Meindert J. Haveman,
Curd M. V.W. Jacobs, and Rob V. Bijl
The Netherlands is a relatively small (41,574 square kilometers) and densely populated country (nearly 15 million inhabitants in 1989) situated in Western Europe. In the north and west it borders on the North Sea and in the east and south on Germany and Belgium. In the Netherlands 26 percent of all inhabitants are nineteen or younger and 13 percent are sixty-five or older. Of the total population, 4 percent are nonnative, with Turkish and Moroccan people as the largest groups. In addition, a substantial part of this population consists of former inhabitants of the former Dutch colonies, such as Surinam ( Dutch Guiana) and the Dutch Antilles.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a parliament and a democratically chosen government. The executive power lies in the Crown, while the legislative power is exercised by the Crown and both houses of parliament. The Staten-Generaal consists of the First Chamber and the Second Chamber. The members of the First Chamber are elected indirectly, the members of the Second Chamber directly. The government and the members of the Second Chamber can introduce a bill. The Second Chamber also has the right of amendment. The members of the First Chamber can only pass or refuse a bill without the right of amendment. In the Netherlands there are about ten political parties that have a delegation in the First and Second Chambers. The three main parties are the Christian Democratic Appeal, the Labor Party, and the Liberal Party.