Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NETHERLANDS - Country profile




The flag of the Netherlands is a horizontal tricolour of red, white, and blue. Introduced in 1572, it is one of the first tricolours and the oldest tricolour still in use today. Since 1937, the flag has officially been the national flag of the Netherlands and of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Het Wilhelmus (English translation: The William) is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world though the words of the Japanese national anthem (not the music) date back to the ninth century. Although it was not recognized as the official national anthem until 1932, it has always been popular with parts of the Dutch population and resurfaced on several occasions in the course of Dutch history before gaining its present status.

Like many anthems, Het Wilhelmus originated in the nation's struggle to achieve independence. It tells of Willem van Oranje (William of Orange), his life and why he is fighting against the King of Spain. As a result, the anthem is written in a first person perspective, as if it were sung by William himself.

This refers to the initial loyalty of the leading figures of the Dutch Revolt, the Counts of De Montmorency ("Hoorne") and Lamoral ("Egmond") who both were executed, and the then surviving Prince of Orange (William), to the Spanish king Philip II and their claim that they merely objected against some hardships of the Spanish rule over The Netherlands. These objections were especially concerning the taxation and the religious prosecutions.

The text and tune of the song are remarkably peaceful for a national anthem. The Wilhelmus derives its name from the first word of the song ; the Geuzenliedboek's original introduction to the text speaks of "a new Christian song" ("een nieu Christelijck Liedt").


Official Name:
Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
short form: Nederland
alternative name: Holland
int'l short form: Netherlands
int'l long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands

ISO Country Code: nl

Capital City: Amsterdam (pop. 743 000)
Den Haag (475 000)
The Hague (seat of government)

Other Cities:
Groningen, Haarlem, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Utrecht

Type: Constitutional monarchy
Head of State: Queen Beatrix

Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany.
Area: 41 528 sq. km. (16 485 sq. mi.).
Terrain: Coastal lowland; land below sea level 24%

Climate: Temperate maritime.

Nationality: Noun--Dutchmen and Dutchwomen. Adjective--Dutch.
Population: (March 2004)16,3 million.
Ethnic groups: Predominantly Dutch; largest minority communities are Moroccans, Turks, Surinamese.
Religions: Roman Catholic (31%), Protestant (21%), Muslim (5,5%), other (2,5%), none (40%).
Language: Dutch; English widely spoken
Literacy: 99%.

Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel, arable land.

Agriculture products: Grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits, vegetables; livestock.

Industries: Agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing.

Exports partners: Germany 25.3%, Belgium 12.6%, France 10.2%, UK 10.1%, Italy 6%, USA 4.5% (2003)

Imports partners: Germany 18.2%, Belgium 10%, USA 8%, UK 7.3%, China 6.2%, France 5% (2003)

Currency: Euro (EUR)

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