Among the cities that have developed there are Lelystad and Almere.
In the southwest, the disastrous gales and spring tide of February 1, 1953, which flooded some 400,000 acres (162,000 hectares) of land and killed 1,800 people, accelerated the implementation of the Delta Project, which aimed to close off most of the sea inlets of the southwestern delta.
These delta works were designed to shorten the coastline by 450 miles (725 km), combat the salination of the soil, and allow the development of the area through roads that were constructed over 10 dams and 2 bridges built between 19.
The largest of these Oosterschelde) estuary, has been built in the form of a storm-surge barrier incorporating dozens of openings that can be closed in the event of flood.
With Belgium and Luxembourg, the Netherlands is a member of the economic union, which in the 1950s and 1960s served as a model for the larger European Economic Community (EEC; now embedded in the European Union [EU]), of which the Benelux countries are members.
The Netherlands is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and it plays host to a number of international organizations, especially in the legal sector, such as the International Court of Justice.
The Dutch reputation for tolerance was tested in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, when an increase in immigration from non-European Union countries and a populist turn in politics resulted in growing nationalism and even xenophobia, marked by two race-related political assassinations, in 20, and the government’s requirement that immigrants pass an expensive ‘‘integration’’ test before they enter the country.
The Netherlands is bounded by the North Sea to the north and west, Germany to the east, and Belgium to the south.
, or “Wooded Land”) was originally given to one of the medieval cores of what later became the modern state and is still used for 2 of its 12 provinces (Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland).
The landscape in this area is characterized by high dikes along wide rivers, orchards along the levees formed by the rivers, and numerous large bridges over which pass the roads and railways that connect the central Netherlands with the southern provinces.
In the late Pleistocene Epoch (from about 126,000 to 11,700 years ago), the Scandinavian ice sheet covered the northern half of the Netherlands.
This relative independence of outlook was evident as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Dutch rejected monarchical controls and took a relatively enlightened view of other cultures, especially when they brought wealth and capital to the country’s trading centres.
In that period Dutch merchant ships sailed the world and helped lay the foundations of a great trading country characterized by a vigorous spirit of enterprise.