Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue. The colors indicate different regions of The Netherlands -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from the CIA World Factbook)
Introduction. The Netherlands (meaning "lower lands") is a country that has gone through some incredible changes during its history. Once a major European economic center and worldwide colonial power that spread a doctrine based on a very conservative form of Christianity, this country is now far better known for its role in the international community (the World Court in The Hague) and its welcoming tolerance of alternative lifestyles (i.e. legalized possession and sale of drugs, legalized prostitution to point of celebrating its red-light districts, and openly permissive attitudes towards the gay community).
Interestingly, about the only things I knew about the country growing up as a kid were tulips, windmills, wooden shoes, and little boys saving their villages by plugging a leaky dike with their fingers. Indeed, the countryside still celebrates "tulip time" every spring, when wide stretches of open fields are alive in a complete rainbow of colors -- tulips bred to bloom in every conceivable color. Windmills are a staple of most city skylines. Wooden shoes are a common souvenir item (the Dutch wear designer running shoes like everyone else now). As far as the little boys plugging dikes, well, perhaps those has passed into legend.
But what the Dutch do have are ports -- lots of them and big ones at that. With so many major rivers (the Rhine, the Maas, and the IJssel, plus others) emptying into the sea, The Netherlands lives on the shipping industry. This is especially true of Rotterdam, the world's largest port and one of the world's major commercial centers.
I've pretty much hit the major cities in The Netherlands, so my "list" mostly consists of hitting the smaller towns and beachfronts. The coastline of Scheveningen near The Hague is a popular destination that I haven't hit yet.
Travelogues. The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different locations in The Netherlands, as shown below.
Links. The below links connect you to external sites in a new window. All links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated. These links will open to the Dutch-language home page, which will offer an icon or link to an English-language section (normally limited content). Links updated 8 January 2006.