Friday, August 19, 2011

Geography Lesson

I’ve had a few people ask me to explain where The Netherlands is on the map. And that’s kind of hard to do. Well, it was difficult for me to do. I had very little knowledge of European geography before I moved here. I knew where England was, and France, but that was about it. And I don’t live in those countries and not terribly close to either of them either. So in today’s post I thought I’d give a little geography lesson for those of you who haven’t looked it up yet. Or can’t be bothered to look it up.

Those of you who have looked it up already can feel free to move on to your next browsing destination if you like.

Ok, let’s get started, shall we? It’ll be a quick lesson, so no worries.

The Netherlands (officially “Kingdom of the Netherlands”) is in North-West Europe.

We’re the tiny dark green country (click to enlarge)

I borrowed that picture from Wikipedia. I have no idea how to correctly give credit for it? I’m clueless on those things. Here’s the link where it is online. They have no idea who I am, but I hope they don’t mind me borrowing it for this purpose.

You can see that we are between Germany to the East of us, and Belgium to our West. To the north of us is the North Sea. The lighter green on the map is the European Union.

To give you an idea about the size of the Netherlands, it is about 16,158 square miles (18.41% of which is water). That’s just a little bigger than Maryland. (For a long time, I thought it was about the size of New Jersey. I stand corrected!)

Population: 16,683,900 (2011 estimate). That’s 1,040.6 people per square mile. Crowded, eh?

The Netherlands is often just called “Holland”.

The Netherlands has 12 provinces, one of which is called South Holland. And another one called North Holland.

The 12 provinces of the Netherlands (also from wikipedia, here. Love that site.)

The folks who don’t live in the provinces North Holland and South Holland don’t really like it when their country is called Holland. Thems fightin’ words, mister. Because not all of The Netherlands is "Holland." See?

Ludi and I live in the capital (Maastricht) of the most southern province, Limburg. Population of Maastricht: around 118,500.

We are a Constitutional Monarchy, just like England. We have a queen, her name is Beatrix. Isn’t that a lovely name? It always reminds me of Peter Rabbit.

We have a multi-party political system, and no single party has held a majority since the 19th century. There are about 10 parties have seats in the parliament right now, and dozens more that aren't represented in the parliament.

The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, though the seat of the government is in The Hague.

25% of the area and 21% of the population are located below sea level. 50% of the land is less than one meter above sea level! Yes, there have been many destructive floods in this country’s history.

We have a maritime climate, meaning coolish summers and mild winters. Average highs in the winter are around 40˚ F. Average highs in the summer are around 71˚ F. Nice!!!

The Netherlands uses the metric system for everything, so that would be about 4˚ C for winter, and 22˚ C for summer. 

We get about 31 inches (793mm) of rain per year.

The flag of Kingdom of the Netherlands:

Red White and Blue

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. But many people speak more languages. I’ve noticed a lot of people speak English very well. Thank goodness!

I could go on and on with facts about the country, but that probably would bore you. If you’re even still reading this post! It’s getting a little dull, so I’ll stop here. If there is anything else you would like to know, just ask.

I hope I answered your questions. Heck, I probably wrote more than you ever really wanted to know about this country!

Next lesson: How To Write a Long Boring Blog Post.
Oh, wait....we just did that! I'll have to think of something else.


p.s. I just posted a link to my blog on Facebook. Hi to all my Facebook friends!!!

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