Netherlands | Netherlands | Politics (General)

Netherlan ds


Coat of arms


"Je maintiendrai" (French) "Ik zal handhaven" (Dutch) "I shall stand fast"



The Netherlands is a country in Northwestern Europ, constituting the major portion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy. The Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. The capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. The Netherlands is often called Holland, which is formally incorrect as North and South Holland are actually two of its twelve provinces. The word Dutch is used to refer to the people, the language, and anything pertaining to the Netherland. The difference between the noun and the adjective is a peculiarity of the English language and does not exist in the Dutch language. Being one of the first parliamentary democracies, the Netherlands was a modern country from its inception. Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the European Union (EU), NATO, OECD, WTO, and has signed the Kyoto protocol. With Belgium and Luxembourg it forms the Benelux economic union.

The country is host to 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 former four are situated in The Hague as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol. This has led to the city being dubbed "the world's legal capital". The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 27% of its area and 60% of its population located below sea level. Significant areas have 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 south-east and several lowhill ranges in the central parts created by ice-age glaciers.

The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU), and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.

Location : Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany Geographic coordinates : 52 30 N, 5 45 E Map references : Europe Area :

41,526 sq km

Country comparison to the world: Lan d: 33,883 sq km Water: 7,643 sq km Land boundaries :

1,027 km Belgium 450 km, Germany 577 km

Border countries:

Maritime claims : 12 nm 24 nm Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: Contiguous zone:

Climate : Temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters

Natural resources Natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel, arable land Land use :
Arable land: Perm anent crops:

21.96% 0.77%

Other: 77.27% (2005) Irrigated land : 5,650 sq km (2003) Natu ral hazards : Flooding

Environment - international agreements : party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air PollutionPersistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements Geography - note : Located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde)

Population : 16,715,999 (July 2009 EST.) Age structure : 0-14 years: 17.4% (male 1,485,873/female 1,416,999) 15-64 years: 67.7% (male 5,720,387/female 5,604,014) 65 years and over: 14.9% (male 1,070,496/female 1,418,230) (2009 est.) Median age : Total: 40.4 years Male: 39.6 years Fem ale: 41.2 years (2009 EST.) Population growth rate : 0.412% (2009 EST.) Birth rate 10.4 births/1,000 population (2009 EST .)

Death rate : 8.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 EST.) Religions Roman Catholic 30%, Dutch Reformed 11%, Calvinist 6%, other Protestant 3%, Muslim 5.8%, other 2.2%, none 42% (2006) Languages : Dutch (official), Frisian (official Literacy :
Defin ition: Male: Total popu lation : Fem ale:

age 15 and over can read and write 99%

99% 99% (2003 est.) Education expenditures : 5.3% of GDP (2005)

Country name :
Convention al long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands Convention al short form: Netherlands Local lon g form: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden Local sh ort form : Nederland

Government type
Constitutional monarchy

Administrative divisions : 12 provinces (provinces, singular - provinces); Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland (Fryslan), Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant (North Brabant), Noord-Holland (North Holland), Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland (Zealand), Zuid-Holland (South Holland) Independence : 23 January 1579 (the northern provinces of the Low Countries conclude the Union of Utrecht breaking with Spain; on 26 July 1581 they formally declared their independence with an Act of Abjuration; however, it was not until 30 January 1648 and the Peace of Westphalia that Spain recognized this independence National holiday :

Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980) Constitution : Adopted 1815;
amended many times, most recently in 2002

Executive branch Queen BEATRIX (since 30 April 1980); Heir Apparent WILLEM-ALEXANDER (born 27 April 1967), son of the monarch Head of governmen t: Prime Minister Jan Peter BALKENENDE (since 22 July 2002); Deputy Prime Ministers Wouter BOS (since 22 February 2007) and Andre ROUVOET (since 22 February 2007) Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch Elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following Second Chamber elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch; deputy prime ministers appointed by the monarch Political parties and leaders Christian Democratic Appeal or CDA [Pieter VAN GEEL]; Christian Union Party [Arie SLOB]; Democrats 66 or D66 [Alexander PECHTOLD]; Green Left Party [Femke HALSEMA]; Labor Party or PvdA [Mariette HAMER]; Party for Freedom or PVV [Greet WILDERS]; Party for the Animals or PvdD [Marianne THIEME]; People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberal) or VVD [Mark RUTTE]; Reformed Political Party of SGP [Bas VAN DER VLIES]; Socialist Party [Agnes KANT]; plus a few minor parties Flag description : Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue; similar to the flag of Luxembourg, which uses a lighter blue and is longer; one of the oldest flags in constant use, originating with WILLIAM I, Prince of Orange, in the latter half of the 16th century
Chief of state:

Economy - overview : The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no

more than 3% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the foodprocessing industry and for exports. The Netherlands, along with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency on 1 January 2002. The country has been one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment and is one of the four largest investors in the US. The pace of job growth reached 10-year highs in 2007, but economic growth fell sharply in 2008 as fallout from the world financial crisis constricted demand and raised the specter of a recession in 2009.

GDP - per capita (PPP)
$40,300 (2008 EST.)

Unemployment rate :
4.5% (2008 EST.)

Budget :
Revenues: $408.5 billion Expen ditu res: $398.8 billion (2008 est.)

Teleph ones - main lin es in use : 7.334 million (2007) Teleph ones - mobile cellular : 17.3 million (2006) Radio broadcast stations : AM 4, FM 567, shortwave 1 (2008) Internet hosts : 10.983 million (2008)


Airports :
27 (2008)

Heliports :
1 (2007)

Pipelines : gas 3,816 km; oil 365 km; refined products 716 km (2008) Railways :
total: 2,801 km

Ports and terminals : Amsterdam, IJmuiden, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Vlissinge

Military branches :

Royal Netherlands Army, Royal Netherlands Navy (includes Naval Air Service and Marine Corps), Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, KLu), Royal Military Police (2009 )
Military expen ditu res :

1.6% of GDP (2005 est.

he 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, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century wereVincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. M. C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist. Willem de Kooningwas born and trained in Rotterdam, although he is considered to have reached acclaim as an American artist. Han van Meegeren was an infamous Dutch art forger. The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza. All of Descartes' major work was done in the Netherlands. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) discovered Saturn's moon Titan and invented the pendulum clock. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms with a microscope. In the Dutch Golden Age, literature flourished as well, with Joost van den Vondel and P.C. Hooft as the two most famous writers. In the 19th century, Multatuli wrote about the bad treatment of the natives in Dutch colonies. Important 20th century authors include Harry Mulisch, Jan Wolkers, Simon Vestdijk,Cees Nooteboom, Gerard (van het) Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans. Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl 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, Nagasaki, Japan. A similar Holland Village is being built in Shenyang, China. Windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese and Delftware pottery are among the items associated with the Netherlands by tourists. Something that is also very Dutch is the anual Sinterklaas celebration, including the tradition of Zwarte Piet. During recent years the role of Zwarte Piet has become part of a recurring debate in the Netherlands. Present-day observations in the Netherlands under controversy include holiday revellers blackening their faces, wearing afro wigs and bright red lipstick, and walking the streets throwing candyto passers-by.

People drssed as Zwarte Piet, left, and Sinterklaas, right.

Accepted in the past without controversy in a once largely ethnically homogeneous nation, today Zwarte Piet is somewhat controversial and greeted with mixed reactions. Many Dutch see him as a cherished tradition and look forward to his annual appearance (In 2008 two foreign artists who wanted to discuss Zwarte Piet received threats). Other Dutch people detest him, seeing the character as an expression of racism. Opponents point to the fact that Zwarte Piet was created in an era (1850) when the practice of slavery, including by Dutch slavers, was relatively common. Observers outside the Netherlands also tend to see Zwarte Piet in terms of the history of slavery and blackfac

Famous Natives
Bernard Accama artist Jan Adderman musician Christijan Albers race car driver Alexia of the Netherlands princess Amber singer, songwriter Elly Ameling concert singer Louis Andriessen composer

Culture lourishing from the 12th cent. onward, the earliest literature of the Low Countries displays a strong French and somewhat weaker German influence in its vocabulary and literary style. Middle Dutch literature shows the same general characteristics as the contemporary vernacular literatures; thus the bourgeois spirit was expressed in the works of Jacob van Maerlant and in the Dutch versions of Reynard the Fox. Hadewijch, John Ruysbroeck, and Gerard Groote spoke the language of mysticism. By the 14th cent., chivalry and scholasticism had waned, and by the 15th cent. mysticism was transformed as moral piety. Among the best-known of Dutch medieval dramas are Mary of Nimmegen and the morality play Elckerlijk, closely related to Everyman. The greatest Dutch figure of the Renaissance, Erasmus, wrote in Latin, but other humanists-Jan van der Noot, Dirck Coornhert, Hendrick Spieghel, and the painter and poet Karel van Mander-used vernacular. Reformation polemics were represented by the Catholic Anna Bijns, and the Protestant Philip van Marnix. With the establishment of the republic and the subsequent commercial prosperity, came the Golden Age of Dutch literature; this is the period of the masters Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft and Joost van den Vondel, of the homely verse of Jacob Cats, of the comedies of Gerbrand Bredero, and of the works of Constantijn Huygens. After the 17th cent. Flemish and Dutch literature declined. Pieter Langendijk and Joseph Addison's imitator Justus van Effen, the novelists Elisabeth Wolff and Agatha Deken, were the chief Dutch writers in the 18th cent. In the 19th cent. Dutch and Flemish literature expanded on European lines, with the novelists Jacob van Lennep, Anna Bosboom-Toussaint, Eduard Dekker, and the Belgian Hendrik Conscience, and the poets Isaäc Da Costa, Hendrik Tollens, Everhardus Potgieter, and the Belgians Guido Gezelle, Albrecht Rodenbach, Pol de Mont, and Nicolaas Beets. The 1880s saw a reorientation of Dutch letters under foreign influence, especially under that of French naturalism and the English poets Keats and Shelley. By 1900, impressionistic themes were emerging in poetry. The new forces were seen in novelists and short-story writers, such as Louis Couperus, and in the Belgians Stijn Streuvels and Felix Timmermans. Among the better-known poets are Roland Holst, Pieter Boutens, and Herman Gorter in the Netherlands, and Karel van de Woestijne in Belgium. The successful dramatist Herman Heijermans has a significant place in 20th-century Dutch literature. After the 1940s, the psychological novel came to typify Flemish literature. The physician Simon Vestdijk, perhaps the greatest Dutch writer of the 20th cent., wrote psychological novels that revealed the influence of existentialism. His contemporary Gerrit Achterberg explored similar themes of life and death in his powerful poems. The diary of Anne Frank is only the best known of a vast number of works that concern the Dutch experience during World War II. The character of Dutch poetry was altered after the war when Lucebert (Lubertus Swaanswijk), whose work was related to the internationalist CoBrA group, rejected rhyme and meter and introduced surrealist elements into his verse. In fiction, the works of postwar Dutch writers such as Anna Blaman, Alfred Kossman, and Adriaan Van der Veen reveal the influence of both the Nazi occupation and existentialism. Indeed, the existentialist influence is found even in fictional works of the 1960s in which writers such as Willem F. Hermans, Jan Wolkers, and Harry Mulisch express their overpowering sense of absurdity and despair.

The Netherlands is a small country situated between Germany and the North sea. It is a very modern country, whose achievements of civilization amaze the world. The netherlands is also the most liberal country in today's world. There is no place for conservatism. Liberalism is very important not only in economy, but also in society and culture.

The Netherlands is also a very beautiful country. There are not, however, any mountain landscapes, but in order to admire wonderful architecture, it is enough to visit the first town on the way.

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