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The Netherlands

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| The Netherlands | |

T. Hawkins

Geographical Location
The Netherlands, is located on the coast of the North Sea, and is only twice the size of the city of New Jersey. Part of the great plain of north and west Europe, the Netherlands has maximum dimensions of 190 by 160 mi, is low, and is flat with the exception of Limburg in the southeast, where some hills rise up to 322 m (1056 ft.). About half the country's area is below sea level, making the Dutch dikes an essential for efficient land use. Recovery of the land from the sea through dikes has continued through recent times. All drainage reaches the North Sea, and the principal rivers which are the Rhine, Maas (Meuse), and Scheldt. The Netherlands, borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and the North Sea to the west and north.
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. The official language is Dutch and it resembles German in pronunciation and in spelling. However the borrower heavy from both the French and English language for technical terms. As such, there are approximately 25 dialects of Dutch.
The Netherlands have a temperate climate influenced the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The summers are cool with the winters being mild. Rainfall is experienced throughout the year but dryer from April to September. Because The Netherlands is a small flat country it often has windy conditions, more in the winter than in the summer, and more among the coastal areas than inland.
The History
The Netherlands came into existence after Napoleon (1830). However Between 1815 and 1830 The Kingdom of The Netherlands also included Belgium but now consists of twelve provinces: Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Over Ijssel, Flevoland, Gelderland, Utrecht, North-Holland, South-Holland, Zealand, North Brabant and Limburg. There is more confusion about this country more than any other due to two major cities that are the most spoken about which are Hague, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam. However, the previous history of what is now known as The Netherlands is rich. Julius Ceasar found the area which was then inhabited by Germanic tribes. They resisted Rome’s rule until 13 B.C., and at that, time became only allies of Rome. The Franks reigned from the 4th – 8th century and then they were under the rule of the famous Charlemagne. The land was later passed from the Burgundy to the Austrian Hapsburgs and finally, in the 16th century, came under Spanish rule. At the time of the Golden Age of the Dutch, around the 17th century most ships came from two areas. North Holland and South Holland. At that time the name The Netherlands did not exist and most people referred to their province or simply say they were from Holland, hence confusion about The Netherlands and Holland being the same entity. Prior to the Golden Age of Dutch, Spain was a ruler of the Netherlands. In 1581, the provinces declared their independence from Spain, however, King Phillip II of Spain did not allow political liberties and the Protestant religious movement then William of Orange led a revolt in 1568. Within the Union of Utrecht, the Northern provinces became the United Provinces of the Netherlands however, war continued with Spain well into the 17th century, but in 1648, Spain recognized Dutch independence.
Nevertheless, although the Netherlands was a small country they were able to become the center of European trade in the 17th century. However, their trade also consisted of trading slaves. Due to the innovation of the Dutch, they were able to trade slaves and slave produce to be traded at much lower cost. During this time the Dutch and the Portuguese were at war regarding trading posts however, this led to the Dutch capturing sugar plantations and manning them with slave labor. The city of Amsterdam was used to warehouse the slaves and to this day is known as one of the biggest European Capital of slavery.
The Netherland are advanced when it comes to free enterprise. The Netherlands never had a major wave of industrialization but remained firmly oriented toward agriculture, trade, and service industries Traffic violations are the most common legal infraction. Violent crimes rates are low compared to other European countries and mainly the United States. Dutch citizens are chiefly concerned about muggings and burglaries and they hardly ever take the law into their own hands. They have very strict gun control. Possession of small quantities of drugs such as marijuana and hashish is not prosecuted. However, there is a misconception that the sale of marijuana in coffee shops is legal when in fact it is not, however it is tolerated. Because, of the sale of marijuana in coffee houses The Netherlands has become a mecca for drug tourists because of its liberal stance toward drugs and its position as a major transport hub within Europe. In addition, the Dutch have a great tolerance of prostitution. Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hague and Utrecht, the biggest cities in The Netherlands) cities have red light districts in which women display themselves behind windows to potential customers comparable to mannequins in windows to market clothes in The United States
Medicare and Health Care
Health care is almost completely the responsibility of the state. The Dutch institutionalized, rather than socialized, health care during the twentieth century more than many other Western nations. Health care for the elderly and disabled takes place in an institutionalized setting. The government has been compelled to take over care for the elderly because institutions such as church, family etcetera are no longer able or willing to perform handle the responsibility. Almost everyone in the Netherlands carries medical insurance. The unemployed and low-income families are protected by public health insurance, while higher-income families have private insurance.
The Culture
The Dutch as a people are modest people with a no-nonsense outlook on life. However, the Dutch have the lowest percentage of women who work outside the home as they mostly believe in traditional roles for the family. If a woman happens to be employed outside of the home, it is often in lowly low paying jobs. Nevertheless, they are in their infancy when it comes to equality for women but it is a priority. Overtime lots of refugees found a safe haven in The Netherlands, such as refugees from war-torn countries and refugees from other Dutch colonies. As such, they do not have a uniform cultural instead; they thrive on their countries acceptance of others and their differences.
Contemporary Dutch arts have been dominated by the legacy of the seventeenth century with its emphasis on painting and drawing. The masterpieces of Dutch painters such Rembrandt and Vermeer are displayed at the Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh Museum is located in Amsterdam and other important and famous collections are at the Roller-Muller Museum (impressionism, expressionism) and are big tourist attractions. In the Netherlands, museums are visited mainly by the middle and upper classes, with the exception of showing of popular Dutch painters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh, which have a huge following.
In closing, The Netherlands is a beautiful country with a rich heritage that is worth visiting as pictures cannot adequately convey the serenity of the country.

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