The Netherlands is a country located in western Europa, with Belgium and Germany as neighbor countries in the south and east, and the United Kingdom in the west, even though the countries are separated by the sea. Even though the Netherlands is a small county, there are many people living there, around 16.5 million. The Dutch capital is Amsterdam, the government however, resides in Den Haag ( the Hague).

The Netherlands is a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy, which means that the country has a royal family. The present queen of the Netherlands is queen Beatrix, although there are rumors going on about her passing the throne to her eldest son Willem-Alexander in the very near future. The queen only has a cultural function and is not involved in any political decision. These are taken by the government. The head of the government is the prime minister. As for this moment the prime minister is Jan Peter Balkenende.

The Netherlands is a country that is maybe better known as Holland. This name is not the correct though. When talking about Holland you actually talk about a small part of the country instead of the entire country. This is because the Netherlands is split into 12 parts, named provincies. Every provincie has a name. The provincies are:

· Groningen

· Friesland

· Drenthe

· Overijssel

· Flevoland

· Gelderland

· Utrecht

· Noord-Holland

· Zuid-Holland

· Zeeland

· Noord-Brabant

· Limburg

As you can see, the word Holland is in two cases a part of the name of a provincie. So when speaking of Holland you actually speak about those two provincies.

The major cities that are to be found in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven. All are extremely important for the country. But as the country is densely populated almost everybody, with exception of the people living in the very north and south, live close to one of the cities. The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. The language is a Germanic language and therefore related to German.

The things the Netherlands are best known for are the following things:

· Polders and dikes ( these were needed because the Netherlands is a low-lying country and therefore has trouble with the sea all the time).

· Tulips

· Clogs

· Painters as Rembrand en Van Gogh

· Windmills

· Edam and Gouda cheese

· A lot of bicycles

· Delftware

· Social tolerance

· Liberal policies towards drugs, prostitution, homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia.

The Netherlands are actively involved in world-politics. They are a member of the NATO, UN, EU and the form the BeNeLux, with Belgium and Luxembourg. They also signed the Kyoto protocol and are part of the OECD and the WTO.

Even though the county is small, it's an extremely interesting country to learn about and therefore take a look at the number of articles the category the Netherlands covers!