Netherlands

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The Netherlands, sometimes referred to as Holland (which forms part of the name of two of its provinces), is a Northern European country with a North Sea coast and land borders with Germany and Belgium. It is a long time member of the European Union and its predecessor international organizations. Known as socially liberal and also associated with a Protestant merchant culture, this constitutional monarchy is most recently coming to terms with its growing Muslim minority which makes up the largest non-Dutch population group in the nation.

The Netherlands has a population of 15.89 million in 2000, which is expected to increase to 17.12 million in 2025. As is true of the other two low countries the Netherlands presents very high population density. Per capita 2003 income is $26,230, compared with $25,760 in neighboring Belgium and $25,270 in neighboring Germany.

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Dutch Imperialism

The Netherlands freed itself from Spanish rule in the 80 year (1568-1648) war of independence from Hapsburg Spain. The independent Free Netherlands was ruled by a burgher (bourgeois) oligarchy led by the Prince of Orange. Although the religion of approximately one-third of the population, Calvinism (officially the "True Christian Reformed Church") was the official state religion. Free Holland also benefited from Iberian Jewish and French Huguenot immigrants. The prosperity of the Seven Provinces comprising Free Holland depended increasingly on overseas trade and the merchants who ruled its cities built an overseas empire by sending armed merchant fleets to South America, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Northern Brazil a.k.a. "New Holland" in Pernambuco, Indonesia a.k.a. "The Dutch East Indies," New York a.k.a. "New Netherland," Sri Lanka a.k.a. Ceylon, much ofSouth Africa, Surinam, Taiwan a.k.a. "Formosa," and certain Caribbean islands were all once part of a vast Dutch maritime empire that peaked in the 1600s and early 1700s which also monopolized trade with Japan. The Netherlands Antillies still maintains a political relationship with the Netherlands. Though the remaining territories in this empire evaporated with decolonization the Netherlands remains prosperous by world standards. Several of the former Dutch colonies were long the primary recipients of Dutch Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Major Cities

  • Amsterdam
  • Rotterdam
  • The Hague
  • Utrecht

Provinces

  • Brabant
  • Drenthe
  • Flevoland
  • Friesland
  • Gelderland
  • Groningen
  • North Holland
  • South Holland
  • Limburg
  • Overijssel
  • Utrecht
  • Zeeland

The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848. The head of state is Queen Beatrix, but the head of government is the Prime Minister. The Parliament consists of two houses. The present government is led by the Second Balkenende cabinet which consists of 16 ministers and 10 state secretaries.

The 16 current ministers for the Netherlands are:

The Netherlands : January 22, 2003 Parliamentary

PARTY VOTES %[OF VALID VOTES] TOTAL SEATS Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) 2,763,480 28.6% 44

 (29.3%)

Labor Party (PvdA) 2,631,363 27.3% 42

 (28%)

People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) 1,728,707 17.9% 28

 (18.7%)

Socialist Party (SP) 609,723 6.3% 9

  (6%)

Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) 549,975 5.7% 8

  (5.3%)

Green Left (GL) 493,802 5.1% 8

   (5.3%)

Democrats 66 (D66) 393,333 4.1% 6

    (4%)

Christian Union Party (CU) 204,694 2.1% 3

(2%)

Political Reformed Party (SGP) 150,305 1.6% 2

    (1.3%)

Others 127,093 1.3% --

Political Parties

  • Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA)
  • Political Reformed Party (SGP)
  • Christian Union
  • Labour Party (PvdA)
  • Socilaist Party (SP)
  • GreenLeft (GL)
  • Liberal Party (VVD)
  • Democrats '66 (D66)
  • Liveable Netherlands (LN)
  • Lim Pim Fortuyn (LPF)

Dutch MEPs

Sources

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