The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland [ˈneːdərlɑnt] (listen)), informally Holland, is a country located in Western Europe with territories in the Caribbean. It is the largest of four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In Europe, the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces, bordering Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with those countries and the United Kingdom. In the Caribbean, it consists of three special municipalities: the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. The country's official language is Dutch, with West Frisian as a secondary official language in the province of Friesland, and English and Papiamento as secondary official languages in the Caribbean Netherlands. Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish are recognised regional languages (spoken in the east and southeast respectively), while Dutch Sign Language, Sinte Romani and Yiddish are recognised non-territorial languages.

The four largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Amsterdam is the country's most populous city and nominal capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General, Cabinet and Supreme Court. The Port of Rotterdam is the busiest seaport in Europe, and the busiest in any country outside East Asia and Southeast Asia, behind only China and Singapore. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the busiest airport in the Netherlands, and the third busiest in Europe. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union. It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centred in The Hague, which is consequently dubbed 'the world's legal capital'.

Netherlands literally means "lower countries" in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 m (3.3 ft) above sea level, and nearly 26% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 14th century. Colloquially or informally the Netherlands is occasionally referred to by the pars pro toto Holland. With a population of 17.4 million people, all living within a total area of roughly 41,800 km2 (16,100 sq mi)—of which the land area is 33,500 km2 (12,900 sq mi)—the Netherlands is the 16th most densely populated country in the world and the 2nd most densely populated country in the European Union, with a density of 521 km2 (201 sq mi). Nevertheless, it is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products by value, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, intensive agriculture and inventiveness.

The Netherlands has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848. The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortion, prostitution and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a liberal drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in Civil Law in 1870, though it was not completely removed until a new constitution was approved in 1983. The Netherlands allowed women's suffrage in 1919, before becoming the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. Its mixed-market advanced economy had the eleventh-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom, economic freedom, human development and quality of life, as well as happiness. In 2020, it ranked eighth on the human development index and fifth on the 2021 World Happiness Index.

Netherlands community action[edit | edit source]

Sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]

Local sustainability initiatives[edit source]

Please see our Local communities in Netherlands pages, where of course you can share any more information you may have about local sustainability initiatives.

Community energy[edit | edit source]

Hoofdpagina - WindParken, Wiki used in the Netherlands to plan windturbines, to realise a CO2 cut of 20 to 30%. (in Dutch)

Cycling activism[edit | edit source]

More video: Cycling for everyone

How the Dutch got their cycle paths on youtube

Dutch Cycling Embassy

Cycling and social inclusion

Food activism[edit | edit source]

GROW the City (in Dutch) - Honey Bank project in Holland (in Dutch) - Solar cooking resources in Netherlands

Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle[edit | edit source]

Road safety[edit | edit source]

A woonerf (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋo:nɛrf]) is a living street, as originally implemented in the Netherlands and in Flanders (Belgium). Techniques include shared space, traffic calming, and low speed limits.

The term "woonerf" has been adopted directly by some English-language publications. In the UK, these areas are called home zones.

Sharing[edit | edit source]

shareNL, Dutch knowledge and network platform for the collaborative economy - De Deelkelder, Utrect

Towards sustainable economies[edit | edit source]

Basic income[edit | edit source]

In the Netherlands, municipal-level basic income experiments have faced setbacks and changes in the quest to meet compliance with federal law; however, as of October (2017), several cities have now launched experiments with the removal of conditions on social assistance benefits. [1]

Other links[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Research[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

News and comment[edit | edit source]


The launch of bicycle parking initiatives in Belgium and the Netherlands, (date not found) [2]


New Global Coalition launched to address impacts of Climate Change, Jan 25 [3] Developed by the UK in partnership with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Netherlands, Saint Lucia and the United Nations, this new Coalition will work to turn international political commitments made through the United Nations Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience into on-the-ground support for vulnerable communities.


Holland's Sea Ranger Service hugely sequestrates carbon. But it also socially benefits many: the unemployed, veterans, port workers, Feb 7 [4]


Dutch supreme court upholds landmark ruling demanding climate action, Dec 20 [5]


A look at Rotterdam’s policy for open land data, Nov 20 [6]

Dutch appeals court upholds landmark climate change ruling, Oct 9 [7]


Experimental City: How Rotterdam Became A World Leader In Sustainable Urban Design, May 12 [8]

Netherlands invests €1m in global climate adaptation centre, Feb 8 [9]

Holland says goodbye to oil, Jan 20 [10]

Today all Dutch trains are powered 100% by wind energy, Jan 2 [11]


Dutch cities launch Europe’s largest e-bus fleet, Dec 20 [12]

How Rotterdam became the world leader in sustainable urban design, Dec 5 [13]

Money for Everybody, Nov 30 [14]

The Dutch Are Going Big on Trees, Oct 25 [15]

Dutch parliament votes to close down country's coal industry, Sep 23 [16]

75 years after its destruction, Rotterdam continues to reinvent itself, Aug 24 [17]

This Bike Lane Made From Recycled Wood Chips Is the Most Dutch Thing Ever, January 21 [18]


Dutch city plans to pay citizens a ‘basic income’, and Greens say it could work in the UK, December 26 [19]

Rotterdam's residents crowdfunded its new pedestrian bridge, July 29 [20]

Cycling mother and daughter in a forest.JPG

How Groningen invented a cycling template for cities all over the world, July 29 [21]

Dutch city of Utrecht to experiment with a universal, unconditional income, June 26 [22]

Netherlands ordered to cut greenhouse gas emissions, June 24 [23]


How a New Dutch Library Smashed Attendance Records, Jul 21 [24]

Netherlands Aiming For 100,000 More Solar Roofs In 1 Year, April 8 [25]

Eindhoven introduces Sustainable Smart Lighting Systems, March 26 [26]

Events[edit | edit source]


November 29 Buy Nothing Day (in Dutch)

Local communities in Netherlands[edit | edit source]

Amsterdam - Nijmegen</gallery>


External links[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia: Netherlands
  • Hivos international, Dutch organization for development. Hivos provides financial support to organizations in Africa, Latin America and Asia, it provides advocacy and it supports knowledge sharing in particular in the field of social change, digital activism and rural innovations. W

References[edit | edit source]