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26 avril 2011 2 26 /04 /avril /2011 04:45

The Netherlands, West Frisian: Nederlân; Papiamento: Hulanda) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with parts in the Caribbean. It is a parliamentary democraticconstitutional monarchy.HP 448007-001 battery

Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. The capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague.HP Pavilion DV7 battery

The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces (seeterminology of "the Netherlands"). The word Dutch is used to refer to the people, the language, and anything pertaining to the Netherlands. HP DV6-1120SA battery

This lexical difference between the noun and the adjective is an attribute of the English language that does not exist in the Dutch language. The adjective 'Dutch' is derived from the Diets language that was spoken in the area, which is now called Middle Dutch.

The Netherlands was one of the first parliamentary democracies. HP DV6-1210SA battery

Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the European Union (EU),NATO, OECD and WTO. With Belgium and Luxembourg it forms the Benelux economic union. The country is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and five international courts: Compaq CQ50 battery

the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The first four are situated in The Hague as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol and judicial co-operation agency Eurojust. HP Pavilion DV8 battery

This has led to the city being dubbed "the world's legal capital". The Netherlands has a capitalist market-based economy, ranking 15th of 157 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom.

The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 25% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level,and 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level.Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

Significant land area has been gained through land reclamation and preserved through an elaborate system of polders and dikes. Much of the Netherlands is formed by the estuary of three important European rivers, which together with their distributariesform the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta.HP Pavilion TX1000 battery

Most of the country is very flat, with the exception of foothills in the far southeast and several low-hill ranges in the central parts. The BES islands, or Caribbean Netherlands, became part of the Netherlands proper after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010 HP Pavilion DV3500 Battery

Habsburg Netherlands 1519–1581

Under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and King of Spain, the region was part of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, which also included most of present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, and some land of France and Germany. The Eighty Years' War between the provinces and Spain began in 1568.HP HDX X18-1005EA battery

In 1579, the northern half of the Seventeen Provinces formed the Union of Utrecht, a treaty in which they promised to support each other in their defense against the Spanish army. The Union of Utrecht is seen as the foundation of the modern Netherlands. In 1581 the northern provinces adopted the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence in which the provinces officially deposed Philip II of Spain. Compaq PF723A battery

Queen Elizabeth I of England sympathized with the Dutch struggle against the Spanish, and in 1585 she concluded a treaty with the Dutch whereby she promised to send an English army to the Netherlands to aid the Dutch in their war with the Spanish. In December 1585, 7,600 soldiers were sent to the Netherlands from England under the command of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. HP G6000 battery

However, the English army had no real effect of helping the Dutch rebellion.

Robert Dudley returned to the Netherlands in November 1586 with another army. The result was no better than it had been in 1585.HP Compaq Business Notebook NW9440 battery

Philip II, the son of Charles V, was not prepared to let them go easily, and war continued until 1648, when Spain under King Philip IV finally recognised the independence of the seven northwestern provinces in the Peace of Münster. Parts of the southern provinces became de facto colonies of the new republican-mercantile empire.Compaq Evo N800W battery

Dutch Republic 1581–1795

After independence, the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Groningen, Friesland, Utrecht, Overijssel, and Gelre formed aconfederation known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. All these provinces were autonomous and had their own government, the "States of the Province". Compaq Evo N620C battery

The States-General, the confederal government, were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives from each of the seven provinces. The sparsely populated region of Drenthe, mainly consisting of poor peatland, was part of the republic too, although Drenthe was not considered one of the provinces; HP Pavilion DV7 battery

it had its own States, but the landdrost of Drenthe was appointed by the States-General. Moreover, the Republic had come to occupy during the Eighty Years' War a number of so-called Generality Lands(Generaliteitslanden in Dutch). These territories were governed directly by the States-General. HP Pavilion DV2745SE battery

They did not have a government of their own and did not have representatives in the States-General. Their population was mainly Roman Catholic, and these areas were used as a buffer zone between the Republic and the Southern Netherlands.

The Dutch Empire grew to become one of the major seafaring and economic powers of the 17th century. HP Pavilion DV5-1211EM battery

In theDutch Golden Age ("Gouden Eeuw"), colonies and trading posts were established all over the world. Dutch settlement in North America began with the founding of New Amsterdam, on the southern tip of Manhattan in 1614. In South Africa, the Dutch settled the Cape Colony in 1652. By 1650, the Dutch owned 16,000 merchant ships.HP Compaq 490306-001 battery

During the 17th century, the Dutch population increased from an estimated 1.5 million to almost 2 million.

Many economic historians regard the Netherlands as the first thoroughly capitalist country in the world. In early modern Europe it featured the wealthiest trading city (Amsterdam) and the first full-time stock exchange. HP 520 battery

The inventiveness of the traders led to insurance and retirement funds as well as phenomena such as the boom-bust cycle, the world's first asset-inflation bubble, the tulip mania of 1636–1637, and, according to Murray Sayle, the world's first bear raider, Isaac le Maire, who forced prices down by dumping stock and then buying it back at a discount.HP TouchSmart TX2-1150EG battery

The republic went into a state of general decline in the later 18th century, with economic competition from England and long standing rivalries between the two main factions in Dutch society, the Staatsgezinden (Republicans) and thePrinsgezinden (Royalists or Orangists) as main factors.HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

In the 17th century, plantation colonies were established by the Dutch and English along the many rivers in the fertile Guyana plains. The earliest documented colony in Guiana was along the Suriname River and called Marshall's Creek. The area was named after an Englishman. Disputes arose between the Dutch and the English. Compaq Presario CQ70 battery

In 1667, the Dutch decided to keep the nascent plantation colony of Suriname conquered from the English, resulting from the Treaty of Breda. The English were left with New Amsterdam, a small trading post in North America, which is now known as New York City.HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

French domination 1795–1814

On 19 January 1795, one day after stadtholder William V of Orange fled to England, the Bataafse Republiek (Batavian Republic) was proclaimed, rendering the Netherlands a unitary state. From 1795 to 1806, the Batavian Republic designated the Netherlands as a republic modelled after the French Republic.Compaq Presario CQ71 battery

From 1806 to 1810, the Koninkrijk Holland (Kingdom of Holland) was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom governed by his brother Louis Bonaparte in order to control the Netherlands more effectively. The name of the leading province, Holland, was used for the whole country. HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO battery

The Kingdom of Holland covered the area of the present day Netherlands, with the exception of Limburg and parts of Zeeland, which were French territory. In 1807, PrussianEast Frisia and Jever were added to the kingdom. In 1809, however, after a failed British invasion, Holland had to give over all territories south of the Rhineto France.Compaq Presario CQ50-105EL battery

King Louis Bonaparte did not meet Napoleon's expectations – he tried to serve Dutch interests instead of his brother's, allowed trade with the British in spite of the Continental System and even tried to learn Dutch – and he was forced to abdicate on 1 July 1810. He was succeeded by his five-year-old sonNapoleon Louis Bonaparte. HP Compaq 572190-001 battery

Napoleon Louis reigned as Louis II for just ten days as Napoleon ignored his young nephew’s accession to the throne. The Emperor sent in an army to invade the country and dissolved the Kingdom of Holland. The Netherlands then became part of the French Empire.HP Pavilion DV6373EA battery

The Netherlands remained part of the French Empire until the autumn of 1813, when Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Leipzig and forced to withdraw his troops from the country.

[edit]Kingdom of the Netherlands 1815–1940

William I of the Netherlands, son of the last stadtholder William V van Oranje, returned to the Netherlands in 1813 and became Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands. On 16 March 1815, the Sovereign Prince became King of the Netherlands. HP Pavilion DV2820EA battery

In 1815, the Congress of Vienna formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands by expanding the Netherlands with Belgium in order to create a strong country on the northern border of France. In addition, William became hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The Congress of Vienna gave Luxembourg to William as personal property in exchange for his German possessions, Nassau-Dillenburg, Siegen, Hadamar, and Diez.HP Compaq Business Notebook 6735S battery

Belgium rebelled and gained independence in 1830, while the personal union between Luxembourg and the Netherlands was severed in 1890, when King William III of the Netherlands died with no surviving male heirs. Ascendancy laws prevented his daughter Queen Wilhelmina from becoming the next Grand Duchess. Compaq Presario 300 battery

Therefore the throne of Luxembourg passed over from the House of Orange-Nassau to the House of Nassau-Weilburg, a junior branch of the House of Nassau.

The largest Dutch settlement abroad was the Cape Colony. It was established by Jan van Riebeeck on behalf of the Dutch East India Company at Cape Town(Dutch: Kaapstad) in 1652.HP Pavilion DV7-2085EL battery

The Prince of Orange acquiesced to British occupation and control of the Cape Colony in 1788. The Netherlands also possessed several other colonies, but Dutch settlement in these lands was limited. Most notable were the vast Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and Dutch Guiana(now Suriname). HP Compaq Business Notebook TC4400 battery

These 'colonies' were first administered by the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, both collective private enterprises. Three centuries later these companies got into financial trouble, and the territories in which they operated were taken over by the Dutch government (in 1815 and 1791 respectively). Only then did they become official colonies.HP Pavilion ZD8227 battery

During its colonial period the Netherlands was heavily involved in the slave trade. The Dutch planters relied heavily on African slaves to cultivate the coffee, cocoa, sugar cane and cotton plantations along the rivers. Treatment of the slaves by their owners was notoriously bad, and many slaves escaped the plantations. HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51 battery

Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in Dutch Guiana in 1863, but the slaves were not fully released until 1873, after a mandatory 10 year transition period during which time they were required to work on the plantations for minimal pay and without state sanctioned torture. HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

As soon as they became truly free, the slaves largely abandoned the plantations where they had suffered for several generations in favor of the city Paramaribo. Every year this is remembered during Keti Koti, 1 July, Emancipation Day (end of slavery).HP DV9700 battery

During the 19th century, the Netherlands was slow to industrialize compared to neighbouring countries, mainly because of the great complexity involved in modernizing the infrastructure, consisting largely of waterways, and the great reliance its industry had on windpower.Compaq CQ35-100 battery

Although the Netherlands remained neutral during World War I, it was heavily involved in the war. German general Count Schlieffen, who was Chief of the Imperial German General Staff had originally planned to invade the Netherlands while advancing into France in the original Schlieffen Plan. Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

This was changed by Schlieffen's successor Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in order to maintain Dutch neutrality. Later during the war Dutch neutrality proved essential to German survival until the blockade by Great Britain in 1916, when the import of goods through the Netherlands was no longer possible. HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO Battery

However, the Dutch were able to continue to remain neutral during the war using their diplomacy and their ability to trade.

Second World War 1940–1945

The Netherlands intended to remain neutral during the Second World War, although contingency plans involving the armies of Belgium, France and the United Kingdom were drawn up in case of German aggression.Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/L Battery

Despite this neutrality, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 as part of their campaign against the Allied forces. French forces in the south and British ships in the west came to help but turned around quickly, evacuating many civilians and several thousand German prisoners of war from the German elite airborne divisions.Sony VGN-CR11M Battery

The country was overrun in five days. Only after (but not because of) the bombing of Rotterdam, the main element of the Dutch army surrendered on 14 May 1940; although a Dutch and French force held the western part of Zeeland for some time after the surrender. The Kingdom as such, continued the war from the colonial empire; the government in exile resided in London.Sony VGN-NR11Z Battery

During the occupation, over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up to be transported to Nazi German concentration camps in Germany, German-occupied Poland and German-occupied Czechoslovakia. By the time these camps were liberated, only 876 Dutch Jews survived. Sony VGN-NR11S Battery

Dutch workers were conscripted for forced labour in German factories, civilians were killed in reprisal for attacks on German soldiers, and the countryside was plundered for food for German soldiers in the Netherlands and for shipment to Germany. Although there were thousands of Dutch who risked their lives by hiding Jews from the Germans, Sony VGN-NR110E Battery

as recounted in The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and The Heart Has Reasons by Mark Klempner, there were also thousands of Dutch who collaborated with the occupying force in hunting down hiding Jews. Local fascists and anti-Bolsheviks joined the Waffen-SS in the 4th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Brigade Netherlands, fighting on the Eastern Front as well as other units.Sony VGN-NR110E/T Battery

On 8 December 1941, the Netherlands declared war on Japan. The government-in-exile then lost control of its major colonial stronghold, the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), to Japanese forces in March 1942. "American-British-Dutch-Australian" (ABDA) forces fought hard in some instances but were overwhelmed. Sony VGN-NR110E/S Battery

During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, the Japanese interned Dutch civilians and used Dutch and Indos (Eurasians of Dutch and Indonesian descent) alike as forced labour, both in the Netherlands East Indies and in neighbouring countries. This included forcing women to work as "comfort women" (sex slaves) for Japanese personnel.Sony VGN-NR110E/W Battery

The Dutch Red Cross reported the deaths in Japanese custody of 14,800 European civilians out of 80,000 interned and 12,500 of the 34,000 POW captured. A later UN report stated that 4 million people died in Indonesia as a result of famine and forced labour (known as romusha) during the Japanese occupation.Sony VGN-CR11SR Battery

Some military personnel escaped to Australia and other Allied countries from where they carried on the fight against Japan. The Japanese furthered the cause of independence for the colony, so that after VE day many young Dutchmen found themselves fighting a colonial war against the new republic of Indonesia.Sony VGN-CR11Z Battery

Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and heir to the throne, sought refuge in Ottawa, Canada, with her two daughters, Beatrix and Irene, during the war. During Princess Juliana’s stay in Canada, preparations were made for the birth of her third child.Sony VGN-CR11S Battery

To ensure the Dutch citizenship of this royal baby, the Canadian Parliament passed a special law declaring Princess Juliana's suite at the Ottawa Civic Hospital “extraterritorial”.

On 19 January 1943, Princess Margriet was born. The day after Princess Margriet's birth, the Dutch flag was flown on the Peace Tower.Sony VGN-CR11M Battery

This was the only time in history a foreign flag has waved above Canada’s Parliament Buildings. In 1944–45, the First Canadian Army was responsible for liberating much of the Netherlands from German occupation. The joyous "Canadian summer" that ensued after the liberation, forged deep and long-lasting bonds of friendship between the Netherlands and Canada.Sony VGN-CR11E Battery

In 1949, Dutch troops occupied an area of 69 km2 (27 sq mi) of the British zone of occupied Germany and annexed it. At that time, these areas were inhabited by almost 10,000 people.

Recent history 1945–present

After the war, the Dutch economy prospered by leaving behind an era of neutrality and gaining closer ties with neighbouring states.Sony VGN-CR21E Battery

The Netherlands was one of the founding members of the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) grouping, was among the twelve founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and was among the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would later evolve, via the EEC(Common Market), into the European Union.Sony VGN-CR21S Battery

The 1960s and 1970s were a time of great social and cultural change, such as rapid ontzuiling (literally: depillarisation), a term that describes the decay of the old divisions along class and religious lines. Youths, and students in particular, rejected traditional mores and pushed for change in matters like women's rights, sexuality, disarmament and environmental issues.Sony VGN-CR21Z Battery

Today, the Netherlands is regarded as a liberal country, considering its drugs policy and its legalisation of euthanasia. On 1 April 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation to allow same-sex marriage.

Geography

The European area of the Netherlands lies between latitudes 50° and 54° N, and longitudes 3° and 8° E.Sony VGN-CR21SR Battery

The country is divided into two main parts by three large rivers, the Rhine (Rijn) and its main distributaries, the Waal and the Meuse (Maas). These rivers functioned as a natural barrier between earlier fiefdoms and hence created traditionally a cultural divide, as is evident in some phonetic traits that are recognizable north and south of these "Large Rivers" (de Grote Rivieren).Sony VGN-CR31SR Battery

The southwestern part of the Netherlands is a river delta and two tributaries of the Scheldt (Westerschelde and Oosterschelde). Only one significant branch of the Rhine flows northeastward, the IJssel river, discharging into the IJsselmeer, the former Zuiderzee ('southern sea'). Sony VGN-CR31S Battery

This river also forms a linguistic divide: people to the east of this river speak Dutch Low Saxon dialects (except for the province of Friesland, which has its own language).

Floods

Over the centuries, the Dutch coastline has changed considerably as a result of human intervention and natural disasters. Most notable in terms of land loss is the 1134 storm, which created the archipelago of Zeeland in the southwest.Sony VGN-CR31E Battery

On 14 December 1287, St. Lucia's flood affected the Netherlands and Germany killing more than 50,000 people in one of the most destructive floods in recorded history. The St. Elizabeth flood of 1421 and the mismanagement in its aftermath destroyed a newly reclaimed polder, replacing it with the 72-square-kilometre (28 sq mi) Biesbosch tidal floodplains in the south-centre. Sony VGN-CR31Z Battery

The last major flood in the Netherlands took place in early February 1953, when a huge storm caused the collapse of several dikes in the southwest of the Netherlands. More than 1,800 people drowned in the ensuing inundations. The Dutch government subsequently decided on a large-scale program of public works (the "Delta Works") to protect the country against future flooding. Sony VGN-CR41Z Battery

The project took more than thirty years to complete.

The disasters were partially increased in severity through human influence. People had drained relatively high lying swampland to use it as farmland. Sony VGN-CR41S Battery

This drainage caused the fertile peat to compress and the ground level to drop, whereby they would lower the water level to compensate for the drop in ground level, causing the underlying peat to compress even more. The problem remains unsolvable to this day. Also, up until the 19th century peat was mined, dried, and used for fuel, further adding to the problem.Sony VGN-CR41E Battery

To guard against floods, a series of defences against the water were contrived. In the first millennium AD, villages and farmhouses were built on man-made hills calledterps. Later, these terps were connected by dikes. In the 12th century, local government agencies called "waterschappen" (English "water bodies") or"hoogheemraadschappen" ("high home councils") started to appear, whose job it was to maintain the water level and to protect a region from floods.Sony VGN-CR41SR Battery

(These agencies exist to this day, performing the same function.) As the ground level dropped, the dikes by necessity grew and merged into an integrated system. By the 13th century,windmills had come into use in order to pump water out of areas below sea level. The windmills were later used to drain lakes, creating the famous polders.Sony VGN-CR42ZR Battery

In 1932, the Afsluitdijk (English "Closure Dike") was completed, blocking the former Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) from the North Sea and thus creating the IJsselmeer(IJssel Lake). It became part of the larger Zuiderzee Works in which four polders totalling 2,500 square kilometres (965 sq mi) were reclaimed from the sea.Sony VGN-CR42Z Battery

Delta Works

After the 1953 disaster, the Delta project, a vast construction effort designed to end the threat from the sea once and for all, was launched in 1958 and largely completed in 1997 with the completion of the Maeslantkering. The official goal of the Delta project was to reduce the risk of flooding in South Holland and Zeeland to once per 10,000 years.Sony VGN-CR42S Battery

(For the rest of the country, the protection level is once per 4,000 years.) This was achieved by raising 3,000 kilometers (1,864 mi) of outer sea-dykes and 10,000 kilometers (6,214 mi) of inner, canal, and river dikes, and by closing off the sea estuaries of the Zeeland province. Sony VGN-CR42E Battery

New risk assessments occasionally show problems requiring additional Delta project dyke reinforcements. The Delta project is one of the largest construction efforts in human history and is considered by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.Sony Vaio VGN-CR11S/L Battery

Additionally, the Netherlands is one of the countries that may suffer most from climate change. Not only is the rising sea a problem, but also erratic weather patterns may cause the rivers to overflow.

Climate

The predominant wind direction in the Netherlands is southwest, which causes a moderate maritime climate, with cool summers and mild winters. Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/P Battery

This is especially the case with places within direct proximity of the Dutch coastline, which sometimes are over 10 °C warmer (in Winter) or cooler (in Summer) than places in the (south)east of the country.

Ice days (maximum temperature below 0 °C) usually occur from December until February, with the occasional rare ice day prior to or after that period.Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/R Battery

Freezing days (minimum temperature below 0 °C) occur much more often, usually ranging from mid November to late March, but not rarely measured as early as mid October and as late as mid May. If one chooses the height of measurement to be 10 cm. above ground instead of 150 cm., one may even find such temperatures in the middle of the summer.Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/W Battery

Warm days (maximum temperature above 20 °C) in De Bilt are usually measured in the time span of April until September, but in some parts of the country such temperatures can also occur in March and October (this is usually not in De Bilt, however). Summer days (maximum temperature above 25 °C) are usually measured in De Bilt from May until August, tropical days (maximum temperature above 30 °C) are rare and usually occur only from June until August.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21/B Battery

Precipitation throughout the year is relatively equally shared by each month. Summer and Autumn months tend to gather a little bit more precipitation than other months, mainly because of the intensity of the rainfall rather than the frequency of rain days (this is especially the case in Summer, when lightning too is much more frequent than otherwise).Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/L Battery

[edit]Environment

The Netherlands has 20 national parks and hundreds of other nature reserves. Most are owned by Staatsbosbeheer and Natuurmonumenten and includelakes, heathland, woods, dunes and other habitats.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/P Battery

Phytogeographically, the Netherlands is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of the Netherlands belongs to the ecoregion of Atlantic mixed forests.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/L Battery

In 1871 the last old original natural woods (Beekbergerwoud) were cut down, and most woods today are planted monocultures of trees like Scots Pine and trees that are not native to the Netherlands.  These woods were planted on anthropogenic heaths and sand-drifts (overgrazed heaths) (Veluwe).Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/P Battery

Politics

The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848. The Netherlands is described as aconsociational state. Dutch politics and governance are characterised by an effort to achieve broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/W Battery

In 2010, The Economist ranked The Netherlands as the tenth most democratic country in the world.

The monarch is the head of state, at present Queen Beatrix. Constitutionally, the position is equipped with limited powers. The monarch can exert some influence during the formation of a new cabinet, where they serve as neutral arbiter between the political parties.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21Z/N Battery

Additionally, the king (the title queen has no constitutional significance) has the right to be informed and consulted. Depending on the personality and qualities of the king and the ministers, the king might have influence beyond the power granted by the constitution.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21Z/R Battery

In practice, the executive power is formed by the ministerraad, the deliberative council of the Dutch cabinet. The cabinet consists usually of thirteen to sixteen ministers and a varying number of state secretaries. One to three ministers are ministers without portfolio. Sony Vaio VGN-CR220E/R Battery

The head of government is the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who often is the leader of the largest party of the coalition. In fact, this has been continuously the case since 1973. The Prime Minister is aprimus inter pares, meaning he has no explicit powers beyond those of the other ministers. Currently, the Prime Minister is Mark Rutte.Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/B Battery

The cabinet is responsible to the bicameral parliament, the States-General, which also has legislative powers. The 150 members of the House of Representatives, the Lower House, are elected in direct elections, which are held every four years or after the fall of the cabinet (by example: when one of the chambers carries a motion of no-confidence, the cabinet offers its resignation to the monarch).Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/P Battery

The States-Provincial are directly elected every four years as well. The members of the provincial assemblies elect the 75 members of the Senate, the upper house, which has less legislative powers, as it can merely reject laws, not propose or amend them.

Both trade unions and employers organisations are consulted beforehand in policymaking in the financial, economic and social areas. Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/R Battery

They meet regularly with government in the Social-Economic Council. This body advises government and its advice cannot be put aside easily.

The Netherlands has a long tradition of social tolerance. In the 18th century, while the Dutch Reformed Church was the state religion, Catholicism andJudaism were tolerated. HP Pavilion DM3 battery

In the late 19th century this Dutch tradition of religious tolerance transformed into a system of pillarisation, in which religious groups coexisted separately and only interacted at the level of government. This tradition of tolerance is linked to Dutch criminal justice policies on recreational drugs,prostitution, HP Pavilion DM4 battery

LGBT rights, euthanasia, and abortion, which are among the most liberal in the world.

Political parties

Due to the multi-party system, no single party has held a majority in parliament since the 19th century, and coalition cabinets had to be formed. HP Pavilion DV6-1210SA battery

Sincesuffrage became universal in 1919, the Dutch political system has been dominated by three families of political parties: the strongest family were the Christian democrats, currently represented by the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), second were the social democrats, of which the Labour Party (PvdA), and third were the liberals, of which the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is the main representative.Dell N3010 battery

These parties cooperated in coalition cabinets in which the Christian democrats had always been a partner: so either a centre left coalition of the Christian democrats and social democrats was ruling or a centre right coalition of Christian democrats and liberals. In the 1970s, the party system became more volatile: the Christian democratic parties lost seats, while new parties became successful, such as the radical democrat and progressive liberal D66.Dell Inspiron N4010 battery

In the 1994 election, the CDA lost its dominant position. A "purple" cabinet was formed by VVD, D66, and PvdA. In the2002 elections, this cabinet lost its majority, due to an increased support for the CDA and the rise of the LPF, a new political party around Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated a week before the elections. Dell INSPIRON 9100 battery

A short-lived cabinet was formed by CDA, VVD, and LPF, which was led by the CDA leader, Jan Peter Balkenende. After the 2003 elections in which the LPF lost most of its seats, a cabinet was formed by CDA, VVD, and D66. The cabinet initiated an ambitious program of reforming the welfare state, the health care system, and the immigration policies.Dell XPS 1340 battery

In June 2006, the cabinet fell after D66 voted in favour of a motion of no confidence against minister of immigration and integration Rita Verdonk, who had instigated an investigation of the asylum procedure of VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A care taker cabinet was formed by CDA and VVD, and the general elections were held on 22 November 2006. Dell Inspiron 1464 battery

In these elections, the CDA remained the largest party and the SP made the largest gains. The formation of a new cabinet took three months, resulting in a coalition of CDA, PvdA, and ChristianUnion.

On 20 February 2010, the cabinet fell as the PvdA refused to prolong the involvement of the Dutch Army in Uruzgan, Afghanistan.Dell Inspiron 1764 battery

Snap elections were held on 9 June 2010, with devastating results for the previously largest party, the CDA, which lost about half of its seats, resulting in 21 seats. The VVD became the largest party with 31 seats, closely followed by the PvdA with 30 seats. The big winner of the 2010 elections was Geert Wilders' PVV, which more than doubled in number of seats.Dell Inspiron 1564 battery

Negotiation talks for a new government have resulted in a VVD-led minority government in coalition with CDA as of 14 October 2010. This minority government is supported by PVV.

Administrative divisions

The Netherlands is divided into twelve administrative regions, called provinces, each under a Governor, Dell Inspiron 1720 battery

who is called Commissaris van de Koningin (Commissioner of the Queen), except for the provinceLimburg where the commissioner is called Gouverneur (Governor). All provinces are divided into municipalities (gemeenten), 430 in total (13 March 2010).

The country is also subdivided in water districts, governed by a water board (waterschap or hoogheemraadschap), each having authority in matters concerning water management.Dell Inspiron Mini 12 battery

As of 1 January 2005 there are 27. The creation of water boards actually pre-dates that of the nation itself, the first appearing in 1196. In fact, the Dutch water boards are one of the oldest democratic entities in the world still in existence.

The administrative structure on the 3 BES islands is different. The islands have the status of openbare lichamen (public bodies) and are generally referred to as special municipalities. They are not part of a province. Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

Foreign relations

Historically the Dutch foreign policy was characterised by neutrality, since the Second World War the Netherlands became a member of a large number of international organisations, most prominently the UN, NATO and the EU. The Dutch economy is very open and relies on international trade.Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

The foreign policy of the Netherlands is based on four basic commitments: to the atlantic cooperation, to European integration, to international developmentand to international law. One of the more controversial international issues surrounding the Netherlands is its liberal policy towards soft drugs and position of the Netherlands as one of the major exporters of hard drugs.SONY VAIO VGN-FWZJ/H Battery

During and after its golden age, the Dutch built up a commercial and colonial empire, which fell apart quickly after the Second World War; the historical ties inherited from its colonial past still influence the foreign relations of the Netherlands.

Military

The Netherlands has the oldest standing army in Europe; it was first established as such by Maurice of Nassau. SONY VAIO VGN-FW41M/H Battery

The Dutch army was used throughout theDutch Empire. After the defeat of Napoleon, the Dutch army was transformed into a conscription army. The army was unsuccessfully deployed during theBelgian revolution in 1830. After 1830, it was deployed mainly in the Dutch colonies, as the Netherlands remained neutral in European wars (including WWI), until the Netherlands was invaded in WWII and quickly defeated by the Wehrmacht in May 1940.SONY VAIO VGN-FW37J Battery

After WWII, the Netherlands dropped their neutrality, and the Dutch army became part of the NATO army strength in Cold War Europe; holding several bases in Germany. In 1996 conscription was suspended, and the Dutch army was once again transformed into a professional army. SONY VAIO VGN-FW90NS Battery

Since the 1990s the Dutch army has been involved in the Bosnian War, the Kosovo War, has been holding a province in Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein, and was engaged inAfghanistan.

The military is composed of four branches, all of which carry the prefix Koninklijke (Royal):

  • Koninklijke Landmacht (KL), the Royal Netherlands ArmySONY VAIO VGN-FW83XS Battery
  • Koninklijke Marine (KM), the Royal Netherlands Navy, including the Naval Air Service and Marine Corps
  • Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), the Royal Netherlands Air Force
  • Koninklijke Marechaussee (KMar), the Royal Military Police, tasks include military police and border control

General Peter van Uhm is the current Commander of the Netherlands armed forces.SONY VAIO VGN-FW30B Battery

All military specialities except the submarine service and the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers) are open to women. The Korps Commandotroepen, the Special Operations Force of the Netherlands Army, is open to women, but because of the extremely high physical demands for initial training, it is almost impossible for women to become a commando.SONY VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H Battery

The Dutch Ministry of Defence employs more than 70,000 personnel, including over 20,000 civilian and over 50,000 military personnel.

Economy

The Netherlands has a very strong economy and has been playing a special role in the European economy for many centuries. Since the 16th century, shipping, fishing, trade, and banking have been leading sectors of the Dutch economy.SONY VAIO VGN-AW41MF Battery

The Netherlands is one of the world's 10 leading exporting countries. Foodstuffs form the largest industrial sector. Other major industries include chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical, goods and tourism. Examples include (Unilever, Heineken), financial services (ING), chemicals (DSM), petroleum refining (Shell), and electrical machinery (Philips, ASML) and (TomTom).SONY VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H Battery

The Netherlands has the 16th largest economy in the world, and ranks 7th in GDP (nominal) per capita. Between 1998 and 2000 annual economic growth (GDP) averaged nearly 4%, well above the European average. Growth slowed considerably from 2001 to 2005 with the global economic slowdown, but accelerated to 4.1% in the third quarter of 2007.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31Z Battery

Inflation is 1.3%, and unemployment is at 4.0% of the labour force. By Eurostat standards, unemployment in the Netherlands is at 4.1% (April 2010) – the lowest rate of all European Union member states.The Netherlands also has a relatively low GINI coefficient of 0.326. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31M Battery

Despite ranking only 7th in GDP per capita, UNICEF ranked the Netherlands 1st in child well-being. On the Index of Economic Freedom Netherlands is the 13th most free market capitalisteconomy out of 157 surveyed countries.

Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31B Battery

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange (AEX), part of Euronext, is the world's oldest stock exchange and is one of Europe's largest bourses. It is situated near Dam Square in the city's centre. As a founding member of the euro, the Netherlands replaced (for accounting purposes) its former currency, the "Gulden" (guilder), on 1 January 1999, along with 15 other adopters of the Euro. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31E Battery

Actual euro coinsand banknotes followed on 1 January 2002. One euro was equivalent to 2.20371 Dutch guilders.

The Netherlands' location gives it prime access to markets in the UK and Germany, with the port of Rotterdam being the largest port in Europe. Other important parts of the economy are international trade (Dutch colonialism started with cooperative private enterprises such as the VOC), banking andtransport.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

The Netherlands successfully addressed the issue of public finances and stagnating job growth long before its European partners. Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe with more than 4.2 million international visitors.

The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment and is one of the five largest investors in the United States. Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

The economy experienced a slowdown in 2005, but in 2006 recovered to the fastest pace in six years on the back of increased exports and strong investment. The pace of job growth reached 10-year highs in 2007.The Netherlands moved up from the 11th position in the Global Competitiveness Index[54] to the 9th position in 2007.Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

One of the largest natural gas fields in the world is situated near Slochteren. Exploitation of this field resulted in a total revenue of €159 billion since the mid 1970s. With just over half of the reserves used up and an expected continued rise in oil prices, the revenues over the next few decades are expected to be at least that much.Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

Agriculture

A highly mechanised agricultural sector employs 4% of the labour force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the 

United States and France, with exports earning $55 billion annually. Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

A significant portion of Dutch agricultural exports are derived from fresh-cut plants, flowers, and bulbs, with the Netherlands exporting two-thirds of the world's total. The Netherlands also exports a quarter of all world tomatoes, and one-third of the world's exports of chilis and cucumbers. The Netherlands also exports one-fifteenth of the world's apples. SONY VGP-BPS21 Battery

Transport

Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe, with the rivers Meuse and Rhine providing excellent access to the hinterland upstream reaching to Basel, Switzerland, and into France. In 2006, Rotterdam was the world's seventh largest container port in terms of Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled.SONY VGP-BPS21A Battery

The port's main activities are petrochemical industries and general cargo handling and transshipment. The harbour functions as an important transit point for bulk materials and between the European continent and overseas. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. SONY VGP-BPS21B Battery

In 2007, theBetuweroute, a new fast freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany, was completed.

Demographics

The Netherlands has an estimated population of 16,491,852 (as of 8 March 2009).It is the 11th most populous country in Europe and the 61st most populous country in the world. Between 1900 and 1950, the country's population almost doubled from 5.1 to 10.0 million people.SONY VGP-BPS21/S Battery

From 1950 to 2000, the population further increased from 10.0 to 15.9 million people, but the population growth decreased compared to the previous fifty years. The estimated growth rate is currently 0.436% (as of 2008).

The fertility rate in the Netherlands is 1.66 children per woman (as of 2008), which is high compared to many other European countries, but below the 2.1-rate required for natural population replacement. SONY VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

Life expectancy is high in the Netherlands: 79 years for newborn girls and 78 for boys (2007). The country has amigration rate of 2.55 migrants per 1,000 inhabitants.

The majority of the population of the Netherlands are ethnically Dutch. A 2005 estimate counted: 80.9% Dutch, 2.4% Indonesian (Indo-Dutch, South Moluccan), 2.4% German, 2.2% Turkish, 2.0% Surinamese, 2.0% Moroccan, 0.8% Antillean and Aruban, and 6.0% others. SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

The Dutch are the tallest people in the world, with an average height of 1.81 metres (5 ft 11 in) for adult males and 1.67 metres (5 ft 6 in) for adult females. People in the south are on average about 2 cm shorter than those in the north.

Dutch people, or descendants of Dutch people, are also found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United States. SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

According to the 2006 US Census, more than 5 million Americans claim total or partial Dutch ancestry. There are close to 3 million Dutch-descended Afrikanersliving in South Africa. In 1940, there were 290,000 Europeans and Eurasians in Indonesia,[65] but most have since left the country. SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

Urbanisation

The Netherlands is the 25th most densely populated country in the world, with 395 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,023 /sq mi)—or 484 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,254 /sq mi) if only the land area is counted. It is the most densely populated country in Europe with a population over 16 million. SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

The Randstad is the country's largest conurbation located in the west of the country and contains the four largest cities: Amsterdam in the province North Holland, Rotterdam and The Hague in the province South Holland, and Utrecht in the province Utrecht. The Randstad has a population of 7 million inhabitants and is the 6th largest metropolitan area in Europe.Toshiba Satellite M300 Battery

Language

The official language is Dutch, which is spoken by the vast majority of the inhabitants. Another official language is Frisian, which is spoken in the northern province of Friesland, called Fryslân in that language. A dialect of Frisian and Dutch is spoken in most villages in the west of the province of Groningen. Toshiba Satellite 1200 Battery

Frisian is co-official only in the province of Friesland, although with a few restrictions. Several dialects of Low Saxon (Nedersaksischin Dutch) are spoken in much of the north and east, like the Twents in the Twente region,and Drents in the province Drenthe. They are recognised by the Netherlands as regional languages according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages,Toshiba Satellite A200 Battery

as well as the Meuse-Rhenish Franconian varieties in the southeastern province of Limburg, here called Limburgish language.  English is an official language in the special municipalities of Saba and Saint Eustatius. It is widely spoken on these islands.Sony VGP-BPS21 battery

Papiamento is an official language in the special municipality of Bonaire. The three islands are known as the BES islands. Yiddishand the Romani language were recognized in 1996 as non-territorial languages.

There is a tradition of learning foreign languages in the Netherlands: Sony VGP-BPS14 battery

about 70% of the total population have good knowledge of conversational English, 55– 59% of German, and 19% of French. The children start with English courses at primary schools when they are about nine years old. English is a mandatory course in all secondary schools.Sony VGP-BPL8 battery

In most lower level secondary school educations (vmbo), one additional modern foreign language is mandatory during the first two years. In higher level secondary schools, two additional modern foreign languages are mandatory during the first three (havo) or four (vwo) years. Sony VGP-BPS22 battery

The standard modern languages are French and German, although schools can change one of these modern languages with Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, or Russian. Additionally, schools in the Frisia region teach and have exams in Frisian, and schools across the country teach and have exams in ancient Greek and Latin for vwo.Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

Religion

The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in Western Europe, with only 39% being religiously affiliated (31% for those aged under 35), and fewer than 20% visiting church regularly. According to the most recent Eurobarometer poll 2005, 34% of the Dutch citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", Sony VGP-BPS9 battery

whereas 37% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force", and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".

Currently, Roman Catholicism is the single largest religion of the Netherlands, forming the religious home of some 29% of the Dutch population. The Protestant Church of the Netherlands follows with 15% of the population.Sony VGP-BPS10 battery

It was formed in 2004 as a merger of the two major strands of Calvinism: the Dutch Reformed Church(which represented roughly 8.5% of the population), the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (3.7% of the population), and a smaller Lutheran Church. Other Protestant churches, mostly orthodox Calvinist splits, represent 6% of the population.Toshiba PA3399U-2BRS battery

In 1947, 44.3% belonged to Protestant denominations, 38.7% belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and 17.1% were unaffiliated.

In 2006, there were 850,000 Muslims (5% of the total Dutch population). The Netherlands has an estimated 250,000 Buddhists or people who feel strongly attracted by this religion, largely ethnic Dutch people. Toshiba Satellite T4900 Battery

There are approximately 200,000 Hindus, most of them are of Surinamese origin. Sikhs are another religious minority numbering around 12,000, mainly located in or around Amsterdam. There are five gurudwaras in the Netherlands. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying onWorld Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 6,400 Bahá'ís in 2005. Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery

Although the Holocaust deeply affected the Jewish community (killing about 75% of its 140,000 members at the time ), it has managed to rebuild a vibrant and lively Jewish life for its approximately 45,000 current members. Before World War II, 10% of the Amsterdam population was Jewish.SONY VGN -FZ210CE Battery

Freedom of education has been guaranteed by the Dutch constitution since 1917, and schools run by religious groups (especially Christian and Muslim) are funded by the government. Nevertheless, all schools must meet strict quality criteria.

Three political parties in the Dutch parliament (CDA, ChristianUnion, and SGP) base their policy on Christian belief in varying degrees.Dell Precision M70 Battery

Although the Netherlands is a secular state, in some municipalities where the Christian parties have the majority, the council meetings are opened by prayer.

Municipalities in general also give civil servants a day off on Christian religious holidays, such as Easter and the Ascension of Jesus.Acer Aspire One battery 10400mAh

Education

Education in the Netherlands is compulsory between the ages of 4 and 16, and partially compulsory between the ages of 16 and 18.

All children in the Netherlands attend elementary school from (on average) ages 4 to 12. It comprises eight grades, the first of which is facultative.Dell RM791 battery

Based on an aptitude test, the 8th grade teacher's recommendation and the opinion of the pupil's parents or caretakers, a choice is made for one of the three main streams of secondary education (after completing a particular stream, a pupil may still continue in the penultimate year of the next stream):Dell Inspiron E1505 battery

  • The vmbo has 4 grades and is subdivided over several levels. Successfully completing the vmbo results in a low-level vocational degree that grants access to the mbo ("middle-level applied education"). With the mbo diploma, a student can apply for the hbo.Dell Studio 1737 battery
  • The havo has 5 grades and allows for admission to the hbo ("higher professional education"), which are universities of professional education (or applied sciences) that award professional bachelor degrees that gives access to the university system.Dell Inspiron 300M Battery
  • The vwo (including atheneum and gymnasium) has 6 grades and prepares for studying at a research university. The university consists of a three year bachelor's degree, followed by a one, two or three year master's degree, and finally a four year doctoral degree. Doctoral candidates in the Netherlands are temporary employees of a university.Dell Latitude E4200 Battery

Culture

The Netherlands has had many well-known painters. The 17th century, when the Dutch republic was prosperous, was the age of the "Dutch Masters", such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century were Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan.Dell Latitude E5400 Battery

M. C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist. Willem de Kooning was born and trained in Rotterdam, although he is considered to have reached acclaim as an American artist. The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam andSpinoza. All of Descartes' major work was done in the Netherlands. Sony VGN-FW139E/H battery

The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) discovered Saturn's moon Titanand invented the pendulum clock. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms with a microscope.

In the Dutch Golden Age, literature flourished as well, with Joost van den Vondel and P.C. Hooft as the two most famous writers. Sony VGN-FW11M Battery

In the 19th century,Multatuli wrote about the poor treatment of the natives in Dutch colonies. Important 20th century authors include Harry Mulisch, Jan Wolkers, Simon Vestdijk, Cees Nooteboom, Gerard (van het) Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans. Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl was published after she died in the Holocaust and translated from Dutch to all major languages.Sony VGN-FW11S Battery

Replicas of Dutch buildings can be found in Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan. A similar Holland Village is being built in Shenyang, China. Windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese, Delftware pottery, and cannabis are among the items associated with the Netherlands by tourists.Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Battery

Sport

Approximately 4.5 million of the 16 million people in the Netherlands are registered to one of the 35,000 sports clubs in the country. About two thirds of the population older than 15 years participates in sports weekly. Dell Latitude D620 Battery

In the Netherlands, football, speed skating, korfball, handball, cycling, field hockey, volleyball, equestrian sports, sailing, and tennis are popular sports. A lot of amateurs practice them, and the Netherlands is a strong competitor in international tournaments for these sports.Dell Latitude D830 Battery

Organization of sports began at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Federations for sports were established (such as the speed skating federation in 1882), rules were unified and sports clubs came into existence. A Dutch National Olympic Committee was established in 1912. Toshiba Satellite M60 battery

Thus far, the nation has won 230 medals at the Summer Olympic Games and another 78 medals at the Winter Olympic Games.

Approximately 4.5 million of the 16 million people in the Netherlands are registered to one of the 35,000 sports clubs in the country. About two thirds of the population older than 15 years participates in sports weekly. Dell Studio 1457 Battery

In the Netherlands, football, speed skating, korfball, handball, cycling, field hockey, volleyball, equestrian sports, sailing, and tennis are popular sports. A lot of amateurs practice them, and the Netherlands is a strong competitor in international tournaments for these sports. Dell Latitude D610 Battery

The Dutch national team has done very well in recent years. At the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 was the Dutch team in second place.

Organization of sports began at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Federations for sports were established (such as the speed skating federation in 1882), rules were unified and sports clubs came into existence. Dell Studio 1457 Battery

A Dutch National Olympic Committee was established in 1912. Thus far, the nation has won 230 medals at the Summer Olympic Games and another 78 medals at the Winter Olympic Games.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands , is a sovereign state with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. Dell Studio 1450 Battery

The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality as partners in the Kingdom.

History

The Kingdom of the Netherlands finds its origin in the aftermath of Napoleon's defeat in 1813. Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery

In that year the Netherlands regained its freedom and the Sovereign Principality of the Netherlands was proclaimed with William Prince of Orange and Nassau as sovereign. Reunification with the Southern Netherlands, (roughly equivalent to what is now Belgium and Luxembourg) was decided in 1814. SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery

In March 1815 the Sovereign Prince adopted the style of aKing of the Netherlands and the Kingdom had come into being. The King of the Netherlands was also Grand Duke of Luxembourg, a province of the Kingdom that was at the same time a Grand Duchy of the German Confederation.SONY VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

In 1830, Belgium seceded from the Kingdom, a step that was only recognised by the Netherlands in 1839. At that point Luxembourg became a fully independent country in a personal union with the Netherlands. Luxembourg also lost more than half of its territory to Belgium.SONY VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

To compensate the German Confederation for that loss, the remainder of the Dutch province of Limburg received the same status that Luxembourg had enjoyed before, as a Dutch Province that at the same time formed a Duchy of the German Confederation. SONY VGP-BPS13A/B Battery

That status was reversed when the German Confederation ceased to be in 1867 and at that point Limburg reverted to its former status as an ordinary Dutch province, although the King of the Netherlands continues to use the additional title of Duke of Limburg to this day.SONY VGP-BPS13/S Battery

The origin of the administrative reform of 1954 was the 1931 Westminster Statute and the 1941 Atlantic Charter (stating the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live, and the desire for a permanent system of general security), which was signed by the Netherlands on January 1, 1942. SONY VGP-BPS8 Battery

Changes were proposed in the December 7, 1942 radio speech by Queen Wilhelmina. In this speech the Queen, on behalf of the Dutch government in exile in London, expressed a desire to review the relations between the Netherlands and its colonies after the end of the war.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ38M Battery

After the liberation, the government would be calling a conference to agree on a settlement in which the overseas territories could participate in the administration of the Kingdom on the basis of equality. Initially, this speech had propaganda purposes; the Dutch government had the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in mind, and was hoping to appease public opinion in the United States, which had become skeptical towards colonialism.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31Z Battery

After Indonesia became independent, a federal construction was considered too heavy as the economies of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles were insignificant compared to those of the Netherlands. In the Charter, as it came about in 1954, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles each got a Minister Plenipotentiary based in the Netherlands, SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery

who had the right to participate in Dutch cabinet meetings when it discussed affairs that applied to the Kingdom as a whole, when these affairs pertained directly to Suriname and/or the Netherlands Antilles. Delegates of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles could participate in sessions of the First and Second Chamber of the States-General. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery

An overseas member could be added to the Council of State when appropriate. According to the Charter, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles were also allowed to alter their Basic Laws (Staatsregeling). The right of the two autonomous countries to leave the Kingdom unilaterally was not recognised; yet it was stipulated the Charter could be dissolved by mutual consultation.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery

Before the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands was proclaimed in 1954, Suriname, Netherlands New Guinea, and the "Netherlands Antilles", formerly "Colony of Curaçao and subordinates" (Kolonie Curaçao en Onderhorige Eilanden) were colonies of the Netherlands.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery

Suriname was a constituent country within the Kingdom from 1954 to 1975, while the Netherlands Antilles were a constituent country from 1954 until 2010. Suriname has since become an independent republic, and the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved into the constituent countries Aruba (since 1986), SONY VAIO VGN-FZ4000 Battery

Curaçao and Sint Maarten (since 2010), and the special municipalities of the Netherlands proper, Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius. Netherlands New Guinea was a dependent territory of the Kingdom until 1962, but was not an autonomous country, and was not mentioned in the Charter.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ480E Battery

In 1955, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard visited Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The visit was a great success. The royal couple was enthusiastically welcomed by the local population and the trip was widely reported in the Dutch press. Several other royal visits were to follow.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ460E Battery

In 1969, an unorganised strike on the Antillian island of Curaçao resulted in serious disturbances and looting, during which a part of the historic city centre of Willemstad was destroyed by fire. Order was restored by Dutch marines. The same year in Suriname saw serious political instability with the Surinamese prime minister, Jopie Pengel, threatening to request military support to break a teacher strike.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ340E Battery

In 1973, a new Dutch cabinet under Labour leader Joop den Uyl assumed power. In the government policy statement the cabinet declared a wish to determine a date for the independence of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles with the government of those nations. The Antillean government was non-committal;SONY VAIO VGN-FZ220E Battery

the same held for the Surinamese Sedney cabinet (1969–1973). The Suriname 1973 elections brought the National Party Combination (Nationale Partij Kombinatie) to power, with Henck Arron as its prime minister. The new government declared on its instatement that Suriname would be independent before 1976. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ180E Battery

This was remarkable, as independence had not been an issue during the election campaign. The Den Uyl-government in The Hague now had a willing partner in Paramaribo to realise its plans for Surinamese independence. Despite vehement and emotional resistance by the Surinamese opposition, Den Uyl and Arron reached an agreement, and on 25 November 1975, Suriname became independent.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/T Battery

Countries

The Kingdom of the Netherlands currently consists of four countries that form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on a basis of equality.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

Aruba

Aruba is a centralised unitary state. Its administration consists of the Governor, who represents the Monarch, and the (Aruban) Council of Ministers, headed by a Prime Minister. The people are represented in the Estates of Aruba. The current Governor of Aruba is Fredis Refunjol, and the current Prime Minister is Mike Eman. It has the Aruban florin as its currency.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

Curaçao

Curaçao is a centralized unitary state, with similar administrative characteristics to Aruba. It has the Netherlands Antillean guilder as its currency.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

Netherlands

The Netherlands is a representative parliamentary democracy organized as a unitary state. Its administration consists of the Monarch and the Council of Ministers, which is headed by a Prime Minister. The people are represented by the States-General of the Netherlands, which consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate.Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces: Drenthe, Flevoland,Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland. The provinces are divided into municipalities. The current Prime Minister of the Netherlands is Mark Rutte. SONY VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

It has the euro as its currency, except in the special municipalities of the BES islands in the Caribbean, where the Netherlands Antillean guilder has been replaced by theUS dollar in 2011.

Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba

The special municipalities of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba are part of Netherlands but do not form part of a province.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

They resemble ordinary Dutch municipalities in most ways (with a mayor, aldermen and a municipal council, for example) and are subject to most Dutch laws. Residents of these three islands are also able to vote in Dutch national and European elections. There are, however, some derogations for these islands. SONY VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

Social security, for example, is not on the same level as it is in the Netherlands. In November 2008 it was decided to introduce the US dollar in the three islands. The date of introduction was 1 January 2011. The Netherlands carries the risk of exchange rate fluctuations regarding cash flows between the state and the islands.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten is a centralized unitary state, with similar administrative characteristics to Aruba. It has the Netherlands Antillean guilder as its currency.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

Charter and constitutions

The Constitutions of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten regulate the governance of their respective countries, but are subordinate to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands Constitution also constitutes and regulates the institutions of the Kingdom that are mentioned in the Charter.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

The provisions in the Charter for these institutions are additional and are applicable for only the affairs of the Kingdom as described in the Charter, when they affect Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten directly. In cases where affairs of the Kingdom do not affect Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten, they are dealt with according to the provisions laid down in the Netherlands Constitution. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ21E Battery

In these cases the Netherlands acts alone, according to its constitution and in its capacity as the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The other three countries cannot do the same for affairs of the Kingdom that only pertain to them and not to the Netherlands proper. In these cases, the provisions of the Charter prevail.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ18 Battery

Changes in the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands can only be made when all countries agree.

Government

The Monarch and her Ministers form the Government of the Kingdom. HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

According to Article 7 of the Charter, the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands complemented by one Minister Plenipotentiary of Aruba, one Minister Plenipotentiary of Curaçao, and one Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten.HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

The Dutch Prime Minister chairs the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom.

In December 2007, a Deputy Council for Kingdom Relations was established.This deputy council prepares the meetings of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom. The establishment of such a Council has long been advocated by the Council of State of the Kingdom.HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

The Government and the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom, along with the monarchy itself, are subject to Article 5 of the Charter that refers their regulation mainly to the Constitution for the Kingdom of the Netherlands as far as the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands does not provide for that.HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

However, the two roles these institutions have in the Netherlands proper and the Kingdom as a whole, are judicially separate.

Two legal instruments are available at the Kingdom level: the Kingdom act (Dutch: Rijkswet) and the Order-in-Council for the Kingdom (Dutch: Algemene maatregel van Rijksbestuur).SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery

An example of a Kingdom act is the "Kingdom Act regarding Dutch citizenship" (Dutch: Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap).

The King or Queen of the Netherlands is the head of state of the Kingdom. The King is represented in Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten by a governor.HP PAVILION DV8000 Battery

Legislature

The legislature of the Kingdom consists of the States-General of the Netherlands and the Government. Articles 14, 16 and 17 of the Charter give some participation to the parliaments of the Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.HP PAVILION DV6000 Battery

Council of State

Article 13 of the Charter specifies that there is a Council of State of the Kingdom. It is (as all institutions of the Kingdom) regulated in the Constitution, but the Charter implies that at the request of Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten, a member from each of these islands can be included in the Council of State.HP Pavilion dv8000 battery

Aruba is currently exercising this right. This has not always been the case; the Netherlands Antilles had no member until 1987 and Aruba had none until 2000. Sint Maarten's first member of the Council of State will be former Lieutenant Governor Dennis Richardson. HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery

Judiciary

The Hoge Raad der Nederlanden is the supreme court of the Kingdom by virtue of the Cassation regulation for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The basis for this regulation is article 23 of the Charter. Sony VGP-BPL15 battery

The second paragraph of that article specifies that if an overseas country of the Kingdom so request, the Kingdom Act should provide for an additional court member from that country. To date, neither Aruba, Curaçao, nor Sint Maarten has used this right.

According to Article 39 of the Charter, "civil and commercial law, the law of civil procedure, criminal law, Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

the law of criminal procedure, copyright, industrial property, the office of notary, and provisions concerning weights and measures shall be regulated as far as possible in a similar manner in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten". The Article further stipulates that when a drastic amendment of the existing legislation in regard to these matters is proposed,Sony VGP-BPL9 battery

the proposal shall not be submitted to or considered by a representative assembly until the Governments in the other countries have had the opportunity to express their views on the matter.

Arbitration between the countries, and between the countries and the Kingdom

In case of a conflict between a country and the Kingdom, Article 12 of the Charter prescribes an administrative reconciliation procedure. Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

This was often deemed a democratic deficit of the Kingdom, leading to the adoption of an amendment to the Charter, which entered into force on 10 October 2010. The new Article 12a specifies that in addition to the administrative reconciliation procedure, "by Kingdom Act measures shall be made allowing for the arbitration of certain conflicts, as specified by Kingdom Act, between the Kingdom and the countries."Sony VGP-BPS13A/B battery

The imperative formulation was the result of an amendment in the Chamber of Representatives by special delegates Evelyna Wever-Croes and J.E. Thijsen of Aruba; the original formulation was "by Kingdom Act measures can be made".

The new Article 38a allows for measures to be made for arbitration between countries as well. In contrast with Article 12a, this article is not imperatively formulated. Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery

Kingdom affairs

Article 3 of the Charter specifies the Affairs of the Kingdom:

  • Maintenance of the independence and the defence of the Kingdom;
  • Foreign relations;
  • Netherlands nationality;Sony VGP-BPS13 battery
  • Regulation of the orders of chivalry, the flag and the coat of arms of the Kingdom;
  • Regulation of the nationality of vessels and the standards required for the safety and navigation of seagoing vessels flying the flag of the Kingdom, with the exception of sailing ships;
  • Supervision of the general rules governing the admission and expulsion of Netherlands nationals;
  • General conditions for the admission and expulsion of aliens;Dell Studio 1555 battery
  • Extradition.

One additional Kingdom affair is specified in article 43(2):

  • The safeguarding of [fundamental human] rights and freedoms, legal certainty and good governance shall be a Kingdom affair.

Paragraph 2 of Article 3 specifies that "other matters may be declared to be Kingdom affairs in consultation". Dell KM958 battery

These Kingdom affairs are only taken care of by the Kingdom government, however, if the affair affects Aruba or the Netherlands Antilles. Article 14, paragraph 3, of the Charter, foresees the handling of Kingdom affairs in all other cases by the Netherlands.Dell XPS M1210 Battery

On the basis of Article 38, the countries of the Kingdom can decide to adopt a Kingdom Act outside of the scope of the aforementioned Kingdom affairs. Such acts are referred to as Consensus Kingdom Acts, as they require the consent of the parliaments of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. SONY VAIO VGN-FW33GW Battery

Foreign relations

The Kingdom negotiates and concludes international treaties and agreements. Those that do not affect Aruba, Curaçao, and / or Sint Maarten directly are dealt with by the provisions of the Constitution (in fact by the Netherlands alone). SONY VAIO VGN-FW33G/E1 Battery

Article 24 of the Charter specifies that when an international treaty or agreement affects the Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten, the treaty or agreement concerned shall be submitted to the representative assemblies of the Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten. SONY VAIO VGN-FW290JTH Battery

The article further specifies that when such a treaty or agreement is submitted for the tacit approval of the States-General of the Netherlands (Dutch: Staten-Generaal der Nederlanden), the Ministers Plenipotentiary may communicate their wish that the treaty or agreement concerned shall be subject to the express approval of the States-General. SONY VAIO VGN-FW290JTB Battery

Article 25 gives Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten the opportunity to opt-out from an international treaty or agreement. The treaty or agreement concerned then has to specify that the treaty or agreement does not apply to Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten.SONY VAIO VGN-FW29/B Battery

Article 26 specifies that when Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten communicate their wish for the conclusion of an international economic or financial agreement that applies solely to the Country concerned, the Government of the Kingdom shall assist in the conclusion of such an agreement, unless this would be inconsistent with the Country's ties with the Kingdom.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31ZJ Battery

Article 27 specifies the involvement of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten in the preparations for a treaty or agreement that affects them and Article 28 specifies that Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten may, if they so desire, accede to membership of international organisations.SONY VAIO VGN-FW27/W Battery

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