The Kingdom of the Netherlands is located in Western Europe and is the largest country in the Benelux countries. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and the seat of government is The Hague. As remnants of the former colonial empire, the Netherlands Antilles and the island of Aruba in the Caribbean belong to the country’s sovereign territory.
The Netherlands is a lowland. A large part of the surface is even below sea level and has to be protected from flooding by a sophisticated system of dikes and canals. Important coastal protection and land reclamation projects were the Zuidersee project with the creation of the IJsselmeer and the Delta Works.
Horticulture and dairy farming shape the high-performance agriculture. The most important branches of industry are the crude oil processing and chemical industry, machine and apparatus construction, the food and beverage industry and steel production. Rotterdam is one of the largest seaports in the world. The Netherlands is part of the euro zone.
Abbreviated as NL by ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is located in western Europe and belongs to the Benelux countries (Fig. 1). The country’s capital and residence is Amsterdam, while The Hague is the seat of government. The state borders the North Sea to the west and north, Germany to the east and Belgium to the south. The coastline is around 800 km. Almost half of the country is below sea level. The Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean including the island of Aruba also belong to the territory of the Netherlands.
Important data about the country
|Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
|390 residents / km²
|Amsterdam (The Hague is the seat of government)
|Growth of population:
|about 0.5% / year
(men / women)
|Form of government:
|Dutch is the official language.
|Catholics 36%, Protestants from different churches 26%
|temperate oceanic climate
|Arable land 28%, forest 8%, pasture land 23%
(percentage of employees)
|Agriculture 3.1%, industry 20%, services 76.9%
|electronic and electrical appliances, chemicals, vehicles, vegetables and fruits, petroleum and petroleum products
|Gross domestic product:
|$ 511 502 million (2003)
|Gross National Product:
|US $ 26 230 / residents (2003)
In the vast majority of the Netherlands, the North German lowlands continue. The approximately 800 km long coast is lined with up to 60 m high dunes, which are separated from the mainland by the Wadden Sea in the area of the West Frisian Islands. The West Frisian Islands – from northeast to southwest: Rottumeroog, Rottumerplaat, Boschplaat, Simonszand, Schiermonnikoog, Ameland, Terschelling, Vlieland, Texel – were created by storm surges. In the south, the coast is strongly divided by bays and river deltas. Further inland there are diked sea and river marshes (polders) up to 6 m below sea level. This is followed by the flat, undulating, sandy-boggy Geest, which reaches a height of 110 m. Motor and electric pumps, which have long since replaced the pumps operated by windmills since the 15th century, drain the polderland.
In relation to its total area, the Netherlands is the most water-rich country in Europe. Rivers, canals and mostly lakes reclaimed from the sea cover large parts of the country. The largest rivers are the Rhine and, coming from Belgium, the Maas and Scheldt. Shortly after entering Dutch territory, the Rhine branches out and forms an extensive delta with the Meuse, which is broken up by numerous islands. The main branch of the estuary is the Waal, which is called Merwede, Noord and Nieuwe Maas after union with the Maas and flows into the North Sea as Nieuwe Waterweg near Rotterdam. The northern arm, the Pannerden Canal, from which the IJssel branches off to the IJsselmeer before Arnhem, continues as the Neder-Rijn and Lek and flows into the Nieuwe Maas. Most of the river network is diked and canalized.
The long struggle with the sea
Much of the Netherlands was created by man in the last thousand years. During this time, the land area has roughly doubled through coastal protection and land reclamation. Time and again, large storm surges destroyed the coastal area and tore away the land that had been hard-won. The storm surges of 1421, 1570 and most recently in 1953 had devastating consequences.
Coastal protection means all structural precautions to protect dykes, foreland, beaches and dunes on the coast against destruction by the sea. A distinction is made between flood protection measures (dykes and barrages) and erosion protection.
In the Netherlands, active coastal protection measures, including reclamation, have always played an important role. The largest projects were the Zuidersee project and the Delta Works. The Zuidersee, an approximately 3700 km² former North Sea bay, was closed in 1932 by a 30 km long dam and transformed into a freshwater lake, the IJsselmeer. Poldering was initiated as early as 1926/27 with the construction of a 40 hectare test polder. 1927–1930 the Wieringermeerpolder was diked and drained, 1937–1942 the Northeast Polder, 1950–1957 the Polder Ostflevoland and 1959–1968 the Polder Südflevoland. The two IJsselmeer polders, East and South Flevoland, are part of the Flevoland province, which was formed in 1986.
The Delta Works are a facility created between 1950 and 1986 to protect against sea invasions in the southwest of the Netherlands, in the delta of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt (Fig. 3). The measures range from the complete closure of the water arms to the construction of a movable storm surge barrier with 62 flood gates in the Oosterschelde. The end of the Delta Works is the storm surge barrier completed in 1997 on Nieuwe Waterweg near Maassluis to protect the port of Rotterdam.
Climate and vegetation
The climate is temperate maritime with prevailing westerly winds. The average rainfall is between 620 and 850 mm per year (Fig. 4). The average summer temperatures in July and August are relatively low at 17 °C; there are only a few ice days in winter, so the ports remain ice-free.
The natural vegetation is hardly preserved. The sandy geest soils originally had birch-heather forests, which are now degraded to heather or have been reforested with pines. The mudflat and dune region has very special salt-loving plant communities, some of which are protected. The marshland or polderland mostly has fat meadows or pastures. There are occasional low and high moors.
Economy and Transport
The Netherlands is a member of the euro zone. Alongside efficient agriculture, a highly developed and internationally competitive industry has developed (Fig. 5). The expansion of the port industrial complexes, increasing natural gas and oil production and the energy industry based on it, as well as the development of the processing industry and the service sector, set signals for the steady economic growth.
Agriculture traditionally has a high level of productivity and is strongly export-oriented. Fruit growing is concentrated in the river marshes. Arable farming is carried out on the loess soils of the Limburg province in the southwest as well as the bog colonies and parts of the marches. Livestock farming predominates in North Brabant, Drente and Gelderland, and grassland use in the west and northwest of the country. The reclamation of new land in the IJsselmeer could not compensate for the general decline in agricultural land due to the space requirements of cities and industry.
The fishing industry is operated as an offshore, coastal and in the IJsselmeer.
Tomatoes and more
Horticulture and animal husbandry play a dominant role in Dutch agriculture. Vegetable growing and floriculture predominate, especially in the east. Fruit, vegetables, flowers and potted plants are of great importance for export. Much of these crops are grown intensively in heated greenhouses cultivated. Cultivation under glass or foil has increased significantly; A cultivation area of around 10,000 ha is achieved under glass in the Netherlands. More than 10% of the greenhouse area is used for tomato production. There are also cucumbers, peppers, aubergines and the like. a. In the last twenty years, however, the tomato acreage has decreased significantly. The reasons were criticism of the quality of the tomatoes, rising energy costs and stricter environmental requirements. Some Dutch companies have relocated production to the cheaper growing countries of Spain or Morocco. The tomatoes come back to the Netherlands by sea and are sold as a Dutch product.
The floriculture is another special feature of Dutch agriculture. First and foremost is the growing of bulbs. The bulbs of tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and other species are exported all over the world. The blooming flower fields also attract numerous visitors in spring.
However, livestock farming is of paramount importance for agriculture . It is entirely geared towards the processing industry (butter and cheese). Cheese from Holland is literally on everyone’s lips. The best-known types of cheese are Edam, Gouda and Leerdamer. Pig breeding and poultry farming are also important. Intensive farming in the processing industry also leads to increasing pollution of the soil and increasing pollution of the groundwater and surface water due to the high use of fertilizers and pesticides.
The structure of the industry has changed dramatically since the 1980’s. Traditional branches such as shipbuilding, textile processing and clothing have lost their importance. They were replaced by the chemical industry, plastics processing, the gas and oil industries. The center of oil refineries and chemical industry is Rotterdam with its world port. The food and luxury goods industry, steel production, metal processing, motor vehicle, electrotechnical and electronic industries are of great importance. The most important industrial cities are Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the most important industrial region is North Brabant. The main trading partners of the export-strong Netherlands are Germany and the other EU countries as well as the USA.
The Netherlands are also one of the most popular European travel destinations . The main attractions include the West Frisian Islands, the Wadden Sea, the IJsselmeer and the seaside resorts on the coast. Inland, the historic city centers, the numerous museums and art galleries and the center parks are the main attractions.
The transport network is well developed in all areas. The inland waterways with a total length of 5046 km are of great importance. The most important sea ports are Rotterdam, which is one of the largest ports in the world in terms of the size of the cargo, and Amsterdam. The most important feeder is the Rhine shipping. International airports are in Schiphol near Amsterdam and Zestienhoven near Rotterdam.
843: With the division of the empire, Flanders west of the Scheldt comes to the West Franconian Empire, the other Dutch areas to Lorraine and thus later (879/925) to the East Franconian, later Holy Roman Empire.
10-12 Century: High cultural and economic prosperity in the Maasland
1477: The Netherlands come to the House of Habsburg.
1568: Revolt against the DUKE OF ALBA, the Spanish governor
1581: Under the leadership of WILLIAM OF ORANIA, the seven northern provinces of Spain and the Habsburgs renounce and establish the Republic of the United Netherlands.
1585: The southern Netherlands is reoccupied by Spain.
1609–1621: Armistice with Spain
1648: The Peace of Westphalia confirms the independence of the northern Netherlands, which develops into an important trading and sea power.
1815: The Congress of Vienna creates the Kingdom of the United Netherlands after the Napoleonic occupation.
1830: The southern Netherlands split off to form the Kingdom of Belgium
1890: End of the personal union with Luxembourg
1940–1944: Occupation by German troops
1949: Netherlands Indies becomes independent as Indonesia.
1980: Queen BEATRIX takes the throne.
1992: Parliament adopts the Maastricht Treaty.