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THE NETHERLANDS

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Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Netherlands
Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, © Can Stock Photo / Eagle2308

The Netherlands, or Nederland in Dutch, is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is a parliamentary democracy.  North and South Holland are two of its provinces and the country is often referred to as Holland.  The Netherlands is borded by  the North Sea, Belgium to the south and Germany to the east.  A series of dikes and canals has resulted in the recovery of tidal flats from the North Sea and nearly 25% of the Netherlands is below sea level.  The name Nederland in Dutch means "low country" and much of its sea level problems have been caused over the centuries by peat extraction.  The Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt Rivers form a delta that covers most of the coastline and further complicates the system of canals.  The Netherlands are known for their dikes and canals, windmills, tulips, wooden Dutch shoes and more recently for liberal polices toward marijuana and prostitution.  English is taught in the school system for the Netherlands, so you will find it commonly spoken.

The Netherlands has a population of around 17 million and its capital and largest city is Amsterdam, however the seat of government is in the Hague in South Holland.  The Hague is also the location for the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, which gives it great importance in the United Nations and is the source of references to it being the world's legal capital.  Rotterdam is the second largest city and the windmills of Kinderdijk are nearby.

Visas:

The Netherlands participates in the Schengen Zone and Schengen Visa requirements.  That means there are no border controls between members and no border inspections by rail or vehicle when traveling from the Netherlands to Belgium or Germany.  Some countries that are not members of the Schengen Zone require a Schengen Visa to enter Europe.  More than 40 countries outside the Schengen Zone do not require a visa.  Exemptions include citizens of Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.  Check your specific country of the Goverment of the Netherlands site or at VisaHQ.  For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.

Currency:

The Netherlands uses the Euro.  Cash machines are common and credit cards are widely used and accepted.  Be aware that banking machines may not accept more than a 4 digit pin.

Climate:

The climate of the Netherlands is greatly influenced by constant breezes from the North Sea.  This results in cool summers, but also means that temperatures infrequently drop below freezing in winter.  Rainfall is evenly spread throughout the year.  May - August are probably the best months for good weather during a visit.  If you want to see the tulips, you need to time your visit to the last week in April or the first week in May.

Best Time to Visit the Netherlands:

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

 Amsterdam

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 Hague

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 Rotterdam

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View Netherlands map