Netherlands Country Overview


Unofficially known as Holland, it is limited to the north and west with the North Sea, to the east with Germany and to the south with Belgium. With Luxembourg and Belgium they form the Benelux. The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are also part of the country which has 41,526 km2 of which 6,500 km2 are advanced land over the sea. The capital is Amsterdam.

Territory and resources

Much of the north and west of the country is below sea level, called Lower Holland. To the east and south is the upper Holland, where the altitude rarely exceeds 50m. The floodgates, dikes, channels and windmills are part of a drainage system from medieval times. Without a systematic drainage system, half the country would be flooded.

The North Sea coastline is formed by dunes. In the southwest, river estuaries form deltas with numerous islands and channels. Through the Delta Plan, freshwater lakes were created and some islands were joined. In the north, the sea divided the dunes creating the western Frisian islands and behind it a wetland called the Waddenzee. Far beyond the dunes there is an area below sea level, protected by dikes, which remains dry thanks to the continuous mechanical pumping. The former Zuiderzee, originally an estuary of the Rhine and later an inland sea, is being recovered and part of it has been transformed into a freshwater lake called Ijsselmeer.

The main rivers are the Rhine and its tributaries such as the Waal and Lek, the Maas (an arm of the Meuse) and the Schelde. Almost all of the great natural lakes have been dried up.

The climate is maritime temperate

The average temperature in January reaches 1.7 ºC and in July 17.2 ºC. Average annual rainfall is 760 mm.

The natural landscape has been altered by man and the areas of natural vegetation are very limited. Larger animals have disappeared, but the oak, beech, ash and pine forests are protected.

Population and government

The Dutch are mostly descendants of the Franks, Frisians and Saxons. The recent immigration was important: Asians, Turks, Moroccans, inhabitants of Mediterranean European countries and residents of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

In 1994, its population was 15,385,000 inhabitants, with a density of 453 inhabitants / km2 it is one of the largest in the world. The main cities are: Amsterdam, the capital of the country Rotterdam and The Hague.

The official language is Dutch; in Friesland the Frisian language is also spoken. Catholics make up 33% of the Dutch population and Protestants 23%. About 39% of the population does not practice any religion.

The Netherlands is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. The 1814 Constitution was revised several times.


Since the 16th century, sea expeditions, fishing, commerce, and the banking system have been the main sectors of the country’s economy, with a very diversified industrial base having been created. In 1992, gross domestic product was $ 320.4 billion, equivalent to $ 21,050 per capita income.

Agriculture is intensive, highly productive, generating many exports. The prairies and pastures occupy about 50% of the arable land, 40% dedicated to cultivation and the rest to the commercial exploitation of bulbs and flowers. Fishing is a commercial activity that remains relevant.

During the 1950s and 1960s, large reserves of natural gas (exportable product) were discovered. There is oil production and the chemical and electronic industries have led industrial growth since 1945.

The currency of the country is the guilder.


From 1880 to 1914, the Netherlands enjoyed the economic prosperity that ended with World War I. The country remained neutral but its economy suffered a severe blow. The economic consequences were aggravated by the depression of 1930.

In World War II, the Netherlands again proclaimed its neutrality, but the Germans invaded the country in 1940. There was great damage and the post-war era was marked by efforts to rebuild the country. The nation was a founding member in 1952, of the European Coal and Steel Community, participating in numerous international organizations. The late 1940s and early 1950s were economically difficult, with governments dominated by the Labor Party. In 1949, they formally transferred sovereignty to the Indonesian East Indian government, excluding New Guinea from the Netherlands, which remained under Dutch control until 1962. In 1954, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles became members of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Catholic People’s Party came to power in 1959, maintaining its dominance in the Chamber of Deputies in the 1963 and 1967 elections. After the emergence of a conservative coalition that ruled in 1972, a transitional government was formed and, in 1973, a new one. coalition elected Joop den Uyl as head of the Labor Party. When Suriname achieved independence in 1975, the influx of immigrants exacerbated economic problems.

In the 1977 elections, Andreas van Agt, a Christian Democrat, was elected prime minister. In 1980, Princess Beatriz took the throne after the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana. In the 1982 parliamentary elections, a new domocratic-Christian coalition won, which remained in power until 1994.

In 1983, it was agreed that Aruba would become a separate territory within the Kingdom of the Netherlands for ten years and that from 1996 it would achieve independence, but in 1994 it was decided to extend that period. In the 1994 general election, Christian Democrats lost due to unemployment and cuts in social spending. The Labor Party had a majority in parliament and even with the drop in votes, a coalition was formed with the right-wing People’s Party and the center-left group, Democracy 66. The new coalition’s proposals established further cuts in social spending and an important reduction in defense spending.

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