The Netherlands, a country nestled along the delta of five significant rivers in northwest Europe, has long benefited from its strategic location as a maritime trade hub. Due to its favorable geography, the country has established itself as a major player in international trade, drawing in goods and wealth from around the world. Rotterdam, one of the world’s largest and most modern ports, has played a critical role in this success story, serving as a key gateway for the shipping and transporting of goods between Europe and other continents.
Rotterdam’s port boasts state-of-the-art facilities, advanced infrastructure, and innovative technology that can handle a wide range of cargo, from containerized goods to bulk commodities like oil, chemicals, and agricultural products. As a result, the Netherlands has become an economic powerhouse in the global market, with its vibrant maritime industry playing a significant role in its historic prosperity.
Jump to Introduction, Geography, Climate, People & Society, Economy, Insight, Google Maps, Facts, and Did You Know about the Netherlands. Or visit the driving directions page for routing instructions.
The Netherlands is renowned for its predominantly flat terrain, with most of its land area at or below sea level. 27% of the country’s land lies below sea level, making it one of the world’s lowest-lying nations. To protect against flooding and sea-level rise, the Dutch have developed an intricate system of dunes, dikes, and canals, which provide comprehensive flood protection and help regulate water levels throughout the country.
While the landscape may seem relatively featureless at first glance, there are a few notable exceptions. In the southern and eastern regions of the country, several low hills rise above the otherwise flat surroundings. Although not necessarily imposing, these areas offer a welcome contrast to the generally level terrain and provide opportunities for scenic hikes and outdoor recreation. Overall, the unique topography of the Netherlands reflects the innovative spirit and resourcefulness of its people, who have been able to thrive in a challenging environment by leveraging their ingenuity and expertise in water management.
The climate of the Netherlands is characterized by its mild, temperate weather patterns. Winters in the country are typically rainy and mild, with average temperatures ranging between 1°C and 6°C (33°F-42°F). The weather can be damp and blustery due to frequent gales from the North Sea, particularly during the fall and winter months.
Summertime is relatively cool, with average temperatures hovering around 17°C-20°C (63°F-68°F). Occasional heat waves do occur, but they are generally short-lived. Overall, the climate of the Netherlands is influenced by its coastal location, which results in high levels of humidity and precipitation throughout the year. This can make for some damp and chilly conditions, but it also helps provide a fertile environment for the country’s lush greenery and abundant flora and fauna.
People & Society
The Netherlands has been a welcoming home to immigrants for decades, drawing in people from former colonies and refugees seeking safe harbor from conflict and persecution. However, as the country has become more diverse, integration issues have come to the forefront of public discourse. Some argue that the government’s open-door policy has challenged assimilating newcomers into Dutch society, leading to cultural and social tensions between immigrant communities and the broader population.
There are concerns about the asylum system, which many views as being overburdened and struggling to cope with the influx of newcomers. There are also worries about immigrant crime, which some believe is linked to gang activity and poor living conditions in certain parts of cities. Finally, there are concerns about the rise of militant Islam, particularly in light of high-profile incidents such as the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.
Despite these challenges, the Netherlands remains a largely secular society that prides itself on its liberal values and respect for individual freedoms. The state does not seek to impose a particular morality on its citizens, instead allowing people to make their own choices regarding sexuality, drug use, and end-of-life decision-making. Laws around these issues are among the most liberal in the world, reflecting the country’s commitment to individual rights and personal autonomy.
Overall, the Netherlands continues to grapple with questions around immigration, integration, and social cohesion but remains a vibrant and dynamic society with a long history of tolerance and openness towards new ideas and people.
The Netherlands is a major global player with a highly developed and diversified industrial economy spanning various sectors. The country is home to many high-profile multinationals, such as Shell, Philips, and Unilever, with significant global market shares in industries like energy, electronics, and consumer goods.
The Dutch economy is also well-known for its trading prowess. The country is a key hub for international commerce thanks to its strategic location and world-class port facilities. The port of Rotterdam, for instance, is one of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced ports, making it a vital gateway for trade between Europe and other continents.
In addition to these strengths, the Dutch economy boasts a diverse industrial base that includes chemicals, machinery, electronics, and metals. This has helped the country weather economic downturns in the past, as various sectors can offset declines in others.
One potential downside to the Dutch system is its costly social welfare system, which provides citizens various benefits and services, including generous unemployment benefits, free healthcare, and affordable housing. While this system is widely popular, it can also be expensive to maintain, particularly as the population ages and the demand for healthcare and pensions rises.
Despite these challenges, the Netherlands remains a highly competitive and innovative economy well-integrated into the global marketplace. Its robust trading infrastructure, diverse manufacturing base, and skilled workforce are all important factors in the country’s ongoing success and suggest that it will continue to be an important player in the international economic arena for years to come.
In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to pass legislation explicitly legalizing euthanasia. Under Dutch law, euthanasia is defined as intentionally ending a patient’s life at their request to relieve unbearable suffering. For euthanasia to occur, several strict conditions must be met, including a requirement that the patient’s suffering be unbearable and incurable and that the patient has made a clear and voluntary request for euthanasia.
While the legalization of euthanasia was initially controversial, it has since become widely accepted in Dutch society as a legitimate option for patients facing terminal illness or intolerable pain. The Netherlands’ approach to euthanasia is seen by many as being a model for other countries grappling with end-of-life issues. It paved the way for similar legislation in Belgium, Canada, and Australia.
However, despite its acceptance in Dutch society, the issue of euthanasia remains somewhat controversial, with some critics arguing that it places too much power in the hands of doctors and can lead to vulnerable patients feeling pressured to hasten their deaths. Nonetheless, the Netherlands’ experience with euthanasia represents an important case study in balancing individual rights and public health concerns. It has shown that even contentious issues can be approached thoughtfully and nuancedly.
Name: Netherlands (Kingdom of the Netherlands), local name: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
Languages: Dutch (official language)
ISO code: nl, internet: .nl
Capital city: Amsterdam, GPS: 52 21 N, 4 55 E
Time: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time) (+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October)
Population: 17,463,930 (2023 estimate) (Dutch / Dutchman (men), Dutchwoman (women))
Urban population: 92.6% (2021) – 1.158 million, Amsterdam (capital city), 1.012 million, Rotterdam (2021)
Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany. The Netherlands is a European country. You may find 47 other countries on this continent.
Coordinates: 52 31 N, 5 46 E
Bordering countries: (2 nations): Belgium 478 km, Germany 575 km
Land area: 33,893 sq km
Water area: 7,650 sq km
Total area: 41,543 sq km – Slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey.
Terrain: Mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders), some hills in southeast
Highest point: Mount scenery (on the island of Saba in the Caribbean, now considered an integral part of the Netherlands following the dissolution of the netherlands antilles) 862 m
Lowest point: Zuidplaspolder -7 m
Major rivers: Rhine (shared with Switzerland, Germany, and France) – 1,233 km
Natural hazards: Flooding volcanism: mount scenery (887 m), located on the island of Saba in the Caribbean, last erupted in 1640; Round Hill (601 m), a dormant volcano also known as the Quill, is located on the island of st. Eustatius in the Caribbean; these islands are at the northern end of the volcanic island arc of the Lesser Antilles that extends south to Grenada.
National holiday(s): Kings Day (birthday of King WILLEM-ALEXANDER), 27 April (1967)
Did you know about the Netherlands?
- The Netherlands is one of the world’s largest cheese exporters, with Gouda and Edam being some of the most famous Dutch cheeses.
- The Dutch are some of the tallest people in the world, with an average height of around 6 feet for men.
- The Netherlands has a long-standing tradition of windmills, originally used for drainage and land reclamation. Today, there are over 1,000 windmills in the country, many of which are still in use.
- The Dutch capital, Amsterdam, has more canals than Venice, Italy, with over 100 kilometers (60 miles) of waterways throughout the city.
- The Netherlands is home to the world’s largest flower garden, the Keukenhof, which features over 7 million flowers yearly, including tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.
You may also be interested in Belgium and Germany.
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