(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
How Greenland explains Donald Trump’s entire presidency
(CNN)Donald Trump won’t be going to Denmark in 10 days. Because the Danes won’t sell him Greenland.
(CNN)Donald Trump won’t be going to Denmark in 10 days. Because the Danes won’t sell him Greenland.
Spring is the perfect season to visit Europe. Airfare and lodging options are more reasonable, and museums and attractions aren’t as crowded. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, which European city should you choose? Here’s a list of potential destinations that are absolutely breathtaking in the spring.
Ideal for travelers with a modest budget, Budapest is a city that lies on both banks of the Danube. The city was initially three separate towns of Buda, Óbuda and Pest until they were combined in the year 1873. Today, you can visit Budapest in the springtime, stroll down cobblestone streets and enjoy food-themed festivals that highlight Chilean and Moroccan cuisine. Visit the historic Jewish quarter, go to the opera or see a play at a theater. Don’t forget to check out the Aquincum, a museum housing the reconstructed remains of an ancient Roman city.
Sure, Ella Fitzgerald sang the praises of “April in Paris.” But May and June are even better. That’s because during those two months, the sun is out for 16 hours before it finally sets. This allows you to enjoy so many outdoor activities like sipping wine at a cafe in the sun, strolling by the banks of the Seine or taking a romantic boat ride with your significant other.
What’s spring without flowers? Fortunately, Paris offers plenty of green space for quiet reflection and relaxation. The city boasts over 100 gardens, from simple pocket parks to more flamboyant ones such as the Tuileries.
Arts lovers will definitely need to consider a springtime visit to Glasgow, Scotland. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to check out the work of various artists, including the designs of artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in the year 1868 and is considered one of Scotland’s most influential artists. If you visit Glasgow in April, you shouldn’t miss Glasgow International, a bi-annual art festival featuring contemporary art.
Located on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a Swiss city that offers medieval architecture and beautiful vineyards. A quaint mixture of holiday resort and commercial town, Lausanne is a wonderful place to visit in the spring. Tiny, narrow roads and winding alleyways comprise the city, and many of those roads and alleys contain cafes and quaint shops. The city abounds with opportunities to eat mouthwatering cuisine. And if you visit Lausanne in the spring, don’t forget to visit its parks which boast Mediterranean plant species. There’s plenty to satisfy art lovers too. Art museums, theater, music productions and ballet performed by the world-renowned Béjart Ballet are just a few of the cultural activities available in Lausanne.
When you think of Netherlands, you think of tulips. Lots of them. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Lisse, Netherlands, in the spring. If flowers are your thing, check out Keukenhof, a lovely garden located in Lisse. It has 7 million planted flower bulbs, making it one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Flowers are planted in a specific pattern to fit a theme that changes each year. So the effect will always be stunning, no matter how many times you visit Keukenhof over the years. And, of course, since this is the Netherlands, the garden has plenty of tulips. Don’t miss the rare black tulips that are featured there as well.
In a landmark study published in eLife Sciences Publications in 2016, researchers examined the growth trends of almost 19 million people in 187 countries during the 100 years from 1896 to 1996. The results revealed the tallest and shortest people in each country, separated by sex. Many of the same countries fell on both lists. But some interesting outliers placed in the top ten countries with the tallest men, while women from the same countries were absent from the top ten. Similarly, women from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Belarus placed in the top ten countries with tallest women, but men from the same countries did not place. The following list combines the averages of both on the list to reveal the seven countries with the tallest people.
The landlocked Czech Republic is sandwiched between Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia, countries which don’t fall on the tallest people of the world list. Slovakia’s women do land at number six on the list, but the men are no place to be found. On average, people from the Czech republic are 1.80 meters tall (about 5 feet 9 inches tall).
In any case, visitors of all heights can’t visit the Czech Republic without spending time in Prague. This cosmopolitan Eastern European city is a favorite for travelers who want all the hustle, bustle, culture, and history of Paris, London, and Rome. Visitors can tour historical sites like concentration camps, experience authentic Czech food and beer, and visit fairytale castles like the red-roofed Cesky Krumlov.
Latvia, one of the Baltic States that lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, is home to the tallest women in the world. Throughout the centuries, Latvia has been invaded by many regional powers, creating a diverse culture which embraces art and creativity. If you travel to Latvia, your first stop may be the capital of Riga. The city’s central market, art museum, and ample historical sites provide a great starting point to learn about the country before you head out of the city to enjoy the unspoiled wilderness.
The other Baltic State with really tall people is Estonia. It’s relatively small compared to other countries on this list, but don’t underestimate Estonia. Its grandeur comes from its progressiveness and strides in technology which continue to foster entrepreneurship. Visitors will appreciate the preservation of medieval architecture in the Old Town of Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn. While Tallinn offers all the conveniences of a world-class European city, those who want to get away from it all can head to one of the country’s 2,000 islands in the Baltic Sea. You can camp, visit national parks and nature preserves, and visit the castles dotted throughout the countryside.
Belgium didn’t make the list of the top ten countries with the tallest women, but Belgian men are the second tallest in the world. This Western European country has a divided history with two distinct cultures that must be explored during your next visit. The French-speaking Walloons make up about one-third of the Belgian population. They live primarily in the south and east areas of the country. The Flemings, who speak a Dutch dialect, are the majority who live throughout the rest of the country. You’ll notice language differences, especially in signs throughout the country. But no matter the language, don’t forget Belgium is the country of waffles, beer, fries, and chocolate.
At 1.82 meters (approximately 5 feet 10 inches) tall on average, people from Serbia are pretty close to the top of the list. Part of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia is a landlocked Balkan state with exceptionally tall men and women. Serbia and its capital, Belgrade, have always straddled the East/West divide. This created a multi-ethnic and multicultural society which draws visitors from throughout Europe and around the world. Belgrade is especially famous for its outstanding nightlife. Those who venture outside of the capital will also find storybook forests, ski resorts, and thermal spas for outdoor fun, rest, and relaxation.
Denmark is the only Scandinavian country, and one of the only two Western European countries, to make the list of seven countries with the tallest people. The average height of a person born in Denmark is 1.826 meters. The country occupies many islands and a small peninsula, where you find its capital, Copenhagen. Copenhagen is one of the most well-organized cities in the world. Also, Denmark is a country of fairy tales. In addition to being the home of famous writer Hans Christian Andersen in Odense, Copenhagen is home to the famous Little Mermaid statue. Visitors can also visit the famous Tivoli Gardens amusement park, a staple of the city since the mid-1800s, or visit the ruins of Hammershus Slot, the largest castle in Europe.
When you think of the Netherlands, you may think of windmills, riding bicycles through tulip fields, and Van Gogh. You can now add tall people to your list. Dutch men are the tallest in the world, and Dutch women are the second tallest in the world. On average, people in Netherlands are 1.838 meters tall (approximately 6 feet).
World War II changed the planet as we know it forever. According to historians, it was the largest and deadliest war in history, with more than 30 countries sending soldiers to fight for six long, arduous years. The war began with the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939 and lasted until the Allies emerged victorious in 1945. With a war this big and this long, it’s no surprise that its pivotal battles were spread out all over the world. Here are four important locations to see if you want to delve deeper into the history of World War II.
The Manhattan Project was the code name of the top secret collection of engineers, nuclear physicists and military personnel who were given the task of producing an atomic weapon during World War II. This led to the scientific field being advanced in leaps and bounds as the group got closer and closer to creating the thing that would ultimately bring an end to the war: the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park spans three of the “most significant” locations that played a role in the building of the bomb: Los Alamos, New Mexico, Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Movie buffs will recognize the name of this French city from a recent film that depicted the events of “Operation Dynamo,” the evacuation of soldiers from French, Belgian, Canadian and British units from Dunkirk. All in all, over 330,000 soldiers were rescued from the Battle of France using both navy boats and civilian vessels in an evacuation that lasted from May 26th to June 4th, 1940. You can visit the sites of this battle today and walk along the same beaches where these soldiers fought to escape with their lives.
When I was growing up, my favorite book was The Diary of Anne Frank. While many people could think of World War II as something that happened somewhere else, to someone else, Anne’s diary brought people who weren’t born until decades later right into the heart of it, and showed them how the war affected people on a personal, human level. Today, the house in the Netherlands in which Anne and her family were hiding from the Nazis when she wrote that diary has been turned into a museum. You can visit and immerse yourself even more into Anne’s world to see where and how she lived before she became another innocent casualty of the terrible war.
The most important World War II location on our list is a somber place, a place that should have never existed. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest concentration camp built by the German Nazis. Millions upon millions of men, women and children came through this camp, with more than 1.1 million of them dying here. The museum and memorial on this spot hold relics, archives and other artifacts from the war and serve as a way to educate people about the aspects of history that cannot be repeated.
Human history is messy, as is readily apparent from the criss-cross of disjointed borders drawn across the globe. While some of these divisions remain hotbeds of persisting political contention and turmoil, others have been rendered so arbitrary as to be functionally nonexistent. The most significant historical event in easing border tensions across Europe was the formation of the European Union. The divisions between European nation states that divided many twin cities only by borders on paper were relaxed to the point that many of these cities function legally as one.
Cieszyn is a small town of 36,000 residents that sits on the Olza river, dividing Poland and the Czech Republic. It is one of the oldest towns in Poland, once serving as the capital of Duchy Cieszyn. Throughout the 19th century, it constituted the region of Cieszyn Silesia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following World War I, the city was divided between the newly-created states of Poland and Czechoslovakia, across the river, but it remained connected with a series of bridges.
In 2004, Poland and the Czech Republic joined the EU and abolished border controls in the town. Technically, there are two cities: Cieszyn, Poland, and Český Těšín, Czech Republic, but the city functions ostensibly as a single entity. Modern Cieszyn serves as a historical bedrock of Protestantism in Poland. It is also rather small with a total area of 11 square miles and an annual film festival.
The town of Kerkrade draws its origins from an 11th century settlement by the name of Rode that was once inhabited by Augustinian monks and currently sits in the Netherlands. However, up to 1815, the city was part of the town of Herzogenarth in Germany until the Congress of Vienna redrew the Dutch-German border. The new border ran directly through a road in Kerkrade, which, throughout World War II, was heavily fortified by Germans.
With the EU came the relaxation of borders across Europe, and the border wall between the Netherlands and Germany on Nieuwstraat Street, short enough to be stepped over by pedestrians, was abolished. Kerkrade and Herzogenarth now share public services and identify as a “binational city” that works in tandem toward economic development. Every four years, the city hosts the World Music contest for amateur, professional, and military bands. It’s also home to colorful parades and festivities during carnival in the spring.
The capital city of Luxembourg is a political and economic powerhouse. It has the third highest GDP per capita in the world and serves as a de facto capital of the European Union. Its influence extends across the world as do its national boundaries. The Luxembourg metropolitan area stretches across the borders of Belgium, France, and Germany.
Due to its complex history of strategic importance, as well as its geographic location, Luxembourg’s culture and language bear a diverse history of influences. Many locals speak English, French, and German. Some of its historical landmarks include preserved medieval architecture, such as Corniche, the “most beautiful balcony in Europe.” But it hasn’t stayed in the past—there’s free WiFi available throughout the entire city.
The United Nations recently released its World Happiness Report for 2019. The report took into account a number of factors, including social support, freedom, corruption and life expectancy. The results seem to prove that having a healthy work-life balance and a strong sense of community often lead to happiness. And since happy countries are great places to visit, you may want to put some of these countries on your bucket list. Here are the 10 happiest countries in the world.
In 2019, Austria jumped two spots to finally make the top 10 list of happiest countries in the world. This may be due to the fact that Austrians are simply satisfied with their lives, according to the OECD Better Life Index. Getting outdoors, including hiking and skiing, is relatively easy since 62% of the country is covered by the Alps. And since Austria is firmly situated between many countries, Austrians have access to the rest of Europe on their dependable high-speed railways.
Canadians are known to be some of the nicest people in the world, and it appears that nice people are also happy people. Although it fell from the seven spot, Canada remains in the top 10 with a population of friendly, hockey-loving residents. And with its growing population of immigrants, Canada is becoming a more culturally diverse country. When you add beautiful national parks, universal health care and an abundance of outdoor activities, Canada becomes more appealing by the second.
Consistently ranked as one of the friendliest places in the world, New Zealand is also one of the happiest. Residents of New Zealand are notoriously laid-back, which helps them achieve a healthy work-life balance. It probably helps that New Zealand is an island paradise that contains an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, like mountain-biking, skiing and hiking.
Credit: Martin Wahlborg/iStock
The long winters and cold climate doesn’t seem to be a happiness deterrent for the Swedes. Home to a mixed economy, the Swedish government plays a large role in controlling the country’s industries. While this does make taxes rather high, Swedes do benefit in a number of ways. From the average five weeks of paid vacation to 480 days of parental leave, the people of Sweden take advantage of some nice perks.
The Swiss may have a reputation for staying neutral, but that doesn’t stop them from being happy. Or maybe they’re happy because of their neutrality? Switzerland hasn’t taken part in a war for 172 years, which means the country’s coffers haven’t been emptied for military expenses. And as a country renowned for its top-notch skiing and breathtaking vistas, it certainly must be a nice place to live. Best of all, with an average 35.2-hour work week, the Swiss have more time to get outside and enjoy life.
The Netherlands’ high ranking in the happiness index may be attributed to a healthy work-life balance. Ranked number one in this category by the OECD Better Life Index, the Dutch people are the best at juggling commitments between work, family and personal life. Since almost everyone uses a bicycle to commute, the Dutch have endorphin-producing exercise ingrained into their everyday habits. Add in a low crime rate and a relaxed café culture, and it’s clear that living in the Netherlands has its perks.
Iceland’s happiness doesn’t solely depend upon monetary success. In fact, the financial meltdown of 2008 didn’t hurt the overall happiness of Icelanders, even though many of them came upon hard times. Whether it’s because they’re descendants of Vikings, or because they get enough omega-3 from all the fish they eat, the people of Iceland are resilient. This trait, when paired with the country’s optimism, has created a tight-knit national community.
As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Norway is quite well-off. Even though the country is known to be dark and cold, Norwegians have a surprisingly upbeat attitude about life. A common saying in Norway goes “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” which shows how a little positivity can go a long way.
The Danish concept of hygge has recently taken the world by storm and is a notion that speaks volumes about the country’s culture. Roughly translated to “cozy,” hygge is a lifestyle trend abided by the people of Denmark. Indulging in a cup of hot cocoa after playing outside in the snow or curling up with a good book while rain pitter-patters on the roof — these moments of “intentional intimacy” define hygge, according to LiveScience. Have you ever heard that it’s the little things in life that make you happy? For the people of Denmark, this seems to be true.
Ranked the happiest country in the world for two straight years, the people of Finland are quite content. And this happiness isn’t limited to the born-and-bred Finnish people. Finland’s immigrants also rank the happiest in the world. As the co-editor of the World Happiness Report, John Helliwell, said, “It’s not about Finnish DNA. It’s about the way life is lived.” Another Scandinavian country that places community and work-life balance at the forefront of its priorities, Finland’s equal society and supportive networks are chief in finding happiness.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.|
|History||The recorded history of Luxembourg begins with the acquisition of Lucilinburhuc (today Luxembourg Castle) by Siegfried, Count of Ardennes in 963. Around this fort, a town gradually developed, which became the centre of a small state of great strategic value. In 1437, the House of Luxembourg suffered a succession crisis, precipitated by the lack of a male heir to assume the throne, that led to the territory being sold to Philip the Good of Burgundy. In the following centuries, Luxembourg’s fortress was steadily enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and the French, among others. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was disputed between Prussia and the Netherlands. The Congress of Vienna formed Luxembourg as a Grand Duchy in personal union with the Netherlands. Luxembourg also became a member of the German Confederation, with a Confederate fortress manned by Prussian troops.
The Belgian Revolution of 1830–1839 reduced Luxembourg’s territory by more than half, as the predominantly francophone western part of the country was transferred to Belgium. Luxembourg’s independence was reaffirmed by the 1839 First Treaty of London. In the same year, Luxembourg joined the Zollverein. Luxembourg’s independence and neutrality were again affirmed by the 1867 Second Treaty of London, after the Luxembourg Crisis nearly led to war between Prussia and France. After the latter conflict, the Confederate fortress was dismantled.
The King of the Netherlands remained Head of State as Grand Duke of Luxembourg, maintaining personal union between the two countries until 1890. At the death of William III, the Dutch throne passed to his daughter Wilhelmina, while Luxembourg (at that time restricted to male heirs by the Nassau Family Pact) passed to Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg.
Luxembourg was invaded and occupied by Germany during the First World War, but was allowed to maintain its independence and political mechanisms. It was again invaded and subject to German occupation in the Second World War in 1940, and was formally annexed into the Third Reich in 1942.
During World War II, Luxembourg abandoned its policy of neutrality, when it joined the Allies in fighting Germany. Its government, exiled to London, set up a small group of volunteers who participated in the Normandy invasion. It became a founding member of the United Nations in 1946, and of NATO in 1949. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and, in 1999, it joined the euro currency area. In 2005, a referendum on the EU treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was held in Luxembourg.
|Geography||Location: Western Europe, between France and Germany
Geographic coordinates: 49 45 N, 6 10 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 2,586 sq km
land: 2,586 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Rhode Island
Land boundaries: total: 359 km
border countries: Belgium 148 km, France 73 km, Germany 138 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: modified continental with mild winters, cool summers
Terrain: mostly gently rolling uplands with broad, shallow valleys; uplands to slightly mountainous in the north; steep slope down to Moselle flood plain in the southeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Moselle River 133 m
highest point: Buurgplaatz 559 m
Natural resources: iron ore (no longer exploited), arable land
Land use: arable land: 27.42%
permanent crops: 0.69%
other: 71.89% (includes Belgium) (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 1.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.06 cu km/yr (42%/45%/13%)
per capita: 121 cu m/yr (1999)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: air and water pollution in urban areas, soil pollution of farmland
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography – note: landlocked; the only Grand Duchy in the world
|Politics||Luxembourg is a parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch. Under the constitution of 1868, executive power is exercised by the Governor and the cabinet, which consists of several other ministers. The Governor has the power to dissolve the legislature and reinstate a new one, as long as the Governor has judicial approval. However, since 1919, sovereignty has resided with the Supreme Court.
Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, a unicameral legislature of sixty members, who are directly elected to five-year terms from four constituencies. A second body, the Council of State (Conseil d’État), composed of twenty-one ordinary citizens appointed by the Grand Duke, advises the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation.
The Grand Duchy has three lower tribunals (justices de paix; in Esch-sur-Alzette, the city of Luxembourg, and Diekirch), two district tribunals (Luxembourg and Diekirch) and a Superior Court of Justice (Luxembourg), which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. There is also an Administrative Tribunal and an Administrative Court, as well as a Constitutional Court, all of which are located in the capital.
|People||Population: 486,006 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.6% (male 46,729/female 43,889)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 163,356/female 160,425)
65 years and over: 14.7% (male 29,206/female 42,401) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39 years
male: 38 years
female: 40 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.188% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.77 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.43 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 8.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.18 years
male: 75.91 years
female: 82.67 years
( THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU), and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.|
|History||Under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and king of Spain, the region was part of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, which also included most of present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, and some land of France and Germany. 1568 saw the start of the Eighty Years’ War between the provinces and Spain. In 1579, the northern half of the Seventeen Provinces formed the Union of Utrecht, a treaty in which they promised to support each other in their defense against the Spanish army. The Union of Utrecht is seen as the foundation of the modern Netherlands. In 1581 the northern provinces adopted the Oath of Abjuration, the declaration of independence in which the provinces officially deposed Philip II. Philip II the son of Charles V, was not prepared to let them go easily and war continued until 1648 when Spain under King Philip IV finally recognised Dutch independence in the Treaty of Münster.
Dutch Republic 1581-1795
Since their independence from Phillip II in 1581 the provinces formed the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The republic was a confederation of the provinces Holland, Zeeland, Groningen, Friesland, Utrecht, Overijssel and Gelre. All these provinces were autonomous and had their own government, the “States of the Province”. The States-General, the confederal government, were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives from each of the seven provinces. The very thinly populated region of Drenthe, mainly consisting of poor peatland, was part of the Republic too, although Drenthe was not considered one of the provinces. Drenthe had its own States but the landdrost of Drenthe was appointed by the States-General.
The Republic occupied a number of so-called Generality Lands (Generaliteitslanden in Dutch). These territories were governed directly by the States-General, so they did not have a government of their own and they did not have representatives in the States-General. Most of these territories were occupied during the Eighty Years’ War. They were mainly Roman Catholic and they were used as a buffer zone between the Republic and the Southern Netherlands.
The Dutch grew to become one of the major seafaring and economic powers of the 17th century during the period of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. In the so-called Dutch Golden Age, colonies and trading posts were established all over the globe.
Many economic historians regard the Netherlands as the first thoroughly capitalist country in the world. In early modern Europe it featured the wealthiest trading city (Amsterdam) and the first full-time stock exchange. The inventiveness of the traders led to insurance and retirement funds as well as such less benign phenomena as the boom-bust cycle, the world’s first asset-inflation bubble, the tulip mania of 1636–1637, and according to Murray Sayle, the world’s first bear raider – Isaac le Maire, who forced prices down by dumping stock and then buying it back at a discount. The republic went into a state of general decline in the later 18th century, with economic competition from England and long standing rivalries between the two main factions in Dutch society, the Staatsgezinden (Republicans) and the Prinsgezinden (Royalists or Orangists) as main factors.
Under French influence 1795-1815
On 19 January 1795, a day after stadtholder William V of Orange fled to England, the Batavian Republic (Bataafse Republiek in Dutch) was proclaimed. The proclamation of the Batavian Republic introduced the concept of the unitary state in the Netherlands. From 1795 to 1806, the Batavian Republic designated the Netherlands as a republic modelled after the French Republic.
The Kingdom of Holland 1806 – 1810 (Dutch: Koninkrijk Holland, French: Royaume de Hollande) was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, in order to control the Netherlands more effectively. The name of the leading province, Holland, was now taken for the whole country. The kingdom of Holland covered the area of present day Netherlands, with the exception of Limburg, and parts of Zeeland, which were French territory. In 1807 Prussian East Frisia and Jever were added to the kingdom. In 1809 however, after an English invasion, Holland had to give over all territories south of the river Rhine to France.
King Louis Napoleon did not meet Napoleon’s expectations — he tried to serve Dutch interests instead of his brother’s — and the King had to abdicate on 1 July 1810. He was succeeded by his five year old son Napoleon Louis Bonaparte. Napoleon Louis reigned as Louis II for just ten days as Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ignored his young nephew’s accession to the throne. The Emperor sent in an army to invade the country and dissolved the Kingdom of Holland. The Netherlands then became part of the French Empire.
From 1810 to 1813, when Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated in the battle of Leipzig, the Netherlands were part of the French Empire.
Kingdom of the Netherlands
In 1795 the last stadtholder William V of Orange fled to England. His son returned to the Netherlands in 1813 to become William I of the Netherlands, Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands. On 16 March 1815 the Sovereign Prince became King of the Netherlands.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, by expanding the Netherlands with Belgium in order to create a strong country on the northern border of France. In addition, William became hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The Congress of Vienna gave Luxembourg to William personally in exchange for his German possessions, Nassau-Dillenburg, Siegen, Hadamar and Diez.
Belgium rebelled and gained independence in 1830, while the personal union between Luxembourg and the Netherlands was severed in 1890, when King William III of the Netherlands died with no surviving male heirs. Ascendancy laws prevented his daughter Queen Wilhelmina from becoming the next Grand Duchess. Therefore the throne of Luxembourg passed over from the House of Orange-Nassau to the House of Nassau-Weilburg, another branch of the House of Nassau.
The largest Dutch settlement abroad was the Cape Colony. It was established by Jan van Riebeeck on behalf of the Dutch East India Company at Capetown (Dutch: Kaapstad) in 1652. The Prince of Orange acquiesced to British occupation and control of the Cape Colony in 1788. The Netherlands also possessed several other colonies, but Dutch settlement in these lands was limited. Most notable were the vast Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and Suriname (the latter was traded with the British for New Amsterdam, now known as New York). These ‘colonies’ were first administered by the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, both collective private enterprises. Three centuries later these companies got into financial trouble and the territories in which they operated were taken over by the Dutch government (in 1815 and 1791 respectively). Only then did they become official colonies.
During the 19th century, the Netherlands was slow to industrialize compared to neighbouring countries, mainly due to the great complexity involved in the modernizing of the infrastructure consisting largely of waterways and the great reliance its industry had on windpower.
World War I
Many historians do not recognise the Dutch involvement during World War I. However, recently historians started to change their opinion on the role of the Dutch. Although the Netherlands remained neutral during the war, it was heavily involved in the war.  Von Schlieffen had originally planned to invade the Netherlands while advancing into France in the original Schlieffen Plan. This was changed by Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in order to maintain Dutch neutrality. Later during the war Dutch neutrality would prove essential to German survival up till the blockade integrated by the USA and Great Britain in 1916 when the import of goods through the Netherlands was no longer possible. However, the Dutch were able to remain neutral during the war using their diplomacy and their ability to trade. 
World War II
The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I and intended to do so in World War II. However, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940 in the Western European campaign of the Second World War. The country was quickly overrun and the army main force surrendered on May 14 after the bombing of Rotterdam, although a Dutch and French allied force held the province of Zeeland for a short time after the Dutch surrender. The Kingdom as such continued the war from the colonial empire; the government in exile resided in London.
During the occupation over 100,000 Dutch Jews  were rounded up to be transported to Nazi concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. By the time these camps were liberated, only 876 Dutch Jews survived. Dutch workers were conscripted for forced labour in German factories, civilians were killed in reprisal for attacks on German soldiers, and the countryside was plundered for food for German soldiers in the Netherlands and for shipment to Germany. Although there are many stories of Dutch people risking their lives by hiding Jews from the Germans, like in the diary of Anne Frank, there were also Dutch people who collaborated with Nazi occupiers in hunting down and arresting hiding Jews, and some joined the Waffen-SS to form the 4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Netherlands, fighting on the Eastern Front.
The government-in-exile lost control of its major colonial stronghold, the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), to Japanese forces in March 1942. “American-British-Dutch-Australian” (ABDA) forces fought hard in some instances, but were overwhelmed. During the occupation, the Japanese interned Dutch civilians and used both them and Indonesian civilians as forced labour, both in the Netherlands East Indies and in neighbouring countries. This included forcing women to work as “comfort women” (sex slaves) for Japanese personnel. Some military personnel escaped to Australia and other Allied countries from where they carried on the fight against Japan.
After a first liberation attempt by the Allied 21st Army Group stalled, much of the northern Netherlands was subject to the Dutch famine of 1944, caused by the disrupted transportation system, caused by German destruction of dikes to slow allied advances, and German confiscation of much food and livestock and above that all a very severe winter made the “Hunger Winter” of 1944-1945 one in which malnutrition and starvation were rife among the Dutch population. German forces held out until the surrender of May 5, 1945, in Wageningen at Hotel De Wereld.
After the war
After the war, the Dutch economy prospered by leaving behind an era of neutrality and gaining closer ties with neighbouring states. The Netherlands became a member of the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) grouping. Furthermore, the Netherlands was among the twelve founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and among the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would later evolve, via the EEC (Common Market), into the European Union.
|Geography||Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany
Geographic coordinates: 52 30 N, 5 45 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 41,526 sq km
land: 33,883 sq km
water: 7,643 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 1,027 km
border countries: Belgium 450 km, Germany 577 km
Coastline: 451 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters
Terrain: mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders); some hills in southeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Zuidplaspolder -7 m
highest point: Vaalserberg 322 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel, arable land
Land use: arable land: 21.96%
permanent crops: 0.77%
other: 77.27% (2005)
Irrigated land: 5,650 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 89.7 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 8.86 cu km/yr (6%/60%/34%)
per capita: 544 cu m/yr (2001)
Natural hazards: flooding
Environment – current issues: water pollution in the form of heavy metals, organic compounds, and nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates; air pollution from vehicles and refining activities; acid rain
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Geography – note: located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde)
|Politics||The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848; before that it had been a republic from 1581 to 1806 and a kingdom between 1806 and 1810 (it was part of France between 1810 and 1813). The Netherlands is described as a consociational state. Dutch politics and governance are characterised by an effort to achieve broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole. In 2007, The Economist ranked The Netherlands as the third most democratic country in the world.
The head of state is the monarch, at present Queen Beatrix. Constitutionally the monarch still has considerable powers, but in practice it has become a ceremonial function. The monarch can exert most influence during the formation of a new cabinet, where he/she serves as neutral arbiter between the political parties.
In practice the executive power is formed by de ministerraad Dutch cabinet. Because of the multi-party system no party has ever held a majority in parliament since the 19th century, therefore coalition cabinets have to be formed. The cabinet consists usually of around thirteen to sixteen ministers of which between one and three ministers without portfolio, and a varying number of state secretaries. The head of government is the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who is often, but not always, the leader of the largest party in the coalition. In practice the Prime Minister has been the leader of the largest coalition party since 1973. He is a primus inter pares, meaning he has no explicit powers that go beyond those of the other ministers.
The cabinet is responsible to the bicameral parliament, the States-General which also has legislative powers. The 150 members of the Second Chamber, the Lower House, are elected in direct elections, which are held every four years or after the fall of the cabinet (by example: when one of the chambers carries a motion of no-confidence, the cabinet offers her resignation to the monarch). The provincial assemblies are directly elected every four years as well. The members of the provincial assemblies elect the 75 members of the First Chamber, the upper house, which has less legislative powers, as it can merely reject laws, not propose or amend them.
Both trade unions and employers organisations are consulted beforehand in policymaking in the financial, economic and social areas. They meet regularly with government in the Social-Economic Council. This body advises government and its advice cannot be put aside easily.
While historically the Dutch foreign policy was characterised by neutrality, since the Second World War the Netherlands became a member of a large number of international organisations, most prominently the UN, NATO and the EU. The Dutch economy is very open and relies on international trade.
The Netherlands has a long tradition of social tolerance. In the 18th century, while the Dutch Reformed Church was the state religion, Catholicism and Judaism were tolerated. In the late 19th century this Dutch tradition of religious tolerance transformed into a system of pillarisation, in which religious groups coexisted separately and only interacted at the level of government. This tradition of tolerance is linked to the Dutch policies on recreational drugs, prostitution, LGBT rights, euthanasia, and abortion which are among the most liberal in the world.
The Binnenhof is the centre of Dutch politics.
Since suffrage became universal in 1919 the Dutch political system has been dominated by three families of political parties: the strongest family were the Christian democrats currently represented by the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), second were the social democrats, of which the Labour Party (PvdA) is currently the largest party and third were the liberals of which the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is the main representative. These cooperated in coalition cabinets in which the Christian democrats had always been partner: so either a centre left coalition of the Christian democrats and social democrats or a centre right coalition of Christian democrats and liberals. In the 1970s the party system became more volatile: the Christian democratic parties lost seats, while new parties, like the radical democrat and progressive liberal D66, became successful.
In the 1994 election the CDA lost its dominant position. A “purple” cabinet was formed by the VVD, D66 and PvdA. In 2002 elections this cabinet lost its majority, due to the rise of LPF, a new political party around the flamboyant populist Pim Fortuyn, who was shot to death a week before the elections took place. The elections also saw increased support for the CDA. A short lived cabinet was formed by CDA, VVD and LPF, led by the leader of the Christian democrats, Jan Peter Balkenende. After the 2003 elections in which the LPF lost almost all its seats, a cabinet was formed by the CDA, the VVD and D66. The cabinet initiated an ambitious program of reforming the welfare state, the health care system and immigration policies.
In June 2006 the cabinet fell, as D66 voted in favour of a motion of no confidence against minister of immigration and integration Rita Verdonk in the aftermath of the upheaval about the asylum procedure of Ayaan Hirsi Ali instigated by the Dutch immigration minister Verdonk. A care taker cabinet was formed by CDA and VVD, and the general elections were held on 22 November 2006. In these elections the Christian Democratic Appeal remained the largest party and the Socialist Party made the largest gains. The formation of a new cabinet started two days after the elections. Initial investigations toward a CDA-SP-PvdA coalition failed, after which a coalition of CDA, PvdA and ChristianUnion was formed.
|People||Population: 16,645,313 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.6% (male 1,496,348/female 1,427,297)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 5,705,003/female 5,583,787)
65 years and over: 14.6% (male 1,040,932/female 1,391,946) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 40 years
male: 39.2 years
female: 40.9 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.436% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.53 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.55 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.25 years
male: 76.66 years
female: 81.98 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.66 children born/woman (2008 est.)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||Once the center of the Caribbean slave trade, the island of Curacao was hard hit by the abolition of slavery in 1863. Its prosperity (and that of neighboring Aruba) was restored in the early 20th century with the construction of oil refineries to service the newly discovered Venezuelan oil fields. The island of Saint Martin is shared with France; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles; its northern portion, called Saint Martin, is an overseas collectivity of France.|
|History||Both the leeward (Alonso de Ojeda, 1499) and windward (Christopher Columbus, 1493) island groups were discovered and initially settled by Spain. In the 17th century, the islands were conquered by the Dutch West India Company and were used as military outposts and trade bases, most prominent the slave trade. Slavery was abolished in1863.
In 1954, the status of the islands was up-graded from a colonial territory to a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom. The island of Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles until 1986, when it was granted status aparte, becoming yet another part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as a separate country within the kingdom.
Between June 2000 and April 2005, each island of the Netherlands Antilles had a referendum on its future status. The four options that could be voted on were:
Of the five islands, Sint Maarten and Curaçao voted for status aparte, Saba and Bonaire voted for closer ties to the Netherlands, and Sint Eustatius voted to stay within the Netherlands Antilles.
|Geography||Location: Caribbean, two island groups in the Caribbean Sea – composed of five islands, Curacao and Bonaire located off the coast of Venezuela, and Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius lie east of the US Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates: 12 15 N, 68 45 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 960 sq km
land: 960 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin)
Area – comparative: more than five times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 15 km
border countries: Saint Martin 15 km
Coastline: 364 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; ameliorated by northeast trade winds
Terrain: generally hilly, volcanic interiors
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m
Natural resources: phosphates (Curacao only), salt (Bonaire only)
Land use: arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 90% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius are subject to hurricanes from July to October; Curacao and Bonaire are south of Caribbean hurricane belt and are rarely threatened
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are divided geographically into the Leeward Islands (northern) group (Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten) and the Windward Islands (southern) group (Bonaire and Curacao); the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
|Politics||The head of state is the ruling monarch of the Netherlands, who is represented in the Netherlands Antilles by a governor. A council of ministers, chaired by a prime minister, forms the local government. Together with the governor, who holds responsibility for external affairs and defense, it forms the executive branch of the government.
The legislative branch is two-layered. Delegates of the islands are represented in the government of the Netherlands Antilles, but each island has its own government that takes care of the daily affairs on the island.
The Netherlands Antilles are not part of the European Union. Since 2006 the Islands have given rise to diplomatic disputes between Venezuela and the Netherlands. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez claims that the Netherlands may allow the United States to install military bases that would be necessary for a planned U.S. invasion of Venezuela. On May 23, 2006 an international military manoeuver known as Joint Caribbean Lion 2006, including forces of the U.S. Navy, began.
|People||Population: 225,369 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 26,749/female 25,467)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 73,319/female 78,842)
65 years and over: 9.3% (male 8,541/female 12,451) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 33.4 years
male: 31.6 years
female: 35.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.754% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.37 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.43 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.64 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.45 years
male: 74.15 years
female: 78.87 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2008 est.)
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