The Netherlands joined Quota International’s network in 1994.
The Netherlands is a small nation located in Western Europe, bordered by the North Sea, Belgium, and Germany. With a population of approximately 16 million people, the Netherlands is principally a homogeneous nation with 96 percent of the population of Dutch ancestry; the remaining 4 percent are Moroccans, Turks, and others. The provinces of North and South Holland contain land that has partially been reclaimed from the sea, and much of the remaining lands are at or below sea level. Perhaps the most familiar aspect of the landscape is the presence of windmills and tulip gardens, which are spread throughout the country.
The history of the Netherlands dates back to the first century B.C., when the Roman emperor Julius Caesar conquered the territory originally inhabited by Germanic and Celtic tribes. For the next 250 years, the region enjoyed economic and social prosperity under Roman rule. However, around 300 A.D., Saxons and Franks invaded the Netherlands, and most of the southern and western parts of the country went under French control. Later, in the ninth and tenth centuries, the Vikings attacked the coast from Scandinavia, looking for land and treasures. This led to advancements in defense, and the local towns and villages developed a strong sense of loyalty to the lords that protected them. However, as the towns grew, so did the merchant class, and loyalty to the nobility diminished from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries.
Throughout the Middle Ages, social and cultural influence came mostly from France, through both intermarriage and political maneuvering. By the sixteenth century, the Netherlands became a part of the Spanish kingdom during the monarchy of Charles V, who was also the emperor of Rome. Charles left control of the northern parts of their kingdom to his son, Phillip II. Much less tolerant of Protestants than his Catholic father, Phillip employed oppressive policies against the Dutch, eventually inciting them to revolt. After a war that lasted 80 years, the Netherlands became an independent nation in 1648.
Soon after achieving independence, the Netherlands experienced a Golden Age in the early part of the seventeenth century. Artists such as Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer were prominent, and many members of the upper classes became their patrons. The capital city, Amsterdam, flourished and became the departure point for Dutch explorers. Soon, the Dutch empire had trading posts all around the world, from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia. Their dominance abroad caused problems in Europe, and soon other nations such as England and France waged frequent wars against the Dutch. Gradually, the Dutch lost their preeminence as sea-faring explorers to the English.
Today, the Dutch enjoy a healthy economy and membership in the European Union. An admirable aspect of Dutch culture is their social policy, which provides welfare, insurance, and other benefits for all Dutch citizens. Dutch culture also flourishes in art, architecture, and dance. Though most Dutch no longer wear the traditional costumes, some tourist shops offer wooden shoes for purchase. All of these factors contribute to a culture that is vibrant and exciting for visitors from around the world.