The six largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country’s capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General, Cabinet and Supreme Court. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, and the largest in any country outside Asia. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union. It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, which is consequently dubbed ‘the world’s legal capital’.
Netherlands literally means ‘lower countries’ in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) above sea level, and nearly 17% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of roughly 41,500 square kilometres (16,000 sq mi)—of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres (13,000 sq mi)—the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Nevertheless, it is the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products (after the United States), owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, and intensive agriculture.
The Netherlands has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848. The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortion, prostitution and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870, allowed women’s suffrage in 1917, and became the world’s first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. Its mixed-market advanced economy had the thirteenth-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom, economic freedom, human development, and quality of life, as well as happiness.[i]The Netherlands’ turbulent history and shifts of power resulted in exceptionally many and widely varying names in different languages. There is diversity even within languages. This holds also for English, where Dutch is the adjective form and the misnomer Holland a synonym for the country “Netherlands”. Dutch comes from Theodiscus and in the past centuries, the hub of Dutch culture is found in its most populous region, Holland, home to the capital city of Amsterdam; government headquarters at The Hague; and Europe’s largest port Rotterdam. Referring to the Netherlands as Holland in the English language is similar to calling the United Kingdom “Britain” by people outside the UK. The term is so pervasive among potential investors and tourists, however, that the Dutch government’s international websites for tourism and trade are “holland.com” and “hollandtradeandinvest.com”.
The region of Holland consists of North and South Holland, two of the nation’s twelve provinces, formerly a single province, and earlier still, the County of Holland, a remnant of the dissolved Frisian Kingdom. Following the decline of the Duchy of Brabant and the County of Flanders, Holland became the most economically and politically important county in the Low Countries region. The emphasis on Holland during the formation of the Dutch Republic, the Eighty Years’ War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, made Holland serve as a pars pro toto for the entire country, which is now considered either incorrect, informal, or, depending on context, opprobrious. Nonetheless, Holland is widely used in reference to the Netherlands national football team.
The region called the Low Countries (comprising Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and the Country of the Netherlands, have the same toponymy. Place names with Neder (or lage), Nieder, Nether (or low) and Nedre (in Germanic languages) and Bas or Inferior (in Romance languages) are in use in places all over Europe. They are sometimes used in a deictic relation to a higher ground that consecutively is indicated as Upper, Boven, Oben, Superior or Haut. In the case of the Low Countries / Netherlands the geographical location of the lower region has been more or less downstream and near the sea. The geographical location of the upper region, however, changed tremendously over time, depending on the location of the economic and military power governing the Low Countries area. The Romans made a distinction between the Roman provinces of downstream Germania Inferior (nowadays part of Belgium and the Netherlands) and upstream Germania Superior (nowadays part of Germany). The designation ‘Low’ to refer to the region returns again in the 10th century Duchy of Lower Lorraine, that covered much of the Low Countries. But this time the corresponding Upper region is #tourism#tour#worldtour #bestplace#nature#beauty enjoy#experience#history