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Affiche. "New Rapid Rijwielen met Fleuss Buislooze Banden". 1897 The Netherlands (pronounced /ˈnɛðərləndz/ ; Dutch: Nederland, pronounced [ˈneːdərlɑnt]) is a constituent country in Northwestern Europe of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, comprising the majority of its territory. It is a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy. The Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. The capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague.
The Netherlands is often called Holland, a pars pro toto, as North and South Holland are actually two of its twelve provinces (see terminology of "the Netherlands"). The word Dutch is used to refer to the people, the language, and anything pertaining to the Netherlands. This lexical difference between the noun and the adjective is a peculiarity of the English language and does not exist in the Dutch language. The adjective 'Dutch' is derived from the language that was spoken in the area, called 'Diets', which equals Middle Dutch.
Being one of the first parliamentary democracies, the Netherlands was a modern country from its inception. Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the European Union (EU), NATO, OECD, WTO, and has signed the Kyoto protocol. With Belgium and Luxembourg it forms the Benelux economic union. The country is host to five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The first four are situated in The Hague as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol and judicial co-operation agency Eurojust. This has led to the city being dubbed "the world's legal capital".
The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 27% of its area and 60% of its population located below sea level. Significant land area has been gained through land reclamation and preserved through an elaborate system of polders and dikes. 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 Netherlands is a densely populated country. It is known for its windmills, tulips, clogs, delftware, gouda cheese, visual artists, bicycles, traditional values, and civil virtues such as its social tolerance. The country has more recently become known for its liberal policies toward drugs, prostitution, immigration, homosexuality, euthanasia and abortion. A bicycle, also known as a bike, push bike or cycle, is a pedal-driven, human-powered, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist or a bicyclist.
Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number about one billion worldwide, twice as many as automobiles. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for such uses as children's toys, adult fitness, military and police applications, courier services, and bicycle racing.
The basic shape and configuration of a typical bicycle has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. Many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for particular types of cycling.
The invention of the bicycle has had an enormous impact on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were originally invented for the bicycle – e.g., ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, spoke-tensioned wheels, etc. Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s' Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1898 invention of coaster brakes. Derailleur gears and hand-operated cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders. By the turn of the century, cycling clubs flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, and touring and racing became widely popular.
Bicycles and horse buggies were the two mainstays of private transportation just prior to the automobile, and the grading of smooth roads in the late 19th century was stimulated by the widespread advertising, production, and use of these devices. Description Source Wikipedia