The Netherlands

The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe but it doesn't feel as crowded as you might expect.  This is, in part, because the Dutch are not so dependent on cars; their public transportation system is advanced and their tradition of riding bicycles is alive and well. Many tourists also explore the country’s wide selection of nature reserves, dunes, beaches and famous tulip farms by bike, though most will use their rented bikes in Amsterdam, and who can blame them? It is a bike-friendly city with about 20,000 kilometers of usually well-signed trails. Despite the myriad of bikeways, though, the city is perhaps most iconic for its multiple canals and Dutch architecture. Unique views of bridges and beautifully remodeled traditional buildings can be seen best by boat and ferries, particularly in the evening when the bridges are illuminated. The Dutch colonized Aruba, St. Maarten, Curacao and other Caribbean nations and countries around the world…people flocked to the Netherlands while the Dutch migrated to other countries. This multicultural society, which embraces diversity,  is best witnessed in the private school system, which boasts Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Protestant, Catholic, Humanist and Anthroposophist schools, to name a few. In the nineteen thirties when the Frank family fled to escape anti-Semitism, it was in Holland where they found support.  Unfortunately, the Nazis occupied the Netherlands and part of the family was forced to hide in an attic. In her diaries, the famed Anne Frank expressed faith in the people who tried to help her family: "Despite everything," she said, "I believe that people are really good at heart.”  ~ Jason Trinidad Pucheu


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 Full name: Kingdom of the Netherlands

 Population: 16.7 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Amsterdam

 Largest city: Amsterdam

 Area: 41,543 sq km (16,039.8 sq miles)

 Major languages: Dutch, Frisian

 Major religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant,  Muslim, Other

 Monetary unit: Euro

 GDP per capita: US $42,300

 Internet domain: .nl

 International dialling code: +31

 Source: CIA World Factbook