Netherlands

The Netherlands (i/ˈnɛðərləndz/; Dutch: Nederland ) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with some islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. It is a parliamentary democracy organised as a unitary state. The country capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces.

The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 20% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level. This distinct feature contributes to the country's name: in Dutch (Nederland), English, and in many other European languages (e.g. German: Niederlande, Portuguese: Países Baixos, Croatian: Nizozemska, Welsh: Yr Iseldiroedd, Irish: An Ísiltír, Spanish: Países Bajos, French: Les Pays-Bas, Danish: Nederlandene, Swedish: Nederländerna, Norwegian: Nederland, Italian: Paesi Bassi, Greek: Κάτω Χώρες, Estonian: Madalmaad and Finnish: Alankomaat), its name literally means "(The) Low Countries" or "Low Country". Most of the areas below sea level are man-made, caused by centuries of extensive and poorly controlled peat extraction, lowering the surface by several meters. Even in flooded areas peat extraction continued through turf dredging. From the late 16th century land reclamation started and large polder areas are now preserved through elaborate drainage systems with dikes, canals and pumping stations. Much of the Netherlands is formed by the estuary of three important European rivers, which together with their distributaries form the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta. Most of the country is very flat, with the exception of foothills in the far southeast and several low hill ranges in the central parts.

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to have an elected parliament. Among other affiliations, the country is a founding member of the EU, NATO, OECD and WTO. Netherlands has the ninth-highest per capita income in the world. With Belgium and Luxembourg it forms the Benelux economic union. The country is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The first four are situated in The Hague, as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol and judicial co-operation agency Eurojust. This has led to the city being dubbed "the world's legal capital". The Netherlands has a market-based mixed economy, ranking 13th of 157 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom. In May 2011, the Netherlands was ranked as the "happiest" country according to results published by the OECD. The nation is well known for its liberal stance on many issues, with a long tradition of social tolerance.

Read more about Netherlands:  Geography of The European Netherlands, Geography of The Caribbean Netherlands, Politics, Economy, Demographics, Culture, Colonial Heritage

Other articles related to "netherlands":

Netherlands - Colonial Heritage
... colonies in the world and the most important one for the Netherlands ... years of mutual heritage has left a significant cultural mark on the Netherlands ... In The Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, the Netherlands urbanised considerably, mostly financed by corporate revenue from the Asian trade monopolies ...
Seventeen Provinces - Netherlands
... To distinguish between the older and larger Low Countries of the Netherlands from the current country of the Netherlands, Dutch speakers usually drop the plural for the latter ... The fact that the term Netherlands has such different historical meanings can sometimes lead to difficulties in expressing oneself correctly ... that time, today it may wrongly create the impression that they were from the current Netherlands ...

Famous quotes containing the word netherlands:

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    Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko (1909–1989)