholic Church is today the largest...

 and Judaism
History of the Jews in the Netherlands
Most history of the Jews in the Netherlands was generated between the end of the 16th century and World War II.The area now known as the Netherlands was once part of the Spanish Empire but in 1581, the northern Dutch provinces declared independence...

 were tolerated. In the late 19th century this Dutch tradition of religious tolerance transformed into a system of pillarisation
Pillarisation
Pillarisation is a term used to describe the politico-denominational segregation of Dutch and Belgian society. These societies were "vertically" divided into several segments or "pillars" according to different religions or ideologies.These pillars all had their own social institutions: their own...

, in which religious groups coexisted separately and only interacted at the level of government. This tradition of tolerance is linked to Dutch criminal justice
Criminal justice system of the Netherlands
The criminal justice system of the Netherlands is the system of practices and institutions of the Netherlands directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts. The Netherlands criminal...

 policies on recreational drugs
Drug policy of the Netherlands
The drug policy of the Netherlands officially has four major objectives:# To prevent recreational drug use and to treat and rehabilitate recreational drug users.# To reduce harm to users....

, prostitution
Prostitution in the Netherlands
Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and regulated. Operating a brothel is also legal. In the last few years, a significant number of brothels and "windows" have been closed because of suspected criminal activity...

, LGBT rights, euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

, and abortion
Abortion in the Netherlands
Abortion in the Netherlands was fully legalized on November 1, 1984, allowing abortions to be done on-demand until the twenty-first week. Cases which involve urgent medical attention can be aborted until the twenty-fourth week. There is a five-day waiting period for abortions.- History :Abortion...

, which are among the most liberal in the world.

Political parties



Due to the multi-party system, no single party has held a majority in parliament since the 19th century, and coalition cabinets
Coalition government
A coalition government is a cabinet of a parliamentary government in which several political parties cooperate. The usual reason given for this arrangement is that no party on its own can achieve a majority in the parliament...

 had to be formed. Since suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 became universal in 1919, the Dutch political system has been dominated by three families of political parties: the strongest family were the Christian democrats
Christian Democracy
Christian democracy is a political ideology that seeks to apply Christian principles to public policy. It emerged in nineteenth-century Europe under the influence of conservatism and Catholic social teaching...

, currently represented by the Christian Democratic Appeal
Christian Democratic Appeal
The Christian Democratic Appeal is a centre-right Dutch Christian democratic political party. It suffered severe losses in the 2010 elections and fell from the first to the fourth place...

 (CDA), second were the social democrats
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

, of which the Labour Party (PvdA), and third were the liberals
Liberalism in the Netherlands
This article gives an overview of liberalism in the Netherlands. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament.-Background:...

, of which the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy
The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy is a conservative-liberal political party located in the Netherlands. The VVD supports private enterprise in the Netherlands and is often perceived as an economic liberal party in contrast to the social-liberal Democrats 66 alongside which it sits in...

 (VVD) is the main representative.

These parties cooperated in coalition cabinets in which the Christian democrats had always been a partner: so either a centre left coalition of the Christian democrats and social democrats was ruling or a centre right coalition of Christian democrats and liberals. In the 1970s, the party system became more volatile: the Christian democratic parties lost seats, while new parties became successful, such as the radical
Radicalism (historical)
The term Radical was used during the late 18th century for proponents of the Radical Movement. It later became a general pejorative term for those favoring or seeking political reforms which include dramatic changes to the social order...

 democrat and progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 D66.

In the 1994 election
Dutch general election, 1994
The General Election to the House of Representatives of the States-General of the Netherlands was held in the Netherlands on May 3, 1994.-Results:...

, the CDA lost its dominant position. A "purple
Purple (government)
Purple is a common term in politics for governments or other political entities consisting of parties that have red and blue as their political colours...

" cabinet was formed by VVD, D66, and PvdA. In the 2002 elections
Dutch general election, 2002
The General Election to the House of Representatives of the States-General of the Netherlands was held in the Netherlands on May 15, 2002....

, this cabinet lost its majority, due to an increased support for the CDA and the rise of the LPF, a new political party around Pim Fortuyn
Pim Fortuyn
Wilhelmus Simon Petrus Fortuijn, known as Pim Fortuyn was a Dutch politician, civil servant, sociologist, author and professor who formed his own party, Pim Fortuyn List ....

, who was assassinated a week before the elections. A short-lived cabinet
First Balkenende cabinet
The first cabinet of Jan Peter Balkenende was in office in the Netherlands from 22 July 2002 until 16 October of the same year. The term of 87 days was the shortest since the fifth cabinet of Hendrikus Colijn .Following the 15 May 2002...

 was formed by CDA, VVD, and LPF, which was led by CDA leader Jan Peter Balkenende
Jan Peter Balkenende
Jan Pieter "Jan Peter" Balkenende is a Dutch politician of the party Christian Democratic Appeal .He was the Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 22 July 2002 until 14 October 2010, having led four coalition governments, cabinets Balkenende I, II, III and IV, none of which served a full...

. After the 2003 elections
Dutch general election, 2003
The General Election to the House of Representatives of the States-General of the Netherlands was held in the Netherlands on January 22, 2003.-Background:...

 in which the LPF lost most of its seats, a cabinet was formed by CDA, VVD, and D66. The cabinet initiated an ambitious program of reforming the welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

, the health care system
Health care system
A health care system is the organization of people, institutions, and resources to deliver health care services to meet the health needs of target populations....

, and the immigration
Immigration policy
An immigration policy is any policy of a state that deals with the transit of persons across its borders into the country, but especially those that intend to work and to remain in the country. Immigration policies can range from allowing no migration at all to allowing most types of migration,...

 policies.

In June 2006, the cabinet fell after D66 voted in favour of a motion of no confidence against minister of immigration and integration Rita Verdonk
Rita Verdonk
Maria Cornelia Frederika "Rita" Verdonk is a retired Dutch politician initially of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy until she was expelled in October 2007, she later formed her own party Proud of the Netherlands . She served as Minister for Integration and Immigration in Cabinets...

, who had instigated an investigation of the asylum procedure of VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Magan Ali is a Somali-Dutch feminist and atheist activist, writer, politician who strongly opposes circumcision and female genital cutting. She is the daughter of the Somali politician and opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse and is a founder of the women's rights organisation the AHA...

. A care taker cabinet was formed by CDA and VVD, and the general elections
Dutch general election, 2006
The General Election to the House of Representatives of the States-General of the Netherlands was held in the Netherlands on November 22, 2006. And followed the call for new elections after the fall of the Second Balkenende cabinet....

 were held on 22 November 2006. In these elections, the CDA remained the largest party and the SP
Socialist Party (Netherlands)
The Socialist Party is a democratic socialist political party in the Netherlands. After the 2006 general election, the Socialist Party became one of the major parties of the Netherlands with 25 seats of 150, an increase of 16 seats. The party was in opposition against the fourth Balkenende cabinet...

 made the largest gains. The formation of a new cabinet took three months, resulting in a coalition of CDA, PvdA, and ChristianUnion
ChristianUnion
The ChristianUnion , abbreviated to CU, is a Dutch Christian democratic political party. A centrist party, the CU's policies combine social conservatism and soft euroscepticism with more centre-left positions on economic, immigration, and environmental issues.Founded in 2000 as a merger of the...

.

On 20 February 2010, the cabinet fell when the PvdA refused to prolong the involvement of the Dutch Army in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Snap election
Snap election
A snap election is an election called earlier than expected. Generally it refers to an election in a parliamentary system called when not required , usually to capitalize on a unique electoral opportunity or to decide a pressing issue...

s were held on 9 June 2010
Dutch general election, 2010
The 2010 Dutch general election was held on Wednesday, 9 June 2010. After the fall of the cabinet Balkenende IV on 20 February, Queen Beatrix accepted the resignation of the Labour Party ministers on 23 February...

, with devastating results for the previously largest party, the CDA, which lost about half of its seats, resulting in 21 seats. The VVD became the largest party with 31 seats, closely followed by the PvdA with 30 seats. The big winner of the 2010 elections was Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders is a Dutch right-wing politician and leader of the Party for Freedom , the third-largest political party in the Netherlands. He is the Parliamentary group leader of his party in the Dutch House of Representatives...

 whose PVV
Party for Freedom
The Party for Freedom is a Dutch right-wing political party. Founded in 2005 as the successor to Geert Wilders' one-man party in the House of Representatives, it won nine seats in the 2006 general election, making it the fifth largest party in parliament, and third largest opposition party. It...

 more than doubled in number of seats. Negotiation talks for a new government
2010 Dutch cabinet formation
Following the Dutch general election of 2010, held on June 9, a process of cabinet formation started, which typically involves 3 phases:# exploring with which parties to form a coalition,# negotiating to draft a coalition agreement ,...

 have resulted in a VVD-led minority government
Minority government
A minority government or a minority cabinet is a cabinet of a parliamentary system formed when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament but is sworn into government to break a Hung Parliament election result. It is also known as a...

 in coalition with CDA as of 14 October 2010. This minority government is supported by PVV.

Administrative divisions


The Netherlands is divided into twelve administrative regions, called province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

s, each under a Governor
Governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

, who is called Commissaris van de Koningin (Commissioner of the Queen), except for the province Limburg
Limburg (Netherlands)
Limburg is the southernmost of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. It is located in the southeastern part of the country and bordered by the province of Gelderland to the north, Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and part of the west, andthe Dutch province of North Brabant partly to...

 where the commissioner is called Gouverneur (Governor
Governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

). All provinces are divided into municipalities
Municipalities of the Netherlands
|All provinces of the Netherlands are divided into municipalities , together 418 , excl. the 3 "special municipalities" of the Caribbean Netherlands.Among the municipalities we can distinguish:...

 (gemeenten), 430 in total (13 March 2010).

The country is also subdivided in water districts, governed by a water board
Water board (The Netherlands)
Dutch water boards are regional government bodies charged with managing the water barriers, the waterways, the water levels, water quality and sewage treatment in their respective regions...

 (waterschap or hoogheemraadschap), each having authority in matters concerning water management. As of 1 January 2005 there are 27. The creation of water boards actually pre-dates that of the nation itself, the first appearing in 1196. In fact, the Dutch water boards are one of the oldest democratic entities in the world still in existence.

The administrative structure on the 3 BES islands, also known as the Caribbean Netherlands, is different. These islands have the status of openbare lichamen (public bodies
Public body (Netherlands)
In the Netherlands, the term public body is the general denomination for administrative divisions within the Dutch state, such as the central government, a province, a municipality or a water board...

)
and are generally referred to as special municipalities. They are not part of a province.

Provinces of the Netherlands
EWLINE
Flag
Flag
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is usually rectangular and used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.The first flags were used to assist...

Province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

Capital Largest city Area
(km²)
Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...


1-1-2010
Density
(per km²)
Drenthe
Drenthe
Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, located in the north-east of the country. The capital city is Assen. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany to the east.-History:Drenthe, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands, has been a...

 
Assen
Assen
Assen is a municipality and a city in the north eastern Netherlands, capital of the province of Drenthe. It received city rights in 1809. Assen's main claim to fame is the TT Circuit Assen the motorcycle racing circuit, where on the last Saturday in June the Dutch TT is run...

 
Assen
Assen
Assen is a municipality and a city in the north eastern Netherlands, capital of the province of Drenthe. It received city rights in 1809. Assen's main claim to fame is the TT Circuit Assen the motorcycle racing circuit, where on the last Saturday in June the Dutch TT is run...

 
2,641 490,981 186
Flevoland
Flevoland
Flevoland is a province of the Netherlands. Located in the centre of the country, at the location of the former Zuiderzee, the province was established on January 1, 1986; the twelfth province of the country, with Lelystad as its capital...

 
Lelystad
Lelystad
Lelystad is a municipality and a city in the centre of the Netherlands, and it is the capital of the province of Flevoland. The city, built on reclaimed land, was founded in 1967 and was named after Cornelis Lely, who engineered the Afsluitdijk, making the reclamation possible...

 
Almere
Almere
Almere is a planned city and municipality in the province of Flevoland, the Netherlands, bordering Lelystad and Zeewolde. The municipality of Almere comprises the districts Almere Stad, Almere Haven, Almere Buiten, Almere Hout, Almere Poort and Almere Pampus .Almere is the youngest city in the...

 
1,417 387,881 274
Friesland
Friesland
Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

 
Leeuwarden  Leeuwarden  3,341 646,305 193
Gelderland
Gelderland
Gelderland is the largest province of the Netherlands, located in the central eastern part of the country. The capital city is Arnhem. The two other major cities, Nijmegen and Apeldoorn have more inhabitants. Other major regional centers in Gelderland are Ede, Doetinchem, Zutphen, Tiel, Wijchen,...

 
Arnhem
Arnhem
Arnhem is a city and municipality, situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located near the river Nederrijn as well as near the St. Jansbeek, which was the source of the city's development. Arnhem has 146,095 residents as one of the...

 
Nijmegen  4,971 1,998,936 402
Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

 
Groningen  Groningen  2,333 576,668 247
Limburg
Limburg (Netherlands)
Limburg is the southernmost of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. It is located in the southeastern part of the country and bordered by the province of Gelderland to the north, Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and part of the west, andthe Dutch province of North Brabant partly to...

 
Maastricht
Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

 
Maastricht
Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

 
2,150 1,122,701 522
North Brabant
North Brabant
North Brabant , sometimes called Brabant, is a province of the Netherlands, located in the south of the country, bordered by Belgium in the south, the Meuse River in the north, Limburg in the east and Zeeland in the west.- History :...

's-Hertogenbosch  Eindhoven  4,916 2,444,158 497
North Holland
North Holland
North Holland |West Frisian]]: Noard-Holland) is a province situated on the North Sea in the northwest part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is Haarlem and its largest city is Amsterdam.-Geography:...

 
Haarlem
Haarlem
Haarlem is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland, the northern half of Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic...

 
Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 
2,671 2,669,084 999
Overijssel
Overijssel
Overijssel is a province of the Netherlands in the central eastern part of the country. The region has a NUTS classification of NL21. The province's name means "Lands across river IJssel". The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede...

 
Zwolle
Zwolle
Zwolle is a municipality and the capital city of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands, 120 kilometers northeast of Amsterdam. Zwolle has about 120,000 citizens.-History:...

 
Enschede
Enschede
Enschede , also known as Eanske in the local dialect of Twents, is a municipality and a city in the eastern Netherlands in the province of Overijssel and in the Twente region...

 
3,325 1,130,345 340
Utrecht
Utrecht (province)
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest...

 
Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 
Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 
1,385 1,220,910 882
Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

 
Middelburg
Middelburg
Middelburg is a municipality and a city in the south-western Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. It is situated in the Midden-Zeeland region. It has a population of about 48,000.- History of Middelburg :...

 
Middelburg
Middelburg
Middelburg is a municipality and a city in the south-western Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. It is situated in the Midden-Zeeland region. It has a population of about 48,000.- History of Middelburg :...

 
1,787 381,409 213
South Holland
South Holland
South Holland is a province situated on the North Sea in the western part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is The Hague and its largest city is Rotterdam.South Holland is one of the most densely populated and industrialised areas in the world...

 
The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 
Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 
2,814 3,505,611 1,246
Total 33,751 16,574,989 491


Special municipalities of the Netherlands
EWLINE
Flag
Flag
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is usually rectangular and used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.The first flags were used to assist...

Public body
Public body (Netherlands)
In the Netherlands, the term public body is the general denomination for administrative divisions within the Dutch state, such as the central government, a province, a municipality or a water board...

Capital Largest city Area
(km²)
Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...


1-1-2010
Density
(per km²)
 Bonaire Bonaire  Kralendijk
Kralendijk
Kralendijk is the capital city and main port of the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands. The language spoken in the town is Papiamentu, but Dutch and English are widely used. In Dutch, Kralendijk means "coral reef" or "coral dike". The Papiamentu name for the town is Playa or "beach"...

 
Kralendijk
Kralendijk
Kralendijk is the capital city and main port of the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands. The language spoken in the town is Papiamentu, but Dutch and English are widely used. In Dutch, Kralendijk means "coral reef" or "coral dike". The Papiamentu name for the town is Playa or "beach"...

 
294 13,389 46
 Sint Eustatius Sint Eustatius  Oranjestad
Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
Oranjestad is a small town of nearly 1,000 inhabitants, and is the capital of Sint Eustatius island in the Caribbean Netherlands.Oranjestad is a historic harbour town...

 
Oranjestad
Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
Oranjestad is a small town of nearly 1,000 inhabitants, and is the capital of Sint Eustatius island in the Caribbean Netherlands.Oranjestad is a historic harbour town...

 
21 2,886 137
 Saba Saba  The Bottom
The Bottom
The Bottom is the capital and largest town of the island of Saba, the Caribbean Netherlands, and is the first stop on the way from Saba's Port in Fort Bay towards the rest of the island...

 
The Bottom
The Bottom
The Bottom is the capital and largest town of the island of Saba, the Caribbean Netherlands, and is the first stop on the way from Saba's Port in Fort Bay towards the rest of the island...

 
13 1,737 134
Total 328 18,012 55

Foreign relations




Historically the Dutch foreign policy
Foreign relations of the Netherlands
The foreign policy of the Netherlands is based on four basic commitments: to the Atlantic cooperation, to European integration, to international development and to international law. While historically the Netherlands was a neutral state, since the second World War the Netherlands became a member...

 was characterised by neutrality, since the Second World War the Netherlands became a member of a large number of international organisations, most prominently the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, NATO and the EU
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. The Dutch economy is very open and relies on international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

.

The foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 of the Netherlands is based on four basic commitments: to the atlantic cooperation
Atlanticism
Atlanticism is a philosophy of cooperation among Western European and North American nations regarding political, economic, and defense issues, with the purpose to maintain the security of the participating countries, and to protect the values that unite them: "democracy, individual liberty and...

, to European integration
European integration
European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic integration of states wholly or partially in Europe...

, to international development
International development
International development or global development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development — the development of greater quality of life for humans...

 and to international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. One of the more controversial international issues surrounding the Netherlands is its liberal policy towards soft drugs
Drug policy of the Netherlands
The drug policy of the Netherlands officially has four major objectives:# To prevent recreational drug use and to treat and rehabilitate recreational drug users.# To reduce harm to users....

.

During and after its golden age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

, the Dutch built up a commercial and colonial empire, which fell apart quickly after the Second World War; the historical ties inherited from its colonial past still influence the foreign relations of the Netherlands.

Military



The Netherlands has one of the oldest standing armies in Europe; it was first established as such by Maurice of Nassau. The Dutch army was used throughout the Dutch Empire
Dutch Empire
The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

. After the defeat of Napoleon, the Dutch army was transformed into a conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 army. The army was unsuccessfully deployed during the Belgian revolution
Belgian Revolution
The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the Southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and established an independent Kingdom of Belgium....

 in 1830. After 1830, it was deployed mainly in the Dutch colonies, as the Netherlands remained neutral in European wars (including WWI), until the Netherlands was invaded in WWII
Battle of the Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was part of Case Yellow , the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until 14 May 1940 when the main Dutch forces surrendered...

 and quickly defeated by the Wehrmacht in May 1940.
After WWII, the Netherlands dropped their neutrality, and the Dutch army became part of the NATO army strength in Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 Europe; holding several bases in Germany. In 1996 conscription was suspended, and the Dutch army was once again transformed into a professional army. Since the 1990s the Dutch army has been involved in the Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

, the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

, has been holding a province in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 after the defeat of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, and was engaged in Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

.

The military is composed of four branches, all of which carry the prefix Koninklijke (Royal):
  • Koninklijke Landmacht (KL), the Royal Netherlands Army
  • Koninklijke Marine (KM), the Royal Netherlands Navy, including the Naval Air Service and Marine Corps
  • Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), the Royal Netherlands Air Force
  • Koninklijke Marechaussee
    Koninklijke Marechaussee
    The Koninklijke Marechaussee, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, abbreviated to KMar, is one of the four Services of the armed forces of the Netherlands...

    (KMar), the Royal Military Police, tasks include military police and border control


General Peter van Uhm
Peter van Uhm
General Petrus J.M. "Peter" van Uhm is a four-star general in the Royal Netherlands Army and the current Chief of the Netherlands Defence Staff...

 is the current Commander of the Netherlands armed forces.
All military specialities except the submarine service and the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers) are open to women. The Korps Commandotroepen, the Special Operations Force of the Netherlands Army, is open to women, but because of the extremely high physical demands for initial training, it is almost impossible for women to become a commando. The Dutch Ministry of Defence employs more than 70,000 personnel, including over 20,000 civilian and over 50,000 military personnel. In April 2011 the government decided to decrease the amount of top officials and vehicles considerably, including all tanks, due to a cutback in governmental expenses.

Economy




The Netherlands has a very strong economy and has been playing a special role in the European economy for many centuries. Since the 16th century, shipping, fishing, trade, and banking have been leading sectors of the Dutch economy. The Netherlands is one of the world's 10 leading exporting countries. Foodstuffs form the largest industrial sector. Other major industries include chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical, goods and tourism. Examples include
Unilever
Unilever
Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products....

, Heineken, financial services (ING
ING Group
The ING Group is a global financial institution offering retail banking, direct banking, commercial banking, investment banking, asset management, and insurance services. ING is the Dutch member of the Inter-Alpha Group of Banks, a cooperative consortium of 11 prominent European banks...

), chemicals (DSM
DSM (company)
DSM is a multinational life sciences and materials sciences-based company. DSM's global end markets include food and dietary supplements, personal care, feed, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, automotive, paints, electrical and electronics, life protection, alternative energy and bio-based materials...

), petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 refining (Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

), electronical machinery (Philips
Philips
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. , more commonly known as Philips, is a multinational Dutch electronics company....

, ASML
ASML Holding
ASML is a Dutch company and the largest supplier in the world of photolithography systems for the semiconductor industry. The company manufactures machines for the production of integrated circuits , such as RAM and flash memory chips and CPUs.-Products:...

) and car navigation TomTom
TomTom
TomTom NV is a Dutch manufacturer of automotive navigation systems, including both stand-alone units and software for personal digital assistants and mobile telephones. It is the leading manufacturer of navigation systems in Europe. TomTom's customer service is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands...

.

The Netherlands has the 16th largest economy in the world, and ranks 7th in GDP (nominal) per capita. Between 1997 and 2000 annual economic growth (GDP) averaged nearly 4%, well above the European average. Growth slowed considerably from 2001 to 2005 with the global economic slowdown, but accelerated to 4.1% in the third quarter of 2007. Inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 is 1.3%, and unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

 is at 4.0% of the labour force. By Eurostat
Eurostat
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

 standards, unemployment in the Netherlands is at 4.1% (April 2010) – the lowest rate of all European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 member states. The Netherlands also has a relatively low GINI coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

 of 0.326. Despite ranking only 7th in GDP per capita, UNICEF ranked the Netherlands 1st in child well-being. On the Index of Economic Freedom
Index of Economic Freedom
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

 Netherlands is the 13th most free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 capitalist economy out of 157 surveyed countries.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange
Amsterdam Stock Exchange
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the former name for the stock exchange based in Amsterdam. It merged on 22 September 2000 with the Brussels Stock Exchange and the Paris Stock Exchange to form Euronext, and is now known as Euronext Amsterdam.-History:...

 (AEX), part of Euronext
Euronext
Euronext N.V. is a pan-European stock exchange based in Amsterdam and with subsidiaries in Belgium, France, Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. In addition to equities and derivatives markets, the Euronext group provides clearing and information services...

, is the world's oldest stock exchange and is one of Europe's largest bourses. It is situated near Dam Square
Dam Square
Dam Square, or simply the Dam is a town square in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Its notable buildings and frequent events make it one of the most well-known and important locations in the city.- Location and description :...

 in the city's centre. As a founding member of the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

, the Netherlands replaced (for accounting purposes) its former currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

, the "Gulden" (guilder), on 1 January 1999, along with 15 other adopters of the Euro. Actual euro coins
Euro coins
There are eight euro coin denominations, ranging from one cent to two euros . The coins first came into use in 2002. They have a common reverse, portraying a map of Europe, but each country in the eurozone has its own design on the obverse, which means that each coin has a variety of different...

 and banknotes
Euro banknotes
Euro banknotes are the banknotes of the euro, the currency of the eurozone and have been in circulation since 2002. They are issued by the national central banks of the euro area or the European Central Bank...

 followed on 1 January 2002. One euro was equivalent to 2.20371 Dutch guilders.

The Netherlands' location gives it prime access to markets in the UK and Germany, with the port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam
The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, located in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands. From 1962 until 2004 it was the world's busiest port, now overtaken by first Shanghai and then Singapore...

 being the largest port in Europe. Other important parts of the economy are international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

 (Dutch colonialism started with cooperative private enterprises such as the VOC
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

), banking and transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

. The Netherlands successfully addressed the issue of public finances and stagnating job growth long before its European partners. Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe with more than 4.2 million international visitors.

The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment and is one of the five largest investors in the United States. The economy experienced a slowdown in 2005, but in 2006 recovered to the fastest pace in six years on the back of increased exports and strong investment. The pace of job growth reached 10-year highs in 2007. The Netherlands moved up from the 11th position in the Global Competitiveness Index to the 9th position in 2007.

One of the largest natural gas field
Natural gas field
Oil and natural gas are produced by the same geological process according fossil fuel suggestion: anaerobic decay of organic matter deep under the Earth's surface. As a consequence, oil and natural gas are often found together...

s in the world is situated near Slochteren
Slochteren
Slochteren is a municipality in the northeastern Netherlands.The municipality can be characterized as a chain of small villages dividing a mostly agricultural landscape. Having an agricultural background for at least a thousand years, the community houses for the most part commuters to nearby...

. Exploitation of this field resulted in a total revenue of €159 billion since the mid 1970s. With just over half of the reserves used up and an expected continued rise in oil prices, the revenues over the next few decades are expected to be at least that much.

Agriculture


A highly mechanised agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 sector employs 4% of the labour force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, with exports earning $55 billion annually. A significant portion of Dutch agricultural exports are derived from fresh-cut plants, flowers, and bulbs, with the Netherlands exporting two-thirds of the world's total. The Netherlands also exports a quarter of all world tomatoes, and trade of one-third of the world's exports of chilis
Capsicum
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

, tomatoes and cucumbers goes through the country. The Netherlands also exports one-fifteenth of the world's apples.

Transport


Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 has the largest port
Port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, with the rivers Meuse and Rhine providing excellent access to the hinterland
Hinterland
The hinterland is the land or district behind a coast or the shoreline of a river. Specifically, by the doctrine of the hinterland, the word is applied to the inland region lying behind a port, claimed by the state that owns the coast. The area from which products are delivered to a port for...

 upstream reaching to Basel, Switzerland, and into France. In 2006, Rotterdam was the world's seventh largest container port in terms of Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled. The port's main activities are petrochemical
Petrochemical
Petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, or renewable sources such as corn or sugar cane....

 industries and general cargo
Cargo
Cargo is goods or produce transported, generally for commercial gain, by ship, aircraft, train, van or truck. In modern times, containers are used in most intermodal long-haul cargo transport.-Marine:...

 handling and transshipment
Transshipment
Transshipment or Transhipment is the shipment of goods or containers to an intermediate destination, and then from there to yet another destination....

. The harbour functions as an important transit point for bulk materials
Bulk material handling
Bulk material handling is an engineering field that is centered around the design of equipment used for the handling of dry materials such as ores, coal, cereals, wood chips, sand, gravel and stone in loose bulk form...

 and between the European continent and overseas. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. In 2007, the Betuweroute
Betuweroute
The Betuweroute is a double track freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany. Betuweroute is the official name, after the Betuwe area through which it passes, but the line is popularly referred to as Betuwelijn, after an older track in the same region. The Germans have named their part the...

, a new fast freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, was completed.

Demographics



The Netherlands has an estimated population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 of 16,735,100 (as of 5 November 2011). It is the 11th most populous country in Europe and the 61st most populous country in the world. Between 1900 and 1950, the country's population almost doubled from 5.1 to 10.0 million people. From 1950 to 2000, the population further increased from 10.0 to 15.9 million people, but the population growth
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 decreased compared to the previous fifty years. The estimated growth rate is currently 0.436% (as of 2008).

The fertility rate in the Netherlands is 1.82 children per woman (as of 2011), which is high compared to many other European countries, but below the 2.1-rate required for natural population replacement
Sub-replacement fertility
Sub-replacement fertility is a total fertility rate that leads to each new generation being less populous than the previous one in a given area. In developed countries sub-replacement fertility is any rate below approximately 2.1 children born per woman, but the threshold can be as high as 3.4...

. Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 is high in the Netherlands: 79 years for newborn girls and 78 for boys (2007). The country has a migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 rate of 2.55 migrants per 1,000 inhabitants.

The majority of the population of the Netherlands are ethnically Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

. A 2005 estimate counted: 80.9% Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

, 2.4% Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n, 2.4% German, 2.2% Turkish
Turkish-Dutch
Turks in the Netherlands are citizens of the Netherlands who are of Turkish ancestry. As of 2010, Turks form the largest ethnic minority in the Netherlands.- History :...

, 2.0% Surinamese
Surinamese people
Surinamese people are the inhabitants of Suriname or people of Surinamese descent. Suriname had formerly been the colony of Dutch Guiana which was founded during the early 17th century. Following Suriname's independence in 1975, many Surinamers migrated to the Netherlands...

, 2.0% Moroccan
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, 0.8% Antillean
Netherlands Antilles
The Netherlands Antilles , also referred to informally as the Dutch Antilles, was an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of two groups of islands in the Lesser Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao , in Leeward Antilles just off the Venezuelan coast; and Sint...

 and Aruba
Aruba
Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

n, and 6.0% others. The Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 are the tallest people in the world, with an average height
Human height
Human height is the distance from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head in a human body standing erect.When populations share genetic background and environmental factors, average height is frequently characteristic within the group...

 of 1.81 metres (5.9 ft) for adult males and 1.67 metres (5.5 ft) for adult females. People in the south are on average about 2 cm shorter than those in the north.

Dutch people
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

, or descendants of Dutch people
Dutch diaspora
The Dutch diaspora is the movement, migration, or scattering of the Dutch away from the Netherlands.Emigration from the Netherlands has been happening for at least the last eight centuries. In several former Dutch colonies and trading settlements, there are ethnic groups of partial Dutch ancestry...

, are also found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United States. According to the 2006 US Census, more than 5 million Americans claim total or partial Dutch ancestry. There are close to 3 million Dutch-descended Afrikaner
Afrikaner
Afrikaners are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from almost equal numbers of Dutch, French and German settlers whose native tongue is Afrikaans: a Germanic language which derives primarily from 17th century Dutch, and a variety of other languages.-Related ethno-linguistic groups:The...

s living in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. In 1940, there were 290,000 Europeans and Eurasians in Indonesia
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

, but most have since left the country. According to Eurostat
Eurostat
Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

, in 2010 there were 4.8 million foreign-born residents in the Netherlands, corresponding to 11.1% of the total population. Of these, 1.4 million (8.5%) were born outside the EU and 0.428 million (2.6%) were born in another EU Member State.

The Netherlands is the 30th most densely populated country in the world, with 395 PD/sqkm—or 484 PD/sqkm if only the land area is counted. It is the 8th most densely populated country in Europe with a population density
Area and population of European countries
This is a list of countries and territories in Europe by population density. The list includes all entities falling even partially under any of the various common definitions of Europe, geographic or political....

 of 393/km2. The Randstad
Randstad
Image:Randstad_with_scale.png|400px|thumb|right|Clickable schematic map of the Randstadcircle 528 380 26 Schipholrect 426 356 498 436 Haarlemmermeerrect 399 166 479 245 Velsencircle 250 716 32 Delftcircle 220 642 60 The Hague...

 is the country's largest conurbation
Conurbation
A conurbation is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area...

 located in the west of the country and contains the four largest cities: Amsterdam in the province North Holland
North Holland
North Holland |West Frisian]]: Noard-Holland) is a province situated on the North Sea in the northwest part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is Haarlem and its largest city is Amsterdam.-Geography:...

, Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 and The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 in the province South Holland
South Holland
South Holland is a province situated on the North Sea in the western part of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is The Hague and its largest city is Rotterdam.South Holland is one of the most densely populated and industrialised areas in the world...

, and Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 in the province Utrecht
Utrecht (province)
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest...

. The Randstad has a population of 7 million inhabitants and is the 6th largest metropolitan area
Metropolitan area
The term metropolitan area refers to a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing. A metropolitan area usually encompasses multiple jurisdictions and municipalities: neighborhoods, townships,...

 in Europe.

Language




The official language is Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, which is spoken by the vast majority of the inhabitants. Another official language is Frisian
West Frisian language
West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

, which is spoken in the northern province of Friesland
Friesland
Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

, called Fryslân in that language. A dialect of Frisian and Dutch is spoken in most villages in the west of the province of Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

. Frisian is co-official only in the province of Friesland, although with a few restrictions. Several dialects of Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon
Dutch Low Saxon is a group of Low Saxon, i.e. West Low German dialects spoken in the northeastern Netherlands. In comparison, the remainder of the Netherlands speak a collection of Low Franconian dialects.The class "Dutch Low Saxon" is not unanimous...

 (Nedersaksisch in Dutch) are spoken in much of the north and east, like the Twents
Twents
Tweants is a Dutch Low Saxon group of dialects, descending from Old Saxon. It is spoken by approximately 62% of the population of Twente, a region in the Dutch province of Overijssel bordering on Germany. Its speakers also refer to Twents as plat or simply dialect. A widespread misconception is...

 in the Twente
Twente
Twente is a non-administrative region in the eastern Netherlands. It encompasses the most urbanised and easternmost part of the province of Overijssel...

 region,and Drents in the province Drenthe. They are recognised by the Netherlands as regional languages according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a European treaty adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe...

, as well as the Meuse-Rhenish
Meuse-Rhenish
Meuse-Rhenish or Rheinmaasländisch is a modern term that geographically refers to the literature written in mediæval times in the greater Meuse-Rhine area. This area stretches in the northern triangle roughly between the rivers Meuse and Rhine...

 Franconian
Franconian languages
Franconian refers to a West Germanic dialect continuum spoken in the Rhineland, including Dutch at one end and all the transitional dialects between Dutch and standard German which do not fully participate in the High German consonant shift or German diphthongization of long vowels...

 varieties in the southeastern province of Limburg
Limburg (Netherlands)
Limburg is the southernmost of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. It is located in the southeastern part of the country and bordered by the province of Gelderland to the north, Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and part of the west, andthe Dutch province of North Brabant partly to...

, here called Limburgish language. English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is an official language in the special municipalities of Saba and Sint Eustatius. It is widely spoken on these islands. Papiamento
Papiamento
Papiamento is the most widely spoken language on the Caribbean ABC islands, having the official status on the islands of Aruba and Curaçao. The language is also recognized on Bonaire by the Dutch government....

 is an official language in the special municipality of Bonaire. The three islands are known as the BES islands
BES islands
The Caribbean Netherlands collectively refers to the three special municipalities of the Netherlands that are located overseas, in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba...

. Yiddish and the Romani language
Romani language
Romani or Romany, Gypsy or Gipsy is any of several languages of the Romani people. They are Indic, sometimes classified in the "Central" or "Northwestern" zone, and sometimes treated as a branch of their own....

 were recognised in 1996 as non-territorial languages.

There is a tradition of learning foreign languages in the Netherlands: about 70% of the total population have good knowledge of conversational English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, 55– 59% of German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, and 19% of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. The children start with English courses at primary schools when they are about nine years old. English is a mandatory course in all secondary schools. In most lower level secondary school educations (vmbo
Voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs
The vmbo education is a school track in the Netherlands. It lasts four years, from the age of twelve to sixteen. It combines vocational training with theoretical education in languages, mathematics, history, arts and sciences...

), one additional modern foreign language is mandatory during the first two years. In higher level secondary schools(havo
Hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs
The havo or hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs is a stream in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands. It has five grades and is generally attended from age twelve to seventeen...

and vwo
Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs
Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs or pre-university secondary education is the highest variant in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands. After leaving elementary school students are enrolled in different types of secondary schools, according to their academic ability...

), two additional modern foreign languages are mandatory during the first three years. Only during the last three years in vwo
Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs
Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs or pre-university secondary education is the highest variant in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands. After leaving elementary school students are enrolled in different types of secondary schools, according to their academic ability...

one foreign language is mandatory. The standard modern languages are French and German, although schools can change one of these modern languages with Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, Arabic, or Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

. Additionally, schools in the Frisia region teach and have exams in Frisian
West Frisian language
West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

, and schools across the country teach and have exams in classical Greek and Latin for vwo.

Religion


The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in Western Europe, with only 39% being religiously affiliated (31% for those aged under 35), and fewer than 20% visiting church regularly. According to the most recent Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

 poll 2005, 34% of the Dutch citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 37% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".

Currently, Roman Catholicism is the single largest religion of the Netherlands, forming the religious home of some 28% of the Dutch population in 2011. The Protestant Church of the Netherlands follows with 16% of the population. It was formed in 2004 as a merger of the two major strands of Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

: the Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was a Reformed Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It existed from the 1570s to 2004, the year it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to form the Protestant Church in the...

 (which represented roughly 8.5% of the population), the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands
Reformed Churches in the Netherlands
The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands was the second largest Protestant church in the Netherlands until it merged into the Protestant Church in the Netherlands in 2004.-History:...

 (3.7% of the population), and a smaller Lutheran Church. Other Protestant churches, mostly orthodox Calvinist splits, represent 6% of the population. In 1947, 44.3% belonged to Protestant denominations, 38.7% belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and 17.1% were unaffiliated.

In 2006, there were 850,000 Muslims
Islam in the Netherlands
The history of Islam in the Netherlands started in the 19th century when the Netherlands experienced sporadic Muslim migration from the Dutch East Indies when it was a colony from the Netherlands...

 (5% of the total Dutch population). The Netherlands has an estimated 250,000 Buddhists
Buddhism in the Netherlands
Buddhism is a small minority religion in the Netherlands, but it has shown rapid growth in recent years. As of the 2006 estimate, 170,000 Dutch people identified their religion as Buddhist .-Early history:...

 or people who feel strongly attracted by this religion, largely ethnic Dutch people. There are approximately 200,000 Hindus
Hinduism in the Netherlands
Hinduism is a minority religion in the Netherlands, with around 100,000 adherents out of a population of 16,500,000. Most of these are relatively recent first or second generation "Hindoestanen" immigrants, South Asians who had been resident in the former Dutch colony of Surinam and travelled to...

, most of them are of Surinamese origin. Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s are another religious minority numbering around 12,000, mainly located in or around Amsterdam. There are five gurudwaras in the Netherlands. The Association of Religion Data Archives
Association of religion data archives
The Association of Religion Data Archives is a free source of online information related to American and international religion. Founded as the American Religion Data Archive in 1997, and online since 1998, the archive was initially targeted at researchers interested in American religion...

 (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia
World Christian Encyclopedia
World Christian Encyclopedia is a reference work published by Oxford University Press, known for providing membership statistics for major and minor world religions in every country of the world, including historical data and projections of future populations.The first edition, by David B. Barrett,...

) estimated some 6,400 Bahá'ís in 2005.

Although the Holocaust deeply affected the Jewish
History of the Jews in the Netherlands
Most history of the Jews in the Netherlands was generated between the end of the 16th century and World War II.The area now known as the Netherlands was once part of the Spanish Empire but in 1581, the northern Dutch provinces declared independence...

 community (killing about 75% of its 140,000 members at the time), it has managed to rebuild a vibrant and lively Jewish life for its approximately 45,000 current members. Before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 10% of the Amsterdam population was Jewish
Jewish Amsterdam
Amsterdam has historically been the center of the Dutch Jewish community, and has had a continuing Jewish community for the last 370 years. Amsterdam is also known under the name "Mokum", given to the city by its Jewish inhabitants...

.

Freedom of education has been guaranteed by the Dutch constitution since 1917, and schools run by religious groups (especially Catholic and Protestant) are funded by the government. All schools must meet strict quality criteria.

Three political parties in the Dutch parliament (CDA, ChristianUnion, and SGP) base their policy on Christian belief in varying degrees. Although the Netherlands is a secular state, in some municipalities
Municipalities of the Netherlands
|All provinces of the Netherlands are divided into municipalities , together 418 , excl. the 3 "special municipalities" of the Caribbean Netherlands.Among the municipalities we can distinguish:...

 where the Christian parties have the majority, the council meetings are opened by prayer.

Municipalities in general also give civil servants a day off on Christian religious holidays, such as Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 and the Ascension of Jesus.

Education



Education in the Netherlands is compulsory between the ages of 4 and 16, and partially compulsory between the ages of 16 and 18.

All children in the Netherlands attend elementary school
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

 from (on average) ages 4 to 12. It comprises eight grades, the first of which is facultative. Based on an aptitude test, the 8th grade teacher's recommendation and the opinion of the pupil's parents or caretakers, a choice is made for one of the three main streams of secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 (after completing a particular stream, a pupil may still continue in the penultimate year of the next stream):
  • The vmbo
    Voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs
    The vmbo education is a school track in the Netherlands. It lasts four years, from the age of twelve to sixteen. It combines vocational training with theoretical education in languages, mathematics, history, arts and sciences...

     has 4 grades and is subdivided over several levels. Successfully completing the vmbo results in a low-level vocational degree that grants access to the mbo ("middle-level applied education"). With the mbo diploma, a student can apply for the hbo.
  • The havo
    Hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs
    The havo or hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs is a stream in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands. It has five grades and is generally attended from age twelve to seventeen...

     has 5 grades and allows for admission to the hbo ("higher professional education"), which are universities of professional education
    Vocational university
    A vocational university is an institution of higher education and sometimes research, which provides both tertiary and sometimes quaternary education and grants academic degrees at all levels in a variety of subjects...

     (or applied sciences) that award professional bachelor degrees that gives access to the university system.
  • The vwo
    Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs
    Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs or pre-university secondary education is the highest variant in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands. After leaving elementary school students are enrolled in different types of secondary schools, according to their academic ability...

     (including atheneum
    Atheneum (school)
    The Atheneum, named after the ancient school founded by Roman Emperor Hadrian, is the formal name of the main educational track of Dutch Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs. It is a six-year course and successful completion allows the candidate admission to Dutch university...

     and gymnasium
    Gymnasium (school)
    A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

    ) has 6 grades and prepares for studying at a research university
    University
    A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

    . The university consists of a three year bachelor's degree, followed by a one, two or three year master's degree, and finally a four year doctoral degree. Doctoral candidates
    Research assistant
    A research assistant is a researcher employed, often on a temporary contract, by a university or a research institute, for the purpose of assisting in academic research...

     in the Netherlands are temporary employees of a university.

Culture



The Netherlands has had many well-known painters. The 17th century, when the Dutch republic was prosperous, was the age of the "Dutch Masters", such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer
Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime...

, Jan Steen
Jan Steen
Jan Havickszoon Steen was a Dutch genre painter of the 17th century . Psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour are marks of his trade.-Life:...

, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century were Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

 and Piet Mondriaan
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

. M. C. Escher
M. C. Escher
Maurits Cornelis Escher , usually referred to as M. C. Escher , was a Dutch graphic artist. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints...

 is a well-known graphics artist. Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist who was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands....

 was born and trained in Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

, although he is considered to have reached acclaim as an American artist. The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

. All of Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

' major work was done in the Netherlands. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) discovered Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

's moon Titan
Titan (moon)
Titan , or Saturn VI, is the largest moon of Saturn, the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found....

 and invented the pendulum clock
Pendulum clock
A pendulum clock is a clock that uses a pendulum, a swinging weight, as its timekeeping element. The advantage of a pendulum for timekeeping is that it is a resonant device; it swings back and forth in a precise time interval dependent on its length, and resists swinging at other rates...

. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms
Microorganism
A microorganism or microbe is a microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters, or no cell at all...

 with a microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

.

In the Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

, literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 flourished as well, with Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel was a Dutch writer and playwright. He is considered the most prominent Dutch poet and playwright of the 17th century. His plays are the ones from that period that are still most frequently performed, and his epic Joannes de Boetgezant , on the life of John the Baptist, has...

 and P.C. Hooft
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft - Knight in the Order of Saint Michael - was a Dutch historian, poet and playwright from the period known as the Dutch Golden Age.-Life:...

 as the two most famous writers. In the 19th century, Multatuli
Multatuli
Eduard Douwes Dekker , better known by his pen name Multatuli , was a Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar , which denounced the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies .-Biography:Dekker was born in Amsterdam...

 wrote about the poor treatment of the natives in Dutch colonies. Important 20th century authors include Harry Mulisch
Harry Mulisch
Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch was a Dutch author. He wrote more than 80 novels, plays, essays, poems and philosophical reflections. These have been translated into more than 20 languages....

, Jan Wolkers
Jan Wolkers
Jan Hendrik Wolkers was a Dutch author, sculptor and painter.Wolkers is considered one of the "Great Four" writers of post-World War II Dutch literature, along with Willem Frederik Hermans, Harry Mulisch and Gerard Reve...

, Simon Vestdijk
Simon Vestdijk
Simon Vestdijk was a Dutch writer.Born in the small town of Harlingen, Vestdijk studied medicine in Amsterdam, but turned to literature after a few years as a doctor. He became one of the most important 20th-century writers in the Netherlands. His prolificness as a novelist was legendary, but he...

, Hella S. Haasse, Cees Nooteboom
Cees Nooteboom
Cees Nooteboom is a Dutch author. He has won numerous literary awards and has been mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature.-Life:...

, Gerard (van het) Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans
Willem Frederik Hermans
Willem Frederik Hermans was a Dutch author. He is considered one of the three most important authors in the Netherlands in the postwar period, along with Harry Mulisch and Gerard Reve...

. Anne Frank
Anne Frank
Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank is one of the most renowned and most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Acknowledged for the quality of her writing, her diary has become one of the world's most widely read books, and has been the basis for several plays and films.Born in the city of Frankfurt...

's Diary of a Young Girl
The Diary of a Young Girl
The Diary of a Young Girl is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944 and Anne Frank ultimately died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen...

 was published after she died in the Holocaust and translated from Dutch to all major languages.

Replicas of Dutch buildings can be found in Huis Ten Bosch
Huis Ten Bosch (theme park)
is a theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture that recreates the Netherlands by displaying real size copies of old Dutch buildings. The name Huis Ten Bosch literally translates into English as "House in the Forest"...

, Nagasaki
Nagasaki
is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Nagasaki was founded by the Portuguese in the second half of the 16th century on the site of a small fishing village, formerly part of Nishisonogi District...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. A similar Holland Village is being built in Shenyang
Shenyang
Shenyang , or Mukden , is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. Currently holding sub-provincial administrative status, the city was once known as Shengjing or Fengtianfu...

, China. Windmill
Windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...

s, tulip
Tulip
The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of...

s, wooden shoes
Clog (shoe)
A clog is a type of footwear made in part or completely from wood.The Oxford English Dictionary defines a clog as a "thick piece of wood", and later as a "wooden soled overshoe" and a "shoe with a thick wooden sole"....

, cheese, Delftware
Delftware
Delftware, or Delft pottery, denotes blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands and the tin-glazed pottery made in the Netherlands from the 16th century....

 pottery, and cannabis
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

 are among the items associated with the Netherlands by tourists.

Sport


Approximately 4.5 million of the 16 million people in the Netherlands are registered to one of the 35,000 sports clubs in the country. About two thirds of the population older than 15 years participates in sports weekly.

In the Netherlands, football
Football in the Netherlands
Football is the most popular Sport in the Netherlands. Football was introduced to the Netherlands by Pim Mulier in the 19th century when in 1879, at the age of 14, he founded Haarlemsche Football Club...

, speed skating, korfball
Korfball
Korfball is a mixed gender team sport, with similarities to netball and basketball. A team consists of eight players; four female and four male. A team also includes a coach. It was founded in the Netherlands in 1902 by Nico Broekhuysen. In the Netherlands there are around 580 clubs, and over a...

, handball, swimming, rowing, cycling, field hockey, volleyball, equestrian sports, sailing, and tennis are popular sports. A lot of amateurs practice them, and the Netherlands is a strong competitor in international tournaments for these sports. In the Dutch Caribbean, baseball is a popular sport, with the islands frequently sending teams to the annual Little League World Series
Little League World Series
The Little League Baseball World Series is a baseball tournament for children aged 11 to 13 years old. It was originally called the National Little League Tournament and was later renamed for the World Series in Major League Baseball. It was first held in 1947 and is held every August in South...

.

Organization of sports began at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Federations for sports were established (such as the speed skating federation in 1882), rules were unified and sports clubs came into existence. A Dutch National Olympic Committee was established in 1912. Thus far, the nation has won 246 medals at the Summer Olympic Games
Summer Olympic Games
The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad are an international multi-sport event, occurring every four years, organized by the International Olympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that...

 and another 86 medals at the Winter Olympic Games
Winter Olympic Games
The Winter Olympic Games is a sporting event, which occurs every four years. The first celebration of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The original sports were alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating...

.

Cuisine


Traditional Dutch cuisine consists of working class meals. They're easy to make with only one pot or pan. Many traditional dishes are mashed dishes, for instance potatoes mashed with kale (boerenkool), sauerkraut (zuurkool), or endive (andijvie). These dishes are served with greasy, smoked sausage (rookworst) and gravy. Another traditional dish is split pea soup (erwtensoep).

As the Netherlands always had strong ties with (former) colonies Indonesia and Surinam, dishes from those countries have mixed with Dutch cuisine. You can find many Asian dishes on the menu in the Netherlands, for instance noodles ("nasi" and "bami") and rice dishes.

See also


External links


Government
  • Overheid.nl – official Dutch government portal
  • Government.nl – official Dutch government web site
  • CBS – Key figures from the Dutch bureau of statistics

General information

Travel
  • Holland.com – English website of the Netherlands tourist office