The Netherlands is a small European country located in the Western region of the continent. The Kingdom of the Netherlands also has three island territories in the Caribbean (The Caribbean Netherlands consisting of islands called Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius). The Netherlands as such borders with Germany and Belgium and has also a maritime border with the United Kingdom (across the North Sea).
It is a densely populated state with population of 17 million (mostly Dutch) people, living on the area of around 41.5 thousand square kilometres. The official language is Dutch, although there are several regional languages such as Frisian, Papiamento or English.
There is also another frequently used name when referring to the Netherlands – Holland.
This name is, however, incurrent and it is a region and area of a former County of Holland (a remote piece of land consisting of two provinces). The capital city of the Netherlands is a cultural hub Amsterdam.
Other large cities are for example Rotterdam (the largest port in Europe) or the The Hague (which serves as the seat of the government and parliament. The Netherlands is one of the founding members of the European Union. It is also a member of NATO, OECD, WTO, Eurozone and naturally part of the Schengen area.
It is a liberal and highly developed country with high income economy and great quality of life, which is reflected on the top ranked position of World Happiest Countries made by United Nations.
Historically, Dutch people were great explorers and expanded the territory (the Caribbean Netherlands is one of the aftermaths). During the World War I, the Netherlands managed to remain neutral. However, during the World War II the country was invaded by Nazi Germans and thus forced to participate. That eventually led to closer bounds with neighbouring countries, thus also laying a first brick towards the establishment of the European Union.
Interesting fact is that about ¼ of the area is geographically situated under the sea level and most of the landscape is flat (therefore, one of the best ways to explore the surrounding is on the bike!). The biggest appeal of the country is it preciously polished culture and tenacity of its people.
It is a place with stunning architecture – for instance canals in Amsterdam will definitely melt everyone’s romantic heart. Iconic are the omnipresent windmills and tulip fields. The Netherlands is also a country with strong café culture. Last but not least, the Dutch cuisines, although relatively fat, is simply delicious.