Total area: 41 543 km² (16,039 sq. miles)
Population: 16,847,007 (2012 Estimate)
Officially known as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Netherlands is a constituent country located primarily in the North-West part of Europe, with also several islands in its constituent domain, e.g. the Caribbean. The Netherlands, -wrongly perhaps, but there you go- is often referred to as Holland, where North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces.
Since 1848, it is a parliamentary democracy organized as a unitary state and has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815. The country capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. At present, Queen Beatrix is its monarch and acts as the head of state.
Geographically the Netherlands is a low-lying country, with about 25% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level and about 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level. This distinct feature contributes to the country's name, as apart from Holland itself, countries in its immediate vicinity such as France, Germany and more, refer to it as "(The) Low Countries" or "Low Country" in their native languages.
The country is divided into two main parts by three large rivers, the Rhine (Rijn) and its main distributaries, the Waal and the Meuse (Maas). These rivers functioned as a natural barrier between earlier fiefdoms and hence created traditionally a cultural divide, as is evident in some phonetic traits that are recognizable north and south of these "Large Rivers" (de Grote Rivieren).
Most of the areas below sea level are man-made, caused by centuries of extensive and poorly controlled peat extraction, lowering the surface by several meters. Even in flooded areas peat extraction continued through turf dredging. As from the late 16th century land reclamation started and large polder areas are now preserved through elaborate drainage systems with dikes, canals and pumping stations. Much of the Netherlands is formed by the estuary of three important European rivers, which together with their distributaries form the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta. Most of the country is very flat, with the exception of foothills in the far southeast and several low-hill ranges in the central parts. The southwestern part of the Netherlands is a river delta.
The Netherlands is no stranger to Floods. Additionally, the Netherlands is one of the countries that may suffer most from climatic change. Not only is the rising sea a problem, but also erratic weather patterns may cause the rivers to overflow. This was best tackled with the construction of the Delta Works, a comprehensive set of civil works throughout the Dutch coast.
Sources: About Holland, Wikipedia
The Netherlands receives a fairly steady flow of rainfall throughout the year, with April and May on average being it’s driest of months. It has a temperate maritime climate influenced by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, with cool summers and moderate winters. Daytime temperature varies from 2°C - 6°C (35.6°F - 42.8°F) in the winter and 17°C - 20°C (62.6°F - 68°F) in the summer.
Since the country is small there is little variation in climate from region to region, although the marine influences are less as one moves further inland. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year, with a relatively dryer period from April to September.
Especially in fall and winter, strong atlantic low-pressure systems can bring gales and uncomfortable weather. Sometimes easterly winds can cause a more continental type of weather, warm and dry in the summer, but cold and clear in the winter with temperatures sometimes far below zero. Holland is a flat country and has often breezy conditions, although more in the winter than in the summer, and more among the coastal areas than inland.