General information: The Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded in 1815. In 1830, Belgium separated from it and formed an independent kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I but survived a brutal invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern industrial nation, the Netherlands is also a major exporter of agricultural products. The country is one of the founders of NATO and the EU, participated in the creation of the euro area in 1999.
Location: Western Europe, North Sea coast, between Belgium and Germany. See franciscogardening.com to know more about Netherlands Geography.
Geographical coordinates: 52° 30′ N. latitude, 5° 45′ E
Reference map: Europe.
Area: total: 41,526 km2; land surface area: 33,883 km2; water surface area: 7,643 km2
Comparative area: somewhat smaller than two New Jersey states.
Land borders: total: 1,027 km; with neighboring states: with Belgium 450 km, with Germany 577 km.
Coastline: 451 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing rights zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: moderate; nautical; cool summers and mild winters.
Terrain: mostly coastal lowlands and drained land (polders); hilly in the southeast.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Prins Alexanderpolder -7 m; highest point: Vaalserberg 321 m.
Natural resources: natural gas, oil, arable land.
Land use: arable land: 25%; cultivated land: 3%; pastures: 25%; forests and plantations: 8%; others: 39% (1996 est.).
Irrigated land: 6,000 km2 (1996 est.).
Natural Hazards: Flooding from which an extensive system of dams and dikes protects nearly half of the country’s total area.
Current environmental issues: water pollution by heavy metals, organic compounds and fertilizers such as nitrates and phosphates; air pollution from vehicles and oil refining; acid rain.
International agreements on environmental protection: contributor: Air Pollution, Air Pollution – Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution – Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution – Sulfur 1985, Air Pollution – Sulfur 1994, Air Pollution – Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Conservation of Marine Life in Antarctica, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Environmental change, Hazardous waste, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Marine life conservation, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Ship pollution, Tropical timber 1983, Tropical timber 1994, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified: Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”: located at the mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt).
Population: 15,981,472 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 18.38% (male 1,500,925; female 1,436,017); 15 to 64 years old: 67.9% (male 5,518,575; female 5,333,442); over 65: 13.72% (male 899,052; female 1,292,461) (2001 est.)
Population growth: 0.55% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 11.85 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 8.69 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 2.34 / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 1.03 male/female; over 65: 0.7 male/female; for the general population: 0.98 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 4.37 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 78.43 years; men: 75.55 years; women: 81.44 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 1.65 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.19% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 15,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 100 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Dutch; adjective: Dutch.
Ethnic groups: Dutch 91%, Moroccans, Turks and others 9% (1999 est.).
Believers: Catholic 34%, Protestant 25%, Muslim 3%, other 2%, non-denominational 36% (1991).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 99% (2000 est.); among men: no data; among women: no data.
Common long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands;
conventional short form: Netherlands; local long form: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden; local short form: Nederland.
State structure: constitutional monarchy.
Capital: Amsterdam; The government is located in The Hague.
Administrative division: 12 provinces: Gelderland, Groningen, Drenthe, Zeeland, Limburg, Overijssel, North Holland, North Brabant, Utrecht, Flevoland, Friesland, South Holland.
Dependent territories: Aruba, Netherlands Antilles.
Independence: from 1579 (until 1579 – under Spanish rule).
National holiday: Queen’s Day (the birthday of the Queen Mother JULIANA and the ascension to the throne of her eldest daughter BEATRICE in 1980), 30 April.
Constitution: adopted in 1814; changed many times, last 17 February 1983
Legal system: civil law system, including French criminal law; the constitution does not allow acts of the States General to be tried in court; subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX Wilhelmina Armgard (since 30 April 1980); legitimate heir WILLEM-ALEXANDER (born 27 April 1967), son of the Queen;
head of the government: Prime Minister Wim KOK (since 22 August 1994), Deputy Prime Ministers Annemarie JORRITSMA (since 3 August 1998) and Els BORST-EILERS (since 3 August 1998);
Government: council of ministers appointed by the monarch; elections: no; hereditary monarchy; after elections to the lower house of parliament, the leader of the party or coalition of the parliamentary majority is usually appointed by the monarch as the prime minister, vice-premiers are appointed by the monarch; note: ruling coalition: PvdA, VVD, D-66; there is also a Council of State, composed of the monarch, heir and advisers, which considers questions of executive, legislative and administrative policy.
Legislature: bicameral States General (Staten Generaal), consisting of the First Chamber (75 seats, indirect election of members, elected by 12 provincial councils for 4 years) and the Second Chamber (150 seats, members elected by direct universal suffrage for 4 years); elections: First Chamber – last 25 May 1999 (next to be held May 2003); second chamber – last May 6, 1998 (next to be held in May 2002); election results: First Chamber: distribution of votes by party – NA; distribution of seats among parties: CDA 20, VVD 19, PvdA 15, D-66 4, others 17; Second Chamber: distribution of votes by party: PvdA 30.0%, VVD 25.3%, CDA 19.3%, D’66 9.3%, others 16.1%; distribution of seats among parties: PvdA 45, VVD 38, CDA 29, D-6 14, others 24.
Judiciary: Supreme Court (Hoge Raad), judges are appointed by the monarch for life.
Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) (Jaap de Hoop SCHEFFER); Democrats-66 (D-6) (Vol. DE GRAAF [Tom DE GRAAF]); Labor Party (Wim COC [Wim COC]); People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberals) (VVD) (Hans F. DIJKSTAL); many small parties.
Political pressure groups and their leaders: the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (includes socialist and Catholic trade unions) and the Protestant trade union; Federation of Catholic and Protestant Business Associations; Interchurch Peace Council (IKV); transnational corporations; non-denominational Federation of enterprises of the Netherlands.
Participation in international organizations: AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CCC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC , ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS ( observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: chief of mission: nocon Joris M. VOS (Joris M. VOS); office: 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 244-5300; fax: [\] (202) 362-3430; consulates general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Cynthia P. SCHNEIDER; embassy: Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ, The Hague; mailing address: PSC 71, Box 1000, APO AE 09715; phone:  (70) 310-9209; fax: [ZTs (70) 361-4688; consulates general: Amsterdam.
Description of the flag: three equal horizontal stripes: red, white, blue (similar to the flag of Luxembourg, where a lighter shade of blue, and the flag itself is longer).