The Netherlands is a small country in North-Western Europe with about 17 million inhabitants. It is neighbours with Germany and Belgium and lies by the North Sea, making it a sea climate (mild winters and summers). The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, while the government resides in The Hague. With 19% of the territory consisting of water, waterways dominate the country. Over the centuries the Dutch have mastered to control the sea and a big part of the country is protected by dikes. In fact, a fifth of the total landmass has been reclaimed from the sea!
The Netherlands is known as a liberal country which respects freedom of speech, religion and education. Over the centuries the Netherlands has been home to many liberal thinkers such as Erasmus and Spinoza. Rotterdam, the second biggest city hosts Europe’s biggest port and through trade the Dutch have always been in contact with foreign cultures and people. This means various foreign influences have shaped the Netherlands and Dutch society is quite diverse.
The Dutch have various holidays that they celebrate, such as Sinterklaas, King’s Day and in the Southern provinces of the country, Carnival. These holidays are a must-attend if you are in the country.
Despite its size, the Netherlands is a powerful nation and usually ranks in the top 20 of the world’s largest economies. It is one of the world’s leading exporting countries in agricultural and horticultural products, such as potatoes, tomatoes and flower bulbs. Tip! If you live in the bulb region (between the Hague and Haarlem), it is nice to enjoy a bike ride in spring along the flower fields.
The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy but also has a monarchy that mostly serves a symbolic function. King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima have been on the throne since 2013.