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Flag of the Netherlands
Location of the  Netherlands  (dark green)– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]
Location of the  Netherlands  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

Special municipalities of the Netherlands (green)in the Caribbean
Special municipalities of the Netherlands (green)
in the Caribbean
and largest city
Official languages Dutch
Ethnic groups
80.7% Dutch,
5% EU varieties,
2.4% Indonesians,
2.2% Turks,
2% Surinamese,
2% Moroccans,
0.8% Caribbean
4.8% others[2]
Demonym(s) Dutch
Government Parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch[3]
• Monarch
Mark Rutte (VVD)
Lodewijk Asscher (PVDA)
VVD-PVDA Coalition
Legislature States-General
House of Representatives
As result of the Eighty Years' War from the Habsburg Empire
• Declared
26 July 1581
• Recognised
30 January 16484
• Total
41,543 km2 (16,040 sq mi) (135th)
• Water (%)
• 2020 estimate
16,847,007 [4] (61st)
• Density
420.1/km2 (1,088.1/sq mi) (30th)

The Netherlands is a country in Western Europe. More than 16 million people live there. To the north and west of the Netherlands is the North Sea. To the east is the country Germany and to the south is the country Belgium. The Netherlands is one of the countries that started the European Union. People who live in the Netherlands are called "Dutch". The language of the Netherlands is also called Dutch. The main capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam. This however, is not the place where the government is seated. The House of Representatives (in Dutch: 'Tweede Kamer') is in The Hague.


"The Netherlands" means "the low lands". The land only rises, on average, 1 meter above the sea level. One third of the land is below sea level. The Netherlands is also called Holland. Holland was a very rich area in the western part of the Netherlands, thus causing people to be mistaken. Some people who do not live in the western part of the Netherlands do not like it when people call the country Holland. The name "Holland" originates from the old Dutch words "Holt land" which means "wood lands".


At the end of the Middle Ages the dukes of Burgundy, a country that is now part of France, united seventeen areas. Those areas were called the Netherlands. When the daughter of a duke married Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, the Netherlands became part of Spain. In the 16th century many Dutch people became Protestant. The king of Spain did not like it, he wanted all Dutch to be Roman Catholic. He decided that all Protestants should be killed. Of course the Dutch people did not like this, and in 1568 they started a war against Spain. The war lasted until 1648, therefore it is called the Eighty Years' War. An important leader of the Dutch in this war was Willem van Oranje (Willem of orange) also called William the Silent.

In 1648 the Netherlands and Spain signed peace. The Dutch people were allowed to keep all the areas they conquered. The part of the Netherlands that was not conquered by the Dutch stayed part of Spain. Later this part became the country Belgium.

When the Netherlands became independent, it was a very special country. That time almost all countries in Europe were ruled by a king, but the Netherlands was a republic. The Netherlands was made up of seven provinces, that were ruled by the big cities. The cities where ruled by the municipality which consisted from rich civilians. Together those provinces were ruled by a stadtholder, a very powerful man, but compared to the kings of other European countries he had much less power.

In the 17th century the Netherlands was the richest and one of the most powerful countries in the world. Therefore the Dutch call the 17th century the Golden Age. They had possessions all around the world. The most important possession were the East Indies, a country that is now called Indonesia. The Dutch also founded New Netherland, which is now called New York. The Netherlands often fought wars against other European countries, especially the Anglo-Dutch Wars against England. Michiel de Ruyter, a Dutch admiral, became a Dutch hero when he defeated the English navy close to London.

In the 18th century the Netherlands became poorer. Many people thought this was the fault of the stadtholders. Many thought they had too much power and wanted them to get away. In 1789 the French people deposed their king. French armies attacked other countries to depose their leaders too. In 1795 they attacked the Netherlands. Stadtholder William V had to flee to England. The Netherlands were renamed to Batavian Republic and became a democracy. But the French were not content with the Dutch ruler, so in 1806 the French emperor Napoleon made his brother Louis Bonaparte king of the Netherlands. Louis became popular in the Netherlands, but the emperor was again not content with him, so in 1810 the Netherlands became a part of France.

In 1815 Napoleon was defeated, and the Netherlands became independent again. The rulers of European countries thought it was a good idea to make the Netherlands stronger, to make them able to resist another French invasion. Therefore Belgium and Luxembourg were added to the Netherlands. William I, the son of stadtholder William V, became king. The Belgians were not happy with the Dutch king. In 1830 they revolted. William sent an army. He was much more powerful than the Belgians but after ten days the French sent an army to support them. In 1831 the Belgians chose their own king and Belgium became an independent country.

Some people thought the Dutch king had too much power. They wanted to give him less power and vote for the government themselves. In 1848 there were violent revolts against the kings of many European countries. The Dutch king was afraid the same would happen in the Netherlands. Therefore he allowed Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to write a constitution. From then on people were allowed to vote. At first only rich men were allowed to vote. From 1919 on everyone was allowed to vote.

In World War I, the Netherlands did not fight. The Dutch wanted to stay neutral in World War II as well, but in 1940 the country was invaded and occupied by Germany. Just like in other countries they had occupied, the National Socialist Party started to kill Jews. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who lived in the Netherlands. Her family hid from the Nazis and she wrote a diary. She died in a Nazi concentration camp and her diary became famous.

In 1944 the American, Canadian, Polish and British armies liberated the south of the Netherlands from Nazi Occupation. They wanted to cross the Rhine river in Operation Market Garden to liberate the rest of the country, but they were defeated. It took until May 1945 before the entire country was liberated. During the five years of Nazi occupation, 250,000 people had died in the Netherlands.

Shortly after the war, Indonesia declared its independence. The Dutch sent soldiers to fight in Indonesia. During the war the Dutch realized how it is to be occupied by another country, so some thought they should not do the same to the Indonesians. After other countries, including the United States, told the Dutch to leave Indonesia, they finally did so in 1949.

After the war the Netherlands became one of the richest countries in the world. In 2004 the United Nations said that the Netherlands was the 5th best country to live in.


The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. That means the country has a king or queen, but the real power is in hands of a parliament, chosen by the Dutch people. All Dutch people who are 18 or older are allowed to vote. There are elections every four years. After the elections, parties that have had a majority of the votes create a cabinet. The cabinet consists of a prime minister and several other ministers.

The following political parties are in the parliament:

  • CDA, Christian-Democratic Appeal. The CDA is fourth largest party. CDA members are mostly Christian. The previous prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende is a CDA member.
  • PvdA, Party of Laborers. The PvdA is a social-democrat party
  • GroenLinks is a social-democrat party that pays special attention to the environment.
  • SP, Socialist Party, considered modern socialism
  • D66, Democrats 66. D66 was founded in 1966. Just like the VVD, it is a liberal party. But D66 is more progressive than the VVD.
  • ChristenUnie, Christian Union. The ChristenUnie is a Christian party.
  • PVV, Party for the freedom. It is a very conservative right party and the third party.
  • Partij voor de Dieren, Party for the Animals. It is a party for animal rights.
  • SGP, Stately Reformed Party. The SGP is a very conservative Christian party.

The Netherlands is known for tolerance in politics. The Netherlands is the only country where soft drugs are not entirely considered illegal.


Map of Netherlands

In the Netherlands there are 12 provinces:

Flag Province Capital Largest city Area (km2) Population[10] Density
(per km2)
Flag of Drenthe.svg Drenthe Assen Assen 2,641 486,197 184
Flag of Flevoland.svg Flevoland Lelystad Almere 1,417 374,424 264
Frisian flag.svg Friesland Leeuwarden Leeuwarden 3,341 642,209 192
Flag of Gelderland.svg Gelderland Arnhem Nijmegen 4,971 1,979,059 398
Flag Groningen.svg Groningen Groningen Groningen 2,333 573,614 246
Flag of Limburg (Netherlands).svg Limburg Maastricht Maastricht 2,150 1,127,805 525
North Brabant-Flag.svg North (Noord) Brabant Den Bosch Eindhoven 4,916 2,419,042 492
Flag of North Holland.svg North (Noord) Holland Haarlem Amsterdam 2,671 2,613,070 978
Flag of Overijssel.svg Overijssel Zwolle Enschede 3,325 1,116,374 336
Utrecht (province)-Flag.svg Utrecht Utrecht Utrecht 1,385 1,190,604 860
Flag of Zeeland.svg Zealand (Zeeland) Middelburg Middelburg 1,787 380,497 213
Flag Zuid-Holland.svg South (Zuid) Holland The Hague
(Den Haag)
Rotterdam 2,814 3,455,097 1228

Apart from these provinces, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius are special municipalities of the Netherlands. They are not part of a province, but together are known as the Caribbean Netherlands. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


This is a list of the cities with over 100,000 people.

Rank City Population Province Notes
1 Amsterdam 780,000  North Holland excl. Driemond and Landelijk Noord
2 Rotterdam 611,000  South Holland
3 The Hague 500,000  South Holland Dutch name: Den Haag
4 Utrecht 312,634  Utrecht
5 Eindhoven 213,809  North Brabant
6 Tilburg 203,492  North Brabant
7 Almere 193,303  Flevoland
8 Groningen 187,298  Groningen excl. Engelbert, Hoogkerk, Middelbert and Noorderhoogebrug
9 Breda 173,299  North Brabant
10 Nijmegen 164,165  Gelderland excl. Lent and Oosterhout
11 Apeldoorn 155,726  Gelderland excl. Beekbergen, Hoenderloo, Hoog Soeren, Klarenbeek, Lieren, Loenen, Uddel and Ugchelen
12 Enschede 154,017  Overijssel
13 Haarlem 151,853  North Holland excl.Bloemendaal, Hillegom, Heemstede, Velsen, Overveen
14 Arnhem 147,018  Gelderland excl. Schaarsbergen
15 Amersfoort 126,750  Utrecht excl. Hoogland and Hooglanderveen
16 Dordrecht 118,540  South Holland
17 Zoetermeer 118,020  South Holland
18 Zwolle 118,000  Overijssel excl. Brinkhoek, Haerst, Herfte, Langenholte, Wijthmen and Windesheim
19 Leiden 117,480  South Holland
20 Maastricht 116,200  Limburg excl. Borgharen and Itteren
21 Ede 107,476  Gelderland CBS (1 January, 2007)
22 's-Hertogenbosch 102,220  North Brabant excl. Bokhoven, Empel, Engelen, Kruisstraat, Maliskamp and Rosmalen
23 Venlo 100,271  Limburg


In fact a large part of Holland was created by the sand that came from the many rivers flowing through it. Notable Dutch rivers are the Rhine, the Maas, the IJssel and the Scelt. A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level. This is because the Dutch have made many lakes and parts of the sea dry, creating polders. Therefore there is a saying "God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands." This makes the Netherlands very flat. In the very south-east of the Netherlands, in Limburg, there are some hills. Therefore, this region is a tourist-attraction for many Dutch people. The highest point in the European portion of the Netherlands, the Vaalserberg, is 323 metres above sea level. The highest point in both the Netherlands proper and the Kingdom of the Netherlands is Mount Scenery, on the Caribbean island of Saba, at 887 metres.

The Netherlands is a small country; about 300 kilometers from north to south, and about 170 kilometers from east to west.


Windmill in Netherlands

The Netherlands is a small country, but many people live there. It is one of the most densely populated countries of the world.

Most people in the Netherlands speak Dutch. In Friesland about 200,000 people speak Frisian. Frisian is the language with the most similarities to English. Some Dutch people speak dialects. The Saxon dialects spoken in the north eastern part of the Netherlands are somewhat similar to Lower German.

According to a survey done in 2006, 25% of the Dutch people are Christian and 3% believe in an other organised religion, like Judaism, Islam or Hinduism etc. 26% are 'unbounded spiritual' (have their own beliefs and are not tied to a religion). The other 44% are not religious.

Related pages


  1. "Wat is het Koninklijk wapen of Rijkswapen? (Google translate)". Official Dutch government website. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  2. World Factbook (3 August 2010). "Netherlands". CIA. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  3. "GovType". United States Department of State website. United States Department of State. 16 July 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
  4. CIA - The World Factbook
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Netherlands". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  6. "Human Development Report 2011". United Nations. 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  7. "Wet gebruik Friese taal in het rechtsverkeer" (in Dutch). Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  9. "Regionale Kerncijfers Nederland" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. 2007.,G2. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  10. "Bevolking per regio naar leeftijd, geslacht en burgerlijke staat" (in Dutch). Statistics Netherlands. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-13.