The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a country in northwest Europe bordering the North Sea between Belgium and Germany. The name Netherlands literally means ‘lower countries’ – only about 50% of the country’s area is more than one metre above sea level. It is known for its flat landscape as well as its canals, tulip fields and windmills. It is located at the mouths of three major European rivers: The Rhine, The Maas and The Schelde.
The Netherlands is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy and one of the three Benelux countries. It is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, NATO, OECD and WTO, and has the sixth largest economy in the EU, with a persistently high trade surplus and low unemployment. Its highly mechanised agricultural sector underpins the country’s status as the world’s second largest agricultural exporter.
The country’s population distribution is fairly even throughout, but most dense in an area known as the Randstad, between its four biggest cities: the capital city of Amsterdam, the port of Rotterdam, its seat of government The Hague, and the historical city of Utrecht. Its distinctive tall, narrow, canal side houses hark back to a time in the 16th century when a tax was levied on house width.