Netherlands – Country Rating | Info.

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Flag of NetherlandsThe Kingdom of the Netherlands is in Western Europe, bordered by the North Sea, Belgium and Germany. The West Frisian Islands, off the coast of North Holland, and the islands of the Dutch Antilles, in the Caribbean, are part of the Kingdom.

The Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces: Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland.

Amsterdam is the capital city and an important port; the government of the Netherlands is situated in The Hague. Rotterdam is a major city and one of the world’s leading ports.

Most of the country is low-lying with half of the Netherlands below sea level. Dikes (dams) have been built along the coast and the land drained. In the north the former Zuider Zee, separated from the North Sea by an eighteen mile long dike, forms a lake called the IJsselmeer. Rivers include the Rhine (Waal and Lek) and the Maas or Meuse.

The climate is temperate with cool summers and mild winters.

Environment
As a low-lying country the Netherlands has waged a long struggle against the sea. Hydraulic engineering has played a huge part in protection against flooding and reclamation of land.

Over forty-five regions are listed by Ramsar as Wetlands of International Importance. De Biesbosch, Weerribben and Waddenzee are also National Parks

Wadden Sea (Waddenzee), an area of coastal wetlands and dune systems, is also a UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve.

The wetlands are the habitat of many species of birds such as Bewick’s Swan, Great Cormorant, Grey Plover, Redshank and Spoonbill.

Architecture
Over ten thousand buildings in the Netherlands are on the preservation register. In Noord-Holland traditional wooden houses can be seen in the eel-fishing village of Volendam and the green and white painted houses in Marken.

By the seventeenth century Amsterdam was Europe’s wealthiest trading city. Amsterdam’s golden era saw the development of town planning in the capital. Houses were built along the rings of city canals, the wealthiest merchants living in the city centre. Houses were narrow and high as there was a tax on the width of the buildings. Stepped gables were popular. Expensive spices and goods were kept on the top floors of merchants’ houses and hoists with pulley and tackle were used to move goods through the windows.

A recent development in the Netherlands is the construction of wooden and aluminium floating houses. The buildings are constructed on concrete pontoons and anchored to land. As half on the country’s land is below sea-level, with some areas prone to flooding, this may provide a solution to the provision of living space.

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