Netherlands is a small country (about 42,000 km2) with approximately 17 million inhabitants. With a population density of over 400 inhabitants per square kilometre, it belongs to the densely populated countries in the world. Netherlands actually means lowlands and that it also covers the trues, for the most part (mainly the western and northern part) lies below sea le el. To keep the water out of the country is surrounded by dikes. The technique of building v dikes has been around for centuries and therefore this country also serves as a knowledge center when it comes to build dikes.

But not only the water of the seas is a threat, there are rivers that cross the country, bringing much meltwater (Rhine) and rainwater (Maas) from large parts of Europe to the country. Therefore, inland is also has many dikes.

Water is both foe and friend, because it may well serve as a defense. During the Second World War even the Germans wanted use this water line, but failed. Water has also brought much prosperity to the country. During the Middle Ages, the Dutch traded around the world. The VOC (Dutch East India Company) and the WIC (West Indian Company) were these key components. There were explorers. The Dutch were the first to sail to Australia and Tasmania, but also the first to go to the West. Columbus (Spain) may well be the discoverer of America, but Manhattan (New York City) was once in the hands of the Dutch.

However, in terms of colonies, the country is very modest, only Suriname (South America) and six islands in the Caribbean belonged to Netherlands (3 of those islands still belong to the Dutch Kingdom). Since 1815 Netherlands is a kingdom, before that it was a republic. The country belonged before to many countries such as France, Spain, the Batavian empire and so on.

The first humans lived here 40,000 years ago (Neanderthals), so long before the last ice age. After the last ice age people went living here some 8000 years ago. With the arrival of the Romans 57 BC, more settlements were built. The oldest city is Nijmegen in the east of the country (2000 years old). During the centuries, the residents were able to retake the land from the sea and, in fact, the country is still growing. Still areas of sea are changed into land.

The Netherlands has 12 provinces. This trip is about the Wadden Sea, which belongs to the province of Friesland, but also a lot to (North) Holland. The islands form an interface to the North Sea, were previously more or less attached to the mainland.

Click picture to enlarge