Netherlands Children’s Encyclopedia (2006)

By | December 1, 2021


A plain below sea level

The current idea of ​​the Netherlands – large tulip fields, windmills, dams, canals and lots of water everywhere – is not far off the mark. A country at the top of economic, social, cultural development, which has preserved many of its traditional features, ancient cities, orderly and elegant, a great civic sense, solidarity and love for culture.

Land from the sea

The territory of the Netherlands consists of a few hilly areas (the maximum altitude is 320 m) and a plain formed by debris carried by rivers; one fifth of the country is below sea level. Deep gulfs, rivers and lakes add to the feeling of an ‘amphibious’ country. To prevent the waters of the North Sea and rivers from flooding the plain, for centuries canals have been dug and embankments and large and small dams have been raised ; The energy of the famous windmills was used to pump out the water. It is impressive, in certain stretches of the coast, to walk along the dikes and realize that the sea is higher than the earth. Much of the territory is artificial: large expanses of coastal marshes have been isolated from the sea with dikes and dried up (polder), and today they are cultivated and inhabited. The largest of these operations was the initiation of the reclamation of the IJsselmeer. Later, however, it was decided not to continue to dry up, but to conserve the marshy areas. Some islands of the Antilles, former colonies, also belong to the Netherlands. For Netherlands political system, please check

An ancient wealth

A dense network of canals – many of which are navigable – unites the rivers that cross the country. The main one is the Rhine, which has its delta here, alongside which other rivers flow (Scheldt, Meuse) which together form an infinity of arms and islands. Most of the country can be navigated by sailing, and many inland cities have important ports. This ease of movement has favored the economic development of the Netherlands, which for centuries has been among the most prosperous and densely populated areas on Earth. The basis of wealth is in agriculture (cereals, but also flowers: the tulip is a kind of symbol of the Netherlands), in farming (famous Dutch cheeses) and in fishing; to a greater extent, however, in commercial activities. The trade routes that followed the Rhine already passed through the Netherlands in ancient times; for instance, English wool that reached Italy to be transformed into fine fabrics passed through here. Later, manufactures and industries arose – textiles, mechanics, chemicals, electronics. But characteristic of the Dutch economy remains the great development of tertiary activities and, therefore, the historical and economic importance of the cities that host them.

A hospitable country

Almost the entire population lives in the city. With the exception of the capital Amsterdam and Rotterdam, one of the first ports in the world (1,090,000 residents), the cities do not have a very large population: The Hague (about 700,000 residents) and Utrecht (560,000) are the most populous. The region of Holland itself is entirely occupied by a large conurbation (called Randstad Holland), while the peripheral regions are more rural. Dutch cities are very beautiful and original, with a great wealth of ancient and modern monuments that attract millions of visitors: Rotterdam presents itself as a very modern city, with extraordinary museums and important libraries. The cultural level of the population, which is hospitable and tolerant, is very high and life is well organized.

Netherlands Children's Encyclopedia (2006)