20.08.2017 | Zandvoort - Circuit Park Zandvoort
Location: Northwest Europe.
Area: 41,528 sq km (16,034 sq miles).
Population: 16,805,037 (2013).
Population Density: 404.7 per sq km.
Government: Constitutional monarchy since 1848.
Geography: The Netherlands shares borders to the south with Belgium and to the east with Germany, while the North Sea lies to the north and west. Large areas of The Netherlands have been reclaimed from the sea and consequently one-fifth of the country lies below sea level. The country is flat and level and is criss-crossed by rivers and canals. Areas reclaimed from the sea, known as polders, are extremely fertile. The landscape is broken by the forest of Arnhem, the bulb fields in the west, the lakes of the central and northern areas, and coastal dunes that are among the most impressive in Europe.
Language: Dutch is the official language. Frisian is spoken in the northern province of Friesland. English, German and French are widely spoken.
Religion: 30% Roman Catholic, 11% Dutch Reformed Church, 6% Calvinist, 5.8% Muslim, 42% other religions or none.
Time: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Social Conventions: The Dutch are a tolerant breed and there is little you can do or say to ruffle them (except perhaps to display your own intolerance of, say, ethnic minorities or alternative lifestyles). Their straightforwardness can sometimes strike foreigners as blunt, if not plain rude. Conversely, the Dutch will expect you to be direct as well: yes means yes, not 'maybe.' It is customary to shake hands when seeing someone you know or when being introduced to someone; women and men or women and women may kiss each other on alternating cheeks three times. You may be fashionably late for social gatherings but not for business meetings. Casual wear is generally acceptable, except for business functions or at smart restaurants, bars and clubs.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin European-style plugs are in use.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Mark Rutte since 2010.
Head of State: King Willem-Alexander since 2013.
Recent History: Balkenende’s coalition collapsed in June 2006 after a row over immigration policy. Following inconclusive elections in November 2006 characterised by increased gains for the more extreme Dutch parties, Balkenende entered into lengthy negotiations with other parties to form a new coalition in February 2007. His Christian Democratic party gained 26.5% of the vote, and now governs as part of a centrist coalition with the Labour Party and the Christian Union.