Netherlands

Netherlands Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Netherlands

Language: Dutch
Currency: Euro (€)
Calling Code: 31

 

Description of Netherlands

The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a member of the European Union. Administration is located in Hague, being the official seat of the monarchy, as well as its executive, legislative and judicial authorities. Its capital is Amsterdam. The provinces that make up the Netherlands are located in northwestern Europe and border the North and West with the North Sea, the South with Belgium and the East with Germany. The special municipalities of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, located in the Caribbean, complete the Dutch territory. The country is one of the most densely populated areas in the world and is one of the most developed states: in 2011 it was ranked third in terms of human development according to the Human Development Index published by the United Nations. As its name indicates, the territory of the country is formed by low land (neder) of which approximately a quarter are situated at or below sea level.

Frequently, the country is known by the name of its most influential or relevant historical region, Holland, located in the western part of the country. In this sense, the panhispánico Dictionary of doubts, published by the Royal Spanish Academy, does admit its use as a synonym, but to a certain extent. Their language is also traditionally known and for the same reason as Dutch, even though their official name is Dutch; in fact, Dutch in the strict sense is a dialect of Dutch; admissible by the RAE in the current speech, but never in official texts where it must be referred to as Dutch. His name is also known traditionally as Dutch, also admissible according to the RAE in ordinary speech, but not in official texts, where it must be referred to as Dutch. Often, the Netherlands is also confused with the customs union known as Benelux formed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; The denomination is based on the intergovernmental cooperation agreement that became effective in 1944.

 

Travel Destinations in Netherlands

Western Netherlands

Flevoland

Almere
Dronten
Lelystad
Noordoostpolder
Urk
Zeewolde

 

North Holland

Amsterdam
Haarlem
Alkmaar
Bergen aan Zee
Den Helder
Enkhuizen
Heemskerk
Hilversum
Hoorn
Muiden
Radboud Castle
Zaandam

 

South Holland

The Hague
Alphen aan den Rijn
Delft
Dordrecht
Gouda
Leiden
Rotterdam
Scheveningen
Schiedam

 

Utrecht

Utrecht
Amersfoort
Bunnik
Rhenen
Oudewater
Soest
Veenendaal
Wijk bij Duurstede
Woerden
Slot Zuylen

 

Northern Netherlands

Drenthe

Assen
Ansen
Borger
Coevorden
Dwingeloo
Emmen
Hoogeveen
Meppel
Roden
Westerbork
Zuidlaren

 

Friesland

Leeuwarden
Balk
Bolsward
Dokkum
Drachten
Franeker
Harlingen
Heerenveen
Hindeloopen
IJlst
Joure
Sloten
Sneek
Stavoren
Workum

 

Groningen

Groningen
Delfzijl
Appingedam
Fraeylemaborg
Fraeylemaborg Castle

 

Eastern Netherlands

Gelderland

Apeldoorn
Arnhem
Barneveld
Culemborg
Doetinchem
Ede
Elburg
Harderwijk
Nijmegen
Tiel
Wageningen
Wijchen
Zutphen
Huis Bergh

 

Overijssel

Zwolle
Almelo
Deventer
Dinkelland
Enschede
Giethoorn
Haaksbergen
Hengelo
Kampen
Kuinre
Ommen

 

Southern Netherlands

Limburg

North Limburg
Arcen
Bergen
Gennep
Horst aan de Maas
Mook en Middelaar
Peel en Maas
Venlo
Venray
Lottum
Middle Limburg
Beesel
Echt-Susteren
Leudal
Maasgouw
Nederweert
Roerdalen
Roermond
Weert
South Limburg
Heerlen
Kerkrade
Maastricht
Sittard
Valkenburg aan de Geul
Vaals

 

North Brabant

's-Hertogenbosch (or Den Bosch)
Baarle
Bergen op Zoom
Breda
Deurne
Eersel
Eindhoven
Geertrudenberg
Geldrop
Gemert
Grave
Helmond
Heusden
Klundert
Nuenen
Oisterwijk
Oosterhout
Oss
Overloon
Ravenstein
Roosendaal
Tilburg
Valkenswaard
Vught
Willemstad
Woudrichem
Zundert

 

Zeeland

Middelburg
Goes
Sluis
Hulst
Terneuzen
Tholen
Vlissingen
Westkapelle
Zierikzee

 

Etymology

The Netherlands is often referred to as "Holland" because South and North Holland are only two of the twelve provinces of what is now the Netherlands and were throughout history the most developed and therefore best known outside of the Netherlands. For this reason, in many other countries, Holland was often referred to as the entire country. In Russian, this name became widespread after the Great Embassy of Peter I. Since the interests of the Russian Tsar included places that were most developed from a technical point of view, and they were mostly located in the Netherlands in the province of Holland, it was she who visited the Great Embassy; when talking at home about their visit to the Netherlands, members of the embassy often called the country Holland, without mentioning the name of the state as a whole.

From January 1, 2020, official institutions, companies, print media and universities in the Netherlands began to designate their country only under the name "Netherlands", abandoning the name "Holland" (The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that this was done in order to form a unified national brand).

The name "Netherlands" in translation means "lower lands", but it is literally wrong to translate it, because for historical reasons this term is used to refer to the territory roughly corresponding to the modern Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (Benelux). At the end of the Middle Ages, the area located in the lower reaches of the rivers Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, along the coast of the North Sea, became known as the "Landen Lowlands" or "Lowlands" (de Lage Landen bij de zee, de Nederlanden). The first official mention of the use of the name "Netherlands" refers to the XIV-XV centuries.

 

History

The first archaeological evidence of the presence of an ancient person in the territory of present-day Netherlands refers to the Lower Paleolithic (about 800 thousand years ago). They were engaged in hunting and gathering. At the end of the Ice Age, the territory was inhabited by various Paleolithic groups. About 8000 BC Mesolithic tribe lived on this territory, and in the next several millennia the Iron Age with a relatively high standard of living came.

At the time of the arrival of the Romans, the territory of modern Netherlands was inhabited by Germanic tribes, such as the Tubants, Canine-Fats and Friezes, who settled there about 600 BC. Celtic tribes, such as the Eburons and the Menapies, populated the south of the country. Germanic Frieze tribes are one of the branches of the Teutons that came to the Netherlands around the middle of the 1st millennium BC. e. At the beginning of Roman colonization, the German tribes of Batavi and Toxandra also arrived in the country. During the Roman Empire, the southern part of the present Netherlands was occupied by the Romans and became part of the province of Belgica (lat. Gallia Belgica), and later - the province of Lower Germany (lat. Germania Inferior).

In the Middle Ages, the Lower Countries (approximately consisting of present-day Belgium and the Netherlands) included various counties, duchies, and dioceses that were part of the Holy Roman Empire. They were united into one state under the rule of the Habsburgs in the 16th century. After the spread of Calvinism, the Counter-Reformation followed, causing a split in the country. The attempts of the Spanish King Philip II to centralize the state led to an uprising against Spanish rule under the leadership of William I of Orange. On July 26, 1581, the country's independence was proclaimed officially recognized by other states only after the Eighty Years War (1568–1648). During the years of the War of Independence, the “Golden Age” of the Netherlands began, a period of economic and cultural prosperity that lasted the whole of the 17th century.

After the end of the French occupation at the beginning of the 19th century, the Netherlands turned into a monarchy under the rule of the House of Oran. In 1830, Belgium finally separated from the Netherlands and became an independent kingdom; Luxembourg gained independence in 1890. Under pressure from liberal politicians, the country was transformed into a parliamentary constitutional monarchy in 1848. This political structure has survived to this day, with a brief break during the Nazi occupation.

During World War I, the Netherlands remained neutral, but during World War II they were occupied by Germany for five years. During the German invasion, Rotterdam was bombarded, in which the city center was almost completely destroyed. Holocaust victims during the occupation were 104,000 Dutch Jews (more than seventy percent of all Dutch Jews).

After the war, the country's rapid recovery began, helped by the Marshall Plan, organized by the United States of America. Thanks to this, the Netherlands quickly managed to restore the national economy and achieve economic growth. The former colonies of Indonesia and Suriname gained state independence. As a result of mass immigration from Indonesia, Turkey, Morocco, Suriname and the Antilles, the Netherlands became a country with many cultures and a large share of the Muslim population.

In the sixties and seventies, great social and cultural changes took place. Catholics and Protestants began to communicate more with each other, and differences between sectors of the population also became less noticeable due to an increase in living standards and the development of education. Women's economic rights expanded much, and they increasingly began to occupy high positions in enterprises and in government. They were also given passive suffrage, that is, the right to be elected. The government began to care not only about economic growth, but also about protecting the environment. The population received broad social rights; pensions, unemployment and disability benefits are among the highest in the world.

On March 25, 1957, the Netherlands became one of the founders of the European Union and later did a lot for European integration. However, in a referendum on the European Constitution in June 2005, more than half of the Dutch voted against its adoption. A negative role was played by the ban on holding a referendum on the country's transition from a guilder to the euro. Thus, the Netherlands became the second country, after France, which rejected the draft of a single EU constitution.

 

From July 22, 2002 to October 14, 2010, the leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, Jan-Peter Balkenende, was the Prime Minister. On February 22, 2007, he formed his fourth cabinet of ministers - a coalition of Christian Democratic Appeal, the Labor Party and the Christian Union Small Party (6 seats in parliament). The Balkenende deputies in the government were the leader of the Labor Party, Wouter Bos and the leader of the Christian Union, Andre Rauwoot.

On February 20, 2010, the fourth cabinet of ministers, Jan-Peter Balkenende, collapsed due to disagreements among coalition members over the participation of Dutch forces in the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. The leader of the Labor Party, Wouter Bos, called for the speedy withdrawal of all Dutch troops from Afghanistan, while coalition leader Jan-Peter Balkenende insisted on extending the mandate in Afghanistan for another year (the mandate expired in August 2010). In February 2010, 1,900 Dutch soldiers were in Afghanistan. New elections were called.

In the parliamentary elections of June 9, 2010, the ruling Christian Democratic Party lost 20 of the 41 seats, and the best results were achieved by the liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the center-left Labor Party and the Freedom Party, known for its anti-Muslim views. On October 14, 2010, Mark Rutte, leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, became the new Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The Freedom Party became part of the ruling coalition with the NPSD and the Christian Democratic Party without the right to ministerial posts. The parties of the ruling coalition (NPSD, KDP and PS) had 76 deputy mandates of 150 seats in the Second Chamber and 37 of 75 in the First.

On April 23, 2012, Rutte submitted a letter of resignation to Queen Beatrix. The reason for such actions on the part of Rutte was unsuccessful negotiations with the opposition on the 2013 budget and possible measures to overcome the financial crisis. In particular, one of these measures is to reduce public spending by 16 billion euros. After the early parliamentary elections held in September 2012, Rutte formed the coalition government of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy and the Labor Party.

 

State structure

The first constitution of the Netherlands in 1815 gave primary power to the king, but gave legislative powers to a bicameral parliament (the States General). The modern constitution of the country was adopted in 1848 at the initiative of King Willem II and the famous liberal Johan Rudolf Thorbeke. This constitution can be considered a "peaceful revolution" because it sharply curtailed the power of the king and transferred executive power to the cabinet. Parliament was henceforth elected in direct elections, and it gained great influence on the decisions of the government. Thus, the Netherlands became one of the first countries in Europe to make the transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.

In 1917, a change in the constitution gave suffrage to all men over the age of 23; in 1919 all women were given the right to vote. Since 1971, all citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote. The largest revision of the constitution took place in 1983. From now on, the population was guaranteed not only political, but also social rights: protection from discrimination (on the basis of religion, political opinions, race, gender and other reasons), a ban on the death penalty and the right to a living wage. The government was given the duty to protect the population from unemployment and protect the environment. Several constitutional changes after 1983 abolished conscripted military service and allowed the use of the armed forces for peacekeeping operations abroad.

The monarch of the Netherlands is officially the head of state, but delegates power to the cabinet. Among the many functions of the King as head of state is the annual Speech from the Throne, proclaimed by him on Princes' Day at the beginning of the parliamentary year (Princes' Day falls on the third Tuesday of September) [16]. The Speech from the Throne presents the government's plans for the coming year. The monarch also plays an important role in the formation of the government. After the elections, the head of state holds consultations with faction leaders, chairmen of the First and Second Chambers of Parliament and with the Vice-Chairman of the State Council. On their recommendation, the King can appoint an "informant" who finds out which parties are ready to work together in government. So far, there has not been a single case of one party having an absolute majority. Appointing an informant is not necessary if it is known in advance which parties want to jointly form a cabinet. The result of negotiations between these parties is an agreement on the conditions for the formation of a government. This agreement outlines the coalition's plans for the forthcoming four-year term of government. After reaching this agreement, the King appoints a "formator" whose task is to form a cabinet. For the most part, the formator becomes the prime minister of the new government. New Ministers are appointed by Royal Decree and sworn in by the King.

Since 2013, Willem-Alexander of the Orange dynasty has been king, and his eldest daughter, Princess Katharina-Amalia of Orange, has been the heir to the throne. From 1890 to 2013, only women were on the throne. The monarch often abdicates the throne in favor of the heir upon reaching old age (this was done by all three queens who succeeded each other in the 20th century: Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix). In practice, the monarch almost does not interfere in political life, limiting himself to official ceremonies, but at the same time he has a certain influence on the formation of a new government after parliamentary elections and on the appointment of royal commissioners in the provinces.

Legislative power is vested in the Monarch (nominally), the Estates General (Parliament) and, to a lesser extent, the Government. Parliament consists of two chambers: the first (75 seats) and the second (150 seats). The second chamber, which has the main power, is elected by direct universal suffrage for 4 years.

The first chamber is indirectly elected by the provincial parliaments. The next provincial elections were held on March 18, 2015; The composition of the First Chamber was elected on May 26, 2015. The functions of the First Chamber are reduced to the ratification of bills already developed and adopted by the Second Chamber.

Executive power is concentrated in the hands of the cabinet of ministers (government). The government is obliged to coordinate the main decisions with the parliament, and therefore is formed on the basis of a parliamentary majority. No party in the recent history of the Netherlands has had an absolute majority in parliament, so governments have always been coalitional in nature.

 

Legal system

The highest judicial instance is the Supreme Council (Hoge Raad), the courts of appeal are 4 judicial chambers (Gerechtshof), the courts of first instance are 11 tribunals (Rechtbank), the lower level of the judicial system is the cantonal courts (Kantongerecht), the prosecution supervision bodies are the Prosecutor General's Office ( Parket-generaal), headed by the Advocate General (Advocaat-generaal), District Attorney's Offices (ressortsparket) headed by the Chief Advocate General (Hoofdadvocaat-Generaal), one per Chamber of Trials, District Attorney's Offices (arrondissementsparketten), headed by a chief officer justice (hoofdofficier van justitie), one per tribunal.

 

Administrative division

The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces (the last province of Flevoland was created in 1986 on drained territories), the provinces are divided into communities. The Netherlands also has three special communities in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. The representative bodies of the provinces are the provincial states (Provinciale Staten), the executive bodies of the provinces are the deputies of the states (Gedeputeerde Staten), consisting of the king's commissioner (Commissaris van de Koning) and deputies (gedeputeerde), the representative bodies of the communities are the community councils (Gemeenteraad), the executive body College of burgomaster and councilors (College van burgemeester en wethouders), consisting of the burgomaster (Burgemeester) and advisers.

The main units of local administration are communities, of which there are 355 in 2020.

Population
Since 1900, the population of the Netherlands in millions, natural increase per 1000 people, migration gain (per 1000 people) and total fertility rate (2.1 population replacement level).

Number and placement
The population is 17,676,400 (September 8, 2022).[21] In the list of countries by the number of inhabitants, the Netherlands ranks 66th[22]. Compared with other European countries, the population of the Netherlands has grown very rapidly over the past century and a half: 3 million inhabitants in 1850, 5 million in 1900, 10 million in 1950, 15 million in 1991, 16 million in 2002 and 17 million in 2017.[3] For comparison, the population of Belgium in the same period only about doubled: from 4.5 million inhabitants in 1850 to 10 million in 2000.

According to the official forecast of the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics from 2020, the population of the Netherlands under the baseline scenario by 2070 will be 20,423,000 people. The population of the Netherlands will grow in the coming decades, mainly due to the fact that more people come to the Netherlands than they leave, and also because of the increase in life expectancy. From 2023, more children will also be born, but in the long run this will not be enough to offset the growing number of deaths caused by the demographic aging of the population. According to current research, between 2040 and 2060 more people will die each year than are born. The Dutch population over the age of 65 is expected to grow from 20% at the end of 2020 to 25% in 2040. This is the result of the post-war baby boom and the large number of births in the 1960s, as well as increasing life expectancy. The number of older people is expected to stabilize between 2040 and 2050, when the younger generations will survive 65 years and many older people from the post-war generations will die. After 2050, the number of older people in the population will increase again, in part because a large generation of millennials will then turn 65 years old. The Dutch population aged 20 to 65 is expected to grow from 10.3 million in 2021 to 10.9 million in 2070. The number of people aged 0-20 will grow from 3.7 million in 2021 to 4.2 million in 2070. Over the past twenty years (from 2000 to the end of 2020), the population of the Netherlands has increased by 1.5 million inhabitants, 96% of this growth was provided by immigrants and their descendants, this is due to immigration, as well as the fact that the first generation of migrants had children (the second generation of immigrants). The population of the Netherlands of native Dutch origin has been declining since 2015 because more people die than children are born and slightly more people emigrate than immigrate. In the coming decades, as before since the 1970s, due to the completion of the demographic transition, the population of the Netherlands will grow only due to immigrants and their descendants, while the population of the Netherlands of indigenous Dutch origin will continue to decline. If on November 1, 2021, in total, immigrants and their descendants accounted for 25.2% of the population of the Netherlands, then by 2070 it is expected that immigrants and their descendants will account for up to 42% of the population of the Netherlands. As in 2020 and in the future, almost half of the Dutch population of immigrant origin were born in the Netherlands itself (second generation immigrants), with at least one of their parents born abroad.

 

With a land area of ​​41,543 km², according to 2020 data, the Netherlands has a population density of 517 people per square kilometer. Thus, the Netherlands is the 15th most densely populated state in the world. The most densely populated are the three western provinces: North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht (average population density of 1,000 people/km² or more; maximum rates are noted in urban areas - over 2,000 people/km²). Largely due to this, as well as a developed economy and a high level of income of the population, the Netherlands is one of the countries with the most developed transport and information infrastructure. For 2020, according to ITU, there were 16,383,879 Internet users in the country, which was approximately 95.4% of the total population of the country, according to this indicator, the Netherlands ranked 4th in the EU after Denmark - 97.9%, Malta - 97.2%, Lithuania - 96.8% and Estonia - 96.3%.

Ethnic composition
As of 1 May 2022, there were a total of 4,540,098 immigrants and their descendants, or 25.7% of the Dutch population. The Netherlands is home to two indigenous groups, the Dutch and the Frisians, as well as a large number of immigrants. According to The World Factbook, the ethnic composition of the population as of 2018: 76.9% - Dutch, 6.4% - citizens of other EU member states, 2.4% - Turks, 2.3% - Moroccans, 2.1% - Indonesians, 2.1% - Germans, 2% - Surinamese, 1% - Poles, 4.8% - other ethnic groups. Ethnic composition of the population as of 2021: 75.36% - Dutch and Frisians, 2.42% - Turks and Kurds, 2.37% - Moroccans and Berbers, 2.05% - Surinamese *, 2.02% - Indonesians and Moluccans, 1.98% Germans, 1.2% Poles, 0.75% Curaçao, 0.7% Belgians, 11.15% other ethnic groups. In the four largest cities of the country (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht), the number of immigrants is growing. As of January 1, 2020, in total, immigrants and their descendants made up 24.2% of the population of the Netherlands, but this share was higher in large cities. In the four largest cities combined, immigrants and their descendants made up 51.8% of the population. In Amsterdam, immigrants and their descendants made up 55.6% of the population. In The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, this figure was 55.6%, 52.3% and 36.1% respectively.

Sex and age structure
The average age of the population of the Netherlands according to The World Factbook for 2020 was 42.8 years (32nd in the world), including 41.6 years for men and 44 years for women. The population of the Netherlands is the highest in the world: the average height of adult men is 182.5 cm, adult women - 168.7 cm.

 

Religion

The composition of the population by religion as of 2019: 20.1% - Catholics, 14.8% - Protestants, 5.0% - Muslims, 5.9% - profess other religions (including Hindus, Buddhists, Jews), 54, 1 - irreligious.

 

Physical and geographical characteristics

The Netherlands is the most populous country in Europe (excluding a few dwarf countries). There is a very dense river network on the territory of the country, the mouths of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers converging on it form a vast common navigable delta. The rivers are full-flowing and bring masses of sediment, but often their channels carry the danger of floods. From the soils deposited by these rivers, a delta and a vast flat lowland were formed. The relief of the Netherlands is mainly made up of coastal lowlands, in the southeast there are small hills, and quite large areas are being added at the expense of marine territories. Half of the territory lies below sea level, and only in the south of the Netherlands does the terrain rise to 30 meters or more. Most of the lowlands are found in the provinces of North Holland, South Holland and Flevoland. The coastline is formed by alluvial dunes. Behind them are the lands once reclaimed from the sea, called polders and protected by dunes and dams from sea waters. In general, most of the soils are podzolic, but near the North Sea there are also fertile silty soils, and along the river valleys - alluvial-meadow soils. The polders, almost completely used for agricultural needs, are composed mainly of clay and peat. In the southern and eastern regions of the country, mainly sandy soils are widespread, largely occupied by arable land. In some places, heather wastelands (short grasses with shrubs) and pine-oak-beech forests have been preserved here. The plateaus of southern Limburg are covered with loess of eolian origin. Fertile loamy soils are developed here, which form the basis of agriculture. Most of the wildlife in the Netherlands has been displaced by humans. Nevertheless, there are many birds in the country, especially waterfowl. Many rare animal species are protected in national parks and reserves. 21.96% of the land is used for arable land. The highest point of the country is Walserberg (322 m), located in the southeast, and the lowest point is Zaudplastpolder (−6.74 m below sea level).

Climate
In general, the climate is temperate, maritime, characterized by cool summers and fairly warm winters. The average temperature in July is +16…+17°C, in January it is about +2°C on the coast and slightly colder inland. The absolute maximum air temperature (+38.6°C) was recorded on August 23, 1944 in Varnsveld, the absolute minimum (−27.4°C) was recorded on January 27, 1942 in Winterswijk. In winter, when anticyclones invade from Eastern Europe, temperatures drop below 0°C, snow falls, and canals and lakes freeze over. Although the average annual rainfall is 650 to 750 mm, there is rarely a day without rain. Often there are fogs, sometimes snow falls in winter.

Reclamation
A quarter of the country's territory lies 5–7 m below sea level. A seventh of the land is at a height of only 1 m above sea level, and only 1⁄50 of the country's territory is above 50 m. Since the time of the Roman Empire, the Dutch have been reclaiming land from the sea. The first polders appeared as early as the 13th century, and since then, significant areas have been drained along the coast. But at the same time, the history of the Netherlands is the history of the ongoing struggle of people with the sea. True, nature itself came to the aid of man here, protecting part of the coast with a rather wide belt of sand dunes. But this belt was not continuous, and besides, the sand was scattered by the winds. Then people began to strengthen the dunes with various plantings, and in places of breaks they built earthen dams and dams. They began to build the same dams and dams on the rivers. By the way, numerous place names ending in “dams” (dam, dam) come from here, for example Amsterdam (“dam on the Amstel River”) or Rotterdam (“dam on the Rotte River”).

 

Today, the total length of the continuous chain of dams and fortified dunes exceeds 3000 km. They are no longer built from sand and stone, but from reinforced concrete and steel structures. The paramount importance of this problem was the reason to organize a department for flood protection - Waterschap (Dutch. Waterschap). Large reclamation projects were carried out in 1930-1950. It was then that the artificial lake IJsselmeer was created, which became the largest in Western Europe (the 12th Dutch province of Flevoland was formed on the site of a drained bay). After a severe flood in 1953, when the sea broke through many coastal dams, it was decided to implement the Delta project, which provided for the separation of river mouths from the sea, while maintaining navigation through numerous channels. Fencing off from the sea, the Dutch began to create polders. This is also a Dutch term for a piece of land reclaimed from the sea, protected on all sides by dams and used for resettlement of people and various forms of management. Even more polders began to appear on the site of drained lakes and peat bogs, turning into fertile fields. Already in the 1960s, on the site of one of the drained lakes south of Amsterdam, the country's main international airport, Schiphol, one of the largest in Europe, arose. In the Middle Ages, windmills were used to pump water, in the 19th century steam pumps began to be used, and in the 20th century electric pumps began to be used. In total, by the beginning of the 21st century, 2.8 thousand large and small polders with a total area of ​​20 thousand km² had already been created in the country, which corresponds to about half of the country's territory.

Time Zones
The territory of the Netherlands is located in a time zone called Central European Time (CET) (UTC + 1) with the clock moving every year on the last Sunday of March at 2:00 1 hour forward and on the last Sunday of October at 3:00 1 hour backward (Central European summer time (UTC+2)). The special municipalities of the Netherlands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba), as well as the constituent parts of the Kingdom (Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten), are in the UTC-4 time zone.

 

Economy

Benefits: Highly skilled and multilingual workforce. Excellent infrastructure. Expensive social system with high taxes and social insurance payments. A third of government revenue goes to social benefits. High payroll costs. Low inflation - as of August 2017, this figure was 1.3%. The unemployment rate as of August 2017 is 4.7%. As of 2017, the average wage in the Netherlands is €2855 ($3207.06 gross) and €2152 ($2417.33 net) per month. The Dutch government adjusts the minimum wage twice a year on 1 January and 1 July, in line with changes in the average, collectively agreed wage in the Netherlands. From January 1, 2020, the minimum wage for persons over 21 in the Netherlands is 1653.60 euros (gross) and 1523 euros (net) per month.

Weaknesses: Aging population.
The Netherlands has a modern highly developed post-industrial economy. The most important industries:
mechanical engineering
Electronics
Petrochemistry
aircraft industry
Shipbuilding
Ferrous metallurgy
Textile industry
furniture industry
Pulp and paper industry

The Netherlands is a highly developed country economically. The service sector accounts for 73% of GDP, industry and construction - 24.5%, agriculture and fisheries - 2.5%. The most important service sectors are dominated by: transport and communications, the credit and financial system, research and development (R&D), education, international tourism, and a range of business services.

Heavy industry - oil refining, chemical production, ferrous metallurgy and engineering - are concentrated in the coastal regions, especially in Rotterdam, as well as in IJmuiden, Dordrecht, Arnhem and Nijmegen. All these cities stand on navigable rivers or canals. There are wind farms on the sea coast. The production of cheese, chocolate, cigars, gin, and beer is also developed. A well-known industry, despite its modest scale, is diamond processing in Amsterdam.

The Netherlands is home to the headquarters and production facilities of such transnational and European companies as Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Royal Philips Electronics.

The Dutch banking system is represented by such banks as ABN AMRO, ING Groep N.V. and Rabobank. In 2002, the Netherlands adopted the euro as a common European currency, replacing the guilder with it.

Zones with a special economic regime are located in the Antilles, in particular, on the island of Curaçao, which is a significant economic zone of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Main imports: oil, automobiles, iron and steel, clothing, non-ferrous metals, foodstuffs, various transport equipment, rubber.

Main export items: chemical products, meat, greenhouse vegetables, floriculture products, natural gas, metal products.

The main trading partners of the country: Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, France.

Extractive industry
Natural gas plays an important role in the mining industry in the Netherlands. Pipelines distribute gas from Groningen throughout the country and for export. In terms of the reserves of this mineral, the Netherlands ranks first in Western Europe and with a production rate of 3.1% - sixth in the world. Until 1975, coal was mined in the province of Limburg. In the cities of Hengelo and Delfzijl, salt mines operated with a production volume of 4 million tons per year. Natural gas reserves are estimated at 1615 billion m³ as of 2017. Oil is being produced on the Dutch part of the continental shelf. There are also clays.

 

Transport

The flat relief creates favorable conditions for the development of a road network, but a large number of rivers and canals creates certain difficulties and risks in road construction. The small area of ​​the state is evidenced by the fact that one can get from one border to another in 3-4 hours.

The total length of the railway network is 2,753 km (of which more than 2,000 km are electrified).

The total length of roads is 138,641 km, of which 2,756 km are motorways.

The length of navigable rivers and channels accessible to vessels with a displacement of up to 50 tons is 6237 km.

Ocean shipping also plays an important role in the country's economy. Rotterdam is one of the largest seaports in the world in terms of cargo turnover. The Netherlands processes a significant part of European cargo flows. KLM operates many international routes.

The Dutch government is constantly fighting traffic jams in order to improve the traffic situation on the road and the environmental situation in general. In many large cities, traffic congestion is the cause of environmental pollution, where the share of such environmental damage is 50% of the total.

The bicycle is a widely used form of transport in the Netherlands. By cycling around the country, you can cover a distance comparable to a train ride. By some estimates, the Dutch own at least 18 million bicycles, which is more than one per capita. In 2013, the European Cycling Federation ranked the Netherlands and Denmark as the most bike-friendly countries in Europe. Bicycle is the most used form of transport on a typical day. There are about 35,000 km of cycle paths along the highways, physically separated from motorized transport. Traffic lights for cyclists are often installed at busy intersections. In cities, large parking lots for bicycles are organized, especially in the center and at railway stations.

29 airports (2013).

Agriculture
Despite its size, the Netherlands is the second largest food exporter in the world, measured by value, behind only the United States, and first in the European Union. In 2016, agricultural exports exceeded 94 billion euros against 90 billion in 2015. At the moment, the agri-food sector accounts for 22% of the country's total exports. The country exports mainly vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat and processed products, flowers. It is worth noting the growing demand for Dutch agricultural materials and technologies (energy efficient greenhouses, precision farming systems via GPS and drones, new discoveries that make crops more resilient to the effects of climate change and disease).

Land areas. As of 2015, about 31% of agricultural land is arable, 24% pasture and 11% forested. The soil in the Netherlands is carefully looked after, in addition, in 2005, the country ranked first in the world in terms of the amount of mineral fertilizers applied per hectare. The area of ​​land irrigated for agricultural needs is 5650 km² (as of 2003).

Plant growing. In some parts of the country (in the area of ​​Amsterdam) floriculture predominates. Potatoes, sugar beets and cereals are also grown. An important export item is high-quality greenhouse and canned vegetables.

Livestock. Fifth in Europe in butter production and fourth in cheese production. Pasture livestock farming is the most common, with more than 4.5 million head of cattle grazing on polders (about 3.5% of EU livestock). The dairy herd in 2005 numbered about 1.4 million heads (in the mid-1980s there were about 2.5 million heads), the herd's productivity is very high - the average milk yield is more than 9 thousand liters of milk per year. In recent years, the Dutch government has taken steps to reduce the number of dairy cattle in order to minimize phosphate production and its impact on the environment. According to Dutch Minister of Agriculture Martin van Damme, 60,000 heads will be eliminated in the plans of the state program to reduce the number of livestock, of which 31,500 have already been slaughtered. These measures came after the Netherlands had exhausted the limits on feed phosphates that had been sanctioned by the European Union.

Greenhouse economy. In terms of area allocated for greenhouses, the Netherlands ranks first in the world. From 1994 to 2005, the area of ​​greenhouses increased from 13,000 to 15,000 hectares, and the greenhouses are usually heated with local natural gas. 60% of the protected ground is reserved for floriculture.

 

Armed forces and special services

The armed forces of the Netherlands (Dutch. Nederlandse krijgsmacht) consist of four branches of service:
Royal Land Forces (Netherlands Koninklijke Landmacht, KL).
Royal Navy (Dutch. Koninklijke Marine, KM), including the Naval Aviation Service (Marine-Luchtvaartdienst) and the Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers).
Royal Air Force (Dutch. Koninklijke Luchtmacht, KLu)
Royal Military Police (Dutch. Koninklijke Marechaussee).
The commander-in-chief of all branches of the armed forces is King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Commander of the Royal Netherlands Naval Forces and Admiral of the Benelux - Lieutenant General Rob Verkerk. The current Minister of Defense is Ankh Bijleveld

 

Culture and science

Many famous artists lived and worked in the Netherlands. Hieronymus Bosch created his works in the 16th century. In the 17th century, such masters as Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, Jan Stein and many others lived. Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondrian were famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. Maurice Cornelis Escher is known as a graphic artist. Willem de Koning was educated in Rotterdam and went on to become a well-known American artist. Han van Meegeren became famous for his forgeries of classical paintings.

Philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza lived in the Netherlands, where all the main works of Descartes were completed. The scientist Christian Huygens discovered Saturn's moon Titan and invented the pendulum clock. Pieter van Muschenbroek invented the first electric capacitor

The "golden age" of the Netherlands also led to the flourishing of literature, famous writers were Joost van den Vondel and Pieter Cornelisson Hooft. In the 19th century, Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker) wrote about the mistreatment of natives in the Dutch colonies. Important writers of the 20th century were Harry Mülisch, Jan Volkers, Simon Westdijk, Gerard Reve, Willem Frederik Hermans and Seis Noteboom. Anne Frank wrote the famous "Diary of Anne Frank", which was published after her death in a Nazi concentration camp and translated from Dutch into all major languages.

Dutch art of the 20th century acquired a more experimental character, while at the same time not completely abandoning traditional realism. In the 1950s, interest in poetry revived. In the works of such writers as Willem Frederik Hermans, Gerard Reve, Harry Mülish, the description of the disharmonious aspects of life is intertwined with realistic traditions. All modern trends are represented in painting and sculpture, among which in the 1950s the Kobra group, led by such a master as Karel Appel, stood out the most. In music, composer Willem Peiper won international recognition. All major cities have wonderful symphony orchestras, the most famous of which are the Amsterdam and The Hague Royal Orchestras. The Dutch ballet is one of the best in Europe.

Notable Dutch filmmakers include Jos Stelling and Paul Verhoeven. Among the actors, Rutger Hauer is the most famous, and among the actresses - Sylvia Kristel and Famke Janssen. Also world famous are such metal bands as Pestilence, The Gathering, Ayreon, Within Temptation, Delain, Exivious and Epica, as well as rock bands Shocking Blue and Focus. In addition, the Netherlands is famous for world-famous sound producers and DJs - Tiësto, Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Dannic, Ferry Corsten, Afrojack, Sander van Doorn, Laidback Luke, Mitch Crown, Sidney Samson, Martin Garrix.

There are many wonderful museums in the Netherlands. Outstanding paintings by Dutch artists are presented in the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, the Boijmans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam and the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, as well as in some major provincial museums, such as the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem and the Utrecht Central Museum. The Amsterdam City Museum has a large collection of art from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Vincent van Gogh State Museum in Amsterdam houses more than 700 paintings and sketches by the master. The Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo also has a large collection of Van Gogh's works; in addition, there is a collection of works of contemporary art.

 

Sport

Football is one of the most popular sports in the Netherlands. The first information about him dates back to 1865. At the same time, the oldest football club in the Netherlands is the Koninkleike HFC club, which was founded in 1879. This was followed by the organization in the city of The Hague of the "Dutch Football and Athletic Union" in 1889. The Netherlands national football team is constantly in the top twenty of the strongest in the world. The Netherlands women's football team performs at a fairly strong level in the international arena. Led by head coach Sarina Wigman, the team won the UEFA Women's European Football Championship 2017. The country hosted such significant football tournaments as the 2000 European Championship and the 2017 European Women's Championship.

Among the winter sports for the inhabitants of the Netherlands, skating occupies a special place. The history of this sport goes far back. According to “Notes on the stay of Peter I in the Netherlands 1697-1698 and 1716-1717” by J. K. Nomen, the Dutch traditionally skated for a long time and taught the Mokvitians that they came to them. Dutch skaters have won many of the most prestigious tournaments and are considered among the strongest in the world.

Combat sports are also very popular in the country. Especially well developed are kickboxing, savate, Thai boxing, karate, and judo. The Netherlands Muay Thai and Kickboxing School is often referred to as the "second home of Muay Thai". Well-known sports invented in the Netherlands are korfball and polsstokfersprinchen. At the Olympics and World Championships, Dutch athletes win a very large number of medals in relation to the population of the country. Thousands of fans from the Netherlands attend matches in foreign countries dressed in orange, which is always worn by the players of the national football team. The following are also popular among the population: baseball, tennis, cycling, field hockey, volleyball, handball and golf.

Amsterdam hosted the IX Olympic Games (1928).

 

Architecture

Dutch architecture has had a significant impact on the development of world architecture. In the 16th century, it was significantly different from all known styles in Europe at that time. A particular style was developed on the basis of the "stinginess and moderation" inherent in Calvinism, which went against the pomp and decoration in the French and Spanish courts. Representatives of Dutch architecture of the 17th century were Lieven de Kay and Hendrik de Keyser. The Late Renaissance (Renaissance) left its mark on the development of Dutch architecture. The influence, which dawned at the end of the 17th century, was so significant that the expression "Dutch baroque" (Dutch classicism) was introduced into use. The facades of many government buildings, banks and manufactories were finished in this style. The most famous architects of this period were Jacob van Kampen and Pieter Post.

The style of Dutch architecture of the 19th century was dominated by classicism, as well as various trends (for example, neo-Gothic). During this period, the construction of such famous buildings as the Rijksmuseum, the University of Utrecht, and the central station of Amsterdam falls. Prominent architects of this time were Eugene Hugel and Petrus Kuipers. At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century, the transition of Dutch architecture from classicism to modernity and constructivism took place. Petrus Barlahe, a student of Petrus Kuipers, is rightfully considered the founder of modern Netherlandish architecture.

Modern multi-apartment residential buildings, the facades of which are located above the water surface of the canals, are often equipped with premises below the water level for car parking. Amsterdam has a block of floating private houses with concrete, floating "foundations" that can be towed if necessary. All communications are connected to such houses. Old houses often have narrow, steep stairs. Such houses had a beam protruding from the roof ridge to lift furniture to the upper floors through the window, and the facades of such houses had a slope. The historical facades of such houses have been preserved. Residents of provincial towns love to decorate the yards and facades of their houses with elements of small architectural forms, benches at the entrance doors, which creates a special comfort in such settlements.