The Netherlands, often referred to as a whole as Holland although Holland is only part of the country, is organized into many provinces and islands. Much of the country is quite low geographically, with some of the country well beneath sea level, which is where the country derives its name meaning “Low Country.” With a moderate maritime climate, the Netherlands usually has relatively cool summer temperatures and very moderate winters. The weather tends to be comfortable and obliging. Rainfall is steady throughout the year, creating a green, lush landscape. Daylight hours change dramatically between seasons, with a swing of 8 to 17 hours of sunlight. While the people of the Netherlands have much to be proud of, one of the country’s greatest treasures is its natural beauty and fantastic display of biodiversity.
The woods are filled with brilliant species of flora and fauna. The people of the Netherlands have worked hard to protect the wildlife and plant species by creating many nature reserves and protected parks. Unfortunately many of the oldest tree species of the forest were cut down in the logging runs of the late 1800s. Today the trees that pepper the country are not the native species that once grew there, but they are still beautiful. Almost 17 million people are happy to call the Netherlands their home. The country is fairly densely-populated. Interestingly, the Netherlands is considered one of the most secular countries in the world. Very few people report that they attend church on a regular basis.
In fact, surveys have shown that a good percentage of the Dutch do not believe in a higher power or cosmic force. What the Dutch do care about is their deep roots in philosophy, literature, poetry and painting. Architecture is another one of their passions. The Netherlands is considered to be a very liberal country, with social tolerance being their driving force. This position has led to the legalization of prostitution, euthanasia and certain recreational drugs. Overall the country is a beautiful place filled with a people who are quick to welcome in visitors and showing them a great time. Tourism in Holland, and throughout the Netherlands, is a booming industry and a major part of the economy.