The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces and borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The five largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht (forming the Randstad megalopolis) and Eindhoven (leading the Brabantse Stedenrij). Amsterdam is the country’s capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General, Cabinet and Supreme Court. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and the world’s largest outside Asia.
‘Netherlands’ literally means ‘lower countries‘, referring to its low land and flat geography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are the result of land reclamation beginning in the 16th century, resulting in large areas known as polders that amount to nearly 17% of the country’s territory. With a population of 17.25 million living within a total area of roughly 41,500 square kilometres (16,000 sq mi), of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres (13,000 sq mi), the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Nevertheless, it is the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products after the United States, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, and intensive agriculture.