(30 April : National Day)
Dr Sajid Khakwani
The Netherlands is a country of Dutch nations and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe. Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. It is a parliamentary democracy organized as a unitary state. The country capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces. Netherlands is a founding member of the EU, NATO, OECD and WTO. The country is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. In April 2012, Netherlands was ranked 4th in Gross National Happiness - GNH under World Happiness report published by the earth institute.
Under Charles V, Roman Emperor and King of Spain, the Netherlands region was part of the “Seventeen Provinces”. “Seventeen Provinces” has it’s own separate political and geographical identity in the territorial history. Netherlands of that times was also included most of present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, and some land in France and Germany. The Eighty Years' War between the provinces and Spain began in 1568. In 1579, the northern half of the Seventeen Provinces formed the Union of Utrecht, The Union of Utrecht is seen as the foundation of the modern Netherlands. In 1648, Spain under King Philip IV finally recognized the independence of the seven northwestern provinces. These southern provinces became the new republican-mercantile empire.
After independence, the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Groningen, Friesland, Utrecht, Overijssel, and Guilderland formed a confederation known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. All these provinces were autonomous and had their own government, the "States of the Province". The States-General, the co federal government, were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives from each of the seven provinces. Many economic historians regard the Netherlands as the first thoroughly capitalist country in the world. So the economic exploitation of human being is started from this country. In early modern Europe it featured the wealthiest trading city (Amsterdam) and the first full-time stock exchange.
On 19 January 1795 the Batavian Republic was proclaimed, rendering the Netherlands a unitary state. From 1795 to 1806, the Batavian Republic designated the Netherlands as a republic modeled after the French Republic. From 1806 to 1810, the Kingdom of Holland was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom governed by his brother Louis Bonaparte in order to control the Netherlands more effectively. The name of the leading province, Holland, was used for the whole country. The Netherlands then became part of the French Empire. The Netherlands remained part of the French Empire until the autumn of 1813, when Napoleon was defeated in a Battle and forced to withdraw his troops from the country. William I of the Netherlands, son of the last King, returned to the Netherlands in 1813 and became Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands. On 16 March 1815, the Sovereign Prince became King of the Netherlands. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands by expanding the Netherlands with Belgium in order to create a strong country on the northern border of France. Belgium rebelled and gained independence in 1830.
During its colonial period the Netherlands was heavily involved in the slave trade. So the so called heroes of today’s humanity were the great hunters and traders of human beings. Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in 1863, but the slaves were not fully released until 1873. In this way the personal slavery was abolished and Europeans started to national slaveries in the world and Dutch of Netherlands occupied Indonesia to make slave all the nation of this Asian country. During the 19th century, the Netherlands was slow to industrialize compared to neighboring countries, mainly because of the great complexity involved in modernizing the infrastructure, consisting largely of waterways, and the great reliance its industry had on wind power. During first half of 20th century , over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up to be transported to Nazi German concentration camps in Germany, German-occupied Poland and German-occupied Czechoslovakia. By the time these camps were liberated, only 876 Dutch Jews survived.
Today, the Netherlands is regarded as a liberal country, considering its drugs policy and its legalization of euthanasia. On 1 April 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation to recognize same-sex marriage. This is another achievement of secular wisdom, which demolished moral and ethical values of human being and now chasing the family setup of humanity. On 10 October 2010 the Netherlands Antilles—a former country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean—was dissolved. Referendums were held on each island of the Netherlands Antilles between June 2000 and April 2005 to determine their future status. As a result the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) were to obtain closer ties with the Netherlands. Now the total area of Netherlands is 41,543 squire kilometer.
About 2000 years ago, before the intervention of man, most of the Netherlands were covered by extensive peat swamps. The coast was formed by a row of coastal dunes and natural embankments which kept the swamps from draining but also from being washed away by the sea. So since those times the flood control is an important issue for the Netherlands, as about two thirds of its area is vulnerable to flooding. Natural sand dunes and man-made dikes, dams and floodgates provide defense against storm surges from the sea. River dikes prevent flooding from water flowing into the country by the major rivers, while a complicated system of drainage ditches, canals and pumping stations keep the low lying parts dry for habitation and agriculture. In modern times, flood disasters coupled with technological development have led to large construction works to reduce the influence of the sea and prevent future floods.
The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848.The monarch is the head of state, Constitutionally, the position is equipped with limited powers. The monarch can exert some influence during the formation of a new cabinet, where they serve as neutral arbiter between the political parties. The head of government is the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who often is the leader of the largest party of the coalition. The cabinet is responsible to the bicameral parliament, the States-General, which also has legislative powers, the Lower House, are elected in direct elections, which are held every four years or after the fall of the cabinet. The States-Provincial are directly elected every four years as well. The members of the provincial assemblies elect the members of the Senate, the upper house, which has less legislative powers. The Netherlands is divided into twelve administrative regions, called provinces, each under a Governor. All provinces are divided into municipalities. The country is also subdivided in water districts, governed by a water board, each having authority in matters concerning water management. Although the Netherlands is a secular state, in some municipalities where the Christian parties have the majority, the council meetings are opened by prayer. Municipalities in general also give civil servants a day off on Christian religious holidays, such as Easter and the Ascension of Jesus. Three political parties in the parliament base their policy on Christian belief in varying degrees. This is hierocracy of secularism that all the undue relaxations are for Christianity only and when there is question of Islam, the government of Netherlands is ready to ban the scarf of Muslim women even.
The Netherlands has a developed economy and has been playing a special role in the European economy for many centuries. Since the 16th century, shipping, fishing, trade, and banking have been leading sectors of the economy. The Netherlands is one of the world's 10 leading exporting countries. Foodstuffs form is the largest industrial sector. Other major industries include chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical goods, and tourism. The Netherlands has the 16th largest economy in the world. The Netherlands' location gives it prime access to markets in the UK and Germany, with the port of Rotterdam being the largest port in Europe. Other important parts of the economy are international trade, banking and transport. A highly mechanized agricultural sector provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. From Rotterdam(seaport) goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. In 2007, a new fast freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany, was completed.
The Netherlands has an estimated population of 16,735,100 (as of 5 November 2011). It is the 11th most populous country in Europe. The majority of the population of the Netherlands are ethnically Dutch. The official language is Dutch, which is spoken by the vast majority of the inhabitants. The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in Western Europe, with only 39% being religiously affiliated, and fewer than 20% visiting church regularly. Currently, Roman Catholicism is the single largest religion of the Netherlands. The Protestant Church of the Netherlands follows with 16% of the population. In 2006, there were 850,000 Muslims (5% of the total population). The Netherlands has Buddhists , Hindus, Sikhs and Bahá'ís . Although the Holocaust deeply affected the Jewish community (killing about 75% of its 140,000 members at the time, it has managed to rebuild a vibrant and lively Jewish life for its approximately 45,000 current members. Before World War II, 10% of the Amsterdam population was Jewish. Freedom of education has been guaranteed by the constitution since 1917, and schools run by religious groups (especially Catholic and Protestant) are funded by the government. All schools must meet strict quality criteria.
In the early 17th century a delegation from the Dutch Republic visited Morocco to discuss a common alliance against Spain and the Barbary pirates. On December 24, 1610, the two nations signed a treaty recognizing free commerce between the Netherlands and Morocco, and allowing the sultan to purchase ships, arms and munitions from the Dutch. This was the first-ever official treaty between a European country and a Muslim nation. In the 19th century the Netherlands administered the archipelago that would become Indonesia, a majority-Muslim country with the largest Muslim population in the world. The first Muslims who settled in the Netherlands were these islanders who fled from its great war of Independence. Due to exploitation of European capitalist economy when poverty imposed in rest of the world, the Muslims of countries like Turkey and Morocco, migrated to stay in the Netherlands. A smaller numbers of Muslim immigrants in this time came from Tunisia and Algeria. In the 1980s and especially since the 1990s, Muslims came to the Netherlands as refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Bosnia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. According to Statistics Netherlands, a governmental institution, about 5.8% of the total Dutch population are Muslims (24 October 2007). There are about 400 to 500 mosques and, Islamic elementary schools, and two high schools in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Muslim Party (NMP) and , the Islamic Democrats (ID),are two political parties of Muslims in Netherlands. Some of their members succeed to reach provincial parliament. These parties often show their Islamic point of view on national issues, In regards to homosexuality, the parties took a position against gay marriage.