The Netherlands

When foreigners think of the Netherlands, they usually think of windmills, wooden shoes and tulips. It is also a well-known fact that the Dutch are tolerant people – “A country where you can do whatever you like”. Combined with the typical Dutch traditions, such as Delft ceramics, the production of cheese, eating raw herring and croquettes from a vending machine in the street, that creates a very interesting picture of the Netherlands. But what else is there to know about the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has a population of 16,900,726 in an area of 41,543 square kilometres. So its population density is quite high at 504/km². More than 18% of the country consists of water and a large part of the country is below sea level. The country is protected against floods by a system of dykes and polders. The country consists of twelve provinces. The Netherlands is one of the most developed countries. It is the seventh world economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per head of the population and is ranked fifth in the well-being index.

The Dutch economy is mainly based on its sophisticated agriculture and horticulture enterprise, the service sector and international trade.
In 1848 the Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy, where the king governs in collaboration with the government ministers and parliament. The Netherlands was co-founder of the European Union, the G-10, NATO and the WTO. The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg together form the Benelux. The Hague plays a major role in international justice, with four international tribunals and the head offices of Europol domiciled there.

Typically Dutch:

• Polder
• Windmills
• Herring
• Cheese
• Oliebollen (kind of doughnut)
• Liquorice
• Tulips
• Croquettes
• Cows
• Poffertjes (kind of tiny pancake)
• Pepernoten (gingerbread nuts)
• Delft blue
• Stroopwafel (treacle waffle)
• Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles)
• Snert (thick pea soup)
• Koningsdag (King’s birthday celebrations)
• Shuffleboard
• Orange (national colour)
• Canals
• Canalside house facades
• Ice skating
• Beschuit met muisjes (Dutch rusk with anise sprinkles)
• Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas)