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Introduction

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The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland [ˈneːdərlɑnt] (About this sound listen)), is a country located mostly in Western Europe. 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', 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.

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The Rokin Plaza which now stands at the former location of Hotel Polen
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).

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Adriaen van der Donck
Adriaen Cornelissen van der Donck was a lawyer and landowner in New Netherland after whose honorific Jonkheer the city of Yonkers, New York is named. In addition to being the first lawyer in the Dutch colony, he was a leader in the political life of New Amsterdam (modern New York City), and an activist for Dutch-style republican government in the Dutch West India Company-run trading post.

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."

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