Geography of the Netherlands
|• Total||41,545 km2 (16,041 sq mi)|
|Coastline||451 km (280 mi)|
|Borders||Total land borders:|
1,027 km2 (397 sq mi)
|Highest point||Vaalserberg |
322.7 m (1,059 ft)
|Lowest point||Zuidplaspolder (Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel) |
−7 m (−23 ft)
|Longest river||Rhine |
764 km (475 mi)
|Largest lake||IJsselmeer |
1,100 km2 (420 sq mi)
|Exclusive economic zone||154,011 km2 (59,464 sq mi)|
The geography of the European Netherlands is unusual in that much of its land has been reclaimed from the sea and is below sea level, protected by dikes. It is a small country with a total area of 41,545 km2 (16,041 sq mi) and ranked 131st. With a population of 17.4 million and density of 521/km2 (1,350/sq mi) makes it the second most densely populated member of the European Union after Malta, and the 12th most densely populated country in the world, behind only three countries with a population over 16 million. Consequently, the Netherlands is highly urbanized.
The Dutch RD coordinate system (Rijksdriehoeksmeting) is also in common use. For transformation to and from geographical coordinates there is an official procedure RDNAPTRANS™ and approximate as well as precise tools available. The west–east coordinate is between 0 and 280 km, and the south–north coordinate between 300 and 620 km.
The central point is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwentoren (Our Lady's Tower) in Amersfoort, with RD coordinates (155,000.00, 463,000.00 m) and geographic coordinates approximately .
total: 41,545 km2 (16,041 sq mi)
land: 33,481 km2 (12,927 sq mi)
water: 8,064 km2 (3,114 sq mi)
total: 1,027 km (638 mi)
Coastline: 451 km (280 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
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.
Land use: (2011)
arable land: 25.08%
permanent crops: 0.88%
Irrigated land (2007): 4,572 km2 (1,765 sq mi)
Total renewable water resources (2011): 91 km3 (22 cu mi)
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
The country can be split into two areas: the low and flat lands in the west and north, and the higher lands with minor hills in the east and south. The former, including the reclaimed polders and river deltas, make up about half of its surface area and are less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level, much of it actually below sea level. An extensive range of seawalls and coastal dunes protect the Netherlands from the sea, and levees and dikes along the rivers protect against river flooding. A recent global remote sensing analysis suggested that there were 1,025km² of tidal flats in the Netherlands, making it the 31st ranked country in terms of tidal flat area. The rest of the country is mostly flat; only in the extreme south of the country does the land rise to any significant extent, in the foothills of the Ardennes mountains. This is where Vaalserberg is located, the highest point on the European part of the Netherlands at 322.7 metres (1,059 ft) above sea level. The highest point of the entire country is Mount Scenery (887 metres or 2,910 ft), which is located outside the European part of the Netherlands, on the island of Saba in the Caribbean. The Netherlands is located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Scheldt).
In November 2016, the Netherlands and Belgium agreed to cede small, uninhabited parcels of land to reflect a change in course of the river Meuse (or Maas, in Dutch). The land swap is to take effect as of 2018.
With their provinces in November 2019:
- Amsterdam (North Holland) 872,680 inhabitants
- Rotterdam (South Holland) 650,711
- The Hague ('s-Gravenhage) (South Holland) 544,766
- Utrecht (Utrecht) 357,179
- Eindhoven (North Brabant) 234,235
|Metropolitan area||Core city||Population|
|Metropolitan Region Rotterdam The Hague||Rotterdam||2,392,289|
|Amsterdam Transport Region||Amsterdam||1,484,893|
|Brabant city row||Eindhoven||2,145,390|
|Park city Limburg||Heerlen||255,000|
|Green Metropolitan Region Arnhem-Nijmegen||Arnhem||738,700|
|Eindhoven Metropolitan Region||Eindhoven||784,369|
|Brabant Outer Cities and Woensdrecht||Roosendaal||164,838|
The predominant wind direction in the European Netherlands is southwest, which causes a mild maritime climate, with moderately warm summers and cool winters, and typically high humidity. This is especially true close to the Dutch coastline, where the difference in temperature between summer and winter, as well as between day and night is noticeably smaller than it is in the southeast of the country.
Ice days—maximum temperature below 0 °C (32 °F)—usually occur from December until February, with the occasional rare ice day prior to or after that period. Freezing days—minimum temperature below 0 °C (32 °F)—occur much more often, usually ranging from mid-November to late March, but not rarely measured as early as mid-October and as late as mid-May. If one chooses the height of measurement to be 10 cm (4 in) above ground instead of 150 cm (59 in), one may even find such temperatures in the middle of the summer. On average, snow can occur from November to April but sometimes occurs in May or October too.
Warm days—maximum temperature above 20 °C (68 °F)—are usually found in April to October, but in some parts of the country these warm days can also occur in March, or even sometimes in November or February (usually not in De Bilt, however). Summer days—maximum temperature above 25 °C (77 °F)—are usually measured in De Bilt from May until September, tropical days—maximum temperature above 30 °C (86 °F)—are rare and usually occur only in June to August.
Precipitation throughout the year is distributed relatively equally each month. Summer and autumn months tend to gather a little more precipitation than the other months, mainly because of the intensity of the rainfall rather than the frequency of rain days (this is especially the case in summer when lightning is also much more frequent).
The number of sunshine hours is affected by the fact that because of the geographical latitude, the length of the days varies between barely eight hours in December and nearly 17 hours in June.
The following table are based on mean measurements by the KNMI weather station in De Bilt between 1991 and 2020. The highest recorded temperature was 40.7 °C (105.3 °F), reached on 25 July 2019 in Gilze-Rijen. The lowest temperature in the Netherlands was recorded at Winterswijk on 27 January 1942, when the temperature dropped to −27.4 °C (−17.3 °F).
|Climate data for De Bilt (1991–2020 averages), all KNMI locations (1901–2021 extremes), snowy days: (2003-2020 averages).|
|Record high °C (°F)||16.5
|Average high °C (°F)||6.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||3.6
|Average low °C (°F)||0.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−27.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||70.8
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||18||16||15||12||14||14||15||15||14||16||19||19||186|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0 cm)||5||6||3||0||0||—||—||—||—||0||1||4||19|
|Average relative humidity (%)||87||84||79||74||74||75||77||79||83||86||89||89||81|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||66.6||89.6||139.4||189.2||217.5||207.1||213.9||196.3||152.8||119.3||67.4||55.5||1,714.6|
- List of islands of the Netherlands
- List of places in the Netherlands
- List of mountains and hills in the Netherlands
- List of volcanoes in the Netherlands
- Extreme points of the Netherlands
- "CBS Statline".
- RD at Kadaster.nl (in Dutch)
- NSGI.nl (in Dutch)
- Murray, N.J.; Phinn, S.R.; DeWitt, M.; Ferrari, R.; Johnston, R.; Lyons, M.B.; Clinton, N.; Thau, D.; Fuller, R.A. (2019). "The global distribution and trajectory of tidal flats". Nature. 565: 222–225. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0805-8.
- Reuters (29 November 2016). "Belgium and Netherlands agree to swap land to simplify border". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
- "CBS Statline".
- "KNMI – Temperatuur door historische grens van 40°C".
- "Climate crisis blamed as temperature records broken in three nations". 24 July 2019.
- "Recordkoude februari van 1956". KNMI.nl.
- "Knmi.nl" (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 March 2021.
- Map showing first two digits of postal codes (see List of postal codes in the Netherlands), ditto
- Locate town or village; find municipality it is part of, range of postal codes, and some other basic data
- Lists of "places" (towns, villages, and various smaller entities), with municipality: alphabetical (ca. 4,800) – by province (extended, ca. 7,000)
- Routenet.nl Most used website for maps and directions in the Netherlands, also gives address range for a full postal code, and shows the four-digit parts of the postal codes on the maps.
- Multimap – shows geographic coordinates and allows a direct link to a map for a given location and with a given zoom level
- https://web.archive.org/web/20031202194742/http://www.landkaartenindex.nl/nederland/nederland.htm (In Dutch)
This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA document: World Factbook.