The Netherlands (Koninkrijk der Nederlanden) are a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system, which includes the Caribbean islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The country is bordered to the east by Germany and to the south by Belgium, to the north and west by the North Sea. The main cities are: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Hilversum, Haarlem and Groningen.
Special features of the Dutch territory is that about two fifths of it are located below the sea level, protected by dikes and dunes. In fact a great part of low alluvial land is at a level close to that of the sea and must be defended by dams.
To defend the Netherlands from the sea levees, dams and channels were built to reclaim vast expanses of land from the sea, which are called polders. The Vaalserberg is the highest point of the Netherlands (322.7 meters). The country’s most important river is the Rhine.
The Netherlands – historically known as the United Provinces – was one of the most important commercial and colonial powers in history. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Netherlands controlled with the Dutch East India Company (VOC) the most important sea routes to Asian markets, where the precious spices were cultivated.
The country still maintains an important role in commerce and international trade due to its strategic location in the heart of Europe. Its ports are among the most important of the world. Its industry is well advanced and the country is home to major multinational companies.
English text correction by Dietrich Köster.
- Area: 41.528 sq km
- Population: 16.258.000
- State Capital: Amsterdam, seat of government: The Hague
- Language: Dutch is the official language. English is spoken by almost everyone. In addition many Dutch speak German and to a lesser extent French.
- Religion: Protestant and Roman Catholic with an Islamic minority.
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Time: The Netherlands are located in the Central European Time Zone: UTC+1, Daylight Saving Time UTC+2.