The Netherlands, officially Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a constitutional monarchy located in Northwest Europe. The Netherlands Antilles is part of the state and consists of islands in the Caribbean. The Netherlands is often called Holland after a historic region, part of the present day nation. The country is bounded on the North and West by the North Sea, on the East by Germany, and on the South by Belgium. Land is scarce in the Netherlands and is fully exploited. The natural landscapes have been altered over the centuries. The average January temperature is 35 degrees F and the mean July temperature is 63 degrees F. The Netherlands was considered to be lacking in natural resources. Salt is produced and in the 1950's and 60's, great natural gas reserves were discovered in Groningen Province. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries of the world. The Dutch make up the great majority of the nation's inhabitants. They are mostly descended from the Franks, Frisians, and Saxons. According to a 1994 estimate, the Netherlands had a population of 15,401,000, an increase of about 17.9% over the 1971 census total. The overall population was about 961 persons per sq. mile. The nation is heavily urbanized; about 27% of the people live in cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants, and another 62% inhabit smaller cities and towns. The largest cities are, the capital, Amsterdam; one of the worlds leading seaports, Rotterdam; the nation's administrative center, The Hague; and a manufacturing hub, Utretch. The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, which is spoken throughout the country. Roman Catholics constitute about 33% and Protestants about 25% of the Dutch population. From the time of the reformation the 16th century, the Netherlands has had a high level of basic education and comparatively high literacy rates.
The Netherlands has played a major role in the European economy for many centuries. Since...
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