Netherlands

Constitution: Monarchy.

National holiday: Queen's Day, April 30.

Nature and climate: The whole area is an offshoot of the North-German lowland. Very flat with an average height over sea level of 10,5 metres. Highest peak, in a small area between Belgium and Germany in the southeast, reaches 322 m.a.s.l.
A great part of the area is below sea level protected by embankments. Great areas have been won from the sea by building embankments.
The Netherlands are crossed by several big rivers. The Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt form a joint delta at the mouth to the North Sea. This is the biggest delta in Europe.
Very little of the natural vegetation is left in this, one of the worlds most densely populated, nation.
Average temperature in January +1C and in July +17C.
Percipitation between 700 and 800 mm.

People: Dutch, descendants of many different Germanic tribes.
When the colonies became independent nations many of their inhabitants moved to the Netherlands.

Economy: 1% of the population is occupied in agriculture, 30% in manufacturing, 44% in services and 23% in the public sector. Extensive fishing.
Agriculture uses 26% of the area and accounts for 6% of GNP. The Netherlands are known for their flowercultivations, but agriculture also produces dairy products, meat, fruit, vegetables, potatoes, grain and sugarbeats.
Few minerals. Rocksalt and coal has lost in importance, Vast supplies of natural gas and oil, mainly offshore in the North Sea and in the northeast of the country.
Manufacturing is dependent on import of raw materials. Most important are mechanical manufacturing, shipbuilding, manufacturing of cars, airplanes, electric and electronic components and manufacturing of chemical products.
Extensive food manufacturing.
And vast traditional handicrafts like diamond cutting and manufacturing of glass, porcelain, pottery, brick and tiles.
Shipping is very important for the Netherlands. Rotterdam has the worlds biggest ocean harbour.
An extensive system of canals facilitate heavy transports within the nation.

History: Finds of carriage wheels from 2000 BC.
All areas south and west of the Rhine were conquered by the Romans 58 to 51 BC. By AD the tribes north and east of the Rhine were allied with the Roman Empire. This area was later invaded by Frankish and Saxon tribes and it became a part of the Frankish realm.
From the 10th century The Netherlands consisted of a number of small feudal states associated with the German Nation. Several of the towns were prosperous tradetowns.
The "States-General" were founded in Brussels 1465 to take care of issues of mutual interest for all these small states.
By marriage the Netherlands came into the Habsburg Empire and when that was divided in 1556 the Netherlands were transferred to the Spanish part. At this time Reformation had reached the Netherlands, and led to conflicts with the catholic Spain.
1565 "the Compromise" for the freedom of the Netherlands was founded and 1572 an upraising started in the northern states. 1576 the southern catholic states joined the upraising.
In 1579 a new Spanish governor signed a peace-treaty with the catholic states. Then the seven northern states formed a union in Utrecht. 1581 this union finally broke off from Spain and constituted the independent nation of the United Netherlands. The war against Spain continued until 1609 when a 12 year truce was signed. During these years the Netherlands developed to be Europes most important nation of trade.
The war against Spain was resumed 1621 and continued to 1648. In the pease of Westphalia that year, the Netherlands were acknowledged as an independent nation.
During the years that followed trade and shipping were supported, but that led to three wars against England, 1652-54, 1665-67 and 1672-74. 1672 the Netherlands was attacked by France, but lost no land in the war.
By this time William III of Orange was stadtholder and head of state in the Netherlands and in 1688 he was made ruler of England too.
During the French revolutionary wars 1794-95 the Netherlands were occupied by France and in 1795 the Batavian Republic was formed under French jurisdiction. 1806 Napoleon transformed it to the kingdom of Holland with his brother, Lewis Napoleon, as king. 1810 it became a part of the French Empire, and after the French defeat 1813 the Netherlands became an independent nation again.
1814 the kingdom the Netherlands was proclaimed. Belgium and Luxemburg were parts of this kingdom.
The religious antagonism between the protestant northern parts and the catholic southern parts were severe and in 1830 Belgium proclaimed itself an independent nation.
Several liberal reforms were passed in the following period and in 1890 Luxemburg gained sovereignty.
During the whole World War I and the beginning of World War II the Netherlands declared and kept neutrality.
Without declaration of war Germany attacked May 10th 1940 and in five days occupied the whole nation. The court and the government fled to London, from where the resistance continued.
When the German forces surrendered 1945 the court and government returned, and the reconstruction was rapid, thanks to economic help from the USA. Trade and manufacturing had a very quick development.
Together with Belgium and Luxemburg the trade union Benelux was founded 1945 and since then the Netherlands have joined WEU, Nato and EC.
Most of the colonies have become independent nations. The Netherlands India (Indonesia) in 1949, Western New Guinea was in 1963 handed over to Indonesia. The Netherlands Guyana became the independent nation Surinam in 1975.

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