The Netherlands borders in the west and north with the North Sea, along the east with Germany and in the south with Belgium.
The capital is Amsterdam (legally since 1983), the government is seated in The Hague. The country is divided in twelve provinces.
The Netherlands is a constitual monarchy with a parliamentary system. The power of the sitting head of state is rather limited. Her name is Queen Beatrix and a member of the House of Orange. The head of the government is the Prime Minister.
The Netherlands exists since 1830, after the separation with Belgium. Before this time many names were given to this country such as "Lage Landen", in French Pays-Bas, The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and Royal Holland during the French period.
As the name reveals, The Netherlands has remained low, under water level. Big parts of "Het Westen" is densely inhabited and of great economical importance. It is situated below the waterline while the Netherlands overall is situated in the delta of the four large rivers namely the Rijn, the Maas, the Schelde and the IJssel.
The Netherlands belongs to the top 3 of most densely populated countries in the world with 395.6/km2 (2008). This has major consequences in how one has to use the space. Four of the biggest cities are concentrated in the western provinces, the so-called "Randstad". About 40% of the population can be found on this small piece of land. Because of this the Netherlands has a very dense infrastructure. The motorways and railway net are struggling to cope with the growing traffic pressure. The country has 116,428,360 (2008) inhabitants.
In the morning most Dutch people eat slices of bread covered with cheese sliced, meat sliced or sweet coverings like chocolate hail, fruit hail, chocolate flakes or jam.
During lunch we witness the same ritual as in the morning with one thing added on which is drinking milk or butter milk.
A typical Dutch dinner consists mostly of potatoes with vegetables, meat and gravy. In wintertime the "stamppot" is very popular. It is any kind of cabbage mixed with mashed potatoes. The potato can always be found on the dinner plate whether it is boiled, cooked, baked, fried, mashed or as part of the "stamppot". Most people have accepted different eating habits from abroad like pasta and rice.
Very unusual is the time dinner starts, namely around 5.00 pm. Having your dinner before six o'clock is very popular with at least 83% of the population.
The way the Dutch do their dishes is by placing a plastic bowl in the sink and filling it up with extremely hot water and adding too much liquid soap. The dish brush is used to clean the plates and cutlery accordingly and place it in a rack so that it can drip dry.
The Dutch people are very hospitable and will open their homes easily to strangers. They can also be very blunt and are opinionated but this is because they care and it should therefore not be taken any other way.
Dog owners walk their dogs with a little spade to pick up the excrements and dispose of it in the gutter or in a special bin placed alongside the road.
At night by-passers have free view into the living room of house owners. In the evening the lights are on while the curtains remain open. The Dutch are proper and like to show this off.