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  • Hey guys, so this is gonna be a little awkward. Why?

  • Because 2 years ago my Dutch friend, Vincent, who used to do the animations before I regrettably hired Ken...

  • Wait, what?

  • ...He came and visited here in L.A. Long story short, I promised him he could be in the Netherlands episode.

  • So we pre-shot some footage, and this was the intro we made.

  • I flew over this guy, a real Dutchman. Say hi to Vincent! Right here. Hey, Vincent! Hey.

  • Vincent, I know the Dutch are tall but just step down from the box, okay?

  • Step down.

  • Are you getting off your box then?

  • Good Barby.

  • I can never top those days. Oh, and this episode is on the Netherlands.

  • [♪ Geography Now! theme ♪]

  • Hi everybody, I'm your host Barbs.

  • Now, there are many countries that deal with water issues.

  • Some lack water, some have too much water,

  • and some, like the Netherlands, have bridled the wild stallion and have learned how to control the water and use it to their advantage.

  • Water is probably the most powerful element in the Netherlands and without it they would be, I don't know, pretty useless.

  • So what do you say, 2016 Vincent?

  • ''En dan nu, politieke geografie''

  • ♪♪

  • So yeah, stop calling this place "Holland." That's just 1 part of the country.

  • Even though their country's national tourism website is called Holland.com.

  • You're not helping us here, Dutchies.

  • Oh, and hehe, there's a town called The Hulk.

  • First of all, the country is located in northwestern Europe along the North Sea, bordered by Germany and Belgium.

  • The country is divided into 12 provinces. Here's 2016 Vincent naming all of them for you.

  • They are Limburg, North Holland, Zeeland, South Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe,

  • Groningen, Friesland, North Brabant, and the newest province, Flevoland.

  • Almost all of Flevoland was reclaimed from the Zuiderzee in the 1950s.

  • So besides being famous for making cheese and clogs, we also MAKE OUR OWN LAND.

  • The country kind of has 2 capitals.

  • Amsterdam, the largest city and economic hub of the country and home to the royal palace,

  • and just a skip over, the third largest city, The Hague acts as the second capital,

  • which holds the seat of government as well as the International Court of Justice.

  • The second largest city, though, would be Rotterdam, which holds the busiest seaport in all of Europe.

  • The busiest airport, though, is of course Amsterdam's Schiphol International,

  • Europe's third busiest airport, carrying nearly 70 million passengers annually.

  • Now we reach the overseas territories.

  • Apart from the mainland European part, the country actually holds sovereignty

  • over 6 other island entities in the Caribbean, remnants of the colonial past.

  • These are collectively called the "Dutch Caribbean," and here's where it gets a little confusing.

  • Technically, the Netherlands is a country made up of 4 countries:

  • the mainland Netherlands, as well as 3 other constituent countries,

  • kind of like what Wales and Scotland are to the UK.

  • They are Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Martin,

  • which is actually half of an island shared with the French overseas territory of the same name, but in French.

  • This means that this 1 island is the only area which the Netherlands technically borders France.

  • These guys hold a high level of autonomy. They can have their own constitutions and currency.

  • Otherwise, the remaining 3 islands are Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and little Saba

  • which by the way has the shortest airport runway in the world.

  • These 3 fall under the title of special municipalities and do not belong to any province.

  • They are directly controlled by the Dutch government.

  • However, in 2011, they decided to switch currencies and adopt the US dollar.

  • All these islands lie in the sub-region known as the Lesser Antilles.

  • Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire are usually referred to as the ABC islands, lying in the sub-region of the Leeward Antilles,

  • whereas St. Eustatius, Saba, and St. Martin, usually called the SSS Islands, are located in the sub-region of the Leeward Islands.

  • Keep in mind, at one point all 6 of these islands were called the "Netherland Antilles"

  • and operated collectively as a single constituent country with the capital at Willemstad in Curaçao .

  • They even competed separately in the Olympics.

  • With the exception of Aruba, who had autonomy in 1986,

  • it wasn't until the early 2000s when they all voted for their future and it kind of went like this:

  • NETHERLANDS: Okay, guys, you have 4 options for your future. Choose wisely.

  • You can have closer ties to us, remain just as you are in the Netherlands Antilles,

  • autonomy as a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands,

  • or you can opt for complete independence as a new nation and break away from us.

  • ARUBA & CURAÇAO: We vote for autonomy as constituent countries!

  • SAINT MARTIN: Me too!

  • What the-?

  • S. EUSTATIUS, BONAIRE, & SABA: We want closer ties, and we'll settle for special municipality status.

  • Really, Bonair? You're one of us, the ABC Islands!

  • You're really gonna ditch us like that and leave us with this half-Frenchy Magoo?

  • Yep, deal with it.

  • And that's basically how it went down.

  • So there you go! That's how you make a Netherlands.

  • Waterways dominate the country, though.

  • There's even a town with no roads and only canals. But how did it end up this way?

  • Somewhere around the 9th century, people were kind of fed up with all the flooding and invented these sea walls known as "dijks"

  • which surrounded "polders" or reclaimed land plots, protected by the dijks.

  • To this day, the Netherlands has reclaimed about a fifth of its total land mass from the sea.

  • So what would happen if all the dijks were destroyed and all the water just came and flooded everything?

  • Scientists speculate that the country would go from looking like this, to this.

  • Whoa, Amsterdam would be gone.

  • Yep. Luckily, the Dutch are fantastic engineers and have been taming this dragon for centuries.

  • And speaking of engineering, there are so many notable spots to check out in case you ever visit.

  • So many museums,

  • but the most notable one probably being the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,

  • the Royal Palace,

  • the van Gogh museum,

  • the Anne Frank house,

  • numerous castles like these,

  • numerous star-shaped fortress towns,

  • so many amusement parks like these,

  • the enclaves and exclaves of Baarle-Nassau, we talked about this in the Belgium episode,

  • the world's largest flower garden at Keukenhof,

  • Austerlitz pyramid,

  • this prehistoric burial site,

  • and of course there are somewhere around 1,000 historic windmills left in the country from the 1800s,

  • mostly in the Kinderdijk area, a UNESCO heritage site.

  • Keep in mind, though, the country has a ton of modern wind turbines that help supply energy to the nation,

  • a topic that will be discussed in:

  • ♪♪

  • Greek philosopher Pytheas visited in the 3rd century BC and he said about this place,

  • "More people have died in the struggle against water than in the struggle against men."

  • The Netherlands is really unlike any other country in Europe

  • because in order for them to even have physical land, a lot of work has to go into it.

  • For one, the country is the lowest country in Europe, elevation-wise.

  • Over a quarter of the land and a fifth of the population lies below sea level and about half of the land lies less than a meter above sea level.

  • The lowest point actually being here at Zuidplaspolder,

  • and the highest point of the mainland European part of the country at a small hill called Vaalserberg, just over 1000 feet, or 322 meters, high.

  • However, in the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands, the highest point would actually be Mount Scenery,

  • a potentially active volcano on the island of Saba in the Caribbean.

  • Back to mainland Europe though.

  • Within this complex system of waterways and canals, the famous Rhine River that goes through all of Europe,

  • and the longest in the country, actually ends in Rotterdam

  • The largest body of water would be Lake (or Bay) Ijsselmeer, contained within the N-302 and E-22 highways.

  • In order to manage all the flooding in the south though, the Netherlands has undergone one of the largest engineering projects in modern history.

  • The Delta works is a series of massive elevated levees at closed-off sea estuaries, preventing flooding.

  • They even have backup levees in case one down the line bursts.

  • In the north, though, the Walden Islands act as kind of like natural barriers against the sea.

  • All this land reclamation has left many of the inland areas exposed to what are labeled as the largest open sand drifts in Europe.

  • Keep in mind they are not deserts, but rather strange, wet, sandy plots in the middle of green shrubbery,

  • a rare natural sight to come across anywhere in the world.

  • So, in a nutshell, the entire country is basically one big river delta.

  • BANGLADESH: Hmm, we should hang out sometime.

  • Whew, so that's just about it for now.

  • I gotta get my triple shot of espresso break, which means we need a guy who "Noah"s a few things, hehehe.

  • [sighs]

  • [energy blast] [yells]

  • Besides all the water chaos, the Netherlands is quite a powerful nation, considering its size.

  • They rank in the top 20 largest world economies, usually around 17th or 16th place,

  • and they rank somewhere in the top 5 to 10 largest exporters on Earth.

  • In fact, they have the oldest stock exchange in the world, dating back to 1602.

  • Didn't that lead to like the whole tulip mania thing,

  • where people sold a single bulb for the price of like an entire ship?

  • That was not the stock market.

  • That was just a socio-economic phenomenon, and at its height, sold for 10 times the annual wage of a skilled craftsman.

  • Anyway, today, although they produce about 80% of the world's tulips and over half of the world's cut flower exports,

  • their economy is mostly driven by the service and energy sectors.

  • After the discovery of a natural gas field in 1959, the Dutch became a fuel powerhouse.

  • The Shell company became the largest and most internationally recognized Dutch company in the world.

  • Besides the petroleum industry though, the Dutch are well known for their electronics and tech innovation.

  • The company Phillips invented the audio tape, which helped pioneer other formats like videotapes, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.

  • BELGIUM: Yeah, the company was Dutch but keep in mind, it was invented in Hasselt, Belgium.

  • NETHERLANDS: Oh, Belgium. We love you, but don't try to [beep]ing take this from us.

  • Otherwise, the Dutch have made great strides towards environmental protection.

  • It's not uncommon to find animal crossing bridges to allow wildlife to cross over highways.

  • Over 70 mammal species exist here such as hares, hedgehogs, stoats, and deer.

  • In addition, according to their government website, they produce over €65 billion in vegetable, fruit, flour, meat, and dairy products.

  • Speaking of which, the modern orange-colored carrot was originally bred orange here in the Netherlands, to specifically honor the king.

  • Since then, orange carrots are now kind of an international staple.

  • And, speaking of which, food!

  • Some top notable dishes you guys, the Dutch geograpeeps, suggested we mention include things like:

  • various types of stamppot,

  • Dutch pancakes with powdered sugar,

  • apple tarts,

  • bitterballen

  • split pea soup,

  • rookworst,

  • stroopwafels,

  • so many potato dishes,

  • brined herring and smoked eel.

  • Gin was invented here, sorry Brits.

  • For breakfast, chocolate sprinkles on toast is common.