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About Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands - Tulip country

Generally known for its windmills, dikes, cheese and tulips, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, or Holland as it is more commonly referred to, is a small, low lying country located in North-West Europe, with some islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The country is a major tourist attraction for travelers all across the globe and is well-known for its relaxed life-style and comfortable, involving atmosphere.

During the 17th century, the Netherlands, or the Dutch United Provinces as it was known as that time, became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. The Kingdom of Netherlands was formed in 1815.

The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces. The Kingdom of Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy with the monarch as the titular head of the country. The country has an estimated population of 16.5 million. The official language is Dutch, which is spoken by the vast majority of the inhabitants. Another official language is Frisian, which is spoken in the northern province of Friesland. The Netherlands, along with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency on 1 January, 2002.

Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange (AEX), part of Euronext, is the world's oldest stock exchange and is one of Europe's largest bourses. Another important city in the Netherlands is Rotterdam, situated on the Maas River. It was originally a small fishing village which grew to become the largest port in the world, a position it held until 2004. It is still the largest port in Europe, serving many international import and export companies. The Hague, also dubbed “the world’s legal capital” is the third largest city in the Netherlands. It is the seat of the Dutch parliament, government and Royal Court. It is also the seat of over 150 International Organizations, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. It is one of the major cities hosting the UN, along with New York and Geneva.

The Netherlands was one of the founding members of the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) grouping, was among the twelve founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and was among the six founding members of the European Union.