The Netherlands

The Netherlands is located in north-western Europe and bounded by the North Sea. A special feature that is also part of The Netherlands is the Dutch Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, known as the Caribbean Netherlands. Together with Belgium and Luxembourg, the Netherlands form part of the Benelux countries. Of the total 16,680,000 inhabitants, 799,345 live in the capital city of Amsterdam. Built on about five million piles, the port city is known for its canals, which once served as the main transport route for goods and people.

The seat of government is in the Hague, 60 km away. Colloquially, the Netherlands is often called Holland. Holland is located in the northwest of the country, and was formerly the most important province of the Republic of the United Netherlands. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world (400 inhabitants per sq. km). The global average is 48 inhabitants per sq. km; in Germany 231 people live in this area.

The very flat land lies less than half a meter above sea level. About one quarter of the Netherlands is even below sea level. Many dikes over a total length of about 3,000 km protect the flat land against flooding. The highest point (Mount Scenery, 877 meters) in the Netherlands is located on the Caribbean island of Saba. The highest point on the mainland is found in the southern border region to Germany and Belgium, the Vaalserberg at 322.5 meters. Approximately 20% of the country is covered in water.

The largest body of water is the Ijsselmeer and this former North Sea bay is embanked by a 29-km-long dike. Large financial institutions and the international ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam play an important economic role. The highly technologized agriculture sector contributes significantly to exports and makes the Netherlands the third largest exporter of agricultural products worldwide. Particularly well known are cut flowers like tulips and Dutch Gouda cheese. The Netherlands climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters.

Especially popular with tourists are the beaches on the Wadden Islands and the coasts of Zeeland and North and South Holland. Beach lovers will find numerous biking and hiking trails, wide white sandy beaches, dunes, bird areas and a broad range of sporting activities here. If you are in Holland to visit, then be sure to hop on a bike! Almost every corner of Holland can be reached by bicycle. You can rent bicycles anywhere and then you’re on your way to visiting the beautiful natural landscapes of Holland, past castles and gardens or along the coastal areas.

Skiing year-round? This sounds unusual, especially for the Netherlands but it is possible here! In Zoetermeer near the Hague, the world’s largest indoor ski resort has more than 10 lifts, along with après ski. Cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague and Maastricht offer travelers a wide range of offerings from art to architecture to culinary highlights. Enjoy the art of world famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in the newly opened museum in Amsterdam.