As we gear up for the third place finalist match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup today — the Netherlands face the host country Brazil — we’re highlighting some interesting facts about one of the competing nations with information pulled right from the pages of the latest edition of Oxford’s Atlas of the World. Germany (tomorrow’s country highlight) and Argentina go head-to-head on Sunday, 13 July to determine the champion.
The Netherlands, located in the western end of Northern Europe is widely known for its rich Dutch culture. The population is 83% Dutch, with a smaller percentage made up of Indonesian, Turkish, and Moroccan ethnicities. The nation has two official languages: Frisian, spoken mainly by inhabitants of the northern province of Friesland, and Dutch.
The country has a vast history, dating back earlier than the 16th century when it saw a multitude of foreign rulers including the Romans, the Germanic Franks, the French, and the Spanish. After building up a great overseas empire, the Dutch lost control of the seas to England in the 18th century, and were under French control until 1815. After remaining neutral through World War I, and being occupied by Germany in World War II, they went on after the wars to become active in West European affairs.
In 1957, the Netherlands became a founding member of the European Economic Community, now known as the European Union, and continues to be a leader in industry and commerce. Exports currently account for over 50% of the country’s GDP and include natural gas, machinery and electronic equipment, and chemicals. A highly industrialized country, it is also a major trading nation as it imports many of the materials their industries require.
With a constitutional monarchy, the Netherlands saw its Queen Beatrix abdicate the thrown in 2013 in favor of her son Prince Willem Alexander. She had served a 33-year reign.
Oxford’s Atlas of the World — the only world atlas updated annually, guaranteeing that users will find the most current geographic information — is the most authoritative resource on the market. The milestone Twentieth Edition is full of crisp, clear cartography of urban areas and virtually uninhabited landscapes around the globe, maps of cities and regions at carefully selected scales that give a striking view of the Earth’s surface, and the most up-to-date census information. The acclaimed resource is not only the best-selling volume of its size and price, but also the benchmark by which all other atlases are measured.
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Image credit: A panorama of the Erasmus Bridge and the River Meuse in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Photo by Massimo Catarinella. CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.