OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of the Netherlands
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 39,931 Sq Km (15,417 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 15,716,600
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: The Netherlands is located in North
West Europe. It is bound by the North Sea to the north and
west, Germany to the east and Belgium to the south. The
country is largely a delta comprised of silt from the mouths
of the Rhine, Waal, Maas, Ijssel and Schelde Rivers and
is generally low and flat except for the southeast where
hills rise. The inland area, which is in some places below
sea level, is protected by coastal dunes and manmade dykes.
Without these sea defenses around 40% of the country would
be under water. The above mentioned rivers also give access
for sea-going vessels to the inland waterways of Belgium
and Germany. Major Cities (pop. est.); Amsterdam 724,100,
Rotterdam 598,500, The Hague 445,300, Utrecht 234,100, Eindhoven
196,100 (1994). Land Use; forested 10%, pastures 31%, agricultural-cultivated
28%, other 31% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate influenced
by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Since the country is small there is
little variation in climate from region to region, although the marine
influences are less inland. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly throughout
the year with average annual precipitation exceeding 700 mm (28 inches).
Average temperature ranges are from -1 to 4 degrees Celsius (30 to 39 degrees
Fahrenheit) in January to 13 to 22 degrees Celsius (55 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit)
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Dutch who account
for 96% of the population and are an ethnically homogeneous people of Saxon,
Frankish and Frisian origins. Around 1% of the population are immigrants
and repatriates from the Dutch East Indies that include Surinamese, Indonesian
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 443.4 persons per sq km
(1,148.4 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 88.5% urban, 11.5% rural
(1990). Sex Distribution; 49.4% male, 50.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 74.0 years male, 80.2 years female (1991). Age Breakdown; 18%
under 15, 24% 15 to 29, 24% 30 to 44, 17% 45 to 59, 12% 60 to 74, 5% 75
and over (1991). Birth Rate; 13.2 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 8.6 per
1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 4.6 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate;
7.1 per 1,000 live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 36% of the population Roman
Catholic while 18.5% are Dutch Reformed and 8.4% are of other reformed
LANGUAGES: The official language is Dutch which is spoken by
almost the entire population. The principal minority language is Frisian
while English and German are also widely understood.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 to 64 and having attained: primary education
16.7%, secondary 61.8%, higher 20.0%, other 1.5% (1985). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over virtually 100% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: From 1948 to 1958 a coalition
government led by Willem Drees held power. In 1949 the Netherlands granted
independence to the Dutch East Indies, most of which became Indonesia and
in the same year joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In 1953 devastating North Sea floods killed around 2,000 people. In 1954
the colonies of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles became equal partners
in the Dutch Kingdom. In 1957 the Netherlands became a founding member
of the European Community (EC). In 1962 the Netherlands gave up control
of Netherlands New Guinea (now Indonesian Irian Jaya) to the UN. In 1973
Joop den Uyl was elected Prime Minister. In 1975 Suriname was granted independence
and during the 1970's South Moluccan exiles began terrorist attacks as
a result of their homeland being integrated into Indonesia. In 1982 Ruud
Lubbers of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) became Prime Minister
and was re-elected in 1986. In 1986 the island of Aruba seceded from the
Netherlands Antilles and became an equal partner in the Dutch Kingdom.
In the same year the parliament approved the controversial installation
of US cruise missiles on its territory. In Sept. 1989 after the governing
coalition party fell apart, Lubbers was reelected and formed another coalition
government. In Aug. 1990 the Netherlands sent two marine frigates to the
Gulf to support the UN trade embargo against Iraq. On June 15, 1991 the
Netherlands Communist Party dissolved itself after 82 years and merged
with the Political Party Radicals, the Evangelical People's Party and the
Pacifist Socialist Party to form the Groen Links (Green Left) party. In
Sept. 1991 there were massive demonstrations and country-wide strikes organized
by unions in protest to the government's economic austerity measures which
involved reductions in social security benefits and health services. On
Sept. 28, 1991 the government survived a vote of no confidence and on Oct.
5, 1991 some 250,000 people participated in mass demonstrations in The
Hague, although government policy remained unaffected by all the protests.
On Nov. 13, 1991 two bombs exploded causing property damage, although no
loss of life with the Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action (RARA) declaring
the attacks in protest to the Secretary of State's policy on political
asylum. On Feb. 7, 1992 the formal signing of the Maastricht Treaty on
European Union took place in which a timetable and the framework was established
for European Union. On Feb. 28, 1992 the government approved its country's
involvement in peacekeeping operations in Yugoslavia. In March 1992 the
Labor Party (PvdA) elected both Felix Rottenberg and Ruud Vreeman as the
new two-headed leadership. On Oct. 4, 1992 an Israeli Boeing 747 cargo
plane crashed into an Amsterdam 10-story high rise apartment building killing
an estimated 100 people. In Nov. 1992 the government ratified the treaty
by acclamation and in Dec. 1992 Dutch farmers marched in protest to an
EU-US agricultural accord. On Jan. 12, 1993 the government announced plans
to reduce its military force by 44% by 2002 with the army reduced by 54%
and the navy by 25%. On Jan. 28, 1993 the Parliament passed new legislation
on disability benefits, ending the debate and protests that began in 1991
and on Feb. 9, 1993 after 20 years of debate the Parliament also passed
a bill that would permit doctors to carry out euthanasia under strict medical
and ethical guidelines. In May and June 1993 a parliamentary inquiry into
fraudulent disability benefit allegations by retrenched workers in the
1980's began, although it found no such proof of irregularities. Also in
June 1993 the Secretary of State for Social Affairs, Elske ter Veld resigned
following an emotional debate over social welfare, leaving serious rifts
within the Parliamentary party faction. In Nov. 1993 the Senate passed
the euthanasia bill that fell short of legalizing euthanasia but alleviated
criminal prosecution as long as strict guidelines were adhered to by doctors.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Euro divided into 100
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $316,390,000,000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $195,935,000,000 (1993). Imports; NG 234,972,000,000 (1993).
Exports; NG 258,226,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $4,690,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; NG 41,982,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 6,406,000 or 41.9% of total population (1993). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Germany,
Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the USA and East European countries.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Cereals, Fish, Fruit and Vegetables, Livestock,
Oil and Gas, Potatoes, Poultry, Salt, Sugar Beets.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Chemicals, Clothing, Diamond Cutting,
Fertilizers, Fishing, Food Processing, Forestry, Iron and Steel, Oil and
Gas Production and Refining, Printing, Ship Building, Textiles, Tobacco
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemicals, Dairy Produce, Flower Bulbs, Fruit and
Vegetables, Iron and Steel, Machinery, Meat, Natural Gas, Petroleum Products,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2,828 km (1,757 mi) (1989),
passenger-km 10,162,000,000 (6,314,000,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo
ton-km 3,094,000,000 (2,119,000,000 short ton-mi) (1989). Roads; length
115,305 km (71,647 mi) (1989). Vehicles; cars 5,509,000 (1990), trucks
and buses 555,000 (1990). Merchant Marine; vessels 1,227 (1990), deadweight
tonnage 4,724,765 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 25,296,000,000 (15,718,000,000
passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km 2,084,600,000 (1,427,743,000 short ton-mi)
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 64 with a total circulation
of 4,600,000 (1994). Radio; receivers 13,400,000 (1993). Television; receivers
5,675,000 (1993). Telephones; units 7,630,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 70,900 (1994) total active duty personnel with 60.9%
army, 20.2% navy and 12.7% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 2.4% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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