Netherlands: Overview

Overview | Key Info | Explore | By the Numbers | Cuisine | Culture | Historical Timeline | National Holidays | Weather & Climate | Currency

Updated: 2017-03-20.

Kingdom of the Netherlands | Koninkrijk der Nederlanden

The Netherlands is actually one constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is the actual sovereign state and constitutional monarchy.  The four constituent countries of the Kingdom are Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten, each which is often referred to as a country; they each participate on a basis of equality as partners in the Kingdom. On this website, to avoid confusion, we will refer to the constituent state of the Netherlands (mainland Netherlands) when “Netherlands” is mentioned, not the entire Kingdom.

The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland) obtained its name from being a very low-lying country. About 20% of the country, as well as almost the same percentage of the population, is located below sea level. The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces (Dutch: provincies) and 3 overseas “public bodies” (openbare lichamen, or special municipalities, not part of a province). The Netherlands is often referred to as “Holland” by foreigners, though this term is inaccurate, since North and South Holland are merely two of the twelve provinces within the Netherlands.

A trip to the Netherlands would be anything but without a visit to the capital and largest city, Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a romantic city, known the world over for its “coffee” shops and canals, as well as its famous red light district. Amsterdam is the pioneer city that made other cities think green and open up more bicycle lanes for commuters, and it is at the forefront of many other cultural and progressive movements.

The Netherlands is well-known for its numerous windmills, and there are many to see throughout the entire country. Other than Amsterdam, this small country is filled with many little cities and towns that have a vibrant and unique character all of its own, cities such as Haarlem, Rotterdam, Utrecht City, Den Haag, Leiden, Delft, and Groningen.

On 20 March 2017, the United Nations declared their “International Day of Happiness” and released a related “World Happiness Report” rating countries from happiest to saddest. The Netherlands came in at #6!

flag of Netherlands