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The Netherlands

n3The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a European country which is densely populated and widely known as a tourism destination for numerous visitors. This country occupies a part of continental territory, as well as three islands in the Caribbean. The Kingdom of the Netherlands borders with such European countries as Belgium and Germany and also has marine borders with the United Kingdom. The most popular and populated cities of this country are Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Hague is also an important city, and here is the place of parliament and Dutch government. The capital of the country is Amsterdam, and it is one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. Rotterdam is famous not only for its cultural and architectural attractions, but it is also the biggest port in Europe. Its size is equal to the size of the other three biggest ports on the list put together.

Quite often, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is referred to as Holland, and this is the other name to call the country informally. Being precise, the name of the country may be translated as “lower country”, since the Kingdom of the Netherlands is really geographically located low, with 50% of the country being plain, and the other half being located at the height of less than one meter above sea level. It is fair to say that the country is densely populated, as statistics show the density of over 400 people per square kilometer. It is curious that only Taiwan, South Korea, and Bangladesh feature higher population density than the Netherlands. Despite its relatively small size, this country remains one of the leaders in production of food and agricultural sector products, with the United States being the leader in both points.

Population of the Netherlands

From a geographical point of view, the Netherlands is a relatively small European country. Its area is equal to 41.543 square kilometers, which is equal to 16.033 square miles. The territory of the Netherlands consists of a continental part in Western Europe and three island portions. Despite this, the Netherlands is on the list of the most densely populated countries in the world, and as of 2016 it is in fourth place in the world, after such countries as Bangladesh, South Korea, and Taiwan. Formally, the density per square kilometer in this country is a little over 400 people. Researchers say that this high level of population is due to the fairly high standard of living and higher than average number of workplaces.

The fact is that Rotterdam is the real “trading centre” of Europe, since it is the largest port in the whole of Europe. Its size is impressive, as it is as big as the other three biggest ports on the list combined. Besides, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a large manufacturer and exporter of food and products of the agricultural sector. With this being said, they are number two on the world’s list, with the United States being the absolute leader in these areas. The main part of the population of this country is Dutch (78.3%), then the other EU residents (5.9%) and the other nationalities.

Traditions

First of all, let us note, that traditions play a crucial role in the development of every country, and the Netherlands is not an exception. When someone from overseas comes to see the country, the first thing they notice is national flags, hanging in the streets and from the windows, since the Dutch are really proud of their citizenship. When it is a state holiday or time for a football festival, it is a great opportunity to show the national flags. Besides, the majority of block houses have their places for flags. Even holiday picnics are a great reason for hanging out a national flag, when people are on the nature.

One of the brightest holidays of this country is a queen’s birthday, internally known as Koninginnedag. It is usually celebrated in the end of April, and this holiday is a real trading fare for the people in this area, as the streets of this country turn into a huge fare. It is allowed to trade with everything, and numerous people use this opportunity to sell or purchase something, or just enjoy time talking with the others. As usual, the streets and traffic are decorated with the national flags. People dance, sing and play games right on the streets, and the cafes locate their tables and chair outdoors and attract more customers than at any other days. This is a holiday of fun, enjoyment and bright atmosphere.

Where are the Netherlands located?

The Netherlands, also known as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and colloquially referred to as Holland, is a country in the West of Europe. It borders with Germany and Belgium and has a maritime border with the United Kingdom. Geographically, the country is located almost at sea level, and the main part of its area is plain. The Netherlands features a very profitable geographical position, which makes the country one of the world’s biggest exporters of goods and food. The biggest port of the country is Rotterdam. Additionally, this is the biggest port of Europe, and it is as big as the three other biggest ports put together. This fact allows the Kingdom of the Netherlands to freely trade with the other European and non-European countries. This is one of the reasons for the high standard of living in the country, despite the high population density level of the country.

Amsterdam is located in the South-Western part of the Netherlands, and it is the capital of the country. This is also the political and cultural center of the country and a place of interest for numerous tourists who travel to Europe. The latitude it is located at is 52.37, while the longitude is 4.89. Also, Amsterdam is a home to the head of the state. The population of this city is 741.636 people.

Facts about the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a very unusual country to visit, since here it is famous for its free and tolerant attitude towards some things which are completely prohibited in the majority of the modern countries worldwide. First, prostitution is legalized in the country, but it is legal only for those prostitutes who have gotten their permit. It is prohibited for the sex workers to attract the customers on the streets. It is fair to say that prostitutes are common only for the big cities and Amsterdam, while in the other areas you will hardly meet any. The red-light district is a world-known place, which is usually visited by tourists only as a memento. Sex and drug museums are also popular among tourists, who travel to the capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Amsterdam.

While coffee shops are currently the subject of continuously increasing restrictions, possession and consumption of cannabis, as a light drug, is tolerated. However, it is not officially allowed, but is not prohibited, either, while the hard drugs, such as cocaine or ecstasy, are completely illegal. Ease and tolerant treatment of these facts makes this country a curious place to visit by tourists. The free attitude of this country also allows gay marriage and tolerates homosexuality. Among the other unusual laws and traditions of the Netherlands is the practice of euthanasia, but only under strict conditions, controlled both by doctors and by police.

Difference between Holland and Netherlands

The only official name of this country is the Netherlands; however, all over the world it is also known as Holland. From the historical point of view, it is normal to use the name of “Holland” only in the North and South provinces, while outside of these areas people may even get insulted, if they are called this way. The reason is simple, as from history it is known that these territories were once called the Kingdom of Holland, hence the name. That is why, to be on the safe side, it is always better to use the official name of the country, the Netherlands. When outside of the country, both names may be used colloquially, while the official name is still preferred.

The name “Holland” stands for the country of woods, and it is now acceptable also when talking about the country’s football team. The name “Netherlands” has a Latin retrospective, and it stands for the “lower lands”. This territory was called this due to the relatively low location, as around 50% of the country’s surface is less than 1 meter above sea level. With this being said, the country adopted the name, and it was commonly used to denote it as of the 16th century and up.

Government

In 1815, the country was officially declared to be a constitutional monarchy. The Netherlands has adopted parliamentary democracy as of 1848, and from the political point of view may be considered a consociational state. The key feature of the Dutch government is its continuous efforts on achievement of convenient yet broad consensus on various important issues. This feature refers to both political and social aspects of the country’s life. It is curious that the Netherlands is ranked to be number 10 on the list of the most democratic countries in the world (according to the Economist magazine).

The head of the country, according to its constitution, is king, and the title of “queen” is not used at all and does not have any political power, regardless of the fact that the previous three governors of the country were female. At the moment, the head of the state is King William Alexander. The king has to be consulted on the state affairs, and he or she may have certain influence on the processes. The executive power in Netherlands is formed by the Dutch cabinet, the council of ministers, which consists of 13 to 16 ministers (and a certain number of secretaries). The Prime Minister of the country is a head of the Dutch government. Quite often, this position is occupied by the leader of the most numerous party in the coalition.

Economy

For many centuries, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has played a crucial role in economical development of Europe, as the country has constantly been a leader in shipping and fishing, banking, agriculture and trading, etc. Due to the highly developed level of overall economic freedom, the country is in third place in the Trade Report worldwide. The main partners of the Netherlands are its closest “neighbors”, Germany and Belgium, and the United Kingdom, which borders the country maritime. Tourism is also an important sector in the economical development of the country, since it is reported that yearly the Netherlands is visited by around 12 million tourists.

Also, the Netherlands proudly possesses the seventeenth-largest economy among the world’s countries, which is also an impressive achievement for a relatively small country (from a geographical point of view). The oldest and one of the largest bourses of Europe is located in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. The AEX (Amsterdam Stock Exchange) is located right in the center of the city, not far from the Dam Square. It is curious that the Netherlands is one of the founders of the euro, as they were one of the fifteen countries which replaced their original currency with new one, the euro. The former currency in the country was “gulden”, also known a “guilder”. Now the main currency here is euro; however, on the islands, which are located in the Caribbean but are a part of the Netherlands, they use the U.S. dollars.

Netherlands tourism

Tourism is an important branch of the economy of the Netherlands. Being properly developed, the country attracts over 12 million tourists on a yearly basis. The majority of tourists come from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The main attractions of the country are located in its biggest cities. One of them is the country’s capital, Amsterdam. The most popular and oldest museums of this city may be found in the Museum Square, which is locally called the Museum plein. This city is also famous for its system of canals, which makes this place the second Venice, located in Northern Europe. The streets and architecture attract attention with their historic buildings and unusual state facilities.

Nightlife is another attraction of the city, as many tourists come here to enjoy night clubs, as well as take a look at the red-light district, which is known worldwide. Here prostitution is legal, as well as consumption and distribution of small amounts of cannabis. This free attitude makes this country attractive for tourists as well. Rotterdam is another city which attracts tourists. Here one may see skyscrapers, which are quite unusual for the other cities of the Netherlands. This city is the biggest European port and is also known as the place where Erasmus University is located. The annual jazz music festival, the North Sea Jazz, also takes place in Rotterdam and is known as the biggest jazz fest in the world. Another city which is famous among the tourists is Utrecht. It was the crucial city in the history of the country till the Dutch Golden age, and it now attracts tourists with its medieval architecture and canals.

History of the Kingdom

Historically, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed the following way. Originally, the southern portion of the country was a part of the Roman Empire. Later on, these territories were occupied by Burgundians. Approximately in the late Middle Ages, Belgium, as well as the main part of what is now the Netherlands, was under the possession of Spanish conquistadors. As of 1572, the Netherlands was declared to be the sovereign republic, as the result of the Dutch Revolt headed by William of Orange, who is currently the national hero of this country. During the Dutch Golden Age, the Netherlands acquired several colonies, such as modern countries of Indonesia, New York City, and others. This period was noted as a split with Belgium, when the Union of Utrecht was signed in 1579. The union made the Netherlands a powerful seafaring country, which was extremely profitable.

1805 is a truly notable year for the Netherlands, as at this period the Netherlands formally became a kingdom, since this territory was given to Napoleon’s brother, King William, to govern. Also, William I became the king of Luxemburg and Belgium. And in 1830 Belgium formally separated from the Netherlands, while Luxemburg managed to receive their independence only in 1890. So, the Netherlands appeared to be the only part of the monarchy. In 1848, in order to avoid the possibility of liberal revolutions, the Netherlands adopted a treaty so the country was declared to be a constitutional monarchy. During World War I they kept a neutral position, but in World War II they suffered from the invasion of Germany. As of 1944, the country is a part of the Belnelux, together with Belgium and Luxemburg, in order to work together for economical and political prosperity.

Administrative division

From a political point of view, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a monarchy which features administrative division into provinces. It is fair to say that the country is small enough (from a geographical point of view), though its provinces are quite diverse and have a lot of linguistic, cultural, and traditional differences. Next, based on the province division of the country, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is divided into four main regions. The first one is known as Randstad and may be called the “heart” of the Netherlands, as it unites the four biggest cities of the country. The Northern Netherlands area is not the most popular place for foreign tourists but is a beloved place for the local citizens, since it has beautiful sceneries and picturesque Frisian Lakes. Besides, these territories are the least densely populated ones.

The Eastern Netherlands is a place where the largest national park is located. Its name is the Hoge Veluwe National Park, and it is widely known for its landscapes and unique plants. Also, in this area one may find seven medieval cities, as well as traditional European cityscapes. The fourth region, which has to be mentioned, is Southern Netherlands, and it is distinctive with its Catholic history and quite traditional Burgundian way of life. Apart from the continental part of the country, the Netherlands has special municipalities which are located on the three Caribbean islands: Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Bonaire. These are completely integrated into the country’s political and cultural way of life.

Language in the Netherlands

In the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the only official language is Dutch. However, in the Friesland (one of the Northern provinces), West Frisian is the second official language. In this area, both languages may be equally used for government correspondence. The other regional languages haven’t received a status of the official languages, and they are considered minority ones. It is fair to say that if one speaks English, they will not have any problems in speaking with the locals, as 89% of the Dutch speak English. 70% of the citizens speak German, as the majority of tourists come from this country. The major part of the country’s inhabitants speaks at least two or three languages. Such a situation occurred due to the Netherlands being a big trading center and a port country.

Etiquette and value system

It is fair to say that adequate treatment and proper code of etiquette is crucial for the Netherlands. Due to historical and cultural diversity of the country and its division into regions and provinces, the customs in the country might vary depending on the territories. Overall, the Dutch may be characterized as tolerant people. They are modest yet self-reliant, and they are willing to depend on themselves only. Here the person who spends too much money may be treated as a show-off, but accumulating money, overall, is fine. A high lifestyle is not likely to impress the local people, and it may be treated with suspicion. Here, citizens are proud of their country’s heritage and free way of life and they value their history and role in international affairs.

People here speak openly, which sometimes might be understood by the foreigners as rudeness, which, in fact, is just the way they speak. Besides, the Dutch strongly believe that people were created equal, especially when talking about the moral aspect. That is why they do not pay much attention to the status and hierarchy, which should be treated as their local trait. In the Netherlands, religion is treated as something very personal and something which should not be a subject for discussions or propagation. Besides, the majority of the Dutch are not religious.

Traditional food

It is fair to say that the cuisine traditions of the country were heavily influenced by the main spheres of the country’s practices, such as agriculture and farming. It is known that the cuisine of any country somehow reflects the basic traits of the people who live there. The Dutch are known to be quite straightforward in communication, and that is why their traditional food is quite simple. Here people consume a lot of dairy products. The traditional breakfast is some cereal with jam or a couple of pieces of toast with some topping. The main dish for dinner consists of a good portion of meat or fish, plus potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The “diet” here seems quite high in fat and rich in carbohydrates, as it was historically created to meet the needs of workers who lived here.

The cuisine in the Northern provinces was much influenced by the Burgundian period in the history of this European country, that is why many dishes were adopted from the French, and now are treated here as their traditional food. Only this region is known to develop their haute cuisine. The traditional dishes here are soups, rich pastries, vegetable dishes and traditional and specific stews. It is curious, that out of 125 countries, the Netherlands were nominated to have the most healthy and nutritious traditional food, despite of the simplicity of their local cuisine.

Climate

The climate in the Netherlands is formed with the great influence of the sea and constant southwest winds. Overall, the climate here may be considered moderate. Summers here are quite cool, while the winters are mild. The temperature differences between day and night, as well as between the winter and summer, are much smaller near the coast line. The coldest months here are December to February, when the temperature may fall as low as 32 F (0 C). From April to October it is relatively warm in the Netherlands, with the average temperature being around 68 F (20 C). The length of the days, as well as the amount of sunshine in the Netherlands is affected with the latitude. So, in December the day lasts only for eight hours, while in June it grows up to 17 hours.

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One Comment

  • Naomi Shult says:

    Wow, I’m impressed! Great pictures. Didn’t know about such an interesting place a lot. Good post!