The country


Cities and landscapes

The Netherlands may be a small country by land mass, but has the 16th largest economy and the tallest people in the world. The Netherlands borders Germany, Belgium and the North Sea. The flat landscapes make for beautiful and easy travel by bike, on foot or in a canal boat.

Water is everywhere - lakes, rivers, and canals of many types. Approximately 25% of the Netherlands is below sea level. The Netherlands highest point is 322.7 meters above sea level (Vaalserberg) and the lowest 6.76 meters below sea level (Prince Alexander Polder).

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, however, the government is situated in The Hague. More than 60% of the population live in the West of Holland known as the Randstad, which includes the four major cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

Multicultural population

The Dutch enjoy one of the longest average life spans (79.8 years) in the world and are the world's second biggest coffee drinkers. The Dutch are statistically the tallest people in the world with the average male height being over 6ft or 1.85m. Dutch society is multicultural with large numbers of immigrants and many other nationalities from around the world.

People have been migrating to the Netherlands for centuries. The total Dutch population is around 16.8 million, 19% of whom are immigrants and/or belong to ethnic minorities. People with a foreign background tend to live in the larger cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. Here, they make up approximately 30% of the inhabitants.

The multi-ethnic population means the Dutch often celebrate traditional holidays, festivals and special events from different cultures. And, because of the multicultural society, the Netherlands has hundreds of wonderful restaurants specialising in various cuisines from all over the world.

The climate

Nothing could be less predictable than the Dutch weather. The morning may start with bright sunshine, but within a few hours the wind and weather can change making you wish you had a jacket and an umbrella. Or vice versa, a day that starts out gray, wet and nasty, can end up with blue skies putting everyone in a better mood.

In the winter from November to March there are not too many days below freezing. Although you might see some snow and ice, there is seldom a lot of it. Because of the country's northern European location, Dutch winter days are short and sunshine is scarce. But the summer days are very long and daylight is plentiful with only 4 or 5 hours of darkness. The summer months from June to August, usually have only a few fairly hot days. Year round, the temperature will vary between 5°C and 15°C during the day.

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