Netherlands tourist information
Tourism is an important economic sector in the Netherlands. The country receives some 10 million foreign visitors every year, primarily from Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Belgium. The Netherlands is a densely populated country. Amsterdam is the capital and largest city known for its many canals, historic buildings, red light district (De Wallen) and cannabis coffee shops. One can purchase and use cannabis without fear of prosecution in the Netherlands, which is rare for most western countries, and has led to a large number of "drug tourists" from abroad. Amsterdam is also a city of rich culture and history with popular attractions like the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum (national museum), Rembrandt House Museum and Anne Frank House.
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Other tourist destinations in the Netherlands are cities like the royal seat, The Hague, with its city centre, beaches and Madurodam (miniature city). Modern Rotterdam is known for its harbour, shopping and skyline. Delft and Utrecht are former rich trading cities. In the south, Maastricht is one of the oldest Roman cities, and a very old village called Valkenburg lying in a landscape with old castles and hills.
Typically Dutch are the tulips and windmills of the Keukenhof flower gardens, the Zaanse Schans and Kinderdijk, and the traditional fishing villages of Volendam and Marken. Popular souvenirs from the Netherlands are flower bulbs, delftware and wooden shoes.
The Netherlands also has to a coastline along the North Sea. The IJsselmeer and the Wadden Sea are resorts for sailing. Elburg or Harderwijk lie on the coast.
The predominant wind direction in the Netherlands is southwest, which causes a moderate maritime climate, with cool summers and mild winters. This is especially the case with places within direct proximity of the Dutch coastline, which sometimes are over 10 Â°C (18 Â°F) warmer (in winter) or cooler (in summer) than places in the (south)east of the country.
Ice days (maximum temperature below 0 Â°C) usually occur from December until February, with the occasional rare ice day prior to or after that period. Freezing days (minimum temperature below 0 Â°C) occur much more often, usually ranging from mid November to late March, but not rarely measured as early as mid October and as late as mid May. If one chooses the height of measurement to be 10 cm. above ground instead of 150 cm., one may even find such temperatures in the middle of the summer.
Warm days (maximum temperature above 20 Â°C) in De Bilt are usually measured in the time span of April until September, but in some parts of the country such temperatures can also occur in March and October (this is usually not in De Bilt, however). Summer days (maximum temperature above 25 Â°C) are usually measured in De Bilt from May until August, tropical days (maximum temperature above 30 Â°C) are rare and usually occur only from June until August.
Precipitation throughout the year is relatively equally shared by each month. Summer and autumn months tend to gather a little bit more precipitation than other months, mainly because of the intensity of the rainfall rather than the frequency of rain days (this is especially the case in summer, when lightning too is much more frequent than otherwise).
The number of sunshine hours is affected by the fact that due to the geographical latitude the length of the days varies between barely eight hours in December and nearly 17 hours in June.
Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe, with the rivers Meuse and Rhine providing excellent access to the hinterland upstream reaching to Basel, Switzerland, and into France. In 2006, Rotterdam was the world's seventh largest container port in terms of Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled. The port's main activities are petrochemical industries and general cargo handling and transshipment. The harbour functions as an important transit point for bulk materials and between the European continent and overseas. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. In 2007, the Betuweroute, a new fast freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany, was completed.
The Netherlands has had many well-known painters. The 17th century, when the Dutch republic was prosperous, was the age of the "Dutch Masters", such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century were Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. M. C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist. Willem de Kooning was born and trained in Rotterdam, although he is considered to have reached acclaim as an American artist. The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza. All of Descartes' major work was done in the Netherlands. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629â€“1695) discovered Saturn's moon Titan and invented the pendulum clock. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms with a microscope.
In the Dutch Golden Age, literature flourished as well, with Joost van den Vondel and P.C. Hooft as the two most famous writers. In the 19th century, Multatuli wrote about the poor treatment of the natives in Dutch colonies. Important 20th century authors include Harry Mulisch, Jan Wolkers, Simon Vestdijk, Cees Nooteboom, Gerard (van het) Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans. Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl was published after she died in the Holocaust and translated from Dutch to all major languages.
Replicas of Dutch buildings can be found in Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan. A similar Holland Village is being built in Shenyang, China. Windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese, Delftware pottery, and cannabis are among the items associated with the Netherlands by tourists.