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The Netherlands (Holland)

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The Netherlands (Holland)

BACKGROUND

Information: A country.

The Netherlands, officially the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba). The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces and borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest.

'Netherlands' literally means 'lower countries', referring to its low land and flat geography, with only about 50 percent of its land exceeding 3 ft 3 inches above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are the result of land reclamation beginning in the 16th century, resulting in large areas known as 'polders' that amount to nearly 17 percent of the country's territory.

The Netherlands were able to remain neutral during World War I, in part because the import of goods through the Netherlands proved essential to German survival, until the blockade by the British Royal Navy in 1916. That changed in World War II, when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. During the occupation, over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up and transported to Nazi extermination camps where only a few survived. On December 8, 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile in London declared war on Japan, but could not prevent the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).

Language: Dutch

Religion: Predominantly Christian until late into the 20th century. Although religious diversity remains, there has been a decline of religious adherence.

Comments: 'Nether' means 'below the earth's surface. Holland was the name of a province, not the entire country. It was early the most prominent province in the Netherlands and Hollanders eventually became so dominant that Holland came to represent all of the Netherlands. 'Dutch' refers to the fact that until the sixteeenth century, inhabitants of the Netherlands called themselves Diets (which means 'the people'). Pronounced "deets," the word was corrupted in English as "Dutch." Americans tend to use the word "Dutch" to describe Netherlanders.


BIBLIOGRAPHY


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