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About us Who are we? About The Netherlands

Geography and landscape

A part of the province of Groningen seen from the sky
A part of the province of Groningen seen from the sky

The Netherlands is situated in the north-west of Europe, bordering Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and the North Sea to the north and west. It is a small and densely populated country. More than 16 million people live in an area of some 14,000 square kilometres with 60 per cent of the population living in the west,  in the Randstad area.

Below sea level

A common confusion: is the country named Holland or the Netherlands? The explanation is easy: Holland refers to the two western provinces, while the Netherlands -the Low Countries- refers to the country as a whole. More interestingly, it refers to the fact that approximately half of the country lies below sea level and would indeed be under water were it not for the unique system of dikes and dams that prevent the land from flooding.

Water is everywhere

You just need to be in the Netherlands for a few minutes to notice its main features. It is extremely flat, which makes for the broad, unbroken expanse of sky that is so characteristic of Dutch landscape painting. Water is everywhere: lakes, rivers, (natural) ports and canals of many types. Apart from containing the water for land reclamation, we make excellent use of it for transport, sailing, ice-skating, swimming, etc.


Beaches and dunes

The water is an intrinsic part of our culture and the Dutch landscape is also characterized by broad sandy beaches and dunes, drawing many tourists to the North Sea coast and Dutch Isles.

Last modified:18 January 2016 11.50 a.m.