Netherlands, or Kingdom of the Netherlands, a country in northwestern Europe. Frequently it is called Holland, a name that more properly applies to the two coastal provinces of Noord (North) and Zuid (South) Holland. The people are called the Dutch, from their language. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg together make up the Low Countries; they are also known as the Benelux nations.

The Netherlands is bounded on the east by Germany, on the south by Belgium, and on the west and north by the North Sea, an age-old enemy that constantly threatens the land with flooding. The area is 16,033 square miles (41, 526 km2). Unlike most nations, the Netherlands increases in area from time to time. This increase results mainly from submerged land being reclaimed by drainage and land-reclamation programs. Maximum dimensions are roughly 120 miles (190 km) east-west and 200 miles (320 km) north-south.

Netherlands in brief
General information
Capital: Amsterdam.
Seat of government: The Hague.
Official language: Dutch.
Official name: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (Kingdom of the Netherlands).
National anthem: "Wilhelmus can Nassouwe" ("William of Nassau").
Largest cities: (2004 official estimates) Amsterdam (739,104); Rotterdam (598,923; The Hague (469,059); Utrecht (270,244).
Largest metropolitan areas: (2004 official estimates) Amsterdam (1,017,049); Rotterdam (1,001,447); The Hague (616,090); Utrecht (405,467).
Flag and coat of arms: The Dutch flag, adopted about 1630, has three horizontal stripes—red, white, and blue (top to bottom). Before 1630, an orange stripe was at the top instead of a red one. The coat of arms has old symbols of the Dutch royal family. The sword and arrows represent strength in unity.
Land and climate
Land: The Netherlands is on the North Sea in northwestern Europe. It is bordered by Belgium and Germany. Most of the Netherlands is flat, though it has some uplands. Part of the country is made up of polders, land below sea level that was once covered by water. The Dutch built dikes around these areas and drained the water.
Area: 16,034 mi2 (41,528 km2), including 2,929 mi2 (7,587 km2) of inland water. Greatest distances--north-south, 196 mi (315 km); east-west, 167 mi (269 km). Coastline--228 mi (367 km).
Elevation: Highest--Vaalserberg, 1,053 ft (321 m) above sea level. Lowest--Prins Alexander Polder, 22 ft (6.7 m) below sea level.
Climate: The Netherlands has a mild, damp climate, with moderately warm summers and gentle winters. Temperatures average from 60 to 65 degrees F (16 to 18 degrees C) in summer, and a little above 30 degrees F (–1 degree C) in winter. Extremely hot or cold temperatures are rare. Summer is the wettest season, though precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Most regions of the country receive about 25 to 30 inches (63 to 76 centimeters) of precipitation a year.
Government
Form of government: Constitutional monarchy.
Ceremonial head of state: Monarch (king or queen).
Head of government: Prime minister.
Legislature: States-General of two houses: 75-member First Chamber and 150-member Second Chamber.
Executive: Prime minister and Cabinet.
Political subdivisions: 12 provinces.
People
Population: Current estimate--16,513,000. 2006 official estimate--16,335,509.
Population density: 1,030 per mi2 (398 per km2).
Distribution: 67 percent urban, 33 percent rural.
Major ethnic/national groups: Almost entirely Dutch. Largest non-Dutch groups include people from Indonesia, Morocco, Suriname, and Turkey.
Major religions: About 30 percent Roman Catholic, about 30 percent Protestant (mostly Dutch Reformed Church), small percentage Muslim. Nearly half of the Dutch are not members of any church.
Economy
Chief products: Agriculture--barley, beef and dairy cattle, flowers and flower bulbs, hogs, milk, potatoes, poultry, sheep, sugar beets, vegetables, wheat. Fishing--eels, herring, mackerel, mussels, plaice, shrimp, sole. Manufacturing--chemicals, dairy products, electronic equipment, machinery, processed meats, transportation equipment. Mining--natural gas, petroleum, salt.
Money: Basic unit--euro. One hundred cents equal one euro. The Dutch guilder was taken out of circulation in 2002.
Foreign trade: Major exported goods--automobiles, chemicals, dairy products, electric machinery, flowers, meat, petroleum, plastics, precision instruments, vegetables. Major imported goods--automobiles, chemicals, clothing, electric machinery, iron and steel, paper and paper products, petroleum, plastics, and precision instruments. Main trading partners--Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, United States.