About Netherlands (Holland)
The Netherlands is the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which consists of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, located in Western Europe. It is bordered by the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east.
The Netherlands is often called Holland. This is formally incorrect as North and South Holland in the western Netherlands are only two of the country's twelve provinces (for more on this and other naming issues see Netherlands (terminology)).
Netherlands is a geographically low-lying and densely populated country. It is popularly known for its windmills, cheese, clogs (wooden shoes), delftware and gouda pottery, dikes, tulips, bicycles, and social tolerance. A Parliamentary democracy, the country is also known for its somewhat liberal policies toward drugs, prostitution, gay rights, abortion, and euthanasia.
The Netherlands has an international outlook; among other affiliations the country is a member of the European Union (EU), NATO, the OECD, and has signed the Kyoto protocol. Along with Belgium and Luxembourg, the Netherlands is also one of three member nations of the Benelux economic union. The country is host to four international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Court. All of these courts, as well as the EU's criminal intelligence agency (Europol) are situated in The Hague, which has led to the city being referred to as "the world's legal
Geography of the Netherlands
The geography of the Netherlands makes the Netherlands one of the most unique countries on Earth. This is due to the fact that much of its land was reclaimed from the sea and is below sea level, protected by dikes.
The Netherlands has the 16th largest economy in the world, and ranks 10th in GDP (nominal) per capita. Between 1998 and 2000 annual economic growth (GDP) averaged nearly 4%, well above the European average. Growth slowed considerably in 2001-05 due to the global economic slowdown, but the first quarter of 2006 showed promising growth of 2.6%. Inflation is 1.3% and is expected to stay low at around 1.5% in the coming years. Unemployment is at 5.5% of the labour force. By Eurostat standards however, unemployment in the Netherlands is at only 3.3% - the lowest rate of all European Union member states. The Netherlands also has a relatively low GINI coefficient of 0.326. Despite ranking only 10th in GDP per capita, UNICEF ranked the Netherlands 1st in child well-being, outranking other nations with higher GDP's, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Netherlands is the 23rd most densely populated country in the world, with 395 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,023 sq mi)—or 484 people per square kilometre (1,254/sq mi) if only the land area is counted, since 18.4% is water. The fertility rate in the Netherlands is 1.7 children per woman, well below the 2.2 rate required for population replacement. It is also one of the most densely cabled countries in the world. Internet penetration is at 73.3% the 5th highest in the
The official language is Dutch, which is spoken by a majority of the inhabitants, the exception being some groups of immigrants.
Another official language is Frisian, which is spoken in the northern province of Friesland, which is called Fryslân in the Frisian language.
The Netherlands is one of the more secular countries in the world, with only 39% being religiously affiliated (31% for those aged under 35), although 62% are believers (but 40% of those not in the traditional sense). Fewer than 20% visit church regularly
The 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 were Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. M.C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist. Willem de Kooning was 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, and all of Descartes' major work was done there. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) discovered Saturn's moon Titan and invented the pendulum clock.
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.
Dutch law takes very liberal stances on such controversial issues as abortion, drugs and
( en.wikipedia.org )