The Netherlands

When people abroad think of the Netherlands, they picture windmills, clogs and tulips. They will also have heard of the famed Dutch tolerance — this is said to be the country where anything goes. When you put this together with traditions the Netherlands is famous for, such as blue Delftware pottery, cheese making, eating raw herrings and getting croquette snacks out of coin-operated holes in the wall, people already have a fair idea of what Holland must be like. But what else do you know already about the country?

The Netherlands has nearly 17 million inhabitants living on an area of just 41,526 km², which means a high population density of 450 people per square kilometre. More than 18% of the country’s surface area is water. Also, much of the country, where a large proportion of the population lives, is land below sea level. The land is protected from inundations of water by a system of dikes and water pumping stations. New land has been reclaimed from the sea and is called polders. The country is administered as twelve provinces. The Netherlands is one of the world’s most developed countries. It ranks seventh globally for gross domestic product per capita. The country holds the same high ranking in the UNDP’s Human Development Index. The success of the Dutch economy is largely
based on the very highly-developed sectors of agriculture, horticulture, service industries and international trade.

Since 1848, the Netherlands has been a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. In this form of government, the King shares political power with his ministers and with Parliament. The Netherlands was a founding member of many international organisations, including what is now the EU, the G10, NATO and the World Trade Organisation. It cooperates very closely with Belgium and Luxembourg, forming an organ known jointly as Benelux. The Hague, although not the country’s capital city, is the seat of government and also serves as the headquarters of major international legal bodies, of four international tribunals and of EUROPOL.

Typically Dutch things

• Dikes & water
• Windmills
• Dutch herrings
• Cheese country
• 'Oliebollen'
• Liquorice
• Tulips
• Croquettes
• Cows
• 'Poffertje' (pancakes)
• 'Pepernoten' (spiced cookies)
• Delftware
• Caramel waffles
• Chocolate sprinkles
• Pea soup
• King's day
• Table shuffleboard
• The colour orange
• Canals

Afbeelding: Grachten