Netherlands Overview

By | July 21, 2021


Official name of the state

Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Seat of government: The Hague.


As a country located in Europe according to internetsailors, the Netherlands borders Belgium in the south and Germany in the east. The North Sea lies in the north and west. Large areas of the Netherlands have been reclaimed from the sea and one fifth of the land traversed by rivers and canals is below sea level. The landscape is loosened up by the Arnhem Forest, the tulip fields of the west, the lakes of the northern and central regions and the impressive dunes of the coastal region. The most important rivers are the Scheldt, Rhine and Maas.


Parliamentary monarchy since 1848. Constitution of 1815. Two-chamber parliament (Staten-General): first chamber with 75, second chamber with 150 members. Independence since 1648 (from Spain). The Netherlands is a member of the EU.

Head of state

King Willem-Alexander, since April 2013.

Head of government

Mark Rutte, since September 2012.


230 V, 50 Hz.

Time zone

Central European Time: CET +2 (CET +3 from March 26 to October 29, 2017)


Regional specialities

A typical Dutch breakfast (ontbijt) consists of several types of bread, rusks (beschuit), thin slices of cheese, ham, sausage, butter, peanut butter (pindakaas), jam or honey, honey cake (ontbijtkoek) and sometimes a boiled egg.

The midday meal is called lunch and for working people often consists of bread, a cold meat and cheese platter and side dishes, e.g. B. Strammer Max (uitsmijter), omelette, quiche or salad.

As snacks, you often get broodjes (rolls) with all sorts of toppings, at fast food French fries with mayonnaise and ketchup as well as deep-fried chicken (kip).

The main meals are usually taken in the evening, including Erwtensoep (pea soup with bread), Groentensoep (clear soup with vegetables, vermicelli and meatballs), Hutspot (mashed potatoes, carrots and onions), Klapstuk (mixture of minced and lean beef) and Boerenkool met rookworst (kale and potatoes with smoked sausage).

Fish and seafood are generally excellent. The buttery herring herring from Scheveningen is a particular specialty and is available with onions and bread rolls at food stalls throughout the country during the herring season (Hollandse Nieuwe). Especially on the coast you can find Gebakken Zeetong (fried sole), Lekkerbekjes (fried white fish), oysters, crabs, mussels, lobsters and paling (smoked eel, filleted and on bread, chopped or fried).

Popular sweet dishes are Flensjes or Pannekoeken (there are over 25 different types of pancakes), Wafels met Slagroom (waffles with whipped cream), Poffertjes (small round pancakes with powdered sugar) and Spekkok (different layers of heavily buttered sponge cake with Indonesian spices).


Hotel and restaurant bills include 15% service charge and VAT. It is customary to leave some change. Taxi drivers expect a tip of around 10%.

Regional drinks

Jenever (Dutch gin) is the local clear beer that is drunk with beer or mixed with cola or vermouth. Jenever is also available with a fruit flavor (lemon or blackcurrants). The most popular brands are: Bols, Bokma, De Kuyper and Claeryn. Dutch beer is mostly Pilsener. The most popular types of beer in Amsterdam are Heineken and Amstel. Dutch liqueurs include Curaçao, Triple Sec (similar to Cointreau) and Parfait d’Amour. The local egg liqueur (advocaat) is also known.

Minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages

In the Netherlands you can drink beer and wine from the age of 16 and spirits from the age of 18.



31% Roman Catholic; 21% Protestant (especially Dutch Reformed Church); Muslim and Jewish minorities.

Social rules of conduct

General: A lot of consideration is given to the elderly and people with disabilities. Children are welcome in most shops and restaurants.

Manners: The common forms of courtesy should be observed, you should always be polite and calm. The Dutch are generally more straightforward and have little small talk. Often you are addressed directly by your first name, in case of doubt you should first get to know the person in question and use the surname. You shake hands to greet you, three kisses alternately on the cheeks are more personal. If you are invited to dinner, the hosts look forward to a small gift such as a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine or a pack of chocolates. Gifts are usually unwrapped immediately. Many Dutch people revere the royal family, so one should refrain from making critical remarks.

Clothing: Casual clothing is accepted everywhere, suits are only expected on special occasions and at business meetings. Some fine restaurants, clubs, and bars require evening wear.

Photographing: People should be asked before photographing them. This applies in particular to the women in the red-light district, who are very reluctant to be photographed and will also unmistakably communicate this to a photographer.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in public transport as well as in pubs and restaurants. Smoking is only allowed at tables outside and in separate smoking rooms in the catering establishments. Tobacco may no longer be added to marijuana in coffee shops. Only small pubs that are marked as rook cafés and have a maximum area of 70 m 2 are exempt from the smoking ban.

Tips of 10% are common, although the restaurant and hotel bills include the service fee.


Best travel time

Pleasant, mild maritime climate with mostly warm, but changeable summers. Rain all year round, sometimes cold in winter, snowfall is possible. The best travel time starts in May and ends in September.


Area code +31 Area (square km) 41528 Population 16 979 729 Population density (per square km) 408 Population in 2016 Member of the EU Yes main emergency number 112

Netherlands Overview