Netherlands Facts

Netherlands Facts and History


Netherlands – Kingdom on the North Sea

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is located on the North Sea and has been shaped by water for centuries. In the Middle Ages, half of the present-day provinces of North and South Holland consisted of water. Since then, large areas have been wrested from the sea, which are now secured by high-tech dykes. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, while The Hague is the seat of government and the residence of the Oranje royal family. The centuries-old rivalry between Amsterdam and The Hague is traditionally expressed at the football matches between Ajax and Feyenoord. The Netherlands, known for tulips, windmills and wooden clogs, is now the third most densely populated country in Europe and has one of the largest ports in the world, the Europort in Rotterdam.

In July 1995, Dutch UN soldiers left the people of Srebrenica to their fate under their command, Ton Karreman. Under the leadership of the wanted war criminal Mladic, around 8,000 Muslim-Bosnian children, boys and men were murdered without the Dutch intervening.

On the contrary, Karreman drank sparkling wine with General Mladic. On April 30th each year, Queen’s Day (Beatrix) is celebrated. he festival is a mixture of national holiday, folk festival and carnival. The tradition of celebrating the ruler’s birthday dates back to 1885.

Since October 9, 2010 – after around five years of negotiations – the political situation in the Netherlands has been reorganized. Since then, the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have been autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius have the status of special parishes in the Netherlands and do not belong to any province. Aruba had had a comparable status since 1986.

Ice skating

It is also worth mentioning the 200 km long city tour of 11 Frisian cities, which has existed since 1909 – with ice skates across the frozen canals of the country.

Airplane MH 17

The passenger airplane with the number MH 17 of the type Boeing 777 was on the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on July 17, 2014 when it was shot down in the east of Ukraine.

There were 298 people on board, including 193 Dutch and four Germans.

After the shooting down, there were arguments for days between the insurgents and international organizations over the recovery of the dead and the release of the flight recorder.

According to an international commission of inquiry, the Buk M1 missile came from the Russian 53rd Air Defense Brigade stationed in Kursk. From here, the rocket is said to have been transported to the Ukraine to a field controlled by pro-Russian rebels near the village of Pervomaiskij in Ukraine and was shot down from there. The launcher was brought back to Russia the same day. Russia denies the allegations.

Name of the country Kingdom of the Netherlands (Koninkrijk der Nederlanden)
Form of government Parliamentary monarchy
Head of state King Willem-Alexander (since April 30, 2013) tosucceed his mother Queen Beatrix, who had ruled since April 30, 1980
Location Western Europe, on the North Seasince October 9, 2010 also in the Caribbean
National anthem “Het Wilhelmus”
Population approx. 16.7 million (Credit: Countryaah: Netherlands Population)
Ethnicities approx. 3.2 million foreigners, of which 260,000 from the EUapprox. 62,000 Germans

approx. 340,000 on the Caribbean islands

  • Catholics: 28%
  • Protestants: 19%
  • Muslims: 6%
  • Others: 4%
  • Jews: 40,000
  • without commitment: 44%
Languages Dutch, Frisian in the province of Friesland (Fryslân)
Capital Amsterdam
Surface 41,528 km²
Highest mountain so far the Vaalserberg (Prov. Limburg) with a height of 323 msince October 9, 2010 the 877 m high Mount Scenery on Saba
Longest river Rhine with a total length of approx. 1,320 km
Largest lake in area IJsselmeer, with an area of approx. 1,100 km²
International license plate NL
Currency Euro
Time difference to CET = CET
International phone code 0031
Mains voltage, frequency 230 volts, 50 hertz
Internet Top Level Domain (TLD) .nl
Boarding school License Plate NL

Netherlands History

Until around the year 1000

The settlement of today’s Netherlands, the western part of the north German lowlands, goes back to the Neolithic. Excavation finds such as the so-called “hunnebedden” (chicken graves) from the province of Drehnte demonstrate continuous settlement activity since the Ice Age.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, after the conquest of Gaul by the Romans, the part of today’s Netherlands south of the Rhine was also incorporated into the Roman province “Germania inferior”. The Frisian settlement area north of the Rhine was initially not affected. The Franks, who immigrated in the 3rd century, were granted the area south of the Rhine with today’s Flanders and parts of Germany by Emperor Julian Apostada in AD 355. The unrest after the fall of the Roman Empire then used the Franks to consolidate their sphere of influence also in the northern area, in order to then subjugate and Christianize the Frisians around 700. Charlemagne then also conquered the settlement area of the Saxons in the northeast of today’s Netherlands around 800 and thus finally carried out the Christianization of the Germanic peoples.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

The collapse of the Frankish empire after the death of Charlemagne did not lead to the formation of a unity in the eastern provinces, unlike in the west. In particular, what is now the Netherlands for a long time remained divided into provinces. With its incorporation into the Duchy of Burgundy, an area of influence was created that stretched from the North Sea to the Alps. The region played a key role in the Hundred Years War between England and France, as it bordered directly on France.

After the death of Charles the Bold (1477) of Burgundy in the fighting off Nancy, who was on the side of England, the heartland of Burgundy fell to France. His daughter Maria of Burgundy was left with only the so-called “lower lands”. With her husband Maximilian von Habsburg, they were then ruled from Brussels.

The 16th century was marked by ongoing religious wars. After the area was inherited by Habsburg at the end of the 15th century and thus became part of the “Roman Empire of the German Nation”, the fronts became clear. Large parts of the provinces converted to Protestantism, which was strictly suppressed by the strict Catholic Emperor Charles V and his successor Philip II of Spain. The attempt to bring the provinces together under one central power led to an uprising among the Dutch, who were used to independence. The merger of seven provinces to form the Union of Utrecht in 1579 is considered to be the beginning of a common state idea. William of Orange became the leading figure in the so-called “Eighty Years War” (1568 – 1648) against the Habsburg Spaniards.

In spite of the immense military repression, at this time of the war against Spain the beginning of the strategic trade with overseas, as well as the establishment of colonies in Brazil, North America, South Africa, East Asia and the Caribbean fell. The resulting wealth led to a flourishing of cities and culture during the so-called “Golden Age” in the 17th century, which also expressed the self-determination of the bourgeoisie against the nobility. The republic was the only country of that time to succeed in establishing a patriciate government.

With the death of William II of Orange in 1650 and the enforcement of the Navigation Act of 1651, which aimed to trade to and from England only through English ships, the Netherlands began to decline as a major trading power. A series of sea wars for trade and colonies between the two countries followed, from which England emerged stronger. In the Peace of Brenta (1667) the areas around what is now New York (formerly Nieuwe Amsterdam) finally went to England. In 1662 an alliance of England, France, Münster and Cologne declared war on the Netherlands, which led the country to the brink of its existence. Only with the help of German states could the aggressors be pushed back. The peace treaty of 1674 in the “2nd Peace of Westminster” with England and with France (1678, Peace of Nijmegen) ended this phase. 1689 was the governor Wilhelm III. as successor of Jacob II. King of England.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

In the course of the 18th century, the Orange tried to expand the power of the nobility, but this met with growing resistance in the Netherlands. Patriotic endeavors, based on the great revolutions in America and France, called for more democratic structures, led to the first struggles. The recognition of the United States of America once again called the old enemy England onto the scene. In the 4th Anglo-Dutch War (1780 – 1795) the country was almost completely economically ruined.

After Napoleon came to power, the Batavian Republic (1795-1806), established after the French Revolution, was united with parts of Germany to form the Kingdom of Holland, which Napoleon had his brother Ludwig rule; but only until 1810, when he incorporated it into the empire. After the war in 1796, the Orange had to place their colonies under the English protectorate. Since only Indonesia and a few smaller possessions were returned to the Netherlands in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty (1814), the country had lost most of its overseas possessions at the beginning of the 19th century.

In the course of the Congress of Vienna (1814/15), which sought to restore the monarchical structures in Europe, the Netherlands also became a kingdom under William I, in which the north and south of the country were united. This monarchy included what is now Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The connection between two languages and cultures – French and Catholicism in the south, Flemish and Protestantism in the north – was not a healthy combination. It led to the secession of the South in the Belgian Revolution of 1830. The revolutions of 1848 in Europe, however, bypassed the Netherlands. However, the king had a new constitution drawn up by the liberal politician Johan Thorbecke, which made the country the first democracy in Europe on November 3, 1948.

The Netherlands played a major role in the expansion of colonialism in the 19th century. The influence in the remaining areas, especially in Indonesia, was expanded with all the advantages and disadvantages.

20th century until today

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Netherlands were able to maintain their neutrality. However, the country had to accept over a million refugees from Belgium, which was occupied by the German Empire. Since the Netherlands was surrounded by belligerent neighbors, the food supply suffered so much that in 1917 the so-called “Aardappeloproer” (potato uprising) of the civilian population against the military took place in Amsterdam. Similar to the neighboring countries, there was an attempt at a socialist revolution by the SDAP (Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiders Partij) under Jelles Troelstra in November 1918, but this failed.

At the beginning of the Second World War, the German Wehrmacht marched in on May 10, 1940 and overran the country. Here too, as in the rest of the Reich, the persecution of the Jews began immediately. Of the 160,000 Jews at the beginning of the war, only about 30,000 were still alive at the end of 1945. The young woman Anne Frank, who became famous for her diary posthumously, was also killed by the Nazis. The “Nationaal-Socialistische Bewegungsing” (NSB) under the direction of Anton Musser could never get relevant influence. Despite the rapid advance of the Allied troops after the 1944 invasion, who were looking to cross the Rhine, many parts of the country remained under German occupation until the end. The winter of 44/45 went down in history as the “Hongerwinter”.

As in many other nations, the end of World War II ushered in the end of colonial times. On December 27th, 1949 the “Dutch East Indies” became formally independent as Indonesia after bloody wars of liberation had taken place since 1945. The loss of the colonies did not lead to the predicted economic decline. Rather the opposite was the case. The energies were bundled inwards and led to lasting prosperity as early as the 1950s. The “Montanunion” (European Coal and Steel Community – ECSC) founded in 1952 together with Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy became the nucleus of the later European Union (EU).

The flood of the century in 1953 with many deaths in South Holland and Zeeland resulted in the Delta Plan, which served to protect the country against disasters for decades.

In the second half of the 20th century, the Netherlands became a model for many nations when it comes to dealing liberally with marginalized groups and ethnic groups. For this reason, the social upheavals triggered by the murders of right-wing populist politician Pim Fortuyn on May 6, 2002 and that of liberal filmmaker Theo van Gogh on November 2, 2004 cannot be rated highly enough.

Since October 9, 2010 – after around five years of negotiations – there has been a reorganization of the political and geographical situation in the Netherlands. Since then, the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have been autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius have the status of special parishes in the Netherlands and do not belong to any province. Aruba had had a comparable status since 1986.

King of the country

On April 30, 2013 Willem-Alexander became King of the Netherlands, succeeding his mother Beatrix. He has been the country’s first king for 123 years, and until now it has always been queens. His mother resigned voluntarily for reasons of age.

Netherlands Facts