The Netherlands is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a small, densely populated country, lying mainly in Western Europe, but also includes three islands in the Caribbean. The European part of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders with Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. The three largest and most important cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the Dutch seat of government.
The Netherlands' name literally means "Low Countries", inspired by its low and flat geography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding one meter above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are man-made. Since the late 16th century, large areas have been reclaimed from the sea and from lakes, amounting to nearly 17% of the country's current land mass.
The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as the much older designation "Holland", though strictly this refers only to North and South Holland, two of the nation's twelve provinces, that were created out of the former County of Holland. That county was economically and politically the most important county in the region. Historically, Holland often served as a metonym for the entire country. Referring to the Netherlands as Holland is considered either technically incorrect or informal
The Habsburgs Edit
Under Charles V, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain, the current Netherlands region was part of the Seventeen Provinces of the Low Countries, which also included most of present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, and some land in France and Germany.
Queen Elizabeth I of England sympathized with the Dutch struggle against the Spanish, and in 1585 she concluded a treaty with the Dutch whereby she promised to send an English army to the Netherlands to aid the Dutch in their war with the Spanish. In December 1585, 7,600 soldiers were sent to the Netherlands from England under the command of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. In spite of the significant size for that time, the English army was of no real benefit to the Dutch rebellion.
Although Robert Dudley returned to the Netherlands in November 1586 with another army, the army still had little effect in the rebellion. Philip II, the son of Charles V, was not prepared to let them go easily, and war continued until 1648, when Spain under King Philip IV finally recognized the independence of the seven north-western provinces in the Peace of Münster. Parts of the southern provinces became de facto colonies of the new republican-mercantile empire.
Kingdom of the Netherlands Edit
William Frederick, son of the last stadtholder, returned to the Netherlands in 1813 at the invitation of the provisional government formed after the withdrawal of the French. Although it comprised mostly the same men who had driven out his father 18 years earlier, all parties agreed that William was the only choice to head any new government. On 6 December, he proclaimed himself Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands. On 16 March 1815, the Sovereign Prince raised the Netherlands to the status of a kingdom and proclaimed himself William I (Willem I in Dutch).
In 1815, the Congress of Vienna formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands by adding the southern Netherlands to the north to create a strong country on the northern border of France. In addition, William became hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The Congress of Vienna gave Luxembourg to William as personal property in exchange for his German possessions, Nassau-Dillenburg, Siegen, Hadamar, and Diez.
The Netherlands Today Edit
The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848. The Netherlands is described as a consociational state. Dutch politics and governance are characterized by an effort to achieve broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole. In 2010, The Economist ranked the Netherlands as the 10th most democratic country in the world.
The monarch is the head of state, at present King Willem-Alexander (crowned April 30, 2013). Constitutionally, the position is equipped with limited powers. By law, the king (the title queen has no constitutional significance) has the right to be periodically briefed and consulted on government affairs. Depending on the personalities and relationships of the king and the ministers, the king might have influence beyond the power granted by the constitution.
Present Monarch: HM King Willem-Alexander
- Born: April 27, 1967 Utrecht, Netherlands.
- Age: 50
- Parents: Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Prince Claus of the Netherlands,
- House: House of Orange-Nassau
- Ascension: January 28, 2013.
- Crowned: April 30, 2013
- King Willem is the 2nd youngest Monarch in Europe after the King of Spain.
- He is the first King of the Netherlands in 123 years.
- He is the first Dutch King since King William died in 1890.
- In addition to his native Dutch, the King speaks English, German, and Spanish.
- Spouse: Her Majesty Queen Maxima of The Netherlands, born May 17, 1971 Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Married February 2, 2002, Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam,
- Queen Maxima is the first Dutch Queen Consort since 1890, the first to be born a commoner, and the first born outside of Europe.
- Through her father, Queen Maxima is a descendant of King Alfonso III of Portugal
- The Queen speaks fluent Spanish, English and Dutch.
The King and Queen have 3 daughters:
- Her Royal Highness The Princess of Orange, Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria (born December 7, 2003)
- Her Royal Highness Princess Alexia Juliana Marcela Laurentien of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau (born June 26, 2005)
- Her Royal Highness Princess Ariane Wilhelmina Máxima Inés of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau (born April 10, 2007)