The Netherlands – Koninkrijk der Nederlanden

The Flag of The Netherlands

The Flag of The Netherlands

The Netherlands ( Koninkrijk der Nederlanden) is a constitutional monarchy, located in northwestern Europe. Our country is bordered by the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. The current borders were established in 1839, the result, like most European countries, of centuries and demographic shifts.

The Netherlands is often referred to by the name “Holland”. This terminology is not correct and our country should be called The Netherlands, “Koninkrijk der Nederlandend” in Dutch. Holland really refers to just two of the provinces North and South Holland in the western Netherlands. These form just two of the country twelve provinces, though two of the original seven.

The Netherlands is a densely populated and geographically low-lying country with some 70% of our land below sea level. We are known for our windmills, cheese, clogs, dikes, tulips, bicycles and social tolerance. We are also known for our liberal policies toward drugs, prostitution, same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia. We prefer to see ourselves not so much as liberal as pragmatic when dealing with social issues. Our approaches to such social realities as drug use, gay marriage etc are merely recognition that societies are never, and should never be, static. Any society should be constantly evolving and not bogged down by dogma, be it religiously inspired or politically mandated because when that happens society merely becomes oppressive to the individual.

The country is host to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the European Union criminal intelligence agency (Europol) at The Hague.

Fact & Figures About The Netherlands

Total: 41,526 sq km

land: 33,883 sq km
water: 7,643 sq km  in other words not quite twice the size of the US state of New Jersey.

Lowest point: Zuidplaspolder -7 m
Highest point: Vaalserberg 322 m

Land Borders

Total: 1,027 km
Border countries: Belgium 450 km, Germany 577 km

Population: 16,491,461

Infant Mortality: total: 4.96 deaths/1,000 live births

Dutch Economy & Industries

Agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing. At this moment the Netherlands is the 16th largest economy of the world, and 10th on the list of GDP per capita.

Between 1998 and 2000 annual economic growth averaged nearly 4%, well above the European average. Growth slowed considerably in 2001-05 as part of the global economic slowdown, but the first quarter of 2006 showed promising growth of 2.6%.

Inflation is 1.3% and is expected to stay low at around 1.5% in the coming years.

The Twelve Provinces Of The Netherlands

The Twelve Provinces Of The Netherlands

The Twelve Provinces Of The Netherlands

The Provinces Of The Netherlands

There are 12 provinces (provincies, singular provincie); Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland (Fryslan), Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland, Zuid-Holland.

The twelves came from the Republic of the seven united provinces of The Netherlands (1588 to 1795). Before 1581, the area of the Low Countries consisted of a number of duchies, counties, and semi-autonomous bishoprics, some but not all of them were part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Today the area that was under this disparate rules is divided between the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of France and Germany. The Low Countries in the 16th century roughly corresponded to the Seventeen Provinces covered by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V but through marriage, war or and simple sale, these states were acquired by the Habsburg emperor Charles V and his son, king Philip II of Spain. In 1568, the Netherlands, led by William I of Orange, revolted against Philip II because of high taxes, persecution of Protestants by the government, and Philip’s efforts to modernize and centralize the devolved medieval government structures of the provinces, this revolt then resulted in the Eighty Years War. In 1579, a number of the northern provinces of the Netherlands signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they promised to support each other in their defence against the Spanish army. This was followed in 1581 by the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence in which the provinces officially deposed Philip II.

he French revolution (1789) marked the end of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. In 1795 the Republic was occupied by the French, who created a satellite-state called: The Batavian Republic”. In 1806 Napoleon appointed his brother Louis-Napoleon to King of the Republic, which now got the name of Kingdom of Holland. Then in 1810 Holland was annexed by France after Louis-Napoleon had a power struggle with his brother Napoleon Bonaparte about the way to rule the Dutch people. While the French conquest swept many old ways the allegiance to the Orange dynasty survived, and in 1813 became the rallying point for a united Dutch people. The province of Holland in the history of the republic is recognised in the use of Holland to describe our nation. After the collapse of the French Empire in 1813, the Netherlands became independent.

The Languages Of The Netherlands

The main language is Dutch. Friesen is also a recognized language and it is used by the government in the province of Friesland. Several dialects of Low Saxon (Nedersaksischâ in Dutch) are spoken in much of the north and east and are recognised by the Netherlands as regional languages according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Another Dutch dialect granted the status of regional language is Limburgish, which is spoken here in the south-eastern province of Limburg, though greatly looked down the long nose by people in the north. For many years it was considered by many in the north to be an inferior dialect.

Dutch History

Originally the area now known as the Netherlands were part of the Roman Empire, and Maastricht in what is now the province of Limburg was it’s first city. The northern border was the river Rhine. North of it tribes were independent. After the year 400 AD, the Romans retreated and the German and Celtic tribes settled down in these regions. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the southern Netherlands came under the authority of the Franks. The Northern-Lowlands remained Fries (Frisia) until the defeat of Radboud in 690. In 785 the total territory of the Netherlands were governed by the Franks.
During the Dark Ages, powerful landlords ruled over Europe, Kings, Dukes, Counts and Bishops. The strongest held the ,ost power over the weakest, and gradually these new Nobles made themselves Counts, Dukes, Kings, Emperors. The catholic church also used this period to extend both it’s wealth and power. Working with the nobles who ensured that the people were kept poor, the church ensured that they were kept dumb and thus controlled. During the middle-ages the Lowlands were shaped by a group of autonomous Duchies like Gelre, Brabant, Limburg and Flanders and Counties like Holland, Zeeland and Frisia, and last but not least Dioceses like Utrecht, Luik (Liege), Keulen (Koln), Metz and others. Most of the Counts of Holland, and other counties in Europe, took part of the Crusades to the Holy land in the 9-12th century because the Roman Catholic church in the person of the ruling Pope ordered them to do so in return of which they should get power over the lands. Many Counts and Nobles were killed during these events and other struggles between the various Counties, Duchies and Dioceses.

However those that survived and returned from the Crusades they could count on a County somewhere in Europe. Before 1581, the area of the low countries consisted of a number of counties and duchies. Through marriage or sale, these states all ended up in the hands of the Habsburg emperor Charles V and his son, king Philip II of Spain. In 1568, the Netherlands revolted against Philip II because of his efforts to modernize and centralize the devolved medieval government structures of the provinces, high taxes, and persecution of Protestants by the Catholic church. This was the start of the Eighty Years War.

In 1579, a number of the northern provinces and cities of the Netherlands signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they promised to support each other in their defense against the Spanish army. This was followed in 1581 by the Oath of Abjuration, the declaration of independence in which the provinces officially deposed Philip II. The United Provinces first tried to choose their own lord, and they asked the Duke of Anjou and later the Earl of Leicester to rule them. This was not a success, and in 1588 the provinces became a Republic. The Republic was officially recognized in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), and lasted until French revolutionary forces invaded in 1795 and set up a new republic, called the Batavian Republic and later the Kingdom of Holland.

These struggles and wars between the Nobles and the local people would last until the 18th century before the Countries were formed as they are today. Because of the struggle between Nobles and people the people tried to defend themselves and built walls around their cities to prevent strange Nobles and their armies to come in. So were born the stronghold-cities in Europe and the Lowlands. The oldest cities in the lowlands were Dordrecht, Delft, Leiden, Haarlem in Holland, Middelburg in Zeeland, Ghent, Brugge and Brussels in Belgium, Maastricht in Limburg and Keulen, Aken and others in Germany.

The French revolution (1789) marked the end of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. In 1795 the Republic was occupied by the French, who created a satellite-state called: The Batavian Republic. In 1806 Napoleon appointed his brother Louis-Napoleon to King of the Republic, which now got the name of Kingdom of Holland. In 1810 Holland was annexed by France after Louis-Napoleon had struggles with his brother Napoleon Bonaparte about the way to rule the Dutch people and the way they have to be managed. After the collapse of the French Empire in 1813, the Netherlands became definitely independent. The power-vacuum caused a struggle between Royalists and Republicans.The Netherlands became independent of France in 1813. In the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 the names “United Provinces of the Netherlands and United Netherlands are used. In 1816 it was joined with Belgium to become the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in order to create a strong buffer-state north of France, and later the Kingdom of the Netherlands after Belgium became independent. The republic consisted of seven provinces, which had their own governments and were very independent, and a number of so called Generality Lands. These were governed directly by the States-General. The States-General was seated in The Hague, and consisted of representatives of each of the seven provinces.

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