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The Netherlands (Nederland in " title="Dutch language">Dutch) is the European part of the " title="Kingdom of the Netherlands">Kingdom of the Netherlands, a " title="Constitutional monarchy">constitutional monarchy. It is located in northwestern " title="Europe">Europe and borders the " title="North Sea">North Sea, " title="Belgium">Belgium and " title="Germany">Germany. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated and geographically low-lying countries in the world and is famous for its " title="Dike (construction)">dikess, " title="Windmill">windmills, " title="Clog">wooden shoes, tulips and perceived social tolerance. Its liberal policies are often mentioned abroad. This country is also host to the " title="International Court of Justice">International Court of Justice and is often - technically incorrectly - referred to by the collective name of its two main provinces: " title="Holland">Holland (North and South Holland). Amsterdam is the official capital (as the constitution states). The Hague is the administrative capital (the seat of government), the home of the Queen, and the location for most of the embassies.

Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
(" title="Flag of the Netherlands">In Detail) ()
National " title="Motto">motto: Je Maintiendrai
(" title="French language">French, I will maintain)
Official " title="Language">language" title="Dutch language">Dutch
(+" title="Frisian language">Frisian in " title="Friesland">Friesland)
Capitals" title="Amsterdam">Amsterdam, " title="The Hague">The Hague'''¹
Largest City" title="Amsterdam">Amsterdam
" title="Dutch monarchy">Queen" title="Beatrix of the Netherlands">Beatrix
" title="Politics of the Netherlands">Prime minister" title="Jan Peter Balkenende">Jan Peter Balkenende
" title="Area">Area
 - Total
 - % water
" title="List of countries by area">Ranked 131st
" title="1 E10 m˛">41,526 " title="Square kilometre">km˛
" title="Population">Population
 - Total (" title="2003">2003)
 - " title="Population density">Density
" title="List of countries by population">Ranked 59th
" title="Independence">Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
" title="Eighty Years' War">Eighty Years' War
" title="July 26">July 26, " title="1581">1581
" title="1648">1648
" title="Currency">Currency" title="Euro">Euro², " title="Dutch euro coins">Dutch euro coins
" title="Time zone">Time zone" title="Coordinated Universal Time">UTC+1
" title="List of national anthems">National anthemHet " title="Wilhelmus van Nassouwe">Wilhelmus
" title="Top-level domain">Internet TLD.NL
" title="List of country calling codes">Calling Code31
(1) Seat of government
(2) Prior to " title="1999">1999: " title="Guilder">Guilder

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces & Dependencies
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links


Main articles: " title="History of the Netherlands">History of the Netherlands, " title="Dutch monarchy">Dutch monarchy

Under " title="Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor">Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king of " title="Spain">Spain, the region was part of the " title="Seventeen Provinces">Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, which also includes most of present-day " title="Belgium">Belgium. After gaining formal independence from " title="Philip II of Spain">Philip II, the son of " title="Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor">Charles V in " title="1648">1648, the Dutch, as the " title="United Provinces">Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, grew to become one of the major seafaring and economic powers of the " title="17th century">17th century, referred to as the Golden Age in the Netherlands, establishing colonies and trade posts all over the globe.

After being incorporated in the " title="France">French empire under " title="Napoleon I of France">Napoleon, a Dutch kingdom was formed with present-day " title="Belgium">Belgium and " title="Luxembourg">Luxembourg in " title="1815">1815. The Belgians soon gained independence however (" title="1830">1830); Luxembourg fell under the Dutch monarchy as well but had different rules of ascendancy and broke away after the death of King William III. During the " title="19th century">19th century, the Netherlands was slow to industrialize compared to neighbouring countries.

After remaining neutral in " title="World War I">World War I, the country was occupied by " title="Nazi Germany">Nazi Germany in May " title="1940">1940, to be fully liberated only in " title="1945">1945. After the war, the Dutch economy prospered again, being a member of the economic " title="Benelux">Benelux and " title="European Community">European Economic Community unions. The Netherlands also became a member of " title="NATO">NATO.

The Netherlands was among the founding members of the " title="European Union">European Union when it was formed in 1992.


Main article: " title="Politics of the Netherlands">Politics of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has been a " title="Constitutional monarchy">constitutional monarchy since " title="1815">1815, after it had been a " title="Republic">republic from " title="1581">1581 to " title="1806">1806 (it was occupied by " title="France">France between 1806 and 1815).

" title="Head of State">Head of state, since " title="1980">1980, is " title="Beatrix of the Netherlands">Queen Beatrix of the House of " title="House of Orange-Nassau">Orange-Nassau. Formally, she appoints the members of the government. In practice, once the results of parliamentary elections are known, a " title="Coalition government">coalition government is made (a process which might take several months), after which the government formed in this way is officially appointed by the queen.

The parliament consists of two houses. Elections for the 150 members of the Lower House (Tweede Kamer, or Second Chamber) take place every four years, or earlier when the Lower House has taken a no-confidence motion against the government. The less important Senate (Eerste Kamer, or First Chamber) is chosen every four years after the provincial elections by the just chosen members of the provincial parliaments. Together, the First and Second Chamber are known as the Staten Generaal, the " title="Netherlands States-General">States General.

Political scientists consider the Netherlands a classic example of a " title="Consociational state">consociational state.

Provinces & Dependencies

Main articles: " title="Provinces of the Netherlands">Provinces of the Netherlands, " title="Netherlands Antilles">Netherlands Antilles, " title="Aruba">Aruba

Map of the Netherlands | Larger size

The Netherlands is divided into 12 administrative regions, called provincies (" title="Province">provinces):

All provinces are divided into " title="Municipality">municipalities (gemeenten), together 489 (from 2004: 483); see " title="Municipalities in the Netherlands">Municipalities in the Netherlands, and also " title="List of cities in the Netherlands">Cities of the Netherlands.

A number of islands in the " title="Caribbean Sea">Caribbean Sea are dependencies of the Netherlands: the " title="Netherlands Antilles">Netherlands Antilles (Nederlandse Antillen), a group of five islands, and " title="Aruba">Aruba, formerly part of the Antilles.


Main article: " title="Geography of the Netherlands">Geography of the Netherlands

A remarkable aspect of the Netherlands is the flatness of the country. About half the country is less than 1 meter above sea level, and large parts of it are actually below sea level (see map showing these areas). The highest point, the " title="Vaalserberg">Vaalserberg, in the southeasternmost point of the country, is 321 m high. Many low areas are protected by dikes and sea walls. Parts of the Netherlands, for example almost all of " title="Flevoland">Flevoland province, have been reclaimed from the sea - these areas are known as " title="Polder">polders.

The country is divided into two main parts by three rivers " title="Rhine">Rhine (Rijn), " title="Waal">Waal and " title="Meuse River">Meuse (Maas). There are slight linguistic differences between the Dutch that is spoken north and south of these great rivers.

The predominant wind direction in the Netherlands is southwest, which causes a moderate maritime climate, with cool summers and mild winters.

Also of interest: " title="List of national parks of the Netherlands">National parks (Netherlands), " title="Zuiderzee Works">Zuiderzee Works.


Main article: " title="Economy of the Netherlands">Economy of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy in which the government has successfully reduced its role since the " title="1980s">1980s. Industrial activity is predominantly in food-processing, chemicals, " title="Petroleum">petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanised " title="Agriculture">agricultural sector employs no more than 4% of the labor 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 " title="United States">US and " title="France">France. The Netherlands successfully addressed the issue of public finances and stagnating job growth long before its European partners.

As a founding member of the " title="Euro">Euro, the Netherlands replaced its former " title="Currency">currency, the " title="Guilder">guilder, on " title="January 1">January 1 " title="1999">1999 along with the other adopters of the single European currency, with the actual " title="Euro coins">euro coins and " title="Euro banknotes">banknotes following on January 1 " title="2002">2002.


Main article: " title="Demographics of the Netherlands">Demographics of the Netherlands

Dutch population pyramid
(in % of total population)
% Male Age Female %
0.36     85+     1.05
0.60     80-84     1.18
1.14     75-79     1.74
1.55     70-74     1.95
1.93     65-69     2.13
2.30     60-64     2.33
2.77     55-59     2.69
3.73     50-54     3.60
3.65     45-49     3.54
3.93     40-44     3.81
4.27     35-39     4.08
4.25     30-34     4.05
3.63     25-29     3.54
3.04     20-24     2.93
2.96     15-19     2.83
3.11     10-14     2.97
3.20     05-09     3.06
3.11     00-04     2.98
Data: International Data Base (2000)

The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with more than 400 inhabitants per square km.

There are two official languages, " title="Dutch language">Dutch and " title="Frisian language">Frisian, both of which are " title="Germanic languages">Germanic languages. Frisian is only spoken in the northern province of " title="Friesland">Friesland, and it is the language which most resembles " title="English language">English. In addition to Dutch and Frisian, several dialects of " title="Low Saxon language">Low Saxon are spoken in much of the north; they have no official recognition. At the national borders in the south, the Dutch language shifts into other varieties of " title="Low Franconian language">Low Franconian speech, which may or may not be best classified as Dutch, most notably " title="West Flemish">West Flemish.

The main religions are " title="Catholicism">Catholicism (18% in " title="1999">1999) (dioceses) and " title="Protestantism">Protestantism (15%). About 63% of the Dutch don't consider themselves to be members of a church. The part of the country south of the three rivers is (or was) generally Catholic, with the northern part Protestant (mostly of the " title="Dutch Reformed Church">Dutch Reformed Church).

The Dutch are known as a tolerant people. Their image abroad is mainly based on trade, " title="Tulip">tulips, " title="Windmill">windmills, wooden shoes, " title="Cheese">cheese and " title="Delft">Delftware pottery. More recently the liberal Dutch policies on " title="Narcotic">recreational drugs, " title="Prostitution">prostitution, " title="Same-sex marriage">same-sex marriage and " title="Euthanasia">euthanasia have received international attention; " title="Amsterdam">Amsterdam is widely perceived abroad as a city where 'anything goes'. See also Drugs policy of the Netherlands .


Main article: " title="Culture of the Netherlands">Culture of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has produced many great painters. The " title="17th century">17th century, when the Dutch republic was prosperous, was the age of the "Dutch Masters" such as " title="Rembrandt">Rembrandt van Rijn, " title="Johannes Vermeer">Johannes Vermeer, " title="Jan Steen">Jan Steen and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the " title="19th century">19th and " title="20th century">20th century are " title="Vincent van Gogh">Vincent van Gogh and " title="Piet Mondrian">Piet Mondriaan. " title="M. C. Escher">M. C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist. A both famous and infamous Dutch master art forger is " title="Han van Meegeren">Han van Meegeren.

The Netherlands is the country of philosophers " title="Erasmus">Erasmus of Rotterdam and " title="Baruch Spinoza">Spinoza, and all of " title="René Descartes">Descartes' major work was done there.

In the Golden Age, Dutch literature flowered as well, with Joost van den Vondel, P. C. Hooft as the two most famous names. Important " title="20th century">20th century authors include " title="Harry Mulisch">Harry Mulisch, Jan Wolkers, Simon Vestdijk, Cees Nooteboom, " title="Gerard Reve">Gerard van het Reve and " title="Willem Frederik Hermans">Willem Frederik Hermans. " title="Anne Frank">The Diary of Anne Frank was also written in the Netherlands.

See also: " title="Sport in the Netherlands">Sport in the Netherlands, " title="Music of the Netherlands">Music of the Netherlands, " title="List of Dutch people">List of Dutch people

DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
" title="January 1">January 1" title="New Year's Day">New Year's DayNieuwjaar 
" title="March">March/" title="April">April" title="Easter">EasterPasenThe Dutch celebrate two days of Easter.
" title="April 30">April 30" title="Queen's Day">Queen's dayKoninginnedagOriginally, Koninginnedag was celebrated on the birthday of the queen,
Queen's day is now celebrated on the birthday of the current queen's mother,
as this gives better weather.
" title="May 4">May 4Remembrance of the deadDodenherdenkingRemembrance of those who died during the " title="World War II">Second World War.
" title="May 5">May 5" title="Liberation day - The Netherlands">Liberation dayBevrijdingsdagCelebration of the " title="1945">1945 capitulation of " title="Germany">German forces in " title="World War II">World War II.
40 days after Easter" title="Ascension">Ascension DayHemelvaartsdag 
7 weeks after Easter" title="Pentecost">PentecostPinksterenThe Dutch celebrate two days of Pentecost.
" title="December 5">December 5" title="Saint Nicholas">Saint Nicholas's EveSinterklaasA predecessor of " title="Santa Claus">Santa Claus, Sinterklaas gives presents to the children.
" title="December 25">December 25, " title="December 26">December 26" title="Christmas">ChristmasKerstmisThe Dutch celebrate two days of Christmas.

Replicas of Dutch buildings can be found in Holland Village, " title="Nagasaki">Nagasaki, " title="Japan">Japan. A similar Holland Village is being built in " title="Shenyang">Shenyang, " title="China">China.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

" title="European Union">European Union:
" title="Austria">Austria  |  " title="Belgium">Belgium  |  " title="Denmark">Denmark  |  " title="Finland">Finland  |  " title="France">France  |  " title="Germany">Germany  |  " title="Greece">Greece  |  " title="Republic of Ireland">Ireland
" title="Italy">Italy  |  " title="Luxembourg">Luxembourg  |  Netherlands  |  " title="Portugal">Portugal  |  " title="Spain">Spain  |  " title="Sweden">Sweden  |  " title="United Kingdom">United Kingdom

Countries acceding to membership on " title="May 1">May 1, " title="2004">2004:
" title="Cyprus">Cyprus  |  " title="Czech Republic">Czech Republic  |  " title="Estonia">Estonia  |  " title="Hungary">Hungary  |  " title="Latvia">Latvia  |  " title="Lithuania">Lithuania  |  " title="Malta">Malta  |  " title="Poland">Poland  |  " title="Slovakia">Slovakia  |  " title="Slovenia">Slovenia

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