July 5, 2022
The Netherlands is one of the countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is for the most part located in northwestern Europe, on the North Sea. In addition to the European part, there are the three special municipalities in the Caribbean Sea, which are also known as the Caribbean Netherlands. The European Netherlands is bordered to the south by Belgium, to the east by Germany and to the west and north by the sea. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, the seat of government is The Hague. The Netherlands has a population of 17,609,246 (March 31, 2022) and with an area of 41,543 km² a population density of 424 inhabitants/km². This makes the Netherlands the fifth most populous country in the world; excluding the small city-states of Monaco, Vatican City and San Marino, the Netherlands is the second most populous country in Europe after Malta. 18.41% of the surface (7,650 km²) consists of water and 81.59% of land (33,893 km²). The population density excluding the water surface is 519 inhabitants/km² (January 31, 2022). Much of the land and population is below sea level. The land is protected from the water by means of a system of dikes and waterworks. Polders have been created through land reclamation. Administratively, the country is divided into twelve provinces and approximately 350 municipalities. The Netherlands became independent during the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648), in which the joint Northern and Southern Netherlands revolted against Spanish rule. In 1579 the Northern Netherlands formed the Union of Utrecht, creating a new political entity. With the Act of Verlatinghe of 1581, the provinces of that union, Stad en Lande (Groningen), Friesland, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, Holland, Zeeland, proclaimed the independence of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. It was internationally recognized from 1609 at the start of the Twelve Years' Truce and also by Spain after the Peace of Münster (1648). From the French era (1795-1813) the Netherlands developed into a nation state. In 1815, the Dutch monarch also ruled over present-day Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as a number of overseas territories (the Dutch East Indies, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles). However, Belgium became independent after the Belgian Revolution in 1830 and Luxembourg broke away from the Dutch Crown in 1890. Decolonization also brought an end to the Dutch colonies in the 20th century. In addition to the three Caribbean special municipalities, the countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten also maintain close ties with the Netherlands and together they have formed the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 2010. Politically, since the constitutional reform of 1848, the Netherlands has been a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, a form of government in which power is shared according to the rules between the king or queen, the ministers including the prime minister and the two chambers of parliament. The Netherlands was a co-founder of, among others, the European Union, the G-10, NATO, the World Trade Organization and the OECD. It forms the Benelux with Belgium and Luxembourg. The Hague plays an important international role in the legal field, as a venue for four international tribunals and Europol. In 2009, the Netherlands was one of the most developed countries as the world's seventh largest economy by GDP per capita. It occupied fourth place in the Human Development Index in 2013. The Dutch economy mainly relies on a very highly developed agricultural and horticultural sector, the service sector and international trade, especially on the transit of goods to Germany.