Geography of the European Netherlands

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Geography of the Netherlands
Satellite image of the Netherlands in May 2000.jpg
RegionWestern Europe
Coordinates52°22′N 4°53′E / 52.367°N 4.883°E / 52.367; 4.883
AreaRanked 131st
 • Total41,545 km2 (16,041 sq mi)
 • Land80.59%
 • Water19.41%
Coastline451 km (280 mi)
BordersTotal land borders:
1,027 km2 (397 sq mi)
Highest pointVaalserberg
322.7 m (1,059 ft)
Lowest pointZuidplaspolder (Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel)
−7 m (−23 ft)
Longest riverRhine
764 km (475 mi)
Largest lakeIJsselmeer
1,100 km2 (420 sq mi)
Exclusive economic zone154,011 km2 (59,464 sq mi)
Map of the Netherlands in Europe.
Relief map of the Netherlands in Europe.

The geography of the European Netherlands is unusual in that much of its land has been reclaimed from the sea and is below sea level, protected by dikes. It is a small country with a total area of 41,545 km2 (16,041 sq mi)[1] and ranked 131st. With a population of 17.4 million[2] and density of 521/km2 (1,350/sq mi) makes it the second most densely populated member of the European Union after Malta, and the 12th most densely populated country in the world, behind only three countries with a population over 16 million. Consequently, the Netherlands is highly urbanized.


Geographic coordinates: 52°22′N 4°53′E / 52.367°N 4.883°E / 52.367; 4.883

The Dutch RD coordinate system (Rijksdriehoeksmeting) is also in common use; see [1] (pdf, in Dutch; see little map on p. 1) and converter. There is a west–east coordinate between 0 and 280 km, and a south–north coordinate between 300 and 620 km.

The reference point is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwentoren (Our Lady's Tower) in Amersfoort, with RD coordinates (155.000, 463.000) and geographic coordinates approximately 52°9′N 5°23′E / 52.150°N 5.383°E / 52.150; 5.383.

total: 41,545 km2 (16,041 sq mi)
land: 33,481 km2 (12,927 sq mi)
water: 8,064 km2 (3,114 sq mi)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,027 km (638 mi)
border countries:

Coastline: 451 km (280 mi)

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi)
contiguous zone: 24 nmi (44.4 km; 27.6 mi)
exclusive economic zone: 154,011 km2 (59,464 sq mi) with 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)

Climate: temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters (European mainland), tropical (Caribbean islands)

Terrain: mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders); some hills in southeast

Hypsometric curve of the Netherlands in Europe. The land is unusually low and significant portions lie below mean sea level.

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Zuidplaspolder (Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel) −7 m (−23 ft), below sea level.
highest point on European mainland: Vaalserberg 322.7 m (1,059 ft) above sea level.
highest point (including the Caribbean islands): Mount Scenery on Saba 887 m (2,910 ft) above sea level.

Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel, arable land

Land use: (2011)
arable land: 25.08%
permanent crops: 0.88%
other: 74.04%

Irrigated land (2007): 4,572 km2 (1,765 sq mi)

Total renewable water resources (2011): 91 km3 (22 cu mi)

The coastal dunes are vital to the existence of areas of the Netherlands.

Natural hazards: flooding by sea and rivers is a constant danger. The extensive system of dikes, dams, and sand dunes protect nearly one-half of the total area from being flooded during the heavy autumn storms from the north-west.

Environment – current issues: water pollution in the form of heavy metals, organic compounds, and fertilisers such as nitrates and phosphates; air pollution from vehicles and refining activities; acid rain

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none


The country can be split into two areas: the low and flat lands in the west and north, and the higher lands with minor hills in the east and south. The former, including the reclaimed polders and river deltas, make up about half of its surface area and are less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level, much of it actually below sea level. An extensive range of seawalls and coastal dunes protect the Netherlands from the sea, and levees and dikes along the rivers protect against river flooding. The rest of the country is mostly flat; only in the extreme south of the country does the land rise to any significant extent, in the foothills of the Ardennes mountains. This is where Vaalserberg is located, the highest point on the European part of the Netherlands at 322.7 metres (1,059 ft) above sea level. The highest point of the entire country is Mount Scenery (887 metres or 2,910 ft), which is located outside the European part of the Netherlands, on the island of Saba in the Caribbean. The Netherlands is located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Scheldt).

In November 2016, the Netherlands and Belgium agreed to cede small, uninhabited parcels of land to reflect a change in course of the river Meuse (or Maas, in Dutch). The land swap is to take effect as of 2018.[4]


Largest cities[edit]

With their provinces in November 2019:[5]

  1. Amsterdam (North Holland) 872,680 inhabitants
  2. Rotterdam (South Holland) 650,711
  3. The Hague ('s-Gravenhage) (South Holland) 544,766
  4. Utrecht (Utrecht) 357,179
  5. Eindhoven (North Brabant) 234,235

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Reuters (2016-11-29). "Belgium and Netherlands agree to swap land to simplify border". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  5. ^

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website

Coordinates: 52°30′N 5°30′E / 52.5°N 5.5°E / 52.5; 5.5