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Geography and Landscape

Geography

The Netherlands (French: Pays-Bas; German: Die Niederlande; English: The Netherlands; abroad, the Netherlands is often called Holland) is the part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in Western Europe. The total area of the Netherlands is 41,543 km². The Netherlands is about 300 kilometers long from north to south and about 200 kilometers wide from east to west. The Netherlands is slightly larger than Belgium and nine times smaller than Germany.

Netherlands Satellite phot NASAPhoto:public domain

As enclaves within the province of Noord-Brabant there are approximately 30 small Belgian areas, which together form the municipality of Baarle-Hertog; within it are two Dutch exclaves, belonging to the municipality of Baarle-Nassau. In addition to the mainland, the Netherlands includes the Wadden Islands: Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland, Schiermonnikoog and Rottumeroog.

The Netherlands borders Germany to the east (577 km), Belgium to the south (450 km), the North Sea to the west and the North Sea and the Wadden Sea to the north (the total coastline is 451 km).

The Netherlands Antilles are an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and comprise two island groups in the Caribbean that are part of the Lesser Antilles, together 800 km2 and with approximately 200,000 inhabitants. The two archipelago belong to the Leeward and Windward Islands respectively and are approximately 900 km from each other; the first group comprises the islands of Bonaire (with Klein-Bonaire) and Curacao, which are located off the coast of Western Venezuela; the second group comprises the islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten, located to the east of Puerto Rico.

Until January 1, 1986, when it was granted separate status, the Leeward Island of Aruba was also part of the Netherlands Antilles.

Landscape

Afsluitdijk NetherlandsPhoto:MD van Leeuwen Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Despite the small size of the Netherlands, there is a wide variety of landscapes, which, however, are often created by human intervention.

The Dutch landscape is therefore strongly determined by dyke construction, land reclamation, draining marshes, agriculture and the construction of cities and roads.

The Netherlands hardly knows any real primeval natural landscapes anymore and nature is dominated by fields, meadows and heaths that were created by the massive clearing of forests. The forests that now occur in the Netherlands have all been planted.

Approx. 200,000 years ago, the Netherlands was partly covered by land ice. Gravel, sand, boulder clay and boulders were deposited up to the Haarlem-Nijmegen line, and sand and gravel were pushed aside by the glacier tongues and parallel, up to 100 meters high, ridges were formed in Overijssel, Gelderland and Utrecht. This hilly area is largely covered with moors and forests.

The soil south of the major rivers consists mainly of sand and gravel. The soils in South Limburg are more than a million years old and not covered by younger deposits. Minerals such as marl and coal are found here.

Peat areas were formed in some swampy areas of the High Netherlands, which, however, were drained and reclaimed. After the construction of many canals, the peat was excavated, then removed and used as fuel, for example in the form of peat.

The Lower Netherlands also has peat areas and especially in the Dutch-Utrecht peat area a lot of peat was excavated and puddles were created that are now used as recreation areas, e.g. the Loosdrechtse plassen above Utrecht. The low moor areas arose behind a closed row of dunes.

The following landscape types can be distinguished on the basis of the height and soil differences:

The plateau of South Limburg.
The ground moraine landscape of Drenthe and eastern Friesland.
The moraines area in mainly Gelderland and Overijssel.
Rows of hills in Utrecht (including Utrecht hills), Overijssel and Gelderland (including Veluwe).
The cover sand areas of North Brabant and North and Central Limburg.
The raised moor areas in Groningen, Drenthe and the Kop van Overijssel.
The Dutch-Utrecht and Frisian-Overijssel peat areas.
The areas with young sea clay in Friesland, Groningen, northern North Holland and Zeeland.
The river clay areas in the middle of the country around the Maas and the Rhine.
The dune areas along the coast of North and South Holland.

Well-known regions and landscapes are further:

The Achterhoek, the Betuwe, Twente, the Gooi, the Peel, West Friesland, the Zaanstreek, Salland, the Ommelanden, the Biesbosch, the Kennemerland and the Hondsrug.

Land reclamation has created a lot of new land, including the province of Flevoland, which consists of the Noordoostpolde and Eastern and Southern Flevoland sea polders, mainly used as a residential, work and recreation area with growth cities such as Lelystad and especially Almere.

The Wieringermeer and the Noordoostpolder are typically agricultural polders. Together, a land acquisition of approximately 1650 km2 has been booked. The Afsluitdijk, a dam of about 30 kilometers between North Holland and Friesland, turned the Zuiderzee into a lake, the IJsselmeer.

The Wadden Islands are located north of the IJsselmeer. Texel is the largest Wadden Island with an area of approximately 216 km2.

To the southeast, the polder landscape disappears and a heather landscape with forests, sand dunes and grass plains appears. Here you will find the nature reserve "De Hoge Veluwe", a national park with an area of 5,400 ha.

The eternal battle against the water is clearly reflected in the landscape. A large part of the Netherlands lies below sea level and is protected by dikes against the advancing North Sea. The Delta Works in the province of Zeeland are also known. The polders in this area are protected against flooding by a dam system. More than 1,800 people lost their lives in the last major flood in 1953.

The height in the Netherlands is measured from 0 meters Normal Amsterdam Level (NAP), which corresponds to the average high tide level along the coast. The border between the Low Netherlands and the High Netherlands is 1 meter above NAP.

In most of the Netherlands, the soil consists of material brought in by the sea, rivers or wind. The Netherlands was covered with pack ice for a long time and then the ridges in Utrecht, Overijssel and Gelderland were formed in the form of moraines. In the south of the province of Limburg, the landscape has been strongly influenced by erosion, although an overburden of fertile loess has obscured the erosion character. South Limburg is also the most hilly part of the Netherlands and here is the highest point in the Netherlands, the Vaalserberg with 322.7 meters.

Vaalserberg, highest hill in the NetherlandsFotoi:Xamos, CC BY-SA 3.0 no changes made

The image of the Dutch landscape was strongly determined in the Holocene by the activity of the rivers and the sea. Vast clay areas were formed by the sea and beach walls and with the decomposition of the peat area, formed behind these beach walls, the Zuiderzee and the Biesbosch were created. The wind created the dunes and sand drifts in the Holocene.

The landscape is also strongly determined by human activities. Deep reclamation and subsequent reclamation of lakes and ponds have created deep reclaimed land (the lowest point in the Netherlands is in the municipality of Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel and is 6.74 m below NAP).

Approx. 24% of the Netherlands is below sea level. The rest of the country is at sea level or slightly above. Much of the Netherlands is protected from seawater by dikes that are sometimes more than 25 meters high.

Rivers, lakes and ponds

Rhine River at Nijmegen in NetherlandsPhoto:Scorewith German Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Rhine is both a glacier river and a rain river and the discharge of the Rhine amounts to an average of 69 billion m3 of water per year. The canalisation of the Neder-Rijn and the Lek improved the navigability of the IJssel, the Pannerdens Canal, the Neder-Rijn and the Lek.

The Maas is a real rain river, which means that the difference between the largest and the smallest occurrence of discharge is much greater than that at the Rhine. Much of the Maas has been canalised.

Only the wide mouth of the Scheldt lies within the Dutch borders. The small rivers that originate outside Dutch territory only transport an average of 3 billion m3 of water per year across the borders. This quantity is only of regional significance in the context of water management.

The many lakes and ponds are mainly located in the peat landscape of the Netherlands and have often arisen naturally by erosion of peat banks after, for example, a break-in by the sea led to the formation of open water.

Many lakes are formed from old rivers in the peat landscape. The fertilized areas are often referred to as puddles. A large number of lakes and ponds have been drained over centuries. The lakes, which were created as a result of the Zuiderzee Works (IJsselmeer and its Randmeren) and the lakes formed by the Delta Works, occupy a special place.

Dutch weather, wind water and cloudsPhoto:Rob Oo Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

In general, the Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate with cool winters and mild summers, in which the temperature is mainly determined by its location in relation to the sea and the proximity of the warm North Atlantic Gulf Stream. The differences in temperature are therefore smaller at sea than inland.

The average annual temperature increases from north to south and the distance to the sea also largely determines the wind speed, which is slightly less in the south than in the north.

The highest temperatures occur in June and July in continental-tropical air with an average daily maximum in De Bilt of 28 °C. The lowest temperatures fall in the three winter months when the Netherlands is in continental-polar air. The average daily maximum then remains just below freezing point.

The average temperature on the coast is about 16 °C in summer and 3 °C in winter. Inland, the average temperatures in summer and winter are 17 °C and 2 °C respectively. The lowest temperature ever measured in the Netherlands was –27.8 °C and the highest temperature ever measured was + 38.6 °C. The average number of summer days above 25 °C varies from less than five on the Wadden Islands to about 25 per year in the south of the country. The sunniest months are May to August and the hottest months are June to September.

The rainfall is distributed fairly regularly throughout the year. In the interior most rain falls in the summer, in the coastal areas in the autumn. The driest month is generally March. In the winter months it snows regularly and hail usually falls in the summer. Drizzle and fog are most frequent in autumn and winter. Most storms occur in the autumn months of October and November.

On average there is about 780 mm of rainfall per year.

Look here at the precipitation images in the Netherlands of the last 24 hours.

Plants and Animals

Plants

Dunes in between Katwijk and Noordwijk, Netherlands Photo:Paul Arps Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The vegetation is very varied as a result of the variation in and within the landscapes. A number of landscapes are even unique to Europe or at least very special. Examples include the dune area along the coast and the entirety of salt marshes and overgrown beach plains. The large low peat bogs near Nieuwkoop, in the Vecht region, Northwest Overijssel and Friesland are nowhere else in Western and Southern Europe. The Oostvaardersplassen in Flevoland created by reclamation are also unique.

In the east and south are moraines, heaths, high moors, fens and deciduous forests, river valleys, streams and springs, each with its own characteristic vegetation. In South Limburg there is a plateau landscape with varied vegetation in the valleys, partly bound to the lime that occurs there, which differs greatly from the rest of the Netherlands.

The diversity is exacerbated by regional climatic differences and, moreover, for thousands of years, man has influenced landscapes and vegetation, mainly through small-scale and varied agriculture. If human influence were to disappear, the land, if not disappearing below sea level, would become overwhelmingly overgrown with a small number of forest vegetation types, which are still present today, in part as remnants of original vegetation.

Over the centuries, man has gradually replaced the originally wooded land with stable semi-natural landscapes such as heaths, blue grasslands and other scrape lands, reed lands and chalk-slope grasslands, increasing the variety of vegetation. The primeval forests were cut down or burned down over the course of history for fields, villages, roads and cities. In 1876 the last primeval forest with the felling of the Beekberger forest near Apeldoorn disappeared.

 Kroondomein Het LooPhoto:Agnes Monkelbaan Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes

Around 1870, only 3% of the land area of the Netherlands was forest. At the moment, this has risen to more than 9%, mainly due to new plantings with often exotic species. Many site managers are now rejuvenating the forest naturally and are planting more and more native species. An example of this are the Royal forests Het Loo near Apeldoorn, which are now managed in a natural way. Other examples of somewhat natural forest in South Limburg are the Savelsbos and Petit Gravier.

Until the 20th century, these landscapes occupied a much larger area than the cultivated land, such as fields and meadows. In the 20th century, plant growth deteriorated due to increasing housing construction, industrialization and scaling up in many areas, which led to, among other things, environmental pollution, road construction and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Below is a brief description of the flora in various landscapes and areas:

The coastal dune flora of the lime-poor Wadden district is characterized by, among other things, sea breeze, sea oats and sea thistle. The flora of the inner dunes includes sea buckthorn, dune rose and bud rush. Furthermore, we find typical dune vegetation in this area such as heather, heather, gorse, bearberry, roseberry, crow heather and dyed gorse.

In the inner dune of the dune district you can find species that are bound to lime, such as wild privet, barberry, buckthorn, and cardinal's cap. We also find here zoom vegetation such as night elm, three thistle and rough violet. Many other species indicate that the climate here is also warmer than in the Wadden district.

The areas along the major rivers in Zeeland and on the South Holland islands are characterized by many Central European species such as meadow sage, cypress spurge, field bell, marjoram, small diamond, English alant, mercury, pennyroyal, angelica. These plants need calcareous dry sand, calcareous clay or are found on often overflowing river banks.

The Hafistrict in North and South Holland, Utrecht, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen is characterized by many lakes and marshes and cultivated polder land. Some typical species for this area are: swamp spurge, swamp lathyrus, nymphwort and moor grass. Some typical species of nutrient-rich swamps are water gentian, common bladderwort, snake root, and fountain weeds.

In the Drenthe district heaths and the almost disappeared high moors are the most characteristic. Here and in the forests and swamps occur, among others: heather, broom and holly, but also originally northern species such as crow heather, seven star, Linnaeus bell, Swedish dogwood and Nordic sedge.
In the Gelderland district, the northern influence is much less and the influence of running water, on the other hand, is greater. This region is very important for the little dewclaw, but much less important for small salsify and heather sedge, for example.

Kempen heatherPhoto:KB72 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Kempens district is located in North Brabant and part of Limburg. The northern species are almost non-existent here. The heathlands are remarkably poor, the forests and stream valleys, on the other hand, rich in species. Characteristic are, among others, cormorant, creeping water plantain and a number of almost disappeared species, for example kranscarwij.

Many deciduous forests with Central European flora are found in parts of East Twente, the Achterhoek, the Rijk van Nijmegen and East Limburg. Here you can find yew, sweet cherry, black rapunzel, yellow dead nettle, whole herb, and gold veal.

The flora in the chalk district in the extreme south of the Netherlands differs strongly from the rest of the country due to a more continental and locally calcareous soil. Special plants here include mistletoe, pepper tree, christoffel herb, sweet woodruff, white field rush, fringed gentian and 13 types of orchids.

In early October 2010, an extinct mushroom in the Netherlands since 1971 was discovered in a forest near Schoorl (North Holland). It is a pine porcini mushroom. Mycologists had been searching in vain for the mushroom on drifting sands inland for years, where the fungus had last been seen. Research by the National Herbarium showed that it was Boletus pinophilus.

Animals

The animal world in the Netherlands is relatively poor due to a large number of factors. Real natural landscapes only occur on a very small scale due to, among other things, the strong urbanization. Because of this urbanization, for example, mountain and rock inhabitants such as black redstart and swift became city dwellers. Large-scale reclamation, especially in the Zuiderzee and Delta Works, greatly increased the freshwater surface, but the fauna in the Waddenzee, for example, was again negatively affected.

Black-tailed godwit, national bird of the Netherlands
Photo:Hans Hillewaert Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The monocultures of arable, pasture and forestry also had a major influence on the fauna. Certain animal species, often harmful, were attracted to it and others disappeared. In recent decades, environmental pollution has contributed greatly to the impoverishment of fauna, not least that of fresh water. The national bird of the Netherlands, the godwit, a meadow bird, is also struggling. Since the 1960s, the black-tailed godwits population has decreased by about 70%; in 2020 there were approximately 30,000 couples left.

A remarkable phenomenon is that in addition to the disappearance of a number of animal species, the emergence of others can also be observed. For example, the collared dove has only been breeding in the Netherlands since 1950 and is now found throughout the Netherlands. Birds such as blackbird, thrush, European canary and black woodpecker were also able to expand their habitat considerably. Other animal species could just be preserved or have been released again, including greylag goose, night heron, hawk, raven, red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. Predators such as badgers and martens can hardly survive through smaller and smaller hunting areas with less and less prey.

Species that have become extinct in the Netherlands due to the increasing population and advancing deforestation include aurochs, brown bear, wolf, wildcat and beaver, which were successfully reintroduced to the Biesbosch in 1988.

Intentionally or unintentionally imported animals are now common. Examples include rabbit, muskrat, pheasant, zander and Chinese mitten crab. In a somewhat more limited area, mouflon, fallow deer and coypu are present.

Wadden Sea - Seals on a SandbankPhoto:Txllxt TxllxT Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The shallow coastal waters of the North Sea and the Wadden Sea also have a limited diversity of species, although large numbers of one species can occur. The Wadden Sea is of great importance as a breeding ground for numerous organisms living in the sea, of which the seal and porpoise are the largest.

In South Limburg, through the Ardennes Central European many animal species occur that do not occur elsewhere in the Netherlands. However, most species are rare and in danger of extinction, including acorn mouse, wall lizard, fire toad, midwife toad, brown trout and vine snail. South Limburg is also of great importance because of the many caves where bats overwinter in large numbers. In 2003 it was announced that the number of bats is increasing again. Seven species, bearded bat, fringed tail, long-eared bat, potted bat, lake bat, long-tailed bat and water bat, had more than doubled in numbers since 1990. In 2020, the pipistrelle bat was by far the most seen during a bat count, followed by the late kite, red-tailed bat, long-eared bat, water bat and lake bat. The rare field hamster or European hamster is also found in South Limburg, which is called "korenwolf" in South Limburg.

In 2010, the Netherlands gained 24 new animal species, 23 types of insects and a jellyfish. New species include the alfalfa wallpaper and the scaly hair cone bee. In addition, 17 new species of bronze wasps have been found, including the golden gold wasp, which parasitizes other wasps and bees. The stem jellyfish was spotted in the Oosterschelde.

Atalanta butterflyPhoto:Kars Veling Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

A butterfly count in 2015 revealed that the red-throated butterfly was the most frequently counted butterfly. In second place was the day peacock, followed by the small cabbage white, the large cabbage white and the lemon butterfly. Outside the top-5 were among others the small fox, the large reflective butterfly and the variegated sand eye.

History

Prehistory and Antiquity

Palaeolithic (c. 250,000 - 8,300 BC)

Devonian fossil coral from the Belvédère quarry in MaastrichtPhoto:Kleon 3 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The earliest traces of human presence date from a warm phase in the climate about 250,000 years ago. A number of consecutive settlements of Homo erectus were found under loess and river deposits and in the Belvédère quarry near Maastricht. The traces show that the oldest known inhabitants of the Netherlands hunted elephants, rhinos and deer, among other things.

At Rhenen, sand quarries yielded finds of approximately 200,000 to 150,000 years old. Settlements along the Meuse date back to around 12,500 years ago, while hunter-gatherers hunted reindeer on the cover sands north of the great rivers. In addition to hunting, fishing and collecting some fruits and tubers were important in this period.

Mesolithic (c. 8300-5300 BC)

Canoe van Pesse in the Drenthe MuseumPhoto:Drents Museum Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

During the Mesolithic, the temperature rose relatively quickly, causing the sea and ground water levels to rise. This made the plant and animal world much more varied, which had repercussions on humans. Far more food sources arose besides big game hunting: fishing and bird catching and collecting nuts, fruits and crustaceans. People moved around less, the population grew and lived longer in one place in primitive settlements.

Around 6500 BC. Based on the use of materials and the occurrence of certain types of flint tips, the Netherlands is roughly divided into two cultural areas. At the time, the Northern Netherlands formed the Nordwest Kreis together with the Northern German lowlands and the Southern Netherlands, together with the Belgian Kempen and the German Rhineland, formed part of the Rhine Basin Kreis. The Drenthe museum has probably the oldest surviving vessel in the world: the Pesse canoe.

Neolithic (c. 5300-2100 BC)

Hunebed BorgerPhoto:Public domain

About 5300 BC. In the Netherlands, the changes of the Neolithic revolution become noticeable for the first time through the band ceramic, typically decorated pottery and the earliest example of ceramics in the Netherlands. The band ceramics preferably settled on the easy-to-work loess and a number of settlement sites were excavated in South Limburg. The Mesolithic culture remained prevalent above the great rivers.

Around 4400 BC. the Neolithic way of life was introduced in the Northern Netherlands by people of the Danish and Northern German Swifterbant culture. Many traces of these hunting and fishing farmers have been found in the IJsselmeer polders and in Overijssel and further in the Maas and Rijnmond area and in Drenthe and Gelderland.

About 3500 BC. again two distinct cultural areas can be distinguished. The funnel beaker culture (ca. 3400-2850 BC) became known thanks to the hunebeds in particular in the province of Drenthe and at the same time scattered populations of the Vlaardingen culture lived near the large rivers (ca.

Flint mining was already practiced in South Limburg at the time of the Michelsberg culture and initially the extraction took place in opencast mining and later also in shafts.

During the late Neolithic, his dead were increasingly buried under burial mounds. The late Neolithic in the Netherlands begins with the emergence of the so-called battle hammer or battle ax cultures (c. 2900 BC) and the earliest Dutch representative of this is the foot cup culture (c. Chr. developed the bell beaker culture (ca. 2700-2100 BC), which is found in almost all of the Netherlands. In 1991, (remains of) skeletons of twenty people from around 2600 BC. found it. They were buried in a squat position, the men with their heads to the west and the women with their heads to the east.

Bronze Age (c. 2100-800 BC)

Winding wire potPhoto:Public domain

The transition from Neolithic to Bronze Age was gradual. The winding wire pottery from the very beginning of the Bronze Age (ca. 2100-1800 BC) is in keeping with the late bell beaker pottery in terms of decoration and technique. The death deliveries still took place under burial mounds, but now mostly without additional items, the objects that were given to the deceased. Stone tools remained in use for a long time.

Copper objects were already used during the late Neolithic and in the early Bronze Age bronze was increasingly used as a raw material for tools and later also for jewelry. Throughout the Bronze Age, there have been regional bronze industries in the Netherlands. For the raw materials they depended on supplies from elsewhere, and this was done through barter trade, for example.

In the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1800-1200 BC) the Hilversum culture existed in the Central and South Netherlands and the Elp culture in the Northern Netherlands. Some archaeologists distinguish a third cultural unit in West Friesland at this time (Hoogkarspel), which extends to about 800 BC.

The late Bronze Age (c. 1200-800 BC) is dominated by the urn fields occurring throughout the Netherlands. The Urnfield Period (c. 1200-500 BC) extends into the Middle Iron Age and these Urnfields probably originated in the 13th century BC. in Central Europe and penetrated through, among other things, a changing religious awareness in the Netherlands.

Iron Age (ca.800-550 BC)

Reconstructed Iron Age farm on the Reijntjesveld in the NetherlandsPhoto:Gouwenaar in the public domain

Remarkable remains from the early Iron Age (ca. 800-550 BC) are the so-called royal tombs in the south of the Netherlands. These royal tombs contain prestigious accessories, such as bronze buckets imported from Italy, richly decorated swords, and in Wijchen even parts of a four-wheeled show car.

Because of the sharp contrast with the very austere burials from the urnfields, it is thought that these may be the burials of a regional elite who were buried in the Celtic style.

The European bronze trade soon disappeared and was replaced by a local iron production and as a result the contacts of the southern Netherlands with the Central European cultural area were also broken.

There was a threat of overpopulation in the Northern Netherlands and the inhabitants of the Hondsrug in Drenthe were forced to colonize the coastal region. The residents of West Friesland were probably added to this, who had to leave their swampy living area as a result of the expansion of the raised bog. They settled on the dry marshes off the coast of Friesland and Groningen, where the fertile soil turned out to be suitable for growing crops. When the water started to rise again, people no longer retreated to the higher grounds. Instead, the residence was raised with the help of manure and clay, creating the first mounds.

The terp farmers also increasingly switched to livestock farming. Thus, after some time, a new culture emerged in this isolated area of mounds, associated with the name Frisians. During the Iron Age, on the higher sandy soils, especially in Drenthe, "celtic fields" were created on a large scale, fields surrounded by low walls.

In the late Iron Age (c. 250-12 BC) the population of the Netherlands increased sharply and the south returned to close to the Central European cultural area. This was expressed in an increasing number of valuable imported objects. In the Betuwe, the area where the Batavians live, they probably even used their own coinage. Glass bracelets and jewelery were produced in the eastern river area.

In 57 BC. the legions of Gaius Julius Caesar penetrated into the southern Netherlands. However, the Romans met strong opposition and withdrew. In 12 BC. the Roman armies returned, now definitively. Their arrival established the first written historical sources dealing with these areas.

Middle Ages

Coin depicting CharlemagnePhoto:Public domain

When the Romans (57 BC) first arrived, the later Dutch territory was inhabited by Celts and Germans. The influence of the Romans on these peoples was not so great because the distance from Rome was too great and the resistance of the native peoples was too strong. Moreover, due to internal struggles in the Roman Empire, conquering this corner of the empire was not a priority. In the 5th to the 7th centuries, the Dutch territory was divided by three population groups: in the north to the IJssel and along the west coast to present-day Zeeland, the Frisians dominated; in the east, between the rivers Ems and Rhine, the Saxons and in the south the Franks, united in one kingdom by the Merovingian family. In the 7th century, the northern part of the Dutch territory fell under the so-called "hofmeiers", overseers of the Merovingian court. The south, meanwhile, was Christianized after the conversion of Clovis I.

The Carolingian Empire, which lasted from 751 to 925, expanded to the north and south. Charlemagne established his authority over the Frisians in 785 and over the Saxons in 804. Charlemagne died in 814 and under his son Louis the Pious and his successors the power of the Carolingians weakened visibly. The Normans took advantage of this disintegration and invaded the empire.

After the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the empire was divided into three parts: the West Franconian, the East Franconian Empire and the Middle Franconian Empire to which most of the Netherlands was added. In 855 the Middle Franconian Empire was divided into three again. The Netherlands then belonged to the northern part and were added to the East Franconian or German Empire in 925, where it would formally form part until 1648 (Peace of Münster). The German emperor remained nominally liege lord of the Dutch territories, but in fact had no more than a ceremonial function.

In the Middle Ages, between the second half of the 9th and the end of the 14th century, a large number of landowners saw the opportunity to expand their territory and establish more or less powerful "loan states". The counts of Holland and Zeeland and the dukes of Gelre and Brabant became the most powerful feudal princes. The area that now includes approximately Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Low Countries, consisted of virtually autonomous regions.

The main administrative units were then:

The County of Flanders, later expanded with Rijksvlaanderen.
The Duchy of Brabant, with Leuven as its center.
The diocese of Utrecht.
The County of Holland, which later conquered Zeeland.
Gelre or Gelderland, which only became a unit in the 12th century.
The counties of Namur, Luxembourg and Hainaut, which was united with Holland, Zeeland and Friesland from 1300.
Friesland had no lord and was no more than a federation of peasant republics.

At that time, Dutch Limburg was located east of the Maas and Belgian Limburg was in the county of Loon, which was annexed by the principality of Liège in 1366. Liège was a separate state until the French Revolution.

Burgundian period

Charles V.Photo:Public domain

In 1369 Philip the Bold, son of the French king and duke of Burgundy, married Margaret of Male, the heiress of the Flemish count. In 1384 Philip became count of Flanders and Artois. The grandson of Philip the Bold, Philip the Good, started the dynastic unification of the Netherlands. He bought Namur and inherited Brabant and Limburg in 1430.

In 1433 he succeeded in dethroning Jacoba van Bavaria, Countess of Holland, Zeeland and Henegouwen. The Burgundian conquest and marriage policy resulted in the formation of a powerful middle empire, which stretched from Burgundy to Groningen, around 1470. Philip also established an advisory body, the States General, which first met in Bruges in 1464.

Philip's son, Charles the Bold, died in 1477 but had no male successor. Louis XI of France took advantage of this by taking some areas.

Charles the Bold's daughter, Mary of Burgundy, also married Maximilian I, Archduke of Austria and later German Emperor, in 1477. As a result, the Netherlands were included in the system of the Habsburg royal family and thus prevented the French from taking more areas. Maximilian was succeeded by his son Philip the Fair, who married again the Spanish princess Joanna of Aragon. In 1500 Charles V was born from this marriage, who later became king of Spain, Naples and Sicily. He also inherited the Austrian possessions from the Habsburgs and eventually became emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Charles V was also concerned about the unification of the Netherlands and in the period 1523-1543 successively acquired Friesland, Utrecht and Overijssel, Groningen and Drenthe and Gelderland. Except for the Principality of Liège, the entire present-day territory of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg was in the hands of Charles V and this area was often referred to as the Seventeen Provinces.

In 1555 Charles abdicated and his brother Ferdinand became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. His son Philip II became a prince in the Netherlands and also king of Spain.

The uprising against Spain

Statue William of OrangePhoto:F Eveleens Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the meantime, Protestantism had penetrated the Low Countries from Germany (Martin Luther) and France (Calvin) and the Catholic Charles V had introduced the Royal Inquisition, which had already condemned and executed more than 2,000 Protestants during his reign. Philip II turned even more vehemently against Protestantism, which he also regarded as a threat to the constitutional unity of his empire. The resistance of the nobility and the common people against the Inquisition and a phenomenon like the "edicts", which were issued against Protestantism, took on increasing proportions. In 1566, about 400 nobles presented a petition to the governor, Margaret of Parma, asking, among other things, to stop the Inquisition. The common people expressed themselves by destroying statues, other objects of religious art and liturgical utensils in churches and monasteries on a large scale within three weeks. This uproar was called the "Iconoclasm".

Philip decided to punish the insurrection severely and called in the Duke of Alva, who with an army of 10,000 men marched to the Netherlands. Alva founded the "Council of Strokes", known by the people as the Blood Council. More than a thousand people were sentenced to death by this council, including Egmont, the governor of Flanders, who was beheaded.

William of Orange was at that time stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht and from his county of Nassau in Germany organized the military resistance against the Spanish reign of terror. In 1568 he crossed the Meuse towards Brussels: the Eighty Years' War had begun!

However, this attempt and another in 1572 failed. A group of so-called "watergeuzen" was more successful and occupied several Dutch and Zeeland ports, after which the population of Holland and Zeeland rallied en masse behind the liberators. William of Orange also left for Holland, to continue fighting from there. By mutinous Spanish troops in the Southern Netherlands, the South also turned against the robbing and murdering Spaniards. In 1576 representatives of all official regions came together in Ghent and reached an agreement, the Pacification of Ghent. They made a number of demands to the Spanish including the immediate withdrawal of the Spanish troops and general amnesty. However, the unanimity was short-lived and in 1578 the Catholic Walloon regions united in a Catholic league, the Union of Atrecht. Margaret of Parma's son, Farnese, was recognized as the new governor. In 1579 the Union of Utrecht was founded, which consisted of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and the main Flemish and Brabant cities. This mainly military union was directed against the violence used by Farnese. The two unions were also a precursor to the definitive division between the Northern and Southern Netherlands.

Until 1589, Farnese conquered several cities and areas, except Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland and part of Gelderland. After the "Fall of Antwerp", the conquest by the Spaniards and the closure of the Scheldt by the Northern Netherlands, the separation of the Netherlands was final and the Republic of the Seven Provinces (1588) was born.

In 1590, William of Orange's son, Prince Maurice, counterattacked and conquered all areas above the major rivers. In 1598 Philip II ceded the Netherlands to his daughter Isabella, who would later marry Albert of Austria. This Albrecht was forced by lack of money to stop fighting and to sign the Twelve Years' Truce (1609-1621). The Spanish king recognized the United Provinces as free and sovereign provinces.

In 1621 the war was resumed and Maurits's successor, Prince Frederik Hendrik, conquered a number of cities in North Brabant, Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Eventually, war fatigue in both the Northern and Southern Netherlands became so great that peace was signed in 1648. At the Peace of Münster, the Republic of the Seven Provinces was recognized by Spain and the Southern Netherlands remained Spanish.

Flowering time of the Republic: The Golden Age

View of Delft by Johannes VermeerPhoto:Maueitshuis in the public domain

Economically, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands prospered in the seventeenth century. In the slipstream of the economic boom, the arts and sciences also flourished. For example, in 1575 the University of Leiden was founded and Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer painted beautiful paintings.

Before the uprising, Antwerp was the link between the products from the Spanish and Portuguese colonies and Northern Europe. After the Fall of Antwerp, many merchants from the South moved to the Republic in the North. With their knowledge and capital, the products were now imported from Africa, Asia and America themselves. The organization of overseas trade and its management gradually came almost entirely in the hands of the Dutch and their companies, the Dutch East India Company (VOC: 1602) and the West Indian Company (WIC: 1621). These companies had extensive powers and were entitled, for example, to make alliances and maintain an army and a fleet. They also carried out the administration, administration of justice and law enforcement in the Dutch possessions overseas.

At that time, the Republic laid the foundation for the Dutch possessions in South Africa and the later colonies of the East Indies (now: Indonesia) and West Indies (now: Suriname and the Antilles).

After the peace, Frederik Hendrik's successor, his son William II, came into serious conflict with the Dutch regents about the unwanted discharge of the troops. William II won the conflict but died in 1650. Because his successor had only just been born and the States did not appoint a new stadtholder, the first stadtholderless era began, which would last until 1672. It may be clear that during this period the power of the Dutch regents was very great. The leading statesman in that period was council pensionary Johan de Witt. Before he was appointed in 1653, the First Anglo-Dutch War broke out, which was won by England in 1654. De Witt strengthened the fleet after the defeat and managed to win the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) under the leadership of the genius Michiel de Ruyter .

In those years the army of Louis XIV, the Sun King, advanced towards the Southern Netherlands. With the help of the Republic and its allies they managed to prevent the annexation of the Southern Netherlands by the French. In the so-called "disaster year" of 1672, the Republic was directly attacked by Louis, together with the English, and in the east by Münster and Cologne. The east and south of the Republic were occupied up to the Dutch Waterline. However, the people revolted and the young Prince of Orange, William III, was proclaimed stadtholder and commander of the army. William III received help in that battle from Spain, the German Emperor and Brandenburg and managed to expel the enemy from the Republic as early as 1673. Peace was made with England, Münster and Cologne in 1674 and the Peace of Nijmegen with France in 1678.

William III became the personification of the resistance against French expansionism in Europe. His position was reinforced when he ascended the English throne in 1688. In that same year the Nine Years' War broke out, in which the Netherlands and England managed to defeat Louis XIV. Not much later, the same fighting cocks faced each other again in the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713), which dealt with the succession in Spain. In 1702 William III died and again no new stadtholder was appointed, the start of the second stadtholderless era that would last until 1747. However, the War of the Spanish Succession had cost a lot of money and the position of the Republic as a great power came under heavy pressure. The second stadholderless era was characterized by a lack of leadership and the Republic was completely on the leash of the English. France and England also surpassed the Republic economically. In 1741, the Republic became involved in the War of the Austrian Succession (1741-1748) and in 1747 French troops invaded Staats territory. The people again called in the help of the Oranges and Willem van Nassau-Dietz, stadtholder of Friesland, Drenthe and Gelderland became stadtholder of all regions and captain and admiral general of the Union.

Under the influence of the Enlightenment, ideas were blown over from France and democratic ideas gained more and more influence on the political system. The successors of William III, William IV and William V, however, did not care much about the wishes of the people. An anti-Orange-minded movement soon emerged, the patriots. In the period 1785 to 1787, the patriots even controlled the government of Holland and Utrecht.

In 1780, the Republic, as an ally of France, was again at war with England, the Fourth English War. The Netherlands suffered one defeat after another and in the end the battle ended in a draw and this added fuel to the fire for the patriots. In 1787, Princess Wilhelmina, sister of the Prussian king and husband of the stadtholder, was arrested by the patriots. In response, Prussian troops invaded the Republic in September 1787. As a result, the Oranges took over again everywhere and many patriots fled to France.

In 1793 the Republic was declared war by the French Republic and in January 1795 the Republic was overrun by French troops.

The French era (1795-1813)

Louis Napoleon, King of HollandPhoto:JoJan Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Together with the French troops, the emigrated patriots also returned and took control everywhere again. On May 16, 1795, a treaty was already signed and the Batavian Republic, as the country henceforth called itself, was recognized as an independent state, but was in fact just a French puppet state. In 1806 the Batavian Republic was proclaimed the "Kingdom of Holland" with the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis Napoleon, as king. On July 13, 1810 it was annexed to the French Empire. However, Napoleon suffered major defeats in Russia and at Leipzig in 1813. This kept the hope of a quick liberation from the French in the Netherlands. Under the leadership of Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp, preparations were made for independence.

On November 21, 1813, the French troops began to withdraw and on November 30, the Prince of Orange, the son of William V, arrived in Scheveningen, called to the Netherlands by Van Hogendorp. On December 2, 1813, he was inaugurated as the sovereign prince King William I. In March 1814 the first Constitution was established and it had already been decided that the Southern Netherlands would be united with the Northern Netherlands. All this was arranged at the Congress of Vienna in 1814.

After Napoleon's resignation on April 6, 1814, the last French troops left the Netherlands. However, Napoleon returned in 1815, but after the lost battle of Waterloo, the French returned to France for good. On August 24 the new Constitution for the United Kingdom was established and in 1816 most of the colonies were returned to the Netherlands.

The Netherlands and Belgium

Army Movements During the Ten Day Campaign August 2-12, 1831Photo:Hans Erren Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The new Constitution created strong royal authority. The right to vote was limited to a small group of privileged citizens and there was no question of parties in a modern sense. Only for legislation was the king bound to the cooperation of the States General, the Senate and the House of Representatives. By means of a number of language decisions, among other things, William I of the United Netherlands tried to create a real unity. Dutch should become the official language in the Flemish provinces, but the French bourgeoisie was strongly against this. Moreover, the autocratic rule of William I was not so enamored anyway. The government also tried to subject the churches to its supervision and in 1828 the Catholics and liberals in the south united in a union against the government.

In 1830 the July Revolution broke out in France, which led to the Belgian Revolution in the southern Netherlands, after which Belgium seceded from the Netherlands. In 1839 this divorce became final. The Personal Union with Luxembourg continued to exist until 1890 and the province of Limburg remained a member of the German Confederation as a duchy until 1866.

A revision of the 1815 Constitution was of course necessary again and in 1840 the new Constitution was established. In 1840 William I abdicated and was succeeded by his eldest son, William II. A liberal constitutional reform was not yet possible, but in 1848, impressed by the revolutions in France and Germany, the king himself took the initiative for a constitutional reform. In the spirit of the great liberal Thorbecke, full ministerial responsibility was introduced, the powers of the States General were greatly expanded (including the right of amendment and interpellation) and direct elections to the House of Representatives were introduced.

In 1849 Willem II was succeeded by his son Willem III. Due to a constitutional crisis that lasted from 1866 to 1868, the Netherlands came to a full parliamentary form of government and the personal will of the king had less and less influence on the policy of the government. Willem III dissolved the Chamber twice after it had rejected ministerial policy. And when a new Chamber also ruled against it a third time, there was only one option left: dissolution of the government. The principle that a government that lacks the confidence of parliament should resign had thus prevailed.

King William III died in 1890 and was succeeded by his daughter Wilhelmina, who was under regency by her mother, Queen Emma, until 1898. Around the turn of the century, the Netherlands experienced a flourishing period in many areas, including in trade, industry, shipping and agriculture. Culture and science were also at a high level with six Nobel Prize winners up to 1913. Only militarily the Netherlands remained weak.

World War I and Interwar period

Pieter Jelles TroelstraPhoto: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

This military weakness was not yet punished in the First World War because the liberal Cort van der Linden cabinet managed to maintain the neutrality of the Netherlands. Just before the end of the war, the Netherlands was startled by a socialist revolution attempt, Troelstra's "mistake". The strong negative reactions from the royalist part of the population caused the attempt to fail.

In 1922 women's suffrage was enshrined in the constitution. Furthermore, it was quite boring in the Netherlands in the interwar period. In politics the confessional were and remained in power and society was divided into clear blocks or "pillars". The balance of forces between the pillars hardly changed and extreme groups such as the communists did not really gain a foothold in parliament. The leaders of the major parties also managed to easily maintain authority within their parties.

Even the great economic crisis and revolutionary developments in Europe in the 1930s were experienced by citizens and workers with a great deal of passivity, only the Jordan revolt was an exception. Even in the last years before the war, the Dutch population continued to rely blindly on the seemingly untouchable neutrality.

War and occupation

Arthur Seyss-InquartPhoto:Anefo in the public domain

On May 10, 1940 the German troops invaded the Netherlands, five days later the country was largely occupied and on May 14 the Dutch army capitulated. The Dutch government had already left the country and was leading from London out of the Dutch resistance outside occupied territory and preparing the liberation of the Netherlands. London also retained supreme supervision over the overseas territories. The most important area, the Dutch East Indies, was lost to the Japanese after the fall of Java on 9 March 1942.

Meanwhile, a difficult time began for the Netherlands. The German occupiers, under Reich Commissioner Arthur Seyss-Inquart since May 28, 1940, regarded the country not only as spoils of war to be used exhaustively for general German warfare (including forced labor in Germany), but also as one of the areas in which the Nazi ideology willingly or unwillingly had to be introduced and become predominant. Strong support for the small NSB (National Socialist Movement), which hastily established itself as a helper for Germany, and the establishment of all kinds of new National Socialist institutions and organizations (including the SS Netherlands) had to promote this. Other political parties were already permanently banned on July 5, 1941. Nevertheless, the occupying forces did not succeed in gaining a large following for National Socialism.

On a social level, the consequences were much more serious when the Germans also began to persecute the Jews in the Netherlands and, through deportation and mass murder in concentration camps, managed to exterminate most of the Jewish population in the Netherlands (104,000 dead out of a total of 140,000). Three major protest strikes were held during the war (the February strike in Amsterdam against the deportation of Jews in 1941, the May strike in 1943 and the railway strike from September 1944). A minority actively resisted, such as helping the Jews and other victims of the regime, organizing the so-called hiding place, underground press, espionage and sabotage and preparing for military aid for the liberation.

From a political point of view it was important that political plans for the future were drawn up in this illegal movement, which were disseminated to a wider audience via the underground press. These were the most radical plans, which after the liberation in two stages - namely the area south of the rivers in September-November 1944 and the rest of the Netherlands in April and May 1945 - turned out to have little chance of success.

Political developments after 1945 and reconstruction

Willem DreesPhoto:Rijksoverheid.nl in the public domain

Willem Schermerhorn of the Dutch People's Movement and Willem Drees of the SDAP formed the first post-war cabinet and on June 24, 1945, the Schermerhorn-Drees government was launched.

Representatives of RKSP, SDAP, CHU, Liberal State Party and the VDB took part in this so-called "national cabinet for recovery and renewal". The task was to initiate the production process, repair the housing stock, reduce black trade and control wages and prices. The first one started with the money purge of Minister of Finance Lieftinck. The system of Special Justice and Purification, which had already been developed in London, was also adapted because of the necessary political cleansing.

The pre-war compartmentalization in party politics largely continued to exist and real political renewal has not yet been achieved. The ARP, CHU, SGP and CPN returned immediately after the war, while the RKSP only changed its name to Catholic People's Party (KVP). Importantly, the VDB was largely absorbed by the newly established Labor Party (PvdA), founded in February 1946 and resulting from the SDAP.

The first elections were held on 17 May 1946 and the "breakthrough" hoped by the PvdA failed. The PvdA even received a lower percentage of the vote than the groups assembled in this party had obtained before the war. The confessional parties maintained themselves well and the communists of the CPN won big. The KVP wanted to cooperate with the PvdA and in July the Beel cabinet was established, consisting largely of representatives of the PvdA and KVP. The establishment of Drees' old-age insurance was important in this period. Domestic politics was almost entirely dominated by the Indonesian question. The police actions in particular caused a great deal of commotion nationally and internationally.

Partly as a result of Indonesian politics, the PvdA member Oud and a number of supporters had left the PvdA in October 1947 and joined the Stikker-led Freedom Party, which was called the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). received. After the elections in 1948, the Drees cabinet was formed in July 1948. Even now the situation in Indonesia was high on the political agenda again. On December 27, 1949 the transfer of sovereignty of the Indies takes place, with the exception of New Guinea.

In 1949, the Netherlands also joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On June 25, 1952, elections again take place in which the PvdA became the largest party. Drees again became leader of a cabinet that this time consisted of the PvdA, KVP, ARP and CHU. This combination also came about after the elections of June 13, 1956, and Drees became prime minister again.

This cabinet lasted just over two years after all socialist ministers resigned in December 1958 following a conflict with the chamber. That is why early elections were held on 12 March 1959, which were won by the VVD, while the PvdA, CPN, CHU and ARP lost many votes. The PvdA and the CPN lost many votes to a new party, the Pacifist-Socialist Party (PSP).

The De Quay cabinet, without the PvdA, soon had to deal with the problems surrounding New Guinea, which was claimed by Indonesia. Under American pressure, the Dutch government concluded an agreement in August 1962 whereby the Netherlands transferred the administration of western New Guinea to a special body of the United Nations. It was also agreed that the Papuans would be able to vote on their political future in a popular vote before the end of 1969.

The sixties

Huwelijk Beatrix en ClausPhoto:Anefo in the public domain

The elections of May 15, 1963 caused a lot of loss of votes for the PvdA and the VVD, while the PSP doubled its number of seats. New in the House of Representatives were the Reformed Political Association (GPV) with 1 seat and the Peasant Party with 3 seats. Again a VVD-KVP cabinet was formed under the leadership of Marijnen. Difficult issues in this cabinet period were in the field of wage policy, the radio and television system and the complications surrounding the transition of faith and the marriage of Princess Irene to the Spaniard Juan Carlos of Bourbon.

Disagreements about the future of the radio and television system ran so high that the government resigned in February 1965. The subsequent Cals cabinet consisted of KVP, PvdA and ARP. This cabinet had to deal with the problems surrounding the marriage of Princess Beatrix and the German Claus von Amsberg. The wedding ceremony in Amsterdam was marred by smoke bombs and riots. Cals's policy was mainly aimed at expanding the collective facilities. Its financing led to fierce criticism from the KVP, Cals' party. On the "night of Schmelzer" (October 13-14, 1966) a motion was passed for better coverage of government expenditure. Among other things, a large part of the KVP faction voted in favor of the motion and the Cals cabinet then submitted its resignation.

In the early elections of February 15, 1967, the PvdA and the KVP lost and the newcomer D'66 (now: D66) won seven seats in the House of Representatives.

Piet de Jong composed a cabinet of KVP, ARP, CHU and VVD. The problems of this cabinet were mainly in the socio-economic area. The introduction of VAT (value added tax) on January 1, 1969 led to large price increases and a price freeze in April of that year. A new pay law also led to major problems with the Lower House. Already in February 1968 the KVP lost four MPs who formed their own faction. The Political Party Radikalen (PPR) was founded in April with a number of dissenters from the ARP.

In April 1970, part of the right wing of the PvdA split off from the party, and the Democratic Socialists '70 party was founded (DS'70). This party became the big winner of the elections of April 28, 1971 with 8 seats. The old coalition did not achieve a majority and cooperation with one of the parties of the left was excluded because PvdA, D'66 and PPR had entered the elections with a joint program, had formed a "shadow cabinet" and rejected post-election formation negotiations. In addition, the PvdA congress had passed a resolution in 1969 in which cooperation with the KVP was excluded, unless this party would break with the De Jong cabinet after all.

The seventies

Joop den UylPhoto:Rob Bogaerts / Anefo in the public domain

In the end, ARP party leader Biesheuvel succeeded in forming a cabinet consisting of representatives of KVP, ARP, CHU, VVD and DS'70. This cabinet had to deal with the possible pardon of the "Three of Breda", German war criminals who were serving a life sentence in Breda. In the end, after much commotion in the Lower House and among the population, they were not pardoned. Economically, the Netherlands suffered greatly from high inflation. On July 17, 1972 DS'70 left the government and early elections were called again. The big winner of the elections was the VVD and the PvdA and PPR also made a profit.

After a lengthy formation, the Den Uyl cabinet (PvdA, PPR, D'66, KVP and ARP) was established that preached the distribution of power, knowledge and income as its motto.

The worldwide oil crisis in 1973 posed major problems for this cabinet. While it was still possible to control wages and prices, which enabled inflation to be reduced, unemployment rose sharply. A delicate problem was the Lockheed affair, which allegedly involved Prince Bernhard, the husband of the former Queen Juliana. During this cabinet period, the former colony of Suriname became independent. The cabinet resigned in February 1977 due to internal disagreements over land policy.

In 1976 the three confessional parties KVP, CHU and ARP decided to participate in the elections of May 25, 1977 in a federative context as a Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), after which it was transformed into a political party in 1980. The elections were won by the PvdA and the VVD, followed by the longest cabinet formation in Dutch parliamentary history: 208 days. It would eventually become a CDA-VVD cabinet led by the CDAer Dries van Agt. This cabinet also faced a lot of economic headwinds. A global economic crisis resulted in more than 400,000 unemployed people and a growing budget deficit. On top of this problem can be added the resignation of the Ministers of Defense and Finance.

The discussions in the chamber and in the country about the introduction of the neutron bomb and the stationing of cruise missiles on Dutch territory caused much social unrest. On April 30, 1980, Queen Beatrix was crowned in Amsterdam, and serious riots took place now as well.

The eighties

Ruud LubbersPhoto:Rob Croes/Anefo in the public domain

The big winner of the 1981 election was D'66. The CDA and the VVD lost the absolute majority, but due to the great loss of the PvdA, the CDA remained the largest party. The new government consisted of the CDA, PvdA and D'66, with Prime Minister Dries van Agt and Deputy Prime Minister Joop den Uyl of the PvdA. Due to major financial problems, the PvdA dropped out within a year and early elections were called.

The big winner was the VVD led by Ed Nijpels and there was a majority of CDA and VVD. This cabinet was headed by CDAer Ruud Lubbers, who pursued a stringent austerity policy. The cabinet ran into problems because of the parliamentary inquiry following the RSV affair, which cost the VVD many voters in the 1986 elections. Due to the great profit of the CDA, the CDA / VVD combination was once again able to form a government, although the VVD had less input than the CDA due to the loss of votes. It was remarkable that the CPN disappeared from the room after 68 years.

This cabinet succeeded in reducing the funding deficit and unemployment. On the other hand, there were many affairs that cost several ministers and state secretaries, especially the VVD. In 1989 the VVD got into an internal crisis of authority that was lost by the then leader Voorhoeve, after which he dropped the cabinet.

The VVD suffered heavy losses in the early elections in 1989. Despite this, the CDA / VVD coalition retained a small majority, but the CDA chose to work with the PvdA. For the third time a cabinet came under the leadership of Ruud Lubbers, this time as Deputy Prime Minister Wim Kok, former trade unionist and successor to the illustrious Joop den Uyl.

The nineties

Wim KokPhoto:Rijksoverheid.nl in the public domain

In the second half of 1991, the Netherlands was president of the European Community. The Netherlands failed to establish a truce in the war in Yugoslavia. The Dutch proposal to create a European Political Union was also far from making it. However, at the Maastricht Summit in December 1991, the Maastricht Treaty was adopted, resulting in the creation of the European Union on 1 November 1993.

After the 1994 elections, the Kok cabinet was formed, with the PvdA, the VVD and D66 next to it. That meant that there had been no confessional party in government since 1918 and that liberals ruled the Social Democrats for the first time in 42 years. The spearheads of this first so-called "purple" cabinet were administrative and political renewal, the recovery of unemployment and the flexibilisation of the labor market. The Kok cabinet was particularly successful from an economic point of view, and unemployment had been greatly reduced within a number of years. The social security system was thoroughly cut back.

In 1995-1996, a further parliamentary inquiry into the methods of investigation in the police caused a stir again and within the EU, especially from the French side, there was a growing criticism of what they saw as long-suffering drugs policy.

The events in and around the Bosnian Muslim enclave Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 were a black page in the history of the armed forces. Dutch UN soldiers were forced to watch helplessly as the enclave was overrun by Bosnian Serbs, after which thousands of Muslims were murdered. .

Under the Dutch Presidency, the Treaty of Amsterdam had only one important agreement: the so-called Stability Pact, in which the budget requirements that countries had to meet if they wanted to join the European Monetary Union (EMU).

Relations with Suriname remained poor, among other things due to the issue by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service in June 1997 of an international arrest warrant against the former army chief Desi Bouterse for his alleged involvement in drug smuggling.

In February 1997, swine fever was diagnosed in the Netherlands for the first time since 1989. The plague spread rapidly despite measures taken by the Ministry of Agriculture, a total of more than 400 pig farms were affected and millions of pigs had to be slaughtered. The swine fever prompted the Minister of Agriculture Van Aartsen, also in the interests of the environment, to rigorously cut down on the still growing pig population.

Parliamentary elections were held on 6 May 1998, with the PvdA, VVD and Green Left becoming the big winners and the CDA and D66 the big losers.

A second "purple" Kok cabinet was established with roughly the same policy because the so-called polder model was also increasingly recognized internationally. The parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the Bijlmer disaster, the crash of an Israeli Buoying on two flats in the Bijlmermeer in 1992, also caused a sensation.

Various sides have repeatedly called for a parliamentary inquiry into the state of affairs surrounding the fall of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. So far, research has been done only by the National Institute for War Documentation. After the presentation of the report in 2002, it was decided to hold a parliamentary inquiry in the second half of 2002.

In May 1999, the cabinet appeared to fall due to the bill on a corrective legislative referendum, a wish of D66 and that citizens should be able to block a bill after it has been accepted by the House of Representatives and the Senate. In February 1999, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to the constitution to allow for such a referendum. Subsequently, it turned out that the Senate did not find a majority in favor of the bill and D66 threatened with a cabinet crisis if the corrective referendum were rejected. However, the crisis was cemented and the outgoing cabinet was able to continue to rule.

Economically, the Netherlands was still doing well despite economic problems in Asia, Russia and Latin America. As in the previous three years, economic growth is expected to exceed 3%, according to the Central Plan Bureau (CPB). Registered unemployment fell by 6,000 every month and in April 2000, the Netherlands had fewer than 200,000 unemployed for the first time since 1980. Moreover, for the first time in 25 years, the national budget was closed in 1999 with a surplus of NLG 2 billion. In April 2000 this amount turned out to have risen to NLG 6 billion. The government stated that it would be spent on education and care, police and the environment, among other things.

In 1999 the Netherlands took part in the NATO air campaign over Serbia during the war in Kosovo.

21st century

Jan Peter BalkenendePhoto:Prime minister Rutte Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

On January 1, 2002, the Dutch guilder was replaced by the euro, the common currency of a number of countries of the European Union.

In the nineties of the last century, the so-called "Liveable" parties emerged strongly, including in Hilversum led by Jan Nagel, a former PVDA politician. Nagel, among others, founded the national party Liveable Netherlands, which took part in the national elections in 2002. The popular Pim Fortuyn was brought in as the party leader. After a controversial interview in de Volkskrant, in which Fortuyn distanced himself from the party line, Fortuyn stepped up and founded his own party, the List Pim Fortuyn. In the polls before the elections it appeared that the LPF could count on 20 to 30 seats. On May 6, 2002, Pim Fortuyn was shot. A week later, elections to the Dutch parliament were held and the LPF gained 26 seats, making it the second party in the country.

A coalition was formed between CDA, VVD and newcomer LPF, which, however, would last less than 100 days. On October 16, 2002, it became clear that the cabinet would fall as a result of the continuous quarrel between two LPF ministers and the many internal problems in both the LPF parliamentary group and in the party.

As a result, elections were again held on January 22, 2003. The CDA narrowly remained the largest party. The Christian Democrats took 44 seats, one more than on May 15, 2002. The PvdA came in at 42 seats, a profit of 19. For the VVD the profit was limited: the liberals went from 24 to 28 seats.

A cabinet was formed of CDA, VVD and D66. This cabinet fell in the spring of 2006 and early elections were called which were held in November 2006.

After the early parliamentary elections of November 22, 2006, the CDA remained the largest fraction in the Lower House with 41 seats. The PvdA lost 9 seats to 33 seats. Jan Marijnissen's SP achieved a monster victory of 25 seats.

The VVD became the fourth party in the country with 22 seats. GroenLinks won seven seats, Geert Wilders' PVV nine, D66 three, the ChristenUnie six, the SGP two and the Party for the Animals two. List Five Fortuyn, the former LPF, which was good for eight seats in 2003, disappeared from the Chamber. One NL from Marco Pastors and the party from Nawijn also did not get any seats. From February 2007, Jan Peter Balkenende has been a coalition of CDA, PvdA and the ChristenUnie.

Geert Wilders' Freedom Party made a major advance in the polls in 2008/2009. Geert Wilders is being taken to court for inciting hatred against the Muslims. In June 2009, the Freedom Party of Wilders becomes the second party in the Netherlands in the European elections. In February 2010, the Balkenende cabinet will decide whether or not to extend the Dutch military force in Afghanistan. In June 2010 there will be elections with an unclear result. After an exciting and emotional party conference of the CDA (a third votes against an agreement to cooperate with the party of Geert Wilders)) in October 2010 the way seems to be cleared for a right-wing minority cabinet of the CDA and VVD with tolerance support from the PVV. The cabinet led by VVD leader Mark Rutte has been sworn in. The ministers appeared on the steps of Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague on Thursday afternoon 14 October 2010 at a quarter past one.

The Netherlands Antilles no longer exist in their current form since October 10, 2010. Since that date, Curacao and Sint Maarten have been independent countries within the kingdom. Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are now special municipalities of the Netherlands. In April 2012, the cabinet falls because Wilders withdraws the tolerance support. In the elections of September 2012, the VVD will be the largest party, closely followed by the PvdA. In November, a cabinet of VVD and PvdA will take office. This combination is supported by a majority in the second chamber, but does not have a majority in the first chamber.

Willem-Alexander, Maxima en BeatrixPhoto:Floris Looijesteijn Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

In April 2013 Willem-Alexander becomes king of the Netherlands. In 2013, the government must conclude various deals with the opposition to make reforms politically feasible. D66, CU and SGP in particular will receive the status of beloved opposition parties. The SP and the PVV continue to aggressively oppose government policy. At the end of 2013 and early 2014, the economic outlook appears to be improving slightly and the Netherlands is slowly emerging from the recession. In May 2014, Volkert van der Graaf, the murderer of Pim Fortuyn, is released on conditions after he has served two thirds of his sentence. In July 2014, the Netherlands is plunged into mourning after the shooting down of flight MH 17 over Eastern Ukraine, 298 victims were on board, including 194 Dutch. In March 2015, Minister Ivo Opstelten and State Secretary Fred Teeven step down due to deception of parliament (ticket affair). In 2015 and 2016 there was a lot of noise around the migrant crisis and the establishment of asylum seekers centers. In March 2017, on the eve of the elections, diplomatic tension arose between the Netherlands and Turkey due to the refusal of a Turkish minister who wanted to campaign in the Netherlands for a referendum that wants to give President Erdogan more power. The VVD emerged as the largest party in the elections, but the political landscape is very fragmented.

Mark RuttePhoto:EU2017EE Estonian Presidency Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Only in October 2017, after a record formation, Rutte becomes prime minister of a cabinet of VVD, D'66, CDA and the Christenunie. In 2018 it has been decided to stop the extraction of natural gas in Groningen more quickly due to persistent earthquakes and many protests from the province of Groningen. In municipal elections, the local parties gain ground over the national parties. In September 2019, the lawyer Derk Wiersma, who defended a key witness, is murdered. This causes a great shock and is seen as an attack on the rule of law. The year 2020 is dominated by the Covid-19 (Corona) pandemic that is also severely affecting the Netherlands. Healthcare is under severe pressure and the economy is also cracking. The 2021 elections paint a diffused picture. The VVD remains the largest party, but Mark Rutte (already outgoing) comes under heavy pressure because of the allowances affair and the Pieter Omzicht issue. The VVD continues to support its leader and the formation of a new cabinet is currently under discussion.

Population

General

Randstad concentratuion of inhabitants of the NetherlandsPhoto:Junuxx Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In 1830, the Netherlands had only 2.6 million inhabitants. In 1996 the Netherlands had 15,460,000 inhabitants and in March 2001 the sixteen millionth inhabitant was born. In 2017, the Netherlands had 17,084,719 inhabitants. This makes the Netherlands one of the most densely populated countries in the world (approx. 411 inhabitants per km2) and the most densely populated country of any size in Europe. The largest increase took place in the post-war period from 1945 to 1990, at 6 million.

The west, especially the Randstad with cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, is the most densely populated area with almost 1000 inhabitants per km2. The most sparsely populated is the north with about 190 inhabitants per km2. The south and the east have approximately the average population density of the Netherlands. The former island province of Zeeland is also sparsely populated with approximately 200 inhabitants per km2.

In fifteen years, the population has grown from 15 to more than 17 million. Statistics Netherlands expects the population to continue to grow to around 18 million. Population aging and a mortality surplus will gradually reduce the population over the course of the century.

The percentage of Dutch people living in cities with 100,000 or more inhabitants decreased until 1984, and has been rising again since then. 91% of the Dutch population lives in an urbanized area. (2017)
The largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

The population of the Netherlands is aging at a rapid pace. For example, the number of people over 65 has grown enormously in fifty years.

Population by age:

2017
0-14 jears 16,4%
15-24 jears 12,1%
24-65 jears 52,8%
65+ 18,7%

Life expectancy at birth for the male population was 79.3 years in 2017 (1950: 70.4 years).

Life expectancy at birth of the female population was 83.7 years in 2017 (1950: 72.7 years).

Ethnical minorities

Mosque AmsterdamPhoto:FaceMePLS Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), there were approximately 2.25 million non-western foreigners in the Netherlands in 2017. The total number of immigrants is approximately 4 million.

In the mid-21st century it is expected that 5.9 million immigrants will live in the Netherlands. The share in the total population thus grows to just over 32% on a total population of 18 million people.

Mediterranean workers and their families came to the Netherlands after 1960 as labor migrants and were often deployed in the factories and often did the heavy dirty work. This category actually includes ten ethnic groups: Turks, Moroccans, Spaniards, Italians, Yugoslavs, Portuguese, Cape Verdeans (especially in Rotterdam), Greeks, Egyptians and Tunisians.

40% of non-Western immigrants belong to the largest two groups: Turks and Surinamese. At present, immigrants with a Turkish background form the largest group of non-Western immigrants with approximately 400,000 people.

Among Moroccans, the second generation in particular is growing strongly due to the relatively high number of children that Moroccan women have on average. Although the fertility rate will drop from 3.3 in the coming years to 2.6 children per woman, it is still much more than for native Dutch women.

The residents of Surinamese descent are both those who came to the Netherlands before the independence of Suriname on November 25, 1975 and generally have the Dutch nationality on the basis of the Allocation Agreement, as well as those who came after that date and in general a Surinamese citizen. to be.

The number of people with a Surinamese background is currently approximately 350,000.

The approximately 153,000 Arubans and Antilleans in the Netherlands are citizens of the Kingdom by virtue of the Kingdom Statute of 1954. From the mid-eighties onwards, a third stream of young unskilled Antillean migrants from the Antilles has started.

The first two streams were the Antilleans who came to study in the Netherlands and workers who looked for work in the Netherlands after the closure of the large refineries on Curaçao. Due to their low level of education and limited knowledge of the Dutch language, many Antilleans of the third stream became unemployed and subsequently ended up in crime.

The Moluccans present in the Netherlands are originally ex-KNIL soldiers (Royal Dutch East Indies Army), who came to the Netherlands with their families after the dismantling of the colonial Indian army in 1951.

The international refugees is a group of different nationalities who either came here at the invitation of the Dutch government or arrived on their own initiative and subsequently obtained refugee status after an asylum application.

The fastest growing group of immigrants is made up of people from Asian countries, especially Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. It is expected that approximately 60% of asylum seekers will come from Asian countries.

About 1,500 gypsies still live in the Netherlands, who generally live in caravans and lead a migrant life. However, more and more gypsies are permanently settling in large mobile homes or ordinary houses.

Language

 Dutch language area (including Afrikaans)Photo:190 Christian Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Dutch is an Indo-European, West Germanic language and as such has similarities with other West Germanic languages such as English and German. Yet there are also many differences.

Historically, the Dutch language can be divided into Old Dutch (until ca. from around the 16th century), initially also known as Lower German.

From the Old Dutch period is the West Flemish phrase "Hebban olla uogala nestas bigunnan hinase hic enda thu = have all birds started nests except me and you", discovered in 1932. The oldest known Middle Dutch text was written in a Limburg dialect by Henric van Veldeke (c. 1170). Towards the end of the 16th century, a common language from the Dutch dialect grew, with strong southern influences, especially in the written language.

There was an increasing interest in a national language of its own that could rival the Latin or Greek of the classics. The first Dutch speech art, for which Latin was the model, appeared in 1584 under the title Twe-spraack van de Neder-German Letterkunst and is attributed to H.L. Mirror. Especially the Statenvertaling (1637) of the Bible has promoted the unity of language use.

Since the 17th century, a great distance began to develop between written Dutch and the spoken language. The (relative) unity in spoken Dutch only came about much later, perhaps even well into the 19th century. Since the end of the 19th century, efforts have increasingly been made to bring the written language closer to the spoken language.

The latest spelling of the Dutch language is officially regulated in the Glossary of the Dutch Language (1995), nicknamed the "Green Book". The grammar of Dutch is exhaustively described in the General Dutch Speech Art (1997), often abbreviated to ANS.

The Institute for Dutch Lexicology (INL) in Leiden is a Belgian-Dutch institution whose tasks include the further compilation of the Dictionary der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT), which has since been completed in 1998, and the creation of an automated word archive.

The Meertens Institute (formerly P.J. Meertens Institute for Dialectology, Folklore and Nomology), which comes under the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, is located in Amsterdam. Since 1980, the Dutch Language Union has been a partnership between the Netherlands and Belgium regarding the Dutch language and literature.

The official national language is Dutch and the Dutch standard language is called General Civilized Dutch (ABN). About 22 million people live in the Dutch language area: more than 16 million Dutch and about six million Flemish in Belgium. As a result, Dutch is a medium-sized language and is approximately thirtieth in the world ranking.

There are also many dialects of which only the Frisian language has a special status. Frisian is an official minority language of approximately 400,000 Frisians and has similarities with English and the Scandinavian languages. It is certainly not a dialect of Dutch, but an independent West German language. About half of the Frisian population still speaks Frisian.

Based on a number of differences, the Dutch dialects are divided into five main groups:

Even in northwestern France, several tens of thousands of people speak a Dutch dialect. In the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba and the former colony of Suriname, Dutch is the language of government and education. Furthermore, seventeenth-century Dutch served as the basis for Afrikaans, which is spoken in South Africa. Dutch is taught at approximately 250 universities around the world.

Many immigrant languages are spoken by the many immigrants living in the Netherlands, including Turkish, Arabic, Sranantongo (Surinamese) and Papiamento (Antilleans).

Religion

Church HaarlemPhoto:Rolf Kranz Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the 1848 constitution. According to estimates by the Central Bureau of Statistics (1997), 40% of the population does not adhere to a religion. Of the faithful, Catholics are numerically the strongest group: 31% of the population; the Dutch Reformed then had 14%, the members of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands 7%.

Old Catholic Church LeidenPhoto:Michiel 1972 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Old Catholic Church was created in the Netherlands in response to the concentration of power in the Roman Catholic Church by the Pope, and with the election of its own bishop by the chapter in Utrecht in 1723, the break with Rome was final. After the First Vatican Council proclaimed the Pope's infallibility in 1870, the Old Catholics and like-minded groups in other countries met in 1889 in the Union of Utrecht. The Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands has about 8,000 members in 26 parishes. Worldwide there are about 500,000 Old Catholics. In 2000, the Antwerp theologian and pastor J. Vercammen was elected head of the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

Humanist Alliance GroningenPhoto:Gijs Bolmeijer Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The contemporary development of religion is moving in the direction of secularism. Since the 1950s, the influence of the church in the Netherlands has declined sharply.

The arrival of Moroccan and Turkish workers since the 1960s has resulted in the establishment of Islam (4.2% of the total population in 1997). In addition, Hindus (0.5%) and Buddhists live in the Netherlands.

Society

State structure

The Ridderzaal of the Binnenhof, The HaguePhoto:Jan Arkesteijn Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is formally a constitutional, hereditary monarchy in which the separation of powers is largely regulated in the Constitution. Constitutional law, the Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy in which the king is inviolable and the ministers are responsible.

Legislative power is exercised by the government and the States General. The Houses of the States General, the Senate and the House of Representatives, represent the Dutch people and have existed since 1815. The Senate has 75 members and the House of Representatives has 150 members.

The Constitution establishes both the principle of universal suffrage and proportional representation. The House of Representatives is directly elected every four years by those entitled to vote, which are all Dutch citizens aged 18 or older. The members of the Senate are elected by the Provincial Council through multi-stage elections. Elections for the Provincial Council are also held every four years.

Executive power rests with the King and is concentrated with the ministers who are head of ministerial departments, over which the entire central government is divided. The general advisory body for the King is the Council of State. The Council of State must be heard with every bill. The head of state is the chairman of the Council of State, which consists of a vice-president and a maximum of 28 members. Day-to-day management rests with the vice president. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, but the government has its seat in The Hague.

Judicial power is exercised by independent judges, appointed for life by the King. Jurisprudence in civil and criminal cases rests with subdistrict courts, district courts, courts of justice and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the highest civil and criminal court in the Netherlands. The Supreme Court has the power to set aside judgments of army judges.

The General Audit Chamber, which consists of three members, supervises the financial management of government resources.

Water boards NetherlandsPhoto:Janwillemvanaalst Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes

The Dutch territory is divided into water boards that provide water management and are generally responsible for defending the country against water. The water boards are responsible for, among other things, irrigation, drainage, water purification and maintenance of canals and rivers. The general management is elected by home and land owners within the area of the water board. The executive committee and the chairman, the dijkgraaf, are appointed by the government.

The constitution of the Netherlands Antilles is regulated in a Constitution by virtue of the Statute for the Kingdom of the Netherlands of 1954. The King of the Netherlands is represented as head of the government of the Netherlands Antilles by a governor appointed by him. This is at the same time an organ of the Kingdom and an organ of the Netherlands Antilles. Its powers as an organ of the Kingdom are regulated by or pursuant to the Statute.

The governor exercises government together with the Council of Ministers, whose members (in total eight) are appointed by him and are responsible to Parliament (Parliament). Furthermore, an Advisory Board is at his side. Legislative power is exercised by the governor with the States (22 members: 14 from Curaçao, 3 from Bonaire, 3 from St. Maarten, 1 from Saba and 1 from St. Eustatius), elected by universal suffrage for four years and representing the entire people of the Netherlands Antilles.

The regulatory powers of the bodies of the Netherlands Antilles only relate to so-called National Affairs. The Kingdom Statute defines what Kingdom affairs are. The Netherlands Antilles are administratively divided into five Island Territories, namely Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.

Administrative division, provincial and municipal administration

Map of the Netherlands with Provinces and capitals of provincesPhoto:Hans Erren Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces and 636 municipalities. The number of municipalities varies considerably due to continuous municipal reorganisations. The provinces are governed by the Provincial Council and the Provincial Council elect an executive committee from their midst, the Provincial Executive. The Chairman of the Provincial and Provincial Executive is the Queen's Commissioner appointed by the Crown.

The municipalities are headed by the municipal council, which is chaired by a mayor appointed by the Crown and is appointed for a period of six years. This, together with the aldermen, forms the daily management. Until recently, the councilors were elected from and by the council. Nowadays aldermen can also be elected from "outside". Municipal elections take place every four years. In the 2002 municipal council elections, citizens in two places could also participate in a referendum for an elected mayor. The municipalities of Best and Vlaardingen received a D66 member and a PvdA member respectively as mayor.

Royal house

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and the PrincessesPhoto:Floris Looijesteijn Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The House of Orange is the Dutch royal house. This royal family has been connected with the Netherlands since the sixteenth century and the ancestor is Prince William of Orange (1533-1584).

Queen Beatrix has been the head of state since 1980 and succeeded her mother, now Princess Juliana. Queen Beatrix was married to Prince Claus of the Netherlands, Jonkheer van Amsberg, who died on October 6, 2002. The eldest son of Beatrix and Claus, Willem-Alexander, is the intended heir to the throne. In 2002 he married the Argentinian Máxima Zorreguieta. Kingship is hereditary in both male and female lines, with the oldest child having precedence. Willem-Alexander succeeds his mother Beatrix in 2013.

Political parties

second chamber seat number of political parties from 1888-2017Photo:Harmenator Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Political parties are very important to the Dutch political system. All parties represented in the States General date from after the Second World War, but are often a continuation of the pre-war political parties or movements. Until the mid-1970s, the three main philosophical movements in the Netherlands were: the confessional, the socialist and the liberal.

As a result of a complex of causes, these philosophies lost their power of inspiration, but the political parties based on them managed to maintain themselves through mergers and changes in direction.

The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), which emerged from a 1977 amalgamation of the Catholic People's Party (KVP), Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) and Christian Historical Union (CHU), initially attracted mostly denominational voters, but since the middle of the In the eighties the CDA was also able to attract non-ecclesiastical voters because it distanced itself more from the churches and the confessional organizations and chose a position on the right of the political center. After the 1989 elections, the Christian Democrats managed to stay in power for the fourth consecutive time.

In 1994 the confessionals ended up in opposition for the first time in their history. The Social Democratic Labor Party (PvdA), often the coalition partner of the confessional since World War II, forged a non-denominational, so-called "Purple" coalition with the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy for the first time since 1919 in 1994. (VVD) and Democrats '66 (D66). This party, founded in 1966 to blow up the existing political system, developed more and more into an established party over time and experienced spectacular growth, especially in the second half of the eighties. After the 2002 elections, however, D66 gained only eight seats.

At the end of the eighties a new group was formed, Groen Links; originated from a combination of small left-wing parties, namely the Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN), the Pacifist-Socialist Party (PSP), the Evangelical People's Party (EPP) and the Political Party Radikalen (PPR). Apart from this, also on the left, is the Socialist Party (SP).

In addition, a number of small political parties on the right side of the political center have continued to exist, namely the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Feest (SGP), the Reformed Political Association (GPV) and the Reformatorische Politische Federatie (RPF). The last two parties currently form the Christian Union.

In addition to nationally operating parties, many local parties and advocacy organizations are active, particularly at municipal level, whose influence and support is gradually diminishing in favor of the national parties.

In the nineties of the last century, the so-called "Liveable" parties emerged strongly, including in Hilversum led by Jan Nagel, a former PVDA politician. Nagel, among others, founded the national party Liveable Netherlands, which competes in the 2002 national elections. The popular Pim Fortuyn was brought in as the party leader. After a controversial interview in de Volkskrant, in which Fortuyn distanced himself from the party line, Fortuyn stepped up and founded his own party, the List Pim Fortuyn. In the polls before the elections it appeared that the LPF could count on 20 to 30 seats. On May 6, 2002, Pim Fortuyn was shot. A week later, elections to the Dutch parliament were held and the LPF gained 26 seats, making it the second party in the country. After many skirmishes on the right side of the political spectrum, Geert Wilders' PVV attracts many voters with anti-Islam and anti-Europe views from 2010 onwards.

The current political situation is described in the chapter history.

Education

General

The freedom of education is enshrined in the 1848 Constitution. This means that groups in Dutch society are allowed to found a school on the basis of a religious, ideological or pedagogical-didactic basis. The Netherlands also has, for example, Protestant Christian, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Islamic and free schools.

Schools on a pedagogical-didactic basis are Montessori, Dalton and Jenaplan schools or a combination of these. Schools founded by the government are called public schools. All other schools, founded by private individuals, are called special schools.

Compulsory education applies to children aged five to eighteen. Partial compulsory education applies for the last two years.

Education system

Education System in the NetherlandsPhoto:JrPol Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Dutch education system can be divided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Primary or basic education is intended for children from four to twelve years old. This phase in education is made up of eight year classes, called groups, and focuses on the creative, mental and emotional development of the children. Much attention is also paid to acquiring sufficient social, cultural and physical skills.

Almost 100% of all children attend primary education and continue on to secondary or secondary education.

Primary education also includes special primary and secondary education for children aged 3 to 20 with a mental, physical and / or social disability. By taking extra care of these children, we try to get them entering regular education.
Every day, more than 1.5 million children attend primary or special education.

In the eighth and last group of primary education, the pupil takes a test, usually the CITO test, on the basis of which he or she is advised on which form of secondary education he or she can best follow.

Secondary education consists of:

VMBO: Preparatory Secondary Vocational Education. The duration is four years and prepares you for secondary vocational education (SBO, formerly MBO);
HAVO: Higher General Education. The duration is five years and prepares students for higher professional education (HBO);
VWO: Preparatory Scientific Education (VWO).
The duration is 6 years and prepares for academic education (WO).

VMBO is a new type of school that was introduced from 1 August 1999. This type of education consists of so-called "learning paths", which gradually replaced the VBO (Preparatory Vocational Education) and the MAVO (Middle General Secondary Education). The VMBO has four learning paths with fixed subject packages, and the students choose one of those learning paths.

The four learning paths are:

The theoretical learning path
The mixed learning path
The management profession-oriented learning path
The basic job-oriented learning path
Pupils in VMBO first follow two years of basic education, which means that all students receive the same broad range of subjects.

In most cases, pupils in HAVO and VWO follow three years of basic education in the same subjects, after which they definitively choose HAVO or VWO. In the basic curriculum, the students are taught in fifteen subjects. In addition, each school can offer other subjects.

HAVO lasts five years and is mainly intended as preparation for HBO. Pre-university education lasts six years and is mainly intended as preparation for university education. Pre-university education includes the atheneum and gymnasium. At the gymnasium, all pupils receive Greek and Latin in the lower years and Greek and / or Latin in the upper years. There are also high schools where children choose the gymnasium or the atheneum themselves.

The superstructure HAVO (classes 4 and 5) and VWO (classes 4, 5 and 6) has been renewed and is now called the Second Phase. Profiles in the Second Phase replace the free choice of subjects. In this way an attempt is made to improve the connection between secondary and higher education. The pupils can choose from the profiles culture and society, economy and society, nature and health and nature and technology.

A second major change is the study house in which the pupils increasingly plan their own studies and carry out assignments and make assignments more independently and in groups. This also increases independence and improves the connection with higher education.

Higher professional education, along with academic education, is part of higher education. Since 1993, colleges and universities have been subject to the same legislation: the Higher Education and Scientific Research Act (WHW).

HBO is characterized by diversity: there are approximately 200 different courses for various professions in different social fields. There are broad and more specialized courses. There are large universities of applied sciences with a varied range of study programs, but also medium-sized and small ones with a limited range. Mergers have reduced the number of universities of applied sciences from nearly 350 in the mid-1980s to 56 in 2000.
The courses are divided into seven CROHO components: Education, Technology, Health Care, Economy, Behavior & Society, Language & Culture and Agriculture. The Open University (distance education) is also part of academic education.

The Academy Building of Utrecht UniversityPhoto:Steven Lek Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Scientific education trains students to practice science independently or prepares them for social relations for which scientific training is required. In addition to offering scientific education, universities also conduct scientific research. After completing the first phase of academic education, students can focus on further specialization, research or preparation for the PhD.

Graduates of a university may use the title engineer (ir), doctorandus (drs) or master of law (mr). Whoever graduates may use the title doctor (dr). These titles are legally determined and protected.

The Netherlands has the following universities:
University of Leiden
University of Utrecht
University of Groningen
Erasmus University Rotterdam
University of Maastricht
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
University of Amsterdam
Catholic University of Nijmegen
Catholic University of Brabant (Tilburg)
Delft University of Technology
Eindhoven University of Technology
University of Twente (Enschede)
Wageningen University
Open University (Heerlen)

Economy

General

Polder model consultation between employers, employees and government in the NetherlandsPhoto:Rob Bogaerts / Anefo in the public domain

The Netherlands has a free market economy in which the government can intervene in the economic process by means of legislation and regulations and there is talk of a managed economy.

The Second World War significantly changed the Dutch economy due to, among other things, strongly changed circumstances such as strong population growth and the loss of the colonies. In a relatively short period of time, the Netherlands has developed from a predominantly agricultural country into an industrial, internationally oriented nation. The Dutch economy is generally stable, which is partly maintained by a structural, intensive consultation between government, industry and trade unions, the so-called polder model. All these factors have made the Netherlands one of the largest economies in the world.

In 2017, agriculture and fishing contributed 1.6% of the gross national product, industry for 17.9% and the remaining 80.2% was accounted for by the services sector.

The large natural gas reserves have traditionally been of great importance to the Dutch economy, partly because of the income from exports. Due to the earthquakes in Groningen, this source of income is diminishing. Major European rivers such as the Rhine, Maas and Scheldt play a major role for the Netherlands as a hub in European transit traffic to, for example, the German Ruhr area, making Rotterdam the largest port in the world for many years. Schiphol Airport is also an important driver of the Dutch economy and the head offices of many multinationals are located in the Netherlands, including Shell, Unilever and Philips.

The Dutch economy benefited from the economic boom in the 1980s and 1990s; in the period from 1990 to 2008, economic growth averaged around 2%. This period of prosperity was brought to an end by the credit crisis. In 2013 the economy contracted by -1%. The official unemployment rate in 2017 was 4.9% of the labor force, which puts the Netherlands well below the EU average. The GDP of the Dutch is $53,900 (2017).

Agriculture and horticulture, animal husbandry

Greenhouses in the WestlandPhoto:Rob Hooft Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no chnges made

The share of agriculture and horticulture in the total working population decreased from approx. 17% in 1950 to around 1% in 2017 and the share in the national income decreased from 14.4 to 1.6% during this period. Despite this, the Netherlands is still one of the largest agricultural exporters in the world. Many agricultural products are exported with Germany as the main buyer, followed by the other countries of the European Union.

More than 60% of the Dutch soil is in agricultural use. Thanks to the intensification of land use and the higher yields per hectare, the total production volume of Dutch agriculture and horticulture has increased enormously. This production expansion could only take place through a strong increase in the amount of production resources, such as fertilizer and balanced animal feed.
Good agricultural education and practical information have also contributed greatly to the increase in productivity.

The agricultural activities are spread all over the country. An important part of the arable farming is found on the sea clay soils in the north and southwest of the country and also in the IJsselmeer polders. Although the amount of arable land is declining, the yields per hectare have risen sharply in recent decades. Important products are potatoes, wheat, sugar beets and especially silage maize, which is used as animal feed. The Dutch seed potatoes are exported all over the world.

Intensive livestock farming or bio-industry (pig farming, poultry farming and calf farming) is largely concentrated on the sandy soils in Gelderland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg. This sector threatens the environment with its gigantic manure surplus. Dairy farming is found all over the country, but specific pasture areas are Friesland and North and South Holland.

Horticulture is the largest agricultural sector in the Netherlands in terms of production volume. For example, the Netherlands is the largest exporter of flowers and flower bulbs in the world. Other important horticultural products are cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, fruit, peppers and potted plants.
Greenhouse horticulture, which is by far the most important part of Dutch horticulture from an economic point of view, is largely concentrated in a few large centers, including those in the southwest of South Holland being the most important. These companies often focus on one or a few crops.

Attention to the environment is becoming increasingly important and more and more farmers are striving for sustainable forms of agriculture that save the environment. For example, people are increasingly switching to biological crop protection to prevent and control pests and diseases. Research into less disease-sensitive crops is also important.

Forestry

Forestry NetherlandsPhoto:E Dronkert Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Netherlands is a little wooded country. In 2017, only 8% (approx. 300,000 ha) of the surface was forested. The forest consists of approx. 60% coniferous wood. The province with the largest area of forest is Gelderland, followed by Noord-Brabant and Overijssel.

Forest mainly occurs on the worse soils. However, there is a tendency to plant forest on better soils as well. In addition to being a wood supplier, the forest is important for recreation. Environmental pollution, especially in the form of acidification, is a serious threat to the tree population.

Fishing

Fishing boat NetherlandsPhoto:Rijkswaterstaat Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Fishing in the open sea is carried out in the North Sea and its sea basins and in waters beyond (waters around Ireland, Iceland and Newfoundland). A major branch of Dutch professional fisheries is coastal fisheries. In general, fishing is mainly for roundfish, herring and mackerel. The Netherlands has a very modern fleet of cutters and large trawlers. The trawlers mainly fish for herring and mackerel. The small cutters fish for plaice, cod, haddock, whiting and shrimps.

The economically most important group in that year was formed by the flatfish, followed by the round fish and crustaceans and molluscs such as oysters, shrimps and mussels. Mussels, oysters and cockles are mainly cultivated in the waters of Zeeland and the Wadden Sea. Inland fisheries are of little economic importance, apart from eel fishing. The main fishing ports are IJmuiden, Scheveningen and Urk.

Due to the sharp decline of certain fish species, the European Union has been setting annual catch quotas since 1983. The number of days on which fishing is allowed is also sometimes limited.

Industry

Petrochemical industry Botlek areaPhoto:Michiel1972 at Dutch Wikipedia

At the end of the 19th century, the Netherlands became an industrial country when the share of employment in industry was greater than in agriculture. Before that, there were mainly industrial activities in the south of the Netherlands. This mainly concerned the clothing, textile and footwear industry.

In the period up to the First World War, the industry experienced strong growth, especially in the metal industry and the graphics, chemical and paper industries.
The industries mentioned above, as well as construction and the food industry, continued to provide the most employment for the time being. More and more factories were also built in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, the south and in Twente, the center of the cotton industry. This made the cottage industry less and less important.

Not much changed until World War II. The industry continued to develop mainly in the west of the country and the dairy industry and slaughterhouses emerged as an export industry. The chemical industry, later of great importance, was not much of a value at that time. Yet the textile industry, which is important for the Netherlands, was already threatened by the development of synthetic fibers abroad.

After the Second World War, the economic development of the Netherlands was dominated by reconstruction and in its wake industrial industry grew very quickly. Construction and infrastructure were of course very important, but job creation by increasing exports also had a high priority. Real growth industries became the electrical, basic metal and chemical industries.

After the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC, 1958), now the European Union (EU), the growth of the industry accelerated, among other things due to the strongly increasing exports, but the discovery of natural gas also had a stimulating effect. The petrochemical industry was the fastest growing, especially in the period 1963-1973. The low energy prices and the possibility to settle in the Rijnmond area led to a lot of foreign investment.

On the other hand, the traditional labor-intensive industries were struggling due to the large wage increases, causing companies to increasingly move to so-called low-wage countries.

At the moment, the Dutch industry focuses mainly on primary products and semi-finished products and is characterized by its international orientation, both in terms of sales abroad and the spread of production sites and cooperation with foreign companies. The main sectors are the highly automated chemical food processing industry and the metal processing industry. The graphics and electrical engineering industries are also well developed.

Since the late 1960s, the adverse effects of industrial growth have also attracted worldwide attention, including pollution of the environment, the depletion of our protective ozone layer and the depletion of natural resources. After the oil crisis in 1973, with its sharply rising prices, Dutch industry was hit hard and growth slowed. Owning natural gas still provided an important advantage over other countries.

From 1982 on, government policy increasingly focused on export growth. The companies also invested more and more abroad, causing the desired expansion of the industrial base to stagnate. The Dutch industry in the 1980s did not innovate, only the existing production processes were improved. As a result, average growth continued to increase but lagged behind in comparison to other industries.

Mining and energy supply

NAM underground gas storage field at Norg / LangeloPhoto:Thijs.nl Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Only minerals such as sand, clay, gravel, marl and lime can be found on the surface. Deeper layers contain salt, oil, natural gas and coal. Salt is extracted at Hengelo by spraying water down and pumping up the brine. Coal was mined underground in the province of Limburg until 1975, but the discovery of natural gas and the low price of foreign coal prompted the mines to be closed. There is still 1,000 billion tons of coal in the subsurface, but only 4% of it can be extracted by conventional methods.

On the mainland, the Netherlands has two oil fields in Schoonebeek and the west of the Netherlands, and one oil field on the continental shelf. The natural gas field at Slochteren was discovered in 1959, but it was not until 1967 that the field came into production.

Until the Second World War, the Netherlands depended mainly on resources such as coal and wind for its energy consumption. After the war, until 1967, oil from abroad became very important for energy supply. After that, the natural gas field at Slochteren was put into use and the share of natural gas for the energy supply increased rapidly. In fact, enough natural gas was extracted for export and the Netherlands soon became the largest natural gas producer in Western Europe. Due to the reduction of fossil fuels in 2017, the Netherlands is at the start of an energy transition.

Trade and traffic

Trade

Stockmarket AmsterdamPhoto:Zandcee Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The domestic market in the Netherlands is only small, which is why many companies focus on markets abroad. The favorable geographic location in Western Europe is also extremely suitable for international trade, both on water, in the air, and by road.

The main import products are (electrical) machines, manufactured goods, food, fuel and clothing. Total value of imports was $ 453.8 billion (2017).

The most important export products are foodstuffs, chemical products, (semi) manufactures, (electrical) machines, flowers and petroleum products. Total value of exports was $ 840 billion (2017).

Traditionally, the trade balance has a surplus, as does the current account balance of the balance of payments. The main sales market for the Netherlands is Europe, especially the countries of the European Community. Important trading partners in other parts of the world are the United States, China, Japan and South Africa.

Traffic

Eeemhaven RotterdamPhoto:WikiFritz in the public domain

From an economic point of view, traffic plays a very important role due to its location at the mouths of rivers such as the Rhine, Maas and Scheldt and the highly industrialized hinterland (including the Ruhr area). As a result, the Netherlands has developed as the gateway to Europe and due to its central location, the Netherlands has also become the location of many international companies.

The Netherlands has an extensive and high-quality (motor) road network for this purpose, which the Dutch transport sector can benefit from. This sector controls an important part of the European transport market.

The many inland and cross-border waterways are also of great importance for freight transport.

The Dutch Railways are mainly important for domestic passenger transport, although more and more goods are also transported by rail.

Domestic air traffic plays only a minor role of significance for the Dutch economy. KLM is the national airline that has an extensive international air network. KLM has merged with Air France. Schiphol is one of the largest international airports in the world and is considered one of the engines of the economy.

The merchant fleet is declining in both size and economic significance, but Rotterdam remains one of the largest seaports in the world for cargo transhipment and Amsterdam has also developed into a significant transhipment location. Every year, tens of millions of tons of goods are delivered to the port of Rotterdam. Container transport in particular nowadays determines the face of the port. In addition to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the seaports of Velsen / IJmuiden, Delfzijl, Eemshaven, Vlissingen, Terneuzen and Vlaardingen are also important.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Windmills at KinderdijkPhoto:Lucas Hirschegger Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Netherlands is a popular tourist destination for both its own population and foreigners and is therefore an important economic factor. In 2011, the Netherlands was visited by more than 11.3 million foreign tourists. Most tourists come from Germany and mainly from England, the United States, Belgium and France. In the 1990s more and more tourists came from Spain and Italy, while the number of visitors from Eastern Bloc countries increased rapidly after the fall of the Wall.

Delta WorksPhoto:Martin Terber Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) no changes made

Tourism provides the Netherlands with many tens of billions of euros in turnover. The Netherlands is a real water country and an Eldorado for surfers, sailors and swimmers. Bridges, dikes, mills and pumping stations provide excellent tourist pictures and, for example, the Delta Works are visited by many foreign tourists.
The large cities, each with their own character, also attract many tourists.

Keukenhof LissePhoto:Alessandro Vecchi Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Amsterdam is of course a top hit, but cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft, Eindhoven, Haarlem, Utrecht, Groningen and Maastricht are also important for tourism. Historical buildings, monuments, museums, traditions and many events are the attractions. The Netherlands has around 1000 museums, making it the largest museum density in the world. The Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt's "Night Watch" is the most famous art history museum. As a flower country par excellence, the Netherlands is famous abroad. Especially the bulb fields in North and South Holland and Keukenhof are world famous. Foreign tourists book between 25-30 million overnight stays annually. The number of hotel guests increased by 18% in the period 2002-2012.

Interior of the palace on Dam Square in AmsterdamPhoto:Davidh820 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Internationalno changes made

The Anne Frank House cannot be skipped during a visit to Amsterdam. On the Prinsengracht is the house where Anne Frank went into hiding for almost 2 years during the Second World War. In this house Anne wrote her world famous diary. The Secret Annex has been converted into a museum where you can still see exactly how the Frank family lived during the war together with four other people in hiding.The Royal Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam is open to the public when not in use by the Royal Family (happens about twice a year, for ceremonial family and state events). Construction of this impressive building started in 1648 and the palace was not finished until 1665. Jacob van Campen designed the palace in the Dutch Classicist style. Officially, the building served as Amsterdam's town hall, but after 1808 it was used as a royal palace. Today, guided tours of the palace are held and there are regular exhibitions.

Gorilla Bokito in Blijdorp zoo in RotterdamPhoto:Maarten Visser Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Nightlife in Rotterdam is somewhat fragmented. Important areas are De Oude haven, Stadhuisplein, Delfshaven and Witte de Withstraat. The Nieuwe Binnenweg (Café Ari, Rotown) is also a well-known entertainment area. There are countless food and beverage outlets. Rotterdam is also the birthplace of the gabber scene and has internationally renowned clubs. You can relax with a drink at café De Witte Aap, which has been voted the best bar in the world by the Lonely Planet, the international travel guide for backpackers. The Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam is one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands. Since 1988, Blijdorp has applied a 'master plan' that has changed the entire zoo. According to the master plan, animals are ordered by continent, in natural looking biotopes. Not only animals, but also plants and cultural elements from the simulated biotope are shown.

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Sources

Haafkens, M. / Nederland
Gottmer

Harmans, G.L.M. / Nederland
Van Reemst

Metze, M. / De staat van Nederland
SUN

Ver Berkmoes, R. / Netherlands
Lonely Planet

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated August 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb