Netherlands

The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU), and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.

 

Geography:
Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany
Geographic coordinates: 52 30 N, 5 45 E
People:
Population: 16,730,632 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17% (male 1,466,218/female 1,398,463)

15-64 years: 67.4% (male 5,732,042/female 5,624,408)

65 years and over: 15.6% (male 1,141,507/female 1,484,369) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands

conventional short form: Netherlands

local long form: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden

local short form: Nederland

Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: name: Amsterdam

geographic coordinates: 52 23 N, 4 54 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 7.169 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 19.31 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 27 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 20

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 10

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 5

under 914 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Royal Netherlands Army, Royal Netherlands Navy (includes Naval Air Service and Marine Corps), Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, KLu), Royal Military Police (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age for an all-volunteer force (2004)

Economy:

The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 3% of the labour force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Illicit drugs: major European producer of synthetic drugs, including ecstasy, and cannabis cultivator; important gateway for cocaine, heroin, and hashish entering Europe; major source of US-bound ecstasy; large financial sector vulnerable to money laundering; significant consumer of ecstasy

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