The Netherlands, commonly known by locals as the Kingdom of the Netherlands is located in northwestern Europe. The Netherlands is a composition of 12 provinces bordered on the North Sea to the west and north, Germany to the east and Belgium to the south. The Netherlands are known for their human rights, their neutrality, and as founding members of NATO.
The Netherlands is credited to be one of the first countries in the world to have elected parliament members and a parliamentary democracy. The country remained relatively stable until the advent of the First and Second World Wars. During the Second World War, the Netherlands was occupied by Germany and thousands of Dutch Jews were sent to German concentration and extermination camps. Following the war, the Netherlands were one of the 12 founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and since then, has led Europe and cultural and social change.
Languages and Religion
The Netherlands is a widely diverse country of varieties of ethnic groups; the major groups being Dutch while smaller ethnic groups include Indonesians, Moroccans, and Turks. The official language of the country is Dutch, but other languages throughout Netherlands regions are recognized and Dutch Low Saxon and English.
The bulk of the Netherlands enjoy a relatively moderate maritime climate that brings mild winter temperatures and relatively cool summers. The average daily summertime temperature is approximately 18°C (64°F). From mid-November to late March, freezing temperatures occur. The summer and fall months enjoy more rainfall than other months. The Netherlands, due to her location, enjoy (or not) nearly 17 hours of daylight in summertime but only eight hours of daylight in December.
Places and Cities to Visit
The Netherlands are a beautiful country that contains approximately 20 national parks and dozens of nature reserves. Travelers to the Netherlands should not neglect visiting the most popular places or sites to see in the country that include:
- Delft – this town is one of the oldest and best preserved in the country, home to globally known and recognized blue pottery. The Old Church and the New Church – which contains the tomb of William of Orange – are also located in Delft.
- Visit the medieval castle in Utrecht – the moat surrounding the castle remains, as do many buildings that date back to the early Middle Ages. Since the 8th century, this town has been the religious center of the Netherlands and is home to a 6th century Old Dom Church and Tower.
- The Hague – home to the royal family of the Netherlands also provides a picture gallery that calls masterpieces painted by Rembrandt home.
- Kinderdijk – no visit to the Netherlands would be complete without views of windmills. This town, which translates to “children’s dike”, is home to nearly 20 windmills that were built in the 1740s. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been popular with visitors hiking along the rivers or taking boat cruises to view the beautiful and historic windmills.
- Hoge Veluwe National Park – one of the most famous in the Netherlands, the National Park is filled with wildlife. Visitors to the park can hike along the fields or take advantage of free bicycles to traverse the trails.
- Keukenhof Gardens – when visiting the Netherlands, you have to see the tulips and the best place to do that is at Keukenhof Gardens. Home to one of the world’s largest flower gardens, it’s also one of the most beautiful, colorful and amazing in the Netherlands, located near Lisse.
When visiting the Netherlands, consider renting a car so that you can travel along her roads and highways and see sites, landmarks, and scenery that can’t be found anywhere else in northern Europe.
Car Hire Services
Renting a car in the Netherlands is easy. You have to be at least 18 years of age to drive. Driver’s licenses accepted in the country and for rental car services include European Union, Dutch, and international driving licenses. It is recommended that foreigners bring their official country driver license along with an international driver permit. One must contain a photo ID. Also bring your passport. In the Netherlands, you have to be at least 19 years old to rent a car and have held an official and valid driver’s license for at least one year. Be aware that if you’re under 25 years of age, a young driver surcharge may be applied to the rental car rates. When it comes to insurance, third-party liability and fire insurance is mandatory.
Drivers should also ensure that compulsory documents that include the international driver license and a passport (if the license does not include a photograph) be present in the car at all times, along with the car insurance certificate and registration papers. You are required to carry a warning hazard triangle as well as a reflective jacket in the car at all times. Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers in front and rear seats.
Compare types of vehicles and rates through some of the most popular car rental services provided in the Netherlands are available from: http://www.carhireairport.co.uk/netherlands/airport-car-rental-netherlands.php, http://www.avis.com/car-rental/location/NL and http://www.autoeurope.com/go/car-rental/netherlands/
In the Netherlands, you drive on the right hand side of the road. Netherlands does support on-the-spot fines by traffic officers, but always be sure to ask for an official receipt by the officer collecting the fine. Don’t drink and drive in the Netherlands, as the drunken driving laws are very strict, with a maximum blood-alcohol content of 220 mcg per liter (0.5%).
Obey speed limit laws. General speed limits throughout the Netherlands are:
- Town limits – 50 kph
- Motorways – 120 kph
- Major Roads – 80 kph
When parking, you need to place a timestamp parking disc on your dashboard. This is required for parking within blue zones in the cities, available from police stations, tobacco shops, and motor club offices. Do not park at curbs painted black, white, or yellow.