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The Netherlands is a densely-populated Central European country, and part of a kingdom which possesses various other territories. It's a unitary parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy, which means there's both a royal family and a Prime Minister. The PM has much more power than the largely ornamental king, and the Netherlands was recently ranked the 10th most democratic country in the world. Currently the population is about 80% Dutch in ethnicity, but the remaining groups are quite a mix, including Indonesians, Turks, and Moroccans. Dutch is the official language, but the regional language Frisian is used for governmental purposes (as well as presumably colloquial speech) in the province of Friesland where it originates. The Netherlands are low, flat, and rather wet. There is a maritime climate. There are many native animal species include the rare European Mink, the North Atlantic Right Whale, and, no joke, the stoned marten. The global financial crisis and the related European debt crisis have been hard on the Netherlands, but it nonetheless has one of the world's leading economies. The industrial sector is stable and concentrated mostly on food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. Serving as transportation hub is also a key source of revenue. History and culture buffs will enjoy fantastic Dutch museums such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam with its Rembrandts and Vermeers, as well as the Airborne Museum Hartenstein around Arnhem about the WWII battle there. See the windmill-lined canals of Kinderdijk in Rotterdam, a quintessentially Dutch site on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Potatoes, rye bread, and pastries and cookies are typical starchy staples. Vegetables are often contained in soup. Some popular ones include asparagus, chicory, tomatoes, celeriac, and parsnips. Beef, chicken, and pork, including many types of sausage, are commonly eaten. Stamppot incorporates sauerkraut into mashed potatoes and served with fried bacon or sausage and exotic flavorings like curry powder, raisins, pineapple, or banana. Sample the wide world of Dutch pancakes; there are pannekoeken, the mini poffertjes made of buckwheat, and spekdik with bacon. Mussels and fries go great together and are available all over the place. Organic food is also around seemingly everywhere you turn, whether you like it Dutch, American, raw, or served with wine and beer. You can grab superfoods after doing yoga or working out at the gym, and natural foods markets tend to be easy to find. Mix it up with eclectic organic vegan Caribbean/Japanese food in Amsterdam, or chow down on Indonesian food, which is some of the tastiest cuisine in the country. Chase your meal with gin, which was created in the Netherlands in the late 16th century, originally for medicinal purposes. Have a drink to your health!
North HollandAmsterdam | Haarlem
ZeelandPhilippine | Spui