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The Netherlands is a country located in northwestern Europe and forms the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands together with 3 island territories in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba). The Netherlands borders, Germany to the East, Belgium to the south and the North Sea to the northwest. It has about 17 million inhabitants within an area of 41,543 square kilometers (water makes up 18.4 percent of the area) which makes it a very densely populated country with a population density of 412 people per kilometer squared. The capital and largest city is Amsterdam with a population of about 850, 000 inhabitants.
The Netherlands is geographically a very low and flat country, about 25% of its area is located below sea level, and only about half of its land exceeds one meter above the sea level. Its many dunes and dikes protect these low parts of the land from the flood by the sea or the rivers. Most of the areas of the country are flat, except for foothills in the southeast with the highest peak of the Netherlands, the Vaalserberg which rises to 321 meters above the sea level. The forests make up 9% of the country´s area.
The lower area consists mainly of polders which were reclaimed from the sea or other bodies of water and are protected by dikes. Most of the country was formed by the estuaries of the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt, which are three large European rivers, and the southwestern part of the country is a river delta of these three rivers which is Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta. The river Rhine divides the Netherlands into a northern and southern part. The Ijsselmeer, the largest lake in the Netherlands, was created by separating it from the North Sea in 1932 by a 30 kilometers long dam.
The climate of the Netherlands is temperate oceanic, affected by the warm Gulf Stream. The Netherlands has mild winters, cool summers and there is a rainfall in every season. The annual rainfall is quite high, it is about 790 mm, while there are only 25 clear days per year. The average rainfall is the lowest in spring and highest in autumn, but the precipitation is distributed relatively equally each month. The Netherlands is an area of collision between polar air and warm masses, therefore creating unsettled weather. Frequently, the fogs appear in inland and often a strong wind blows. Often, the storms rage on the coast which can later cause flooding. There are only six days per year with no wind.
The warmest months are July and August, their temperatures average about 17 °C and those of the coldest month January average 2 °C. The year daily mean temperature is about 10 degrees Celsius. On average, frost occurs 60 days per year, there are 25 snowy days per year, while the snow can occur from November to April, and the average relative humidity of a year is about 82 percent. An ordinary year in the Netherlands has about 1,600 sunshine hours.
The Netherlands is one of the richest countries, and it has the 17th largest economy in the world. The country is a member of the Eurozone and its currency is the euro. In 2016, the country´s GDP was about 49 900 USD per capita which was the 12th biggest in the world. Currently, the key trading partners of the Netherlands are Germany, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. In 2013, inflation was at 2.8% per year and unemployment was at 8.2% of the labor force. The basis of the Dutch economy are the industry, trade, and transport, but the agriculture also plays a role.
The Netherlands has large natural gas reserves which make up about 25% of natural gas reserves in the EU. There are also quite large reserves of petroleum, stone salt, limestone and ceramic clay. Especially, processing of the crude oil is highly developed and the largest refineries are located next to Rotterdam. The chemical, electrical, food, glass, textile, ceramic and paper industries are also quite highly developed. Thanks to the country´s advantageous position next to the sea, trade and transport are doing well, and the Netherlands have the third largest port in the world named Europort located in Rotterdam. The biggest Dutch airport is Schiphol in Amsterdam. The country has a 136,827 km long road network and a 2,896 km long rail network.
In the Netherlands, there is a predominance of the lowlands, there are fertile soils and mild humid climate. These make good assumptions for the highly developed agriculture which is intensive, efficient and mechanized. The corn, sugar beet, potatoes, and maze are mostly grown. The animal production makes up about 70% of the agricultural production. It mainly focuses on the cattle, poultry, and pig breeding. The floriculture is also very popular.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. The half of the population is irreligious, the most common religions are Roman Catholic (25%), Protestant (15%), other Christian (4%) and Muslim (5%). The Dutch people have many famous people in the different aspects of the culture. The five greatest Dutch painters are Hieronymus Bosch, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, Pieter Brueghel and Johannes Vermeer. Joost van den Vondel, Multatuli, Harry Mulisch, Gerard Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans are really significant for the Dutch literature. The most famous movie director is Paul Verhoeven.
The Netherlands is a constitutional hereditary monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The head of the state is a king Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands since the year 2013, but he has a limited power. The executive power is formed by the Council of Ministers which is a deliberative organ of the Dutch cabinet. Although the capital city is Amsterdam, The Hague is a political center of the Netherlands. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G-10, NATO, OECD, and WTO and is a part of the Schengen Area.