The Netherlands - Tulips and Violins
I flew into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and rented a car to drive around this tiny country, the size of slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey. It sits in western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany, with a temperate climate of cool summers and mild winters. Its terrain is mostly coastal lowland; and has many natural resources such as: gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel and arable land. It is located at the mouths of three major European rivers: Rhine, Maas and Schelde.
I had a wonderful time in Amsterdam flabbergasted at their porno shops, highly enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum, bought an antique watch in a silver shop, visited Ann Frank's museum, and took a boat ride.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in WWI, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in WWII. My father fought with General Maczek, in his First Infantry Division, but was killed in France. Gen. Maczek later liberated Breda when he took the town from the Germans in a surprise attack from the east without firing a single shot into the town. He earned the undying gratitude of the inhabitants who awarded the whole Polish Division honorary citizenship, (which means through my father, I am an honorary Dutch citizen too; and proud of it!)
It is a modern, industrialized nation, and is also a large exporter of agricultural products, including tulips. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EU, and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.
The Dutch ethnic groups comprise of 83% Dutch, 17% non-Western such as Turks, Moroccans, Antilleans, Surinamese, and Indonesians. Their religions are: 31% Roman Catholic, 13% Dutch Reformed, 7% Calvinist, 5.5% Muslim, and over 42% "none."
Their administrative divisions are 12 provinces of: Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland, and Zuid-Holland.
They have a constitutional monarchy headed by Queen Beatrix, since April 30, 1980, with an heir apparent Willem-Alexander, born on April 27, 1967. Their national holiday is "Queen's Day," Queen-Mother Juliana's birthday in 1909. Queen Beatrix is the Chief of State, who appoints her Council of Ministers. There are no elections since the monarchy is hereditary. The Hague is their seat of government. There is also a Council of State composed of the monarch, heir apparent, and councilors that provide consultations to the cabinet on legislative and administrative policy.
Their legal system is based on civil law, incorporating the French penal theory. Their constitution does not permit judicial review of acts of the States General. The Supreme Court or Hoge Raad are justices nominated for life by the monarch.
For such a tiny country they certainly have a lot of political parties such as: Christian Democratic Appeal; Christian Union Party; Democrats 66; Green Party; Labor Party; List Pim Fortuyn; People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberal); Socialist Party; plus a few minor parties, just in case!
To confuse matters further, they also have the Netherlands Trade Union Federation (consisting of a merger of Socialist and Catholic trade unions); Christian Trade Union Federation; Trade Union Federation of Middle and High Personnel; Federation of Catholic and Protestant Employers Associations; Interchurch Peace Council; the nondenominational Federation of Netherlands Enterprises; and the multinational firms. Wow!!
They enjoy a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery.
The Netherlands began circulating the euro currency on January 1, 2002. The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment.
Their industries comprise of: agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing, tulips; and of course, their best export of all: ANDRE RIEU.
WIE SJOEN OS LIMBURG IS
By H. Bordon
Wie Sjoen Os Limburg Is
How beautiful our Limburg is
Es de klanke van de aovendklok
Where the sound of the evening clock
Weer juub'lend es muziek
As jubilant the music
Euver of Limburgs lendje goan
Goes across our Limburg land
Dan veule veer os riek
Then we feel rich
En door de oavendzon besjtroald
And by the rays of the evening sun
Lniele keenjer veur't kruus
We kneel in front of the cross
Dat-ste allein in Limburg nog
Which you see only still in Limburg
Langs eed're Zandjweg zuus
Along every sand trail
Wie sjoen os Limburg is
How beautiful our Limburg is
Begrip toch neemes
No one understands this
Allein de zuuderling
Only the Southerner
Dae Limburg leef is
Who lives in Limburg
Want do'or de jaore heen
Because through the years
Blif Limburg onbetwis
Limburg remains without question
't stoksjke Nederland
The most beautiful.
Es ein zilv'rig lintje-n-is de Maas
The Maas is like a silver lining
Door berg en bosj omzuimp
Bound by hill and wood
Woo eed're zuuderling dae in
Which every Southerner who is
De vraemde-n-is van druimp
Away, dreams of home.
Want velt 't laave soms nest met
When sometimes life is not easy
En zeuks-ste nog get gelok
And you're still in search of good luck
Blief aeven in gedachte sjtoan
Remain with your memories
En dink aan Limburg trok
And think back of Limburg.
(I would like to show my appreciation to my friend Barbara Dewhurst from The Woodlands, Texas, for her excellent translation of this song.)
I also want to thank Andre Rieu, and his Johann Strauss Orchestra, for his beautiful music which gladdens the heart and lightens the spirit. We wish him the utmost success in North America.