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The Netherlands is bordered by the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. A remarkable aspect of the Netherlands is its flatness. Hilly landscapes can be found only in the south-eastern tip of the country, the central part, and where the glaciers pushed up several hilly ridges such as the Hondsrug in Drenthe, the Stuwwallen near Arnhem and Nijmegen, Salland, Twente and the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. While most of the country is below sea level, it is shielded by dykes and dunes, protecting it from its cool summers and mild winters that come with year round precipitation.

The Netherlands has a Constitutional Monarchy, although mostly now it acts for ceremonial functions. The actual head of government is the Prime Minister with the executive powers lying in the Dutch Cabinet. The country is a host to numerous International Judiciary functions, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and Europol located in The Hague. It was one of the founding members of the European Union and adopted the Euro for its Guilder officially in the roll out phase in 2002.

It is popularly known for its windmills, cheese, clogs (wooden shoes), delftware and Gouda pottery, dikes, and tulips. To find a simple way of transportation, many use bicycles in this social tolerant country. It has a very open-minded policy towards drug usage in public café and bars, the red-light district for its prostitution, same sex marriages, euthanasia and abortion.While the social tolerance is above that of other countries, it also has a history of world renowned artist, such as V. Van Gogh and Rembrandt, who culturally, helped shape the Netherlands today.

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Quick Facts

Population: 16,730,632
Capital: Amsterdam
Per-capita GDP: $ 42700
Size: 41,543 km2
Time Zone: (GMT + 01:00 hour) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris

US State Department

Travel Warning: YES
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Country information is adapted from public domain resources including the CIA World Fact Book and
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Presbyterian College Office of International Programs