kids encyclopedia robot

Netherlands facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids

Flag of the Netherlands
Motto: Je maintiendrai  (French)
(I will maintain)
Anthem: The Wilhelmus
Location of the  Netherlands  (dark green)– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]
Location of the  Netherlands  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

Special municipalities of the Netherlands (green)in the Caribbean
Special municipalities of the Netherlands (green)
in the Caribbean
and largest city
Official languages Dutch
Recognised regional languages Frisian (in Friesland), Papiamento (in Bonaire), English (in Sint Eustatius and Saba)
Ethnic groups
80.7% Dutch,
5% EU varieties,
2.4% Indonesians,
2.2% Turks,
2% Surinamese,
2% Moroccans,
0.8% Caribbean
4.8% others
Demonym(s) Dutch
Government Parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch
• Monarch
Mark Rutte (VVD)
• Deputy Prime Minister
Lodewijk Asscher (PVDA)
Legislature States-General
House of Representatives
As result of the Eighty Years' War from the Habsburg Empire
• Declared
26 July 1581
• Recognised
30 January 1648
• Total
41,543 km2 (16,040 sq mi) (135th)
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
16,847,007 (61st)
• Density
422.9/km2 (1,095.3/sq mi) (30th)
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
• Total
$676.895 billion
• Per capita
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
• Total
$783.293 billion
• Per capita
Gini (2006) 30.9
HDI (2011) Increase 0.910
very high · 3rd
Currency Euro (): Netherlands, United States dollar ($): Caribbean Netherlands
Time zone UTC+1 and −4 (CET and AST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+2 and −4 (CEST and AST)
Driving side right
Calling code 31, +599
ISO 3166 code NL
Internet TLD .nl
  1. The official motto is French; the literal translation to English is "I will maintain" (namely, the integrity and independence of the territory)
  2. While Amsterdam is the constitutional capital, The Hague is the seat of the government.
  3. Frisian (Friesland), Papiamento (Bonaire) and English (Sint Eustatius and Saba) have a formal status in certain parts of the country. Yiddish and the Romani language are recognised as non-territorial languages.
  4. Peace of Westphalia
  5. Before 2002: Dutch guilder.
  6. The United States dollar is the sole legal tender within the Caribbean Netherlands. Before 2011: Netherlands Antillean guilder.
  7. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
  8. 599 was the country code designated for the now dissolved Netherlands Antilles. The Caribbean Netherlands still use 599-7 (Bonaire), 599-3 (Sint Eustatius) and 599-4 (Saba).

The Netherlands is a country that is part of (a constituent country) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Most of it is in Western Europe, but there are also some parts in the Caribbean. More than 17 million people live there. To the north and west of the European part of the Netherlands is the North Sea, and to the east is Germany and to the south is Belgium. The Netherlands is one of the countries that started the European Union. People who live in the Netherlands are called "Dutch". The language of the Netherlands is also called Dutch. The official capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam. This however, is not the place where the government is seated, which is in The Hague.


"The Netherlands" means "the low lands". The land only rises, on average, 1 meter above the sea level. One third of the land is below sea level. The Netherlands is also - incorrectly - referred to as Holland. Holland was a very rich area (two provinces) in the western part of the Netherlands, thus causing people to be mistaken. Some people who do not live in the western part of the Netherlands do not like it when people call the country Holland. The name "Holland" originates from the old Dutch words "Holt land" which means "wood lands".


At the end of the Middle Ages the dukes of Burgundy, a country that is now part of France, united seventeen areas. Those areas were called the Netherlands. When the daughter of a duke married Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, the Netherlands became part of Spain. In the 16th century many Dutch people became Protestant. The king of Spain did not like it, he wanted all Dutch to be Roman Catholic. He decided that all Protestants should be killed. Of course the Dutch people did not like this, and in 1568 they started a war against Spain. The war lasted until 1648, therefore it is called the Eighty Years' War. An important leader of the Dutch in this war was Willem van Oranje (Willem of orange) also called William the Silent.

In 1648 the Netherlands and Spain signed peace. The Dutch people were allowed to keep all the areas they conquered. The part of the Netherlands that was not conquered by the Dutch stayed part of Spain. Later this part became the country Belgium.

When the Netherlands became independent, it was a very special country. That time almost all countries in Europe were ruled by a king, but the Netherlands was a republic. The Netherlands was made up of seven provinces, that were ruled by the big cities. The cities where ruled by the municipality which consisted from rich civilians. Together those provinces were ruled by a stadtholder, a very powerful man, but compared to the kings of other European countries he had much less power.

In the 17th century the Netherlands was the richest and one of the most powerful countries in the world. Therefore, the Dutch call the 17th century the Golden Age. Their Dutch Empire had possessions around the world. The most important possession were the East Indies, a country that is now called Indonesia. The Dutch also founded New Netherland, which is now called New York. The Netherlands often fought wars against other European countries, especially the Anglo-Dutch Wars against England. Michiel de Ruyter, a Dutch admiral, became a Dutch hero when he defeated the English navy close to London.

In the 18th century the Netherlands became poorer. Many people blamed this on the government leaders, the stadtholders. Many thought they had too much power and wanted them to get away. In 1789 the French people deposed (got rid of) their king. French armies attacked other countries to depose their leaders too. In 1795 they attacked the Netherlands. Stadtholder William V had to flee to England. The Netherlands were renamed to Batavian Republic and became a democracy. But the French were not content (satisfied) with the Dutch ruler, so in 1806 the French emperor Napoleon made his brother Louis Bonaparte king of the Netherlands. Louis became popular in the Netherlands, but the emperor was again not content with him, so in 1810 the Netherlands became a part of France.

In 1815 Napoleon was defeated, and the Netherlands became independent again. The rulers of European countries thought it was a good idea to make the Netherlands stronger, to make them able to resist another French invasion. Therefore, Belgium and Luxembourg were added to the Netherlands. William I, the son of stadtholder William V, became king. The Belgians disliked their Dutch king. In 1830 they revolted. William sent an army. He was much more powerful than the Belgians but after ten days the French sent an army to support them. In 1831 the Belgians chose their own king and Belgium became an independent country.

Some people again thought the Dutch king had too much power. They wanted to give him less power and vote for the government themselves. In 1848 there were violent revolts against the kings of many European countries. The Dutch king was afraid the same would happen in the Netherlands. Therefore, he allowed Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to write a constitution. From then on people were allowed to vote. At first only rich men were allowed to vote. From 1919 on everyone was allowed to vote.

In World War I, the Netherlands did not fight. The Dutch wanted to stay neutral in World War II as well, but in 1940 the country was invaded and occupied by Germany. Like in other countries they had occupied, the National Socialist Party started to kill Jews. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who lived in the Netherlands. Her family hid from the Nazis and she wrote a diary. She died in a Nazi concentration camp and her diary became famous.

In 1944 the American, Canadian, Polish and British armies liberated the south of the Netherlands from Nazi Occupation. They wanted to cross the Rhine river in Operation Market Garden to liberate the rest of the country, but they were defeated. It took until May 1945 before the entire country was liberated. During the five years of Nazi occupation, 250,000 people had died in the Netherlands.

Shortly after the war, Indonesia declared its independence. The Dutch sent soldiers to fight in Indonesia. During the war the Dutch realized how it is to be occupied by another country, so some thought they should not do the same to the Indonesians. After other countries, including the United States, told the Dutch to leave Indonesia, they finally did so in 1949.

After the war the Netherlands became one of the richest countries in the world. In 2004 the United Nations said that the Netherlands was the 5th best country to live in.


The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy. That means the country has a king or queen, but the real power is in hands of a parliament, chosen by the Dutch people. All Dutch people who are 18 or older are allowed to vote. There are elections every four years. After the elections, parties that have had a majority of the votes create a cabinet. The cabinet consists of a prime minister and several other ministers.

The following political parties are in the parliament:

  • CDA, Christian-Democratic Appeal. The CDA is fourth largest party. CDA members are mostly Christian. The previous prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende is a CDA member.
  • PvdA, Party of Laborers. The PvdA is a social-democrat party
  • GroenLinks is a social-democrat party that pays special attention to the environment.
  • SP, Socialist Party, considered modern socialism
  • VVD is a liberal party. Mark Rutte, the current prime minister, is a member of the VVD.
  • D66, Democrats 66. D66 was founded in 1966. Just like the VVD, it is a liberal party. But D66 is more progressive than the VVD.
  • ChristenUnie, Christian Union. The ChristenUnie is a Christian party.
  • PVV, Party for the freedom. It is a very conservative right party and the third party.
  • Partij voor de Dieren, Party for the Animals. It is a party for animal rights.
  • SGP, Stately Reformed Party. The SGP is a very conservative Christian party.

The Netherlands is known for tolerance in politics.


Netherlands-CIA WFB Map-10-10-10
Map of Netherlands

In the Netherlands there are 12 provinces:

Flag Province Capital Largest city Area (km2) Population Density
(per km2)
Flag Drenthe.svg Drenthe Assen Assen 2,641 486,197 184
Flevolandflag.svg Flevoland Lelystad Almere 1,417 374,424 264
Frisian flag.svg Friesland Leeuwarden Leeuwarden 3,341 642,209 192
Gelderland-Flag.svg Gelderland Arnhem Nijmegen 4,971 1,979,059 398
Flag Groningen.svg Groningen Groningen Groningen 2,333 573,614 246
NL-LimburgVlag.svg Limburg Maastricht Maastricht 2,150 1,127,805 525
North Brabant-Flag.svg North (Noord) Brabant Den Bosch Eindhoven 4,916 2,419,042 492
Flag North-Holland, Netherlands.svg North (Noord) Holland Haarlem Amsterdam 2,671 2,613,070 978
Flag Overijssel.svg Overijssel Zwolle Enschede 3,325 1,116,374 336
Utrecht (province)-Flag.svg Utrecht Utrecht Utrecht 1,385 1,190,604 860
Flag of Zeeland.svg Zealand (Zeeland) Middelburg Middelburg 1,787 380,497 213
Flag Zuid-Holland.svg South (Zuid) Holland The Hague
(Den Haag)
Rotterdam 2,814 3,455,097 1228

These provinces are all located in the part of the Netherlands that is in Europe. The country also includes three special municipalities in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. They are not part of any province, but together are known as the Caribbean Netherlands. The Netherlands (both the European part and the Caribbean Netherlands), together with Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, also in the Caribbean, form a sovereign state called the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

When the Kingdom was formed in 1954, the territories in the Caribbean became part of the Netherlands Antilles. At that time it also included Suriname in South America, which became an independent country in 1975. Aruba left the Antilles in 1986, and Curaçao and Sint Maarten did the same in 2010. The rest of the islands then became the Caribbean Netherlands which is part of the Netherlands proper.


This is a list of the cities with over 100,000 people.

Rank City Population Province
1 Amsterdam 780,000  North Holland
2 Rotterdam 611,000  South Holland
3 The Hague 500,000  South Holland
4 Utrecht 312,634  Utrecht
5 Eindhoven 213,809  North Brabant
6 Tilburg 203,492  North Brabant
7 Almere 193,303  Flevoland
8 Groningen 187,298  Groningen
9 Breda 173,299  North Brabant
10 Nijmegen 164,165  Gelderland
11 Apeldoorn 155,726  Gelderland
12 Enschede 154,017  Overijssel
13 Haarlem 151,853  North Holland
14 Arnhem 147,018  Gelderland
15 Amersfoort 126,750  Utrecht
16 Dordrecht 118,540  South Holland
17 Zoetermeer 118,020  South Holland
18 Zwolle 118,000  Overijssel
19 Leiden 117,480  South Holland
20 Maastricht 116,200  Limburg
21 Ede 107,476  Gelderland
22 's-Hertogenbosch 102,220  North Brabant
23 Venlo 100,271  Limburg


In fact a large part of the Netherlands was created by the sand that came from the many rivers flowing through it. Notable Dutch rivers are the Rhine, the Maas, the IJssel and the Scelt. A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level. This is because the Dutch have made many lakes and parts of the sea dry, creating polders. Therefore, there is a saying "God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands." This makes the Netherlands very flat. In the very south-east of the Netherlands, in Limburg, there are some hills. Therefore, this region is a tourist-attraction for many Dutch people. The highest point in the European portion of the Netherlands, the Vaalserberg, is 323 metres above sea level. The highest point in both the Netherlands proper and the Kingdom of the Netherlands is Mount Scenery, on the Caribbean island of Saba, at 887 metres.

The Netherlands is a small flat country; about 300 kilometers from north to south, and about 170 kilometers from east to west. It has an oceanic climate (Cfb in the Köppen climate classification).


Keetmolen in Ede
Windmill in Netherlands

The Netherlands is a small country, but many people live there. It is one of the most densely populated countries of the world.

Most people in the Netherlands speak Dutch. In Friesland, about 200,000 people speak Frisian. Frisian is the language with the most similarities to English. Some Dutch people speak dialects. The Saxon dialects spoken in the northeastern part of the Netherlands are somewhat similar to Low German.

According to a survey done in 2006, 25% of the Dutch people are Christian and 3% believe in another organised religion, like Judaism, Islam or Hinduism. Twenty-six percent are 'unbounded spiritual' (have their own beliefs and are not tied to a religion). The other 44% are not religious.


Stroopwafels (syrup waffles) are a treat consisting of waffles with caramel-like syrup filling in the middle.
Oliebollen, a Dutch pastry eaten on New Year's Eve.
Poffertjes are made in a special, so-called, poffertjespan.
The Gouda cheese market.
Hutspot with karbonade (pork chop).
Bitterballen are usually served with mustard.

Originally, the country's cuisine was shaped by the practices of fishing and farming, including the cultivation of the soil for growing crops and raising domesticated animals. Dutch cuisine is simple and straightforward, and contains many dairy products. Breakfast and lunch are typically bread with toppings, with cereal for breakfast as an alternative. Traditionally, dinner consists of potatoes, a portion of meat, and (seasonal) vegetables. The Dutch diet was relatively high in carbohydrates and fat, reflecting the dietary needs of the labourers whose culture moulded the country. Without many refinements, it is best described as rustic, though many holidays are still celebrated with special foods. In the course of the twentieth century this diet changed and became much more cosmopolitan, with most global cuisines being represented in the major cities.

Modern culinary writers distinguish between three general regional forms of Dutch cuisine. The regions in the northeast of the Netherlands, roughly the provinces of Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland north of the great rivers are the least populated area of the Netherlands. The late (18th century) introduction of large scale agriculture means that the cuisine is generally known for its many kinds of meats. The relative lack of farms allowed for an abundance of game and husbandry, though dishes near the coastal regions of Friesland, Groningen and the parts of Overijssel bordering the IJsselmeer also include a large amount of fish. The various dried sausages, belonging to the metworst-family of Dutch sausages are found throughout this region and are highly prized for their often very strong taste. Also smoked sausages are common, of which (Gelderse) rookworst is the most renowned. The sausage contains a lot of fat and is very juicy. Larger sausages are often eaten alongside stamppot, hutspot or zuurkool (sauerkraut); whereas smaller ones are often eaten as a street food. The provinces are also home to hard textured rye bread, pastries and cookies, the latter heavily spiced with ginger or succade or contain small bits of meat. Various kinds of Kruidkoek (such as Groninger koek), Fryske dúmkes and spekdikken (small savory pancakes cooked in a waffle iron) are considered typical. Notable characteristics of Fries roggebrood (Frisian rye bread) is its long baking time (up to 20 hours), resulting in a sweet taste and a deep dark colour. In terms of alcoholic beverages, the region is renowned for its many bitters (such as Beerenburg) and other high-proof liquors rather than beer, which is, apart from Jenever, typical for the rest of the country. As a coastal region, Friesland is home to low-lying grasslands, and thus has a cheese production in common with the Western cuisine. Friese Nagelkaas (Friesian Clove) is a notable example.

The provinces of North Holland, South Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and the Gelderlandic region of Betuwe are the parts of the Netherlands which make up the region in which western Dutch cuisine is found. Because of the abundance of water and flat grass lands that are found here, the area is known for its many dairy products, which includes prominent cheeses such as Gouda, Leyden (spiced cheese with cumin), Edam (traditionally in small spheres) as well as Leerdammer and Beemster, while the adjacent Zaanstreek in North Holland is since the 16th century known for its mayonnaise, typical whole-grain mustards and chocolate industry. Zeeland and South Holland produce a lot of butter, which contains a larger amount of milkfat than most other European butter varieties. A by-product of the butter-making process, karnemelk (buttermilk), is also considered typical for this region. Seafood such as soused herring, mussels (called Zeeuwse Mossels, since all Dutch mussels for consumption are cleaned in Zeeland's Oosterschelde), eels, oysters and shrimps are widely available and typical for the region. Kibbeling, once a local delicacy consisting of small chunks of battered white fish, has become a national fast food, just as lekkerbek. Pastries in this area tend to be quite doughy, and often contain large amounts of sugar; either caramelised, powdered or crystallised. The oliebol (in its modern form) and Zeeuwse bolus are good examples. Cookies are also produced in great number and tend to contain a lot of butter and sugar, like stroopwafel, as well as a filling of some kind, mostly almond, like gevulde koek. The traditional alcoholic beverages of this region are beer (strong pale lager) and Jenever, a high proof juniper-flavored spirit, that came to be known in England as gin. A noted exception within the traditional Dutch alcoholic landscape, Advocaat, a rich and creamy liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy, is also native to this region.

The Southern Dutch cuisine consists of the cuisines of the Dutch provinces of North Brabant and Limburg and the Flemish Region in Belgium. It is renowned for its many rich pastries, soups, stews and vegetable dishes and is often called Burgundian which is a Dutch idiom invoking the rich Burgundian court which ruled the Low Countries in the Middle Ages, renowned for its splendor and great feasts. It is the only Dutch culinary region that developed an haute cuisine. Pastries are abundant, often with rich fillings of cream, custard or fruits. Cakes, such as the Vlaai from Limburg and the Moorkop and Bossche Bol from Brabant, are typical pastries. Savoury pastries also occur, with the worstenbroodje (a roll with a sausage of ground beef, literally translates into sausage bread) being the most popular. The traditional alcoholic beverage of the region is beer. There are many local brands, ranging from Trappist to Kriek. 5 of the 10 International Trappist Association recognised breweries in the world, are located in the Southern Dutch cultural area. Beer, like wine in French cuisine, is also used in cooking; often in stews.



Bike entrance Rotterdam Central Station
Bike passage at Rotterdam Centraal station

Cycling is a mode of transport used a lot in the Netherlands. Almost as many kilometres are covered by bicycle as by train.

The Dutch are estimated to have at least 18 million bicycles, which makes more than one per capita, and twice as many as the circa 9 million motor vehicles on the road.

In 2013, the European Cyclists' Federation ranked both the Netherlands and Denmark as the most bike-friendly countries in Europe, but more of the Dutch (36%) than of the Danes (23%) list the bike as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day.

Cycling infrastructure is very good. Busy roads have received some 35,000 km of dedicated cycle tracks, physically segregated from motorised traffic. Busy junctions are often equipped with bicycle-specific traffic lights. There are large bicycle parking facilities, particularly in city centres and at train stations.


NSR - Sprinter Lighttrain (SLT) - Wieldrechtse Zeedijk - Dordrecht (22087244596)
A regional train operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (English: Dutch Railways) or NS is the main passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. The rail infrastructure is maintained by network manager ProRail, which was split off from NS in 2003. Freight services, formerly operated by NS Cargo, merged with the DB Schenker group in 2000.

NS runs 4,800 scheduled trains daily trains. In addition, NS provides international rail services from the Netherlands to other European destinations and carries out concessions on a number of foreign rail markets through its subsidiary Abellio such as Abellio Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and ScotRail.

Related pages

Images for kids

kids search engine
Netherlands Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.