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The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU), and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999. In October 2010, the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and the three smallest islands - Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba - became special municipalities in the Netherlands administrative structure. The larger islands of Sint Maarten and Curacao joined the Netherlands and Aruba as constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Kingdom of the Netherlands
Conventional short form Netherlands
Local long form Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
Local short form Nederland

Government type
Constitutional monarchy

Capital
Name Amsterdam
Geographic coordinates 52 21 N, 4 55 E
Time difference
UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Note
The Hague is the seat of government; time descriptions apply to the continental Netherlands only, not to the Caribbean components

Administrative divisions
12 provinces (provincies, singular - provincie); Drenthe, Flevoland, Fryslan (Friesland), Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant (North Brabant), Noord-Holland (North Holland), Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland (Zealand), Zuid-Holland (South Holland)

Dependent areas
Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten

Independence
23 January 1579 (the northern provinces of the Low Countries conclude the Union of Utrecht breaking with Spain; on 26 July 1581 they formally declared their independence with an Act of Abjuration; however, it was not until 30 January 1648 and the Peace of Westphalia that Spain recognized this independence)

National holiday
Queen's Day (Birthday of deceased Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)

Constitution
Adopted 1815; amended many times

Legal system
Civil law system based on the French system; constitution does not permit judicial review of acts of the States General

International law organization participation
Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
Queen BEATRIX (since 30 April 1980); Heir Apparent WILLEM-ALEXANDER (born 27 April 1967), son of the monarch
Head of government
Prime Minister Mark RUTTE (since 14 October 2010); Deputy Prime Minister Maxime VERHAGEN (since 14 October 2010) note - Mark RUTTE tendered his resignation 23 April 2012; new elections will probably be held on 12 September 2012
Cabinet
Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
Elections
The monarchy is hereditary; following Second Chamber elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch; deputy prime ministers appointed by the monarch
Note
There is also a Council of State composed of the monarch, heir apparent, and councilors that provides consultations to the cabinet on legislative and administrative policy

Legislative branch
Bicameral States General or Staten Generaal consists of the First Chamber or Eerste Kamer (75 seats; members indirectly elected by the country's 12 provincial councils to serve four-year terms) and the Second Chamber or Tweede Kamer (150 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve at most four-year terms)
Elections
First Chamber - last held on May 2011 (next to be held in May 2015); Second Chamber - last held on 9 June 2010 (next to be held by 12 September 2012)due to the resignation of Mark RUTTE
Election results
First Chamber - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - VVD 16, PvdA 14, CDA 11, PVV 10, SP 8, D66 5, GL 5, other 6; Second Chamber - percent of vote by party - VVD 20.5%, PvdA 19.6%, PVV, 15.4%, CDA 13.6%, SP 9.8%, D66 6.9%, GL 6.7%, CU 3.2%, other 4.3%; seats by party - VVD 31, PvdA 30, PVV 24, CDA 21, SP 15, D66 10, GL 10, CU 5, other 4

Judicial branch
Supreme Court or Hoge Raad (justices are nominated for life by the monarch)

Political parties and leaders
Christian Democratic Appeal or CDA [Sybrand VAN HAERSMA BUMA]; Christian Union or CU [Arie SLOB]; Democrats 66 or D66 [Alexander PECHTOLD]; Green Left or GL [Jolande SAP]; Labor Party or PvdA [Job COHEN]; Party for Freedom or PVV [Geert WILDERS]; Party for the Animals or PvdD [Marianne THIEME]; People's Party for Freedom and Democracy or VVD [Stef BLOK] (Liberal); Reformed Political Party of SGP [Kees VAN DER STAAIJ]; Socialist Party of SP [Emile ROEMER]; plus a few minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders
Christian Trade Union Federation or CNV [Jaap SMIT]; Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers or VNO-NCW [Bernard WIENTJES]; Federation for Small and Medium-sized businesses or MKB [Loek HERMANS]; Netherlands Trade Union Federation or FNV [Agnes JONGERIUS]; Social Economic Council or SER [Alexander RINNOOY KAN]; Trade Union Federation of Middle and High Personnel or MHP [Richard STEENBORG]

International organization participation
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission Ambassador Rudolf Simon BEKINK
Chancery
4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone
[1] (202) 244-5300, [1] 877-388-2443
FAX [1] (202) 362-3430
Consulate(s) general
Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, New York
Consulate(s) Boston

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires ad interim Edwin NOLAN
Embassy
Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ, The Hague
Mailing address PSC 71, Box 1000, APO AE 09715
Telephone [31] (70) 310-2209
FAX [31] (70) 361-4688
Consulate(s) general Amsterdam

Flag description
Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue; similar to the flag of Luxembourg, which uses a lighter blue and is longer; the colors were those of WILLIAM I, Prince of Orange, who led the Dutch Revolt against Spanish sovereignty in the latter half of the 16th century; originally the upper band was orange, but because it tended to fade to red over time, the red shade was eventually made the permanent color; the banner is perhaps the oldest tricolor in continuous use

National symbol(s)
Lion

National anthem
Name "Het Wilhelmus" (The William)
Lyrics/music
Philips VAN MARNIX van Sint Aldegonde (presumed)/unknown
Note
Adopted 1932, in use since the 17th century, making it the oldest national anthem in the world; also known as "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe" (William of Nassau), it is in the form of an acrostic, where the first letter of each stanza spells the name of the leader of the Dutch Revolt


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  Netherlands (Amsterdam):


  GPS points from Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Kievitshaar Overijssel

Grebbe Netherlands (general)

Vrouwenheide Limburg

Westhoek Provincie Zeeland

Rijswijk Provincie Gelderland

De Val South Holland

Eelerberg Provincie Overijssel

't Hout North Brabant




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