Geography of the European Netherlands

Map of the Netherlands in Europe.
Relief map of the Netherlands in Europe.

The geography of the Netherlands in Europe is unusual in that much of its land has been reclaimed from the sea and is below sea level, protected by dikes. Another factor that has influenced its physical appearance is that the country is among the most densely populated on Earth. It is ranked 30th overall on that scale, but is behind only three countries having a population over 16 million. Consequently, the Netherlands is highly urbanized.


Geographic coordinates: 5.45°E and 50.30°N

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°9′N 5°23′E / 52.150; 5.383.

Satellite overview of the Netherlands in Europe.

Map references: Europe

total: 41,543 km2 (16,040 sq mi)
land: 33,893 km2 (13,086 sq mi)
water: 7,650 km2 (2,954 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 fishing zone: 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

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