The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland, listen)) is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The Europeanportion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Seato the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean SeaâBonaire, Sint Eustatius and Sabaâit forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.
The six largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General, Cabinet and Supreme Court. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, and the largest in any country outside Asia. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union. It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, which is consequently dubbed 'the world's legal capital'.
Netherlands literally means 'lower countries' in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) above sea level, and nearly 17% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of roughly 41,500 square kilometres (16,000 sq mi)âof which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres (13,000 sq mi)âthe Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Nevertheless, it is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products (after the United States), owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, and intensive agriculture.
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