The Netherlands: live + let live = true
The Netherlands (in English called often Holland) is a constitutional monarchy, with population over 16 million and a founding member of the European Union.
The people, language, and culture of the Netherlands are referred to as "Dutch".
Most tourists visit the western part of the country with Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Haarlem. Other Dutch towns worth a visit are: Hague, and the historic cities of Utrecht, Leiden, and Delft. Traditional Dutch windmills are preferably to be seen in Kinderdijk.
The western coast has one of the most beautiful North Sea beaches. In the less populated north, where people speak distinctive dialects, there is nature and also beautiful beaches to enjoy. Separated by big rivers, the southern part of the country tempts with Breda, the Efteling, which is the largest theme park of the Netherlands; Maastricht, and nightlife of towns in Zeeland.
This small country is one of the most densely populated in the world (although you would hardly notice it, everybody find their way in narrow streets with a great deal of elegance!). It is known for tolerant attitudes (particularly towards homosexuality, prostitution, cannabis, and… euthanasia). The Dutch are very open-minded, informal and easy-going; and they all speak fluent English too…
Things to Do
The masterpieces of Rembrandt in Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam or Van Gogh Museum are the usual goal not only for art-interested people. Amsterdam offers much more, being one of the largest historic city centres in Europe, with about 7,000 registered historic buildings. There is something for every traveler's taste here, whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying or just relax over a glass of Heineken, and contemplate a view.
Sight-seeing in other the numerous, charming towns and cities, the beaches; and biking: much of the country is flat and at or below sea level and the cycle lines and paths are everywhere! There are many signposted cycle routes too.
'Koninginnedag' (Queen's Day), held every year at April 30th all over the country, is an attraction that is particularly interesting in Amsterdam. And in Maastricht, the Carnival is just indescribable.
Getting here and getting around
Visitors from neighboring European countries enter the Netherlands by car or train (from UK there are ferries too), others choose airways: the Amsterdam airport Schiphol (AMS) is one of the busiest airports in the world. Other international airports are: Eindhoven Airport, Maastricht/Aachen Airport, Rotterdam Airport, and Groningen-Eelde Airport.
In the major cities - Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Hague - you can use the tram, bus and metro. (chip cards serve as tickets for all means of transportation). Getting around within the country is quickest by train.
Climate & weather
The Netherlands has a quite temperate climat, with varying temperatures – in average 18°C/64°F during summer, and between 1-9°C/34-48° in winter. Rain is likely all year round.
Time zone: UTC (GMT)+1. Daytime saving time (DST) is observed.
Currency: Euro (EUR, €).
The country was part of the Roman Empire; The Dutch emerged as a distinct people in the 13th and 14th centuries, but they would have to wait until in the late 16th century to have a separate political entity, when they finally freed themselves from Spanish Habsburgs.
In the 17th century, the Netherlands became one of the major economic and seafaring powers in the world. During this so called Golden Age, many colonies, such as Indonesia ('Netherlands East Indies') and New York ('New Amsterdam', later traded with the British for Suriname) were founded or conquered.
The Low Countries became a monarchy after the Napoleonic wars, and Belgium separated from them in 1831, basically as a result of religious differences. The country became a constitutional monarchy after 1848; it was neutral during WWI bur suffered brutal Nazi occupation during the next world war. Today the Netherlands is a modern, industrialized nation and large exporter of agricultural products.