Country of the World The Netherlands

About the country The Netherlands, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Low-lying, flat, small, and packed. In northwestern Europe, the Netherlands is a checkerboard country of geometrical fields and towns punctuated by frequent lakes and waterways. Facing England to the west across the North Sea, bordered on the east by Germany and in the south by Belgium. the Netherlands forms part of the North European Plain and is divided into "Low" and "High." The "Low"-about half the country-is that area which is no more than one meter (3.28 ft.) above the mean high-water level of the sea. Thus, although only 27% of the land (containing 60% of the population) is actually below sea level, fully half of it would be regularly flooded without the protection of the Netherlands' vast network of coastal and inland dikes. Amsterdam's modern international airport, Schiphol ("ship harbor"), is 13 ft. below sea level and probably the only airport in the world built on the site of a naval battle.

Size: Total area, including that occupied by water, is 15,770 sq. mi. (40,844 sq. km.). The total land area, 13,054 sq. mi. (33,810 sq. km.), is slightly more than that of Connecticut and New Jersey combined. This is increasing due to land reclamation projects, which will add an average of 10 sq. mi. per year throughout the 20th century.

Population: 14 million.

Who Rules: Officially, Queen Juliana. The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, with a prime minister and an upper and lower house of Parliament.

Who REALLY Rules: The Dutch have often wondered. Governments are formed by negotiations at the top between the leaders of the different parties. Their wheeling and dealing is neither accessible nor accountable to the average voter, and the results may or may not reflect voter preferences. This outmoded paternalistic system is in fact changing, but it is still possible (as happened in 1971 and 1972) for one other and still be entirely excluded from the resultant government.

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