The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with parts in the Caribbean. It is a parliamentary democracy organised as a unitary state. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders with Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The country capital is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as Holland, although North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces, which is a case of pars pro toto (see terminology of "the Netherlands").

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to have an elected parliament. Among other affiliations the country is a founding member of the European Union (EU), NATO, OECD and WTO. With Belgium and Luxembourg it forms the Benelux economic union. The country is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and 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 has a capitalist market-based economy, ranking 15th of 157 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom. In May 2011, the Netherlands was ranked as the 'happiest' country according to results published by The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying country, with about 25% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and 50% of its land lying less than one metre above sea level. For this reason, the country's name in many other European languages, i.e. French: Les Pays-Bas and Spanish: Los Paises Bajos, literally translates to English as "The Low Countries." 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 BES islands, or Caribbean Netherlands, became part of the Netherlands proper after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010.

The Netherlands was the gateway to Europe. For many years, The Netherlands has been a preferred location for foreign companies to establish a business.  The location, the political stability and the beneficial tax regime have made The Netherlands a premium alternative in this respect. Recently, other countries have started initiatives in copying Dutch tax benefits and at the same time EU legislation has mitigated the competitive advantage of The Netherlands.  Just in time, the Dutch government has realized the need to take action in this respect and have, over the last few years, initiated several tax law changes in order to keep ahead of the competition.

Our Dutch office was opened in December 1997.

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