Surface area: 41,528 square kilometers, one quarter is below sea level Longest distance north-south: 300 km Longest distance east-west: 200 km Lowest altitude: 6.74 meter below sea level (near Rotterdam) Highest altitude: 323 meter (near Maastricht) Average summer temperature: 16.6 Celsius Average winter temperature: 2.8 Celsius
Official name: Kingdom of the Netherlands, commonly referred to as Holland or the Netherlands Form of government: Constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament Head of state: The hereditary monarch Head of government: The prime minister Capital city: Amsterdam Seat of government: The Hague
Currency: 1 euro = 1.26 USDollar (May 2006) Gross domestic product (GDP): 488 billion euro Per capita GDP: 29,873 euro Cost of living: A single student can live modestly on 700 - 1,000 euro a month International companies: Philips, Heineken, Unilever, Shell are just some of the large international companies that originated in Holland Main airport: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam (the fourth largest airport in Europe, handling an annual 42.4 million passengers and 1.4 million tonnes of freight) Main seaport: Rotterdam, the largest seaport in Europe, handling 353 million tonnes of cargo a year Internet use: 78% of the Dutch people have Internet access at home
16 Study in Holland
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament and universal suffrage based on a system of proportional representation. This system means that many parties can win seats in parliament such that no single party has an overall majority. The government must maintain the support of a parliamentary majority to stay in power. For this reason, cabinets are always multi-party coalitions chaired by the prime minister. The monarchy symbolizes national unity and therefore has a ceremonial character. Consequently, most of the population are loyal supporters of the monarchy and the royal family. The first elections at which all men and women had the right to vote were held in 1922. The political preferences of the Dutch people are much the same as found in the rest of Europe: the three main moderate political tendencies are represented by the social democrats, the Christian democrats and the liberal parties. The smaller parties are generally less moderate variations on one of the three main tendencies. In the Netherlands, they are also referred to as ‘ideological parties’ (getuigenispartijen).
See www.government.nl for information about the government and government policy. See also www.minbuza.nl (available in English) for a brief summary of the history of the Netherlands.
Ivana Galetova (22), Czech Republic
Dutch people are very organized and always busy
Teacher Training, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences
I study Education at the University of Brno and I decided to go abroad to enlarge my outlook. I’m here for only three months and that isn’t enough to study the material in great depth. But being abroad is a great benefit for me anyway. I had heard and read a lot about the Netherlands before I came here. I was very curious to know if all these rumours about flowers on every corner, windmills, dykes, cheese and plenty of cyclists were true. I was looking forward to seeing the works of famous artists like Rembrandt, and experiencing one of the most tolerant atmospheres in Europe. Now I must say, my expectations were surpassed. Neither my friends nor the tourist guides were exaggerating about Holland. Dutch people are very organized and always busy. They’re very kind, open and willing to help in every situation. I like their habits such as shopping every Saturday, drinking plenty of coffee and going everywhere by bike, whatever the weather is doing. I live in a student residence in the city centre. There are students from many countries, mostly European, but also from America, Australia and Africa. Some of them are my classmates, others have become my friends. But it’s impossible to know all of them, it’s huge. The student residence is a very nice place to stay, but it’s expensive. It isn’t easy to find accommodation in Holland, but if you try hard and deal with the right people and organizations, you’ll discover the cheaper lodgings. I really appreciate having the chance to spend time in such an expressive and compelling country that the Netherlands definitely is. I love travelling and I’m interested in art: the Netherlands offers lots of possibilities in these directions. My tip to anyone going to the Netherlands: buy the train discount card and the museum card. I saved a lot of money this way.