Canal at Prinsengracht street, Amsterdam, Image via Wikipedia
Geography The Kingdom of the Netherlands is in Western Europe, bordered by the North Sea, Belgium and Germany. The West Frisian Islands, off the coast of North Holland, and the islands of the Dutch Antilles, in the Caribbean, are part of the Kingdom.
The Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces: Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland.
Amsterdam is the capital city and an important port; the government of the Netherlands is situated in The Hague. Rotterdam is a major city and one of the world's leading ports.
Most of the country is low-lying with a significant proportion of the Netherlands below sea level. Dykes (dams) have been built along the coast and the land drained. In the north the former Zuider Zee, separated from the North Sea by an eighteen mile long dyke, forms a lake called the IJsselmeer. Rivers include the Rhine (Waal and Lek) and the Maas or Meuse. The climate is temperate with cool summers and mild winters.
Environment As a low-lying country the Netherlands has waged a long struggle against the sea. Hydraulic engineering has played a huge part in protection against flooding and reclamation of land.
The Singel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands viewed towards the Muntplein with the Munttoren, Image via Wikipedia
Over forty-five regions are listed by Ramsar as Wetlands of International Importance. De Biesbosch, Weerribben and Waddenzee, on the Ramsar list, are also National Parks. Wadden Sea (Waddenzee), an area of coastal wetlands and dune systems, is a UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve.
The wetlands are the habitat of many species of birds such as Bewick's Swan, Great Cormorant, Grey Plover, Redshank and Spoonbill.