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General information Netherlands
The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland) is the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which consists of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, located in Western Europe. It is bordered by the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east.
The Netherlands is often called Holland. This is formally incorrect as North and South Holland in the western Netherlands are only two of the country's twelve provinces.
The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying and densely populated country. It is popularly known for its windmills, cheese, clogs (wooden shoes), delftware and gouda pottery, dikes, tulips, bicycles, and social tolerance. A Parliamentary democracy, the country is also known for its rather liberal policies toward recreational drugs, prostitution, LGBT rights, abortion, and euthanasia.
The Netherlands has an international outlook; among other affiliations the country is a member of the European Union (EU), NATO, the OECD, and has signed the Kyoto protocol. Along with Belgium and Luxembourg, the Netherlands is also one of three member nations of the Benelux economic union. The country is host to four international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Court. All of these courts, as well as the EU's criminal intelligence agency (Europol) are situated in The Hague, which has led to the city being referred to as "the world's legal capital."