The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland [ˈneːdərlɑnt] ( listen)), often referred to as Holland, is a country located mostly in Western Europe with a population of seventeen million. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces and borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The five largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht (forming the Randstad megalopolis) and Eindhoven (leading the Brabantse Stedenrij). Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General, Cabinet and Supreme Court. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and the world's largest outside Asia.
"Netherlands" literally means "lower countries", influenced by 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 artificial. Since the late 16th century, large areas (polders) have been reclaimed from the sea and lakes, amounting to nearly 17% of the country's current land mass. With a population density of 414 people per km2 – 510 if water is excluded – the Netherlands is classified as a very densely populated country. Only Bangladesh, South Korea, and Taiwan have both a larger population and higher population density. Nevertheless, the Netherlands is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, after the United States. This is partly due to the fertility of the soil and the mild climate as well as its highly developed intensive agriculture. The Netherlands was the third country in the world to have elected representatives controlling the government's actions; it has been administered as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy since 1848, organised as a unitary state. The Netherlands has a long history of social tolerance and is generally regarded as a liberal country, having legalised abortion, prostitution, and euthanasia, while maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870 and had women's suffrage introduced in 1917. Regarding the LGBT community, it became the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001.
The Battle of Ramillies
was a major engagement of the War of the Spanish Succession
fought on 23 May 1706. The encounter was a resounding success for the allied forces of England
, the Dutch Republic
, and Denmark
; but the battle had followed a year of indecisive campaigning in 1705 where Allied over-confidence after their success at the Battle of Blenheim
had resulted in an abortive campaign along the Moselle
, forcing the Duke of Marlborough
to abandon his plans for a push into France. Yet despite the Allies' inability to achieve a decisive victory, Louis XIV
was eager for peace; but he wanted it on reasonable terms. Therefore, rather than standing on the defensive, French armies on all fronts swung over to the offensive.
The year 1706 had begun well for Louis XIV's generals, who had gained early success in Italy and in Alsace, where Marshal Villars had forced the Margrave of Baden to retreat across the Rhine. Louis now pressed Marshal Villeroi to seek out Marlborough and bring the Allies to battle in the Spanish Netherlands. Accordingly, the French Marshal set off from Louvain at the head of 60,000 men, and provocatively marched towards Léau.
Did you know...
- ... that Dutch Nuna solar racing team, guided by former Space Shuttle astronaut Wubbo Ockels (pictured) won the World Solar Challenge six times out of the last eight events ?
- ... that The Hague is home to over 150 international organisations (including NGOs) working in the field of peace and justice ?
- ... the Netherlands is a very densely populated country for its size ? With 406 people per km² – or 498 if inland waters are excluded – only Bangladesh, South Korea and Taiwan have both a larger population and a higher population density.
- ... the Netherlands is nevertheless the world's second largest exporter of food and agriculture products, after the United States ?
- ... and that it has the most plentiful, nutritious and healthy food, according to a 2014 comparison of 125 countries by Oxfam ?
- ... a UNICEF report published in 2007 ranked the Netherlands as the best country for children to live in ?
- ... the Netherlands also exports more flowers and flower bulbs than the rest of the world combined ?
- ... the KLM is the longest running national airline in the world ?
- ... the Port of Rotterdam was the world's busiest port from 1962–2002, and is now still the world's largest seaport outside of East Asia, measured by total cargo tonnage handled ?
- ... that two major clusters of flood control and land reclamation projects: the Delta Works and the Zuiderzee Works, were declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. ?
- ... of which the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier is one of the largest moving structures on Earth ?
- ... of which the 1932 Afsluitdijk is still one of the world's longest dams and causeways ?
- ... and of which the Flevopolder, at an area of 970 km² (370 sq. mi), is by far the world's largest artificial island ?