The Netherlands Immigration

The Kingdom of Netherland was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. Netherland remained neutral in World War I but suffered a brutal invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherland is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EC, and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.

Netherland is a prosperous and open economy in which the government has successfully reduced its role since the 1980s. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 4% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the US and France. Netherland successfully addressed the issue of public finances and stagnating job growth long before its European partners. This has helped cushion the economy from a slowdown in the euro area. Strong 3.8% GDP growth in 1998 was followed by an only slightly lower 3.4% expansion in 1999. The outlook remains favorable, with real GDP growth in 2000 projected at 3.25%, along with a small budget surplus. The Dutch were among the first 11 EU countries establishing the euro currency zone on 1 January 1999.

Netherland has managed to combine liberal attitudes with one of the most orderly societies on earth, in a community that manages to be radical and sensible without being silly or staid. Dutch aren’t bogged in their cliches, even though bikes, dykes, windmills and blazing flower fields are pretty much the norm outside the major cities.

For travellers, the integration of the clog and the microchip works well. Netherland is easy to travel in and the locals are friendly and speak excellent English, but towns are still surrounded by canals and castle walls, the endlessly flat landscape which inspired the nation’s early artists still stretches unbroken to the horizons, and the dykes still occasionally threaten to give way.

Netherland has spawned a realm of famous painters starting with Hieronymous Bosch whose 15th-century religious works are charged with fear, distorted creatures and agonised people. Rembrandt, with his use of light and shadow, created shimmering religious scenes and led the historic artists of the golden age. Frans Hals and Jan Vermeer were the contemporary masters of portraiture and daily life scenes, two revolutionary themes which became popular due to the decline in the influence of the church as patron of the arts. Although Vincent van Gogh’s (1853-90) spent much of his life in Belgium and France, he is very much claimed by the Dutch as one of their own. His early works, including the dour Potato Eaters, were painted in his homeland, but the later impressionistic works were greatly influenced by French artists. A little later, Piet Mondriaan introduced his cubic De Stijl movement, while this century has seen the perplexing designs of Maurits Escher.

Cycling is the most popular activity, and the smooth cycle paths are also used a lot by in-line skaters. Windsurfing and sailing have a lot of fans in the waterlogged provinces of Friesland and Zeeland. If it’s cold enough in winter it’s possible to make long ice-skating tours from town to town along connecting canals. Wadlopen is a serious pastime – strenuous and at times dangerous – involving long low-tide walks in mud that can come up to your thighs. Yes, people really do this. Groningen, in the north, is the best place to organise your mud-walking excursion.

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