'Netherlands' literally means 'lower countries', referring to its low land and flat geography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are the result of land reclamation beginning in the 16th century, resulting in large areas known as polders that amount to nearly 17% of the country's territory. With a population of 17.25 million living in an area of roughly 41,500 square kilometres, the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Nevertheless, it is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products after the United States, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, and intensive agriculture.
The Hotel Polen fire occurred on 9 May 1977 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The conflagration destroyed the Hotel Polen (English: Hotel Poland), a multistorey hotel in the centre of the city (once known as a fashionable place to stay), located between the Kalverstraat and the Rokin. The incident resulted in 33 deaths. The cause of the fire was never determined. At present the location of Hotel Polen is occupied by the Rokin Plaza (pictured).
Enchanted by his new homeland of New Netherland, Van der Donck made detailed accounts of the land, vegetation, animals, waterways, topography, and climate. Van der Donck used this knowledge to actively promote immigration to the colony, publishing several tracts, including his influential Description of New Netherland. Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Project, has called it "the fullest account of the province, its geography, the Indians who inhabited it, and its prospects…It has been said that had it not been written in Dutch, it would have gone down as one of the great works of American colonial literature."