Amsterdam The Netherlands / Holland Country Profile – Business And Tourist Travel Information

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Netherlands Holland Country Profile

Netherlands – Holland / Population The population of Holland is just over April 16.3m. The Capital is Amsterdam with a population of approximately 736,000. The Hague (Den Haag) is the official home of the Government Monarchy and Parliament & the site of the International Court.

Religions In Holland / Netherlands Roman Catholicism is the faith of 31% of population, Protestant faiths account for 21% with the Muslim faith followed by approximately 5.5%. Around 3% of the population followed other faiths. It is thought that 39% of Dutch Nationals do not support any single faith.

Language In The Netherlands Holland The official language is Dutch with English very widely spoken.

Holland Netherlands Currency The Dutch unit of currency is the euro.

Currency Regulations Visitors entering or leaving Hungary with cash in any currency which exceeds 10,000€, must declare it to customs officials.

Holland Tourism For four to five decades the words Holland and Amsterdam represented liberal drug laws, legal prostitution and sex clubs that catered for most preferences. For many men (especially in the UK) it was the ideal place for sex shopping and in this area it was known as the sex capital of Europe. Today its has lost sexual crown to cities like Prague in Eastern Europe and since the country has opted to become far more conservative there are no indications it wants to reclaim the throne. At the same time the drug laws are not quite so liberal. see also the Euromost Amsterdam brothels & coffee guide. Amsterdam has many other attractions including the famous Ann Franks House and the lesser known Begijnhof Courtyard see the Amsterdam City guide and the country remains blessed with numerous places that ‘mum’ would visit like windmill waterway at Kinderdijk and the flower field of  Keukenhof

Holland Geography The Netherlands is famous for its low level plains and 25% of these are below sea level. Historically the country has suffered severe flooding and 65% of the country would be flooded if it was not for the man made dunes and dykes that protect its sea borders. see Living Below Sea Level below.

Netherlands / Holland Business Economy

The economy in the Netherlands grows annually by about 2-3%. The annual rate of Inflation is about 1% with unemployment between 6 – 7%

Hollands major industries are agricultural industries (including flora dairy and fish products) electrical machinery, metal and engineering products, chemicals and related processing, petroleum, construction and microelectronics. It generally has good industrial relations.

80% of its trade is with the EU (especially with Germany France and the UK). It is the third highest exporter of agricultural products in the world.

The country’s industries are heavily dependent on foreign trade and to facilitate this it has a very pan European efficient road and rail transport system which is well connected to the rest of Europe, especially from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

Holland Political Structure

Historically Dutch Governments are made formed by coalitions as the country has 13 political parties. Until recently these coalitions resulted in centre left governments. The Dutch Parliament has two houses. The First House has 75 members directly elected. The Second House (known as the lower chamber) has 150 members elected by proportional representation. Members of Parliament who become government ministers have to give up their parliamentary seats. The Prime Minister can appoint Ministers who have not been elected.

Crime In Holland Petty crime targeted at tourists in Holland is a problem in Dutch cities. and on trains to and from airports especially Schiphol. Visitors luggage is often a target and bag snatching and pick-pocketing is rife. Information on crime terrorism personal safety and tourist traps is given in the euromost Amsterdam safety guide.

Living Below Sea Level

In February 1953, when a winter storm caused the collapse of several dikes in the southwest of the country to collapse. the Netherlands. Over 1,800 people drowned in the floods that followed. Since then all Dutch Governments have on an ongoing basis carried out engineering programmes to protect the country from a similar flood.

The first project ‘Delta works’ took more than three decades to implement. This and many other projects including the reclamation of land from the sea have given the Dutch an expertise in dealing with the threat of the sea which is second to none. The Dutch Government has been assisting American officials making plans to defend the low lying areas of the US coastline following the 2005 disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Netherlands / Holland History

The Netherlands has a longstanding policy of living amiably with its neighbours – it has strong connections with Belgium which was once part the southern part of the Netherlands. During WW1 it remained neutral. Like the United Kingdom before the outbreak of WW2 it was a colonial power. In May 1940 it was invaded and occupied by the Nazis. At the end of the war its major colony the Dutch East Indies declared itself as the independent state of Indonesia. Following the independence declaration about 290,000 Indonesians of Dutch origin returned to Holland though few of the indigenous Indonesian chose to leave.

In the 1950 and especially the 1960’s Holland prospered from international investment (some commentators suggest that the American Marshall plan was over generous to Holland compared with other recipients) and there was an acute labour shortage. Successive Dutch Governments encouraged immigrants to migrate to Holland from Italy Spain and Turkey.

By the late 60’s The Netherlands had gained a reputation for being a multi racial society. There was atmosphere anticipation and change as the country’s younger citizens challenged the social divisions of class gender religion prejudices and discrimination. This liberalisation was known as ‘ontzuiling’ and it gave individuals greater rights.

It resulted in a more tolerant attitude to drugs, sexual minorities, the legalisation of brothels and under some circumstances the use of euthanasia.In 1975 Surinam a Dutch territory north of Brazil was given independence as the Imperial Rule was no longer politically tenable. In 2001 same sex marriages were permitted.

In 2002 the a right wing politician he Pim Fortuyn was murdered after he had advocated a strict immigration policy. In 2004 the film director Theo Van Gogh was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan for a blasphemous criticism of Islam.

Proof Of Your Identity

Under Dutch law any person aged 14 or over must be able to prove their identity to the Dutch Authorities if requested to do so. This applies to Dutch and non Dutch citizens without exception.

A passport will suffice for this purpose and a driving licence with a photo card may do in some circumstances. If you do not carry this documentation on your you should carry photocopies. If this does not satisfy the officer he can ask you to produce the original documentation.

Changes To Drug Laws

The belief that Holland has a very liberal attitude to drug taking is no longer correct. It is illegal to purchase or take soft drugs in any public place. This law includes the use of cannabis. People who break these laws risk a prison sentence.

The only exceptions are that it is possible to purchase cannabis at designated cafes in some cities though the number licensed for this purpose is falling. .- see also the Euromost Amsterdam brothels & coffee guide. Anyone found in possession of or dealing hard drugs can expect a prison sentence.

Cautionary Drugs Note:

Wild mushrooms increasingly popular in Holland but when combined with either cannabis or alcohol they can and have caused deaths.

Emergency Medical Treatment In Holland / Netherlands

Holland has a high standard of health care and arrangements with several countries including the UK nationals for the provision of emergency medical treatment. If you are travelling from the UK you will need a European Health Card. more

Travel In The Netherlands / Holland

There are those who would quite rightly say that when it comes to public transport that the Dutch were first amongst the first Europeans to actually get it right. Throughout the country bus tram and rail services are fully integrated and it is refreshingly easy to travel across a city or between cities. International rail services to the rest of Europe are excellent especially from Amsterdam Utrecht and Rotterdam. For information on European rail services see the euromost rail page.

Road Travel In Holland

The Dutch Authorities recognise most full driving licences from other EU countries including the UK.- for more info use the Dutch Consulate link on the consulate page. All visitors to the Netherlands must carry their licence, vehicle registration documents and insurance certificate. Drives of hire vehicles must carry their contact with them and if they have borrowed the vehicle a written letter from the owner of the vehicle authorising them to drive it. This authority should include contact telephone numbers should the police wish to contact the owner.

Roads in Holland are well maintained and traffic signs and lanes including those designated for pedal cycles are well defined. However the Dutch Authorities do not believe the car is king ( it always has had to give way to trams who have the right of way) and many cities and towns have polices aimed at reducing traffic. These include numerous traffic lights, narrow roads, sleeping policemen, very limited parking spaces and high parking charges. Speed cameras are widely used in town and on the motorways

Motorists who park illegally break the speed limit or park illegally whether in or out of town are constantly monitored by a network of cameras supported by a very effective force of traffic police who patrol in unmarked cars. The traffic police are quick to clamp and impound illegally parked cars and seem to enjoy issue heavy on the spot fines for parking and speeding offences. Motorways in Holland become very congested especially in the rush hours and traffic jams at ‘exit’ points are common. Perhaps these conditions account for why most indigenous Dutch motorists attitude to driving is best described as just falling short of arrogant.

In general traffic laws are similiar to other Western Europe countries but motorists should note that they must give way to trams at all times and that it is illegal to overtake them on the inside if they have stopped to let passengers off. Roundabouts can be a nightmare – generally once you are on them you have the right of way on some you have to give way to traffic entering them. You should also be aware that disabled vehicles and mopeds are allowed to use cycles lanes. The mopeds are popular with young drivers and tend to be driven much faster than you would expect in a cycle lane.

Dipped headlights must be used at all times as must seat belts. All vehicles must have a warning triangle for use in the event of a breakdown when it must stand 30 metres behind the vehicle. Only use hand free phones whist driving.

Speed limits in the Netherlands / Holland are generally 50 KPH in built up areas, 80 – 100 KPH in rural areas and 120 KPH on motorways but variations do occur especially on the motorways.

Air Travel In Holland

International air travel to and from Holland is well served by Schiphol Airport just outside Amsterdam. The downside of the airport is it’s limited facilities in the low cost terminal. see the euromost Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Guide

Holland – Founder Member Of The European Union

At the end of the war the allies had dismantled many parts of what remained of Germany’s heavy industries and placed its coal industry under international supervision to prevent Germany from becoming a threat to European peace ever again. In 1946, the cost of WW2 in human life and economic terms resulted in the British Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill calling for a ‘United States of Europe’. This sentiment was echoed across Europe and in 1949 the Netherlands became part of the new Council For Europe.

The following year the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed that European peace would be assured if Europe’s coal and steel industries ((essential tools of war) were commonly managed. This proposal was accepted by Holland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy and West Germany who in 1951 signed the Treaty of Paris founding the European Coal and Steel Community.

In 1952 the ECSC assumed responsibility for the Ruhr area of West Germany and eased the postwar controls on its industrial production. This responsibility which was defined as the ‘International Authority for the Ruhr created Europe’s first common institutions – The High Authority which eventually became the European Commission and the Common Assembly known now as the European Parliament.

Following The Treaty of Paris the member states discussed without agreement the creation of common defence and political systems. They reached an accord on economic unity and in 1957 signed the Treaty of Rome which founded the European Economic Community later renamed European Union.

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