The Dutch are a surprising people. They live - all 16½ million of them - on 41,528 square kilometres, little more than half the size of Scotland. The Netherlands is thus one of the world’s most densely populated countries. But the Dutch have turned their crowded country into such a success that the world’s planners and architects flock here to find out how.
The Netherlands is best known for its tulips, windmills and clogs. And for its low altitude and vulnerability to flooding. Less well known is that it is the world’s eighth largest exporter of goods and capital and the world’s third largest exporter of food. Equally little known is that Dutch people have won 15 Nobel prizes: for chemistry, physics, medicine, economics and peace.
The Dutch are major players in fields like science, the economy, the arts and sports - and their country is a beacon of forward-thinking social and cultural policy.
Bridge builders The Netherlands lies on the delta of three major rivers: the Rhine, Maas and Scheldt. It owes its existence to feats of hydraulic engineering.
The Dutch are proud of their conquest of water. Their struggle to keep dry has helped them develop a can-do attitude. And since controlling water requires many parties to meet and plan together, it has forced them to learn how to work as a team. That is why their European partners and the broader international community regard the Dutch as bridge builders and often ask them to serve as such.
The country The Netherlands is a kingdom. Its full name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It consists of the Netherlands itself and six islands in the Caribbean Sea: Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.
The Netherlands is also sometimes called “Holland”. The word features in the names of the two western coastal provinces, North and South Holland, which have played a dominant role in the country’s history. Thanks to their location on the estuaries of two major West European rivers, the Rhine and the Maas, these two provinces are still very important for the economy.
With Rotterdam the biggest port in the world, the Netherlands is an important gateway to Europe. And not only by water: Amsterdam Schiphol is one of Europe’s biggest airports.
I have visited twice and would live there for the rest of my life if I could. I love the county and its people more than any other nation in Europe.
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Now plan a visit, you will not be disappointed.
And so it goes.