The Netherlands name reflects its topography, with more than a quarter of its land area under sea level. Now a constitutional monarchy, the country began its independent life as a republic in the 16th century.
The Netherlands has borders with Belgium and Germany and the North Sea lies to the north and west. Large areas of The Netherlands have been reclaimed from the sea so one fifth of the country including Amsterdam are all below sea level. If the global warming keeps getting worse as is predicted, keeping the water out of many of the Dutch cities will be almost impossible even for the Dutch who are the worlds experts when it comes to keeping back the sea.
Netherlands being a flat country with no mountains is crisscrossed by rivers and canals. The landscape is broken by the large forest at Arnhem, the world famous tulip bulb fields to the west and the lakes in northern and southern areas.
Area 41,526 km², of which 7,643 km² water
Number of inhabitants 16.4 million
Population density 484 people per km2, in the west of the country (Randstad) the density is much higher
Monetary unit 1 Euro since 2002.
Telephone country prefix 31
Religion: Catholic 31%, Protestant 21%, Muslim 5.5%, other 1.5%, not religious 41%
Unemployment rate: 6.5% (2005)
Waterways: 5046km (for ships over 50 tons)
Interesting facts about Netherland
· The Netherlands has the highest population density (493 inhabitants per square km - water excluded) of any European country with over 1 million inhabitants. Worldwide, only Bangladesh and Taiwan, among major countries, have a higher density of population.
· The 'Netherlands' mean "Low Country" in Dutch. About half of its surface area is less than 1 metre above sea level. Its highest point is 321 metres (1,053 ft) above sea level.
· Dutch people are the tallest in the world, with an average height of 184 cm for men and 170 cm for women.
· A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked the Netherlands as the best country for children to live.
· Dutch people have the lowest incidence of lactose intolerance of any country - only 1%.
Geography of Netherland
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. Significant land area has been gained through land reclamation and preserved through an elaborate system of polders and dikes. Much of the Netherlands is formed by the estuary of three important European rivers, which together with their distributaries form the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta. 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.
Climate of Netherland
The predominant wind direction in the Netherlands is southwest, which causes a moderate maritime climate, 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 warmer (in Winter) or cooler (in Summer) than places in the (south)east of the country.
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).
Environment in Netherland
The Netherlands has 20 national parks and hundreds of other nature reserves. Most are owned by Staatsbosbeheer and Natuurmonumenten and include lakes, heathland, woods, dunes and other habitats.
Phytogeographically, the Netherlands is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of the Netherlands belongs to the ecoregion of Atlantic mixed forests.
In 1871 the last old original natural woods were cut down, and most woods today are planted monocultures of trees like Scots Pine and trees that are not native to the Netherlands. These woods were planted on anthropogenic heaths and sand-drifts
Nederlands or Holand?
The Netherlands is often called Holland, because of the role the two western provinces North and South Holland played in its history. This region encompasses Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and other well-known Dutch cities such as Delft, Leiden and Haarlem. However, officially, it is the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of three parts: the Netherlands itself in Western Europe, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean.
Politics in Netherland
The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848. The Netherlands is described as a consociational state. Dutch politics 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 ranked The Netherlands as the tenth most democratic country in the world.
The monarch is the head of state, 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 is formed by the ministerraad, the deliberative council of the Dutch cabinet. The cabinet consists usually of thirteen to sixteen ministers and a varying number of state secretaries. One to three ministers are ministers without portfolio. The head of government is the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who often is the leader of the largest party of the coalition. In fact, this has been continuously the case since 1973.
The Netherlands was one of the first parliamentary democracies. Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the European Union (EU), NATO, OECD and WTO. With Belgium and Luxembourg it forms the Benelux economic union. The country is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The first four are situated in The Hague as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol and judicial co-operation agency Eurojust. The Netherlands has a capitalist market-based economy, ranking 15th of 157 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom.
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