Introduction to The Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands, The Netherlands in short, (Dutch: Nederland), also commonly called Holland in English, in reference to the provinces North-Holland and South-Holland) is a Benelux country and a founding member of the European Union. The Netherlands border Germany to the east and Belgium to the south. To the west, the country faces the North Sea and the United Kingdom.
The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. No matter where you go, you are never far away from civilization. Cities can be crowded especially in the Randstad area, where congestion is a serious problem. Much of the country is flat and at or below sea level making it an ideal place to cycle. Hills can only be found at the Veluwe and Southern Limburg. Much of countryside is dominated by highly industrialized farming - despite its population density, the Netherlands are one of the largest food exporters in the world. Though there are some beautiful spots scattered across the country, the tourist expecting a countryside full of picturesque villages, tulips and windmills may be in for a bit of a shock. The villages, tulips and windmills are there for sure, you just have to find them (for example, in the Waterland and Zaan Region)
The geography of the Netherlands is dominated by water features. The country is criss-crossed with rivers, canals and dikes, and the beach is never far away. The western coast of the Netherlands has one of the most beautiful North Sea beaches that can be found, attracting thousands if not millions of people every year.
The Netherlands was one of the first parliamentary democracies. Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the European Union (EU), NATO, OECD and WTO. Holland has only been a monarchy for a relatively short period of time. Originally a republic, Napoleon turned the country into a kingdom in 1806 to provide a job for his brother Louis. When King Louis was deposed the monarchy was kept, and the influential Orange-Nassau family was installed as the nation’s new royal dynasty. The Orange-Nassau family is still in power to this day, and this is why the color orange is so widely associated with Dutch patriotism.
King Willem-Alexander is the current Dutch monarch. He is married to Maxima Zorreguita who is from Argentina. The King and Queen of Orange have three daughters. Many Dutch people are enthusiastic monarchists, and the Royal Family is often treated as a leading symbol of the Dutch nation. That being said, there are also many republicans in Holland, which mainly consists of youths and academics. More information on the Dutch Royals can be found on http://www.koninklijkhuis.nl/english/.