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Basic Facts

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The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated and geographically low-lying countries in the world and is famous for its dikes, windmills, wooden shoes, tulips and perceived social tolerance. Its liberal policies are often mentioned abroad. This country is also host to the International Court of Justice.

Official Country Name:
The Netherlands (Nederland in Dutch) is the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a constitutional monarchy. The country is often — technically incorrectly — referred to by the collective name of its two main provinces: Holland (North and South Holland).

The Capital:
Amsterdam is the official capital (as the constitution states). The Hague is the administrative capital (the seat of government), the home of the Queen, and the location for most of the embassies.

Population:
16.151.000 inhabitants (16 millions)
The population of the Netherlands is concentrated around the four "big cities", Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. This high density area is called the "Randstad".
The English adjective and noun for "from the Netherlands" or "a person from the Netherlands" is "Dutch".

Telephone Code:
+31

Time Zone:
Central European Time (Greenwich Mean Time +1)

Area: 41,526 sq km

Language(s):
There are two official languages, Dutch and Frisian, both of which are Germanic languages. Frisian is only spoken in the northern province of Fryslân, and it is the language which most resembles English. In addition to Dutch and Frisian, several dialects of Low Saxon are spoken in much of the north; they have no official recognition. At the national borders in the south, the Dutch language shifts into other varieties of Low Franconian and German speech, which may or may not be best classified as Dutch, most notably West Flemish and German.

Ethnic Groups:
12% of the Dutch are ethnic minorities (3/4 first generation and 1/4 second generation). Although the Netherlands has always been a country welcoming immigrants, today's Dutch society is much more heterogeneous than it has ever been.
Between 1945 and 1948 about 110,000 immigrants came to the Netherlands from Indonesia, partly former civil servants and army personnel who had worked for the colonial administration. Another wave of immigrants from former Dutch colonies came in the 1970's from Surinam and the Dutch Antilles islands in the Caribbean. In that time recruitment agreements were drawn up with meditaranian countries. Of the immigrants from Turkey and Morocco, the vast majority stayed in the Netherlands. Many of these invited their families to the Netherlands and decided to settle for good. In 1996, 272,000 people were living in the Netherlands of Turkish origin and 225,000 of Moroccan origin. Nowadays most immigrants are refugees, coming from a great number of countries and areas. There is a continuous political debate in the Netherlands about procedures and legislation for asylum seekers. The Balkenende government recently decided to send 26.000 refugees back to their homeland. The result is that more and more refugees stay illegally in the Netherlands, estimated 150,000 people.

Highest Mountain: LOL

President/Head of State:
The 47-year-old Jan Peter Balkenende,political leader of Christian Democratic party (CDA), got public affection with his plain-spoken manner and his good humoured acceptance of the nickname "Harry Potter", but he is disliked because of being not only the little dug of Bush, but also a Christian philosophy professor who takes a dim view of cannabis cafes, gay marriage and euthanasia.

Government: Balkenende II
Since 2002 The Netherlands have a coalition of christian democrats (CDA), conservative liberals (VVD) and prograssive liberals (D66). When a new government is being formed, the parties who are going to take part in the coalition agree on the policies that will be pursued for the next four years. These plans and the principles on which the policies are based are set down in the coalition agreement.
Who is who? Check out Government.nl

Currency: Euro
Exchange Rate: US$1.2125 = 1 Euro

Health Risks:
No vaccination requirements for any international traveller.

Electricity:
220 V

Weights & Measures:
European standards

Country Name in other languages:
Pays Bas (Francais); Niederlande (Deutsch)



Edited bytijs on 30.06.2004 tijs on 25.06.2004

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