The Netherlands is a country that is part of (a constituent country) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Most of it is in Western Europe, but there are also some parts in the Caribbean. More than 17 million people live there. To the north and west of the European part of the Netherlands is the North Sea, and to the east is Germany and to the south is Belgium. The Netherlands is one of the countries that started the European Union. People who live in the Netherlands are called "Dutch". The language of the Netherlands is also called Dutch. The official capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam. However, the government is located in The Hague.
Anthem: "Wilhelmus" (Dutch)
Location of the Dutch special municipalities (green)
and largest city
|Government's seat||The Hague[c]|
|Official regional languages|
|Recognised regional languages|
|Ethnic groups |
|Sovereign state||Kingdom of the Netherlands|
|Government||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|Mark Rutte (VVD)|
|Hugo de Jonge (CDA)|
Kajsa Ollongren (D66)
Carola Schouten (CU)
|Piet Hein Donner|
|House of Representatives|
|Independence from Spanish Empire|
|26 July 1581|
|30 January 1648|
• Kingdom established
|16 March 1815|
|15 December 1954|
• Incorporation of the Caribbean Netherlands
|10 October 2010|
|41,543 km2 (16,040 sq mi) (131st)|
• Water (%)
• 2017 estimate
|17,170,000  (66th)|
|417.9/km2 (1,082.4/sq mi) (30th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2017 estimate|
|$907.619 billion (28th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
|$762.694 billion (17th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2015)||▲ 28.2|
low · 15th
|HDI (2015)|| 0.924|
very high · 7th
|Time zone||UTC-4 (CET (UTC+1)[f]|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC-4 (CEST (UTC+2)|
|ISO 3166 code||NL|
"The Netherlands" means "the low lands". The land only rises, on average, 1 meter above the sea level. One third of the land is below sea level. The Netherlands is also - incorrectly - referred to as Holland. Holland was a very rich area (two provinces) in the western part of the Netherlands, thus causing people to be mistaken. Some people who do not live in the western part of the Netherlands do not like it when people call the country Holland. The name "Holland" originates from the old Dutch words "Holt land" which means "wood lands".
At the end of the Middle Ages the dukes of Burgundy, a country that is now part of France, united seventeen areas. Those areas were called the Netherlands. When the daughter of a duke married Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1477, the Netherlands became part of Spain. In the 16th century many Dutch people became Protestant. The king of Spain did not like it, he wanted all Dutch to be Roman Catholic. Of course the Dutch people did not like this, and after violent excesses by the Spanish they started a war against Spain in 1568, also for reasons of taxation. The war lasted until 1648, therefore it is called the Eighty Years' War. An important leader of the Dutch in this war was Willem van Oranje (Willem of orange) also called William the Silent.
In 1648 the Netherlands and Spain signed peace. The Dutch people were allowed to keep all the areas they conquered. The part of the Netherlands that was not conquered by the Dutch stayed part of Spain. Later this part became the country Belgium.
When the Netherlands became independent, it was a very special country. That time almost all countries in Europe were ruled by a king, but the Netherlands was a republic. The Netherlands was made up of seven provinces, that were ruled by the big cities. The cities were ruled by the municipality which consisted of rich civilians. Together those provinces were ruled by a stadtholder, a very powerful man, but compared to the kings of other European countries he had much less power.
In the 17th century the Netherlands was the richest and one of the most powerful countries in the world. Therefore, the Dutch call the 17th century the Golden Age. Their Dutch Empire had possessions around the world. The most important possession were the East Indies, a country that is now called Indonesia. The Dutch also founded New Netherland, which is now called New York. The Netherlands often fought wars against other European countries, especially the Anglo-Dutch Wars against England. Michiel de Ruyter, a Dutch admiral, became a Dutch hero when he defeated the English navy close to London.
In the 18th century the Netherlands became poorer. Many people blamed this on the government leaders, the stadtholders. Many thought they had too much power and wanted them to get away. In 1789 the French people deposed (got rid of) their king. French armies attacked other countries to depose their leaders too. In 1795 they attacked the Netherlands. Stadtholder William V had to flee to England. The Netherlands were renamed to Batavian Republic and became a democracy. But the French were not content (satisfied) with the Dutch ruler, so in 1806 the French emperor Napoleon made his brother Louis Bonaparte king of the Netherlands. Louis became popular in the Netherlands, but the emperor was again not content with him, so in 1810 the Netherlands became a part of France.
In 1815 Napoleon was defeated, and the Netherlands became independent again. The rulers of European countries thought it was a good idea to make the Netherlands stronger, to make them able to resist another French invasion. Therefore, Belgium and Luxembourg were added to the Netherlands. William I, the son of stadtholder William V, became king. Some Belgians disliked their Dutch king. In 1830 they revolted. William sent an army. He was much more powerful than the Belgians but after ten days the French sent an army to support them. In 1831 the Belgians chose their own king and Belgium became an independent country.
Some people again thought the Dutch king had too much power. They wanted to give him less power and vote for the government themselves. In 1848 there were violent revolts against the kings of many European countries. The Dutch king was afraid the same would happen in the Netherlands. Therefore, he allowed Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to write a constitution. From then on people were allowed to vote. At first only rich men were allowed to vote. From 1919 on all adults were allowed to vote.
In World War I, the Netherlands did not fight and were not invaded. The Dutch wanted to stay neutral in World War II as well, but in 1940 the country was invaded and occupied by Germany. Like in other countries they had occupied, the German authorities started to kill Jews. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who lived in the Netherlands. Her family hid from the Nazis and she wrote a diary. She died in a Nazi concentration camp and her diary became famous.
In 1944 the American, Canadian, Polish and British armies liberated the south of the Netherlands from Nazi Occupation. They wanted to cross the Rhine river in Operation Market Garden to liberate the rest of the country, but they were defeated. It took until May 1945 before the entire country was liberated. During the five years of Nazi occupation, 250,000 people had died in the Netherlands.
Shortly after the war, Indonesia declared its independence. The Dutch sent soldiers to fight in Indonesia. After other countries, including the United States, told the Dutch to leave Indonesia, they finally did so in 1949.
After the war the Netherlands became one of the richest countries in the world. In 2004 the United Nations said that the Netherlands was the 5th best country to live in.
The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. That means the country has a king, but the real power is in the hands of a parliament, chosen by the Dutch people. All Dutch people at least 18 years old or older are allowed to vote. The Dutch parliament consists of two chambers: the Second Chamber (Dutch: Tweede Kamer, this is the House of Representatives, elected every four years), and the First Chamber (Dutch: Eerste Kamer, this is the Senate, elected by provincial politicians every four years). After the Second Chamber elections, parties that have had a majority of the votes create a cabinet. The cabinet consists of a prime minister and several other ministers and deputy ministers. Current government is the Third Rutte cabinet, consisting of VVD, CDA, D66 and CU politicians. Prime Minister is Mark Rutte (VVD).
The latest general elections were held on March 15, 2017. The coalition party PvdA (Labour) lost dramatically, and the other coalition party VVD (Conservative-liberals) also lost but remained the largest party in parliament. Most opposition parties won seats, especially the green party GreenLeft won considerably. Populist party PVV of Geert Wilders won also seats but not the amount expected and became the second largest party.
The Netherlands is known for tolerance in politics. The Netherlands is the only country where soft drugs are not entirely considered illegal. Furthermore, the Netherlands is one of the few countries that allow same-sex marriages, euthanasia and prostitution to a certain extent.
More information: Politics of the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is subdivided in provinces and municipalities.
In the Netherlands there are 12 provinces:
These provinces are all located in the part of the Netherlands that is in Europe. The country also includes three special municipalities in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. They are not part of any province, but together are known as the Caribbean Netherlands. The Netherlands (both the European part and the Caribbean Netherlands), together with Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, also in the Caribbean, form a sovereign state called the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
When the Kingdom was formed in 1954, the territories in the Caribbean became part of the Netherlands Antilles. At that time it also included Suriname in South America, which became an independent country in 1975. Aruba left the Antilles in 1986, and Curaçao and Sint Maarten did the same in 2010. The rest of the islands then became the Caribbean Netherlands which is part of the Netherlands proper.
The Netherlands has 380 municipalities (2018) and also three special municipalities in the so-called Caribbean Netherlands.
Almost every year the amount of municipalities decrease.
Cities aren't actually a subdivision of the Netherlands. Cities are also municipalities or they make part of municipalities.
This is a list of the cities with over 100,000 people.
|1||Amsterdam||780,000||North Holland||excl. Driemond and Landelijk Noord|
|3||The Hague||500,000||South Holland||Dutch name: Den Haag|
|8||Groningen||187,298||Groningen||excl. Engelbert, Hoogkerk, Middelbert and Noorderhoogebrug|
|10||Nijmegen||164,165||Gelderland||excl. Lent and Oosterhout|
|11||Apeldoorn||155,726||Gelderland||excl. Beekbergen, Hoenderloo, Hoog Soeren, Klarenbeek, Lieren, Loenen, Uddel and Ugchelen|
|13||Haarlem||151,853||North Holland||excl.Bloemendaal, Hillegom, Heemstede, Velsen, Overveen|
|15||Amersfoort||126,750||Utrecht||excl. Hoogland and Hooglanderveen|
|18||Zwolle||118,000||Overijssel||excl. Brinkhoek, Haerst, Herfte, Langenholte, Wijthmen and Windesheim|
|20||Maastricht||116,200||Limburg||excl. Borgharen and Itteren|
|21||Ede||107,476||Gelderland||CBS (1 January, 2007)|
|22||'s-Hertogenbosch||102,220||North Brabant||excl. Bokhoven, Empel, Engelen, Kruisstraat, Maliskamp and Rosmalen|
In fact a large part of the Netherlands was created by the sand that came from the many rivers flowing through it. Notable Dutch rivers are the Rhine, the Maas, the IJssel and the Scelt. A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level. This is because the Dutch have made many lakes and parts of the sea dry, creating polders. Therefore, there is a saying "God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands." This makes the Netherlands very flat. In the very south-east of the Netherlands, in Limburg, there are some hills. Therefore, this region is a tourist-attraction for many Dutch people. The highest point in the European portion of the Netherlands, the Vaalserberg, is 323 metres above sea level. The highest point in both the Netherlands proper and the Kingdom of the Netherlands is Mount Scenery, on the Caribbean island of Saba, at 887 metres.
The Netherlands is a small country, but many people live there. It is one of the most densely populated countries of the world.
Most people in the Netherlands speak Dutch. In Friesland, about 200,000 people speak Frisian. Frisian is the language with the most similarities to English. Some Dutch people speak dialects. The Saxon dialects spoken in the northeastern part of the Netherlands are somewhat similar to Low German.
According to a survey done in 2006, 25% of the Dutch people are Christian and 3% believe in another organised religion, like Judaism, Islam or Hinduism. Twenty-six percent are 'unbounded spiritual' (have their own beliefs and are not tied to a religion). The other 44% are not religious.
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (English: Dutch Railways) or NS is the main passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. The rail infrastructure is maintained by network manager ProRail, which was split from NS in 2003. Freight services, formerly operated by NS Cargo, merged with the DB Schenker group in 2000.
NS runs 4,800 scheduled trains daily. In addition, NS provides international rail services from the Netherlands to other European destinations and carries out concessions on a number of foreign rail markets through its subsidiary Abellio such as Abellio Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and ScotRail.
Arriva is another passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. It is a subsidiary of the German company Deutsche Bahn. Their local headquarters is based at Heerenveen. They have been active since 1998.
- "Welke erkende talen heeft Nederland? [[English]]" (in Dutch). Rijksoverheid. Retrieved 27 December 2017. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
- "Wet gebruik Friese taal" (in Dutch). wetten.nl. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- "Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). wetten.nl. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
- Official CBS website containing all Dutch demographic statistics. Cbs.nl. Retrieved on 4 July 2017.
- CBS. "Helft Nederlanders is kerkelijk of religieus". www.cbs.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 October 2017.
- "Population counter". Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
- "Netherlands". International Monetary Fund. April 2016.
- "Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income (source: SILC)". Eurostat Data Explorer. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "2016 Human Development Report" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- "Wet geldstelsel BES". Dutch government. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- "Regionale Kerncijfers Nederland" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
- "Bevolking per regio naar leeftijd, geslacht en burgerlijke staat" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
- The official motto is in French. The literal translation into English is "I will maintain"; a better translation, however, is "I will hold firm" or "I will uphold" (namely, the integrity and independence of the territory).
- In 1816 the motto was abbreviated to "God zij met ons" (used on the edges of coins).
- While Amsterdam is the constitutional capital, The Hague is the seat of the government.
- West Frisian has official status in Friesland. Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish are recognised as regional languages by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Papiamento is recognised by the Dutch government in relation to Bonaire, and English in relation to Sint Eustatius and Saba.
- The euro is used in the European part of the Netherlands and replaced the Dutch guilder in 2002. The US dollar is used in the Caribbean Netherlands and replaced the Netherlands Antillean guilder in 2011.
- CET and CEST are used in the European Netherlands, and AST is used in the Caribbean Netherlands.
- 599 was the country code designated for the now dissolved Netherlands Antilles. The Caribbean Netherlands still use 599–7 (Bonaire), 599–3 (Sint Eustatius) and 599–4 (Saba).
- .nl is the common internet top level domain name for the Netherlands. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states. .bq is designated, but not in use, for the Caribbean Netherlands.
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