The Netherlands is a small compact country of which a substantial amount of land (approximately 17%) has been reclaimed from the sea. The name Netherlands literally means “low country”, a name inspired by its low and flat terrain. Only about 50% of its land exceeds one metre/3.3 feet above sea level and most areas below sea level are man-made. It is a very densely populated country which will be seen on Netherlands vacations and borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south and the North Sea to the northwest.
The Netherlands has a long history of social tolerance and is generally regarded as a liberal country, having legalized abortion, prostitution and euthanasia, while maintaining a progressive drugs policy. In 2001 it became the world’s first country to legalize same-sex marriage. The Dutch are outgoing, friendly and helpful and it is unlikely that while on Netherlands tours anyone stopped in the street and asked a question would not reply in perfect English. The people tend to view themselves as modest, independent and self-reliant.