U.S. Department of State 
Background Notes: Netherlands, April 1996 
Bureau of Public Affairs 
 
 
April 1996 
Official Name:  Kingdom of the Netherlands 
 
PROFILE 
 
Geography 
 
Area: 41,473 sq. km. (16,464 sq. mi.). 
Cities: Capital--Amsterdam (pop. 1.1 million). Others--The Hague, seat 
of government, (pop. 695,000); Rotterdam, the world's busiest port (1 
million); Utrecht (545,000). 
Terrain: Coastal lowland. 
Climate: Northern maritime. 
 
People 
 
Population: 15.4 million. 
Nationality: Noun--Dutchmen and Dutchwomen. Adjective--Dutch. 
Ethnic groups:  Predominantly Dutch; largest minority communities are 
Moroccans, Turks, Surinamese, and Indonesians. 
Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, other, and non-affiliated. 
Language: Dutch. 
Education: Years compulsory--10. Attendance--nearly 100%. Literacy-
-99%. 
Health: Infant mortality rate--6/1,000. Life expectancy--78 yrs. 
Work force: 6.5 million. Services--50%. Industry--28%. Government--
16%. Agriculture--6%. 
 
Government 
 
Type: Parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch. 
Constitution: 1814 and 1848. 
Branches: Executive--monarch (chief of state), prime  minister (head of 
government), cabinet. Legislative--bicameral parliament (First and 
Second Chambers). Judicial--Supreme Court. 
Subdivisions: 12 provinces. 
Political parties: Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Labor Party 
(PvdA), Liberal Party (VVD), Democrats '66 (D'66), other minor 
parties. 
Suffrage: Universal at 18. 
 
Economy 
 
GDP (1995): $350 billion. 
GDP growth rate (1995):  3%. 
GDP per capita (1995): $23,000. 
Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, fertile soil. 
Agriculture (4% of GDP): Products--dairy, poultry, meat, flower bulbs, 
cut flowers, vegetables and fruits, sugar beets, potatoes, wheat, 
barley. 
Industry (25% of GDP): Types--steel, metal products, electronics, bulk 
chemicals, natural gas, petroleum products, transport equipment. 
Trade (1995): Exports--$146 billion:  mineral fuels, chemical products, 
machinery and transport equipment, foodstuffs. Imports--$134 billion:  
mineral fuels and crude petroleum, machinery, chemical products, 
foodstuffs. Major trading partners--EU, Germany, Belgium, 
Luxembourg, France, U.K., U.S. 
Exchange rate (1995): 1.60 Dutch guilders=U.S. $1. 
 
U.S.-DUTCH RELATIONS 
 
The United States' partnership with the Netherlands is its oldest 
continuous relationship and dates back to the American revolution. The 
excellent bilateral relations are based on close historical and cultural 
ties and a common dedication to individual freedom and human rights. 
An outward-looking nation, the Netherlands shares with the U.S. a 
commitment to an open market and free trade. It is the United States' 
eighth-largest export market.  
 
President Clinton invited Prime Minister Kok to Washington for an 
official working visit on February 27 and 28, 1995. Issues such as 
NATO, the UN, narcotics policy, trade relations, and international 
crises were discussed, and the meeting demonstrated the characteristic 
friendly atmosphere and good trade and political relations between the 
U.S. and the Netherlands. 
 
The United States and the Netherlands often have similar positions on 
issues and work together bilaterally and through the UN and other 
multilateral organizations on matters concerning NATO, trade and 
economic cooperation, and regional and global problems. 
 
International Drug-Trafficking Control 
 
Narcotics trafficking is one such global problem. The Netherlands is 
considered an important transit point for narcotics; it has a major 
international airport hub, and Rotterdam is the world's largest 
container port. The Dutch Government has been working to tighten 
controls on its airports and harbors. 
 
The Dutch work closely with other countries, including the U.S., on 
international programs against drug trafficking and organized crime. 
The Netherlands is a signatory to international counter-narcotics 
agreements, a member of the UN International Drug Control Program 
and UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and a leading contributor to 
international counter-narcotics projects. 
 
Environmental Cooperation 
 
The Netherlands plays a major role in international environmental 
forums and often cooperates closely with the United States. The Dutch 
were among the first to join the GLOBE Project, initiated by Vice 
President Gore, under which schools around the world cooperate in 
collecting environmental data and entering it into a computer network 
for use by scientists and other researchers. The Clinton administration 
works closely with the Dutch on climate change, biodiversity issues, 
global deforestation, the sustainable development of rainforests, ozone 
layer depletion, and the environmental aspects of the Middle East 
Peace Process. 
 
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials 
 
Ambassador--Kirk Terry Dornbush 
Deputy Chief of Mission--William P. Pope 
Political Counselor--Bronson Percival 
Economic Counselor--Jack Croddy 
Commercial Counselor--Rafael Fermoselle 
Administrative Counselor--Wajat Iqbal 
Regional Security Officer--George Gaines 
Agriculture Counselor--Steven Yoder 
Public Affairs Counselor (USIS)--Karl Olssen 
 
Consul General, Amsterdam--John Shearburn 
 
The U.S. embassy is located at Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ The 
Hague; tel: 31-70-310-9209; fax: 31-70-361-4688. The consulate 
general is at Museumplein 13, 1071 DJ Amster-dam; tel: 31-20-5755-
309; fax: 31-20-5755-310. 
 
 
======================================== 
HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS 
 
The Dutch are primarily of Germanic stock with some Gallo-Celtic 
mixture. Their small homeland frequently has been threatened with 
destruction by the North Sea and often has been invaded by the great 
European powers. 
 
Julius Caesar found the region which is now the Netherlands inhabited 
by Germanic tribes in the first century BC. The western portion was 
inhabited by the Batavians and became part of a Roman province; the 
eastern portion was inhabited by the Frisians. Between the fourth and 
eighth centuries AD, most of both portions were conquered by the 
Franks. The area later passed into the hands of the House of Burgundy 
and the Austrian Hapsburgs. Falling under harsh Spanish rule in the 
16th century, the Dutch revolted in 1558 under the leadership of 
Willem of Orange. By virtue of the Union of Utrecht in 1579, the seven 
northern Dutch provinces became the Republic of the United 
Netherlands. 
 
During the 17th century, considered its "golden era," the Netherlands 
became a great sea and colonial power. Among other achievements, 
this period saw the emergence of some of painting's "Old Masters," 
including Rembrandt and Hals, whose works--along with those of later 
artists such as Mondriaan and Van Gogh--are today on display in 
museums throughout the Netherlands. 
 
The country's importance declined, however, with the gradual loss of 
Dutch technological superiority and after wars with Spain, France, and 
England in the 18th century. The Dutch United Provinces supported the 
Americans in the Revolutionary War. In 1795, French troops ousted 
Willem V of Orange, the Stadhouder under the Dutch Republic and 
head of the House of Orange. 
 
Following Napoleon's defeat in 1813, the Netherlands and Belgium 
became the "Kingdom of the United Netherlands" under King Willem 
I, son of Willem V of Orange. The Belgians withdrew from the union 
in 1830 to form their own kingdom. King Willem II was largely 
responsible for the liberalizing revision of the constitution in 1848. 
 
The Netherlands prospered during the long reign of Willem III (1849-
90). At the time of his death, his daughter Wilhelmina was 10 years 
old. Her mother, Queen Emma, reigned as regent until 1898, when 
Wilhelmina reached the age of 18 and became the monarch. 
 
The Netherlands proclaimed neutrality at the start of both world wars. 
Although it escaped occupation in World War I, German troops 
overran the country in May 1940. Queen Wilhelmina fled to London 
and established a government-in-exile. Shortly after the Netherlands 
was liberated in May 1945, the Queen returned. Crown Princess Juliana 
acceded to the throne in 1948 upon her mother's abdication. In April 
1980, Queen Juliana abdicated in favor of her daughter, now Queen 
Beatrix. Crown Prince Willem Alexander was born in 1967. 
 
Elements of the Netherlands' once far-flung empire were granted either 
full independence or nearly complete autonomy after World War II. 
Indonesia formally gained its independence in 1949, and Suriname 
became independent in 1975. The five islands of the Netherlands 
Antilles (Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, and a part of St. 
Maarten) are an integral part of the Netherlands realm but enjoy a large 
degree of autonomy. Aruba, which had been a part of the Netherlands 
Antilles, was granted in January 1986 a separate status within the 
kingdom on par with, but apart from, the Netherlands Antilles. 
======================================== 
 
 
ECONOMY 
 
The Dutch economy is based on private enterprise. It has been 
adjusting to recent recessions and changes in the global economic 
community and has flourished. The annual growth rate in 1995 was 
3%, while inflation was 2%. Corporate investment has been high, and 
the Netherlands' balance-of-payments current account shows a strong 
surplus. 
 
Government Role 
 
Although the government has little direct ownership or participation, it 
heavily influences the economy. It plays a significant role through the 
many government permit requirements and regulations pertaining to 
almost every aspect of economic activity. Further, more than 45% of 
the gross national product is involved in government operations and 
social programs ranging from transfer payments through subsidizing 
the arts. 
 
Overall, the scope and role of the Dutch welfare state have been 
modified lately, with spending cuts and efforts at privatization of 
certain government programs. Prime Minister Willem Kok's 
administration presented its economic policy for FY 1994-95 in 
September 1994. The policy aimed to emphasize stability and reduce 
public spending. 
 
Trade 
 
Foreign trade also heavily influences the Dutch economy, with exports 
accounting for 51% of gross national product.  The 1995 trade surplus 
was roughly $13 billion, equal to about 4% of gross product. The 
Netherlands finds a liberal commercial policy advantageous and 
participates in the European Union (EU), the Benelux Economic 
Union, the European Monetary System, and the World Trade 
Organization (WTO). It is a firm supporter of the General Agreement 
on Tariffs and Trade, on which WTO is based, and it supports 
multilateral trade negotiations to establish freer and expanded world 
trade. 
 
Sectors 
 
Services account for more than half of the national income and are 
primarily in transport and financial areas, such as banking and 
insurance. Industrial activity provides about 25% of the national 
income and is dominated by the metalworking, oil refining, chemical, 
and food-processing industries. Construction amounts to about 10% of 
the national income. Agriculture and fishing, although visible and 
traditional Dutch activities, account for only slightly more than 4%. 
 
The vast Slochteren gasfield in Groningen Province, first exploited in 
1959, is now one of the world's largest producing natural gasfields. At 
present, total proven natural gas reserves--mainland and North Sea 
continental shelf--amount to 1.2 trillion cubic meters, of which about 
80% is at Slochteren. Current gas production is running annually at 
about 84 billion cubic meters, roughly half of which is exported to EU 
member countries. General government revenues from natural gas 
totaled about $4.1 billion in 1994. 
 
Environmental Policy 
 
Awareness of the environment plays a major role in Dutch life. 
Because so much of the Netherlands consists of reclaimed land, the 
Dutch have a fragile landscape and must be concerned about 
environmental degradation, especially given their density of population 
and intense agriculture. 
 
The Netherlands introduced its first national environmental plan in 
1989; it focused on eight environmental themes and grouped 
environmental problems according to sectors of economic activities. 
Targets and timetables were set with the goal of achieving 
sustainability by 2010.  
 
A second such environmental plan was approved by the parliament in 
March 1994. This four-year plan is built on experience with the first 
one, but it strengthens the implementation framework, provides for 
greater cooperation between all those concerned, and focuses on 
sustainable production and consumption in order to meet national 
targets and to implement global agreements, such as on climate change. 
 
One interesting feature of Dutch environmental policy is the use of 
"covenants," which are voluntary agreements between industry and 
government--and sometimes other organizations--to work together to 
achieve certain environmental goals, such as the reduction of waste. 
The Dutch Government also uses financial instruments, including tax 
incentives, to meet environment goals. Progress has been made in 
reducing certain greenhouse gases, phasing out chlorofluorocarbons, 
lowering acidification and eutrophication levels, and moving toward 
waste prevention and recycling targets. The Rhine River cleanup, in 
which the Dutch participate, is improving water quality in that river 
and its branches. 
 
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS 
 
The present constitution--which dates from 1848 and has been 
amended several times--protects individual and political freedoms, 
including freedom of religion. Although church and state are separate, 
a few historical ties remain; the royal family belongs to the Dutch 
Reformed Church (Protestant). Freedom of speech also is protected. 
 
Government Structure 
 
The country's government is based on the principles of ministerial 
responsibility and parliamentary government. The national government 
comprises three main institutions: the crown, the States General, and 
the courts. There also are local governments. 
 
The Crown. The monarch is the titular head of state. The Queen's 
function is largely ceremonial, but she does have some influence 
deriving from the traditional veneration of the House of Orange--from 
which Dutch monarchs for more than three centuries have been chosen; 
the personal qualities of the Queen; and her power to appoint the 
formateur, who forms the Council of Ministers following elections. 
 
The Council of Ministers plans and implements government policy. 
Most ministers also head government ministries, although ministers 
without portfolio exist. The ministers, collectively and individually, 
are 
responsible to the States General (parliament). Unlike the British 
system, Dutch ministers cannot simultaneously be members of 
parliament. 
 
The Council of State is a constitutionally established advisory body to 
the government which consists of members of the royal family and 
crown-appointed members generally having political, commercial, 
diplomatic, or military experience. The Council of State must be 
consulted by the cabinet on proposed legislation before a law is 
submitted to the parliament. The Council of State also serves as a 
channel of appeal for citizens against executive branch decisions. 
 
States General (Parliament). The Dutch parliament consists of two 
houses, the First Chamber and the Second Chamber. Historically, 
Dutch governments have been based on the support of a majority in 
both houses of parliament. The Second Chamber is by far the more 
important of the two houses. It alone has the right to initiate 
legislation and amend bills submitted by the Council of Ministers. It 
shares with the First Chamber the right to question ministers and state 
secretaries. 
 
The Second Chamber consists of 150 members, directly elected for a 
four-year term--unless the government falls prematurely--on the basis 
of a nationwide system of proportional representation. This system 
means that members represent the whole country--rather than 
individual districts as in the United States--and are normally elected 
on 
a party slate, not on a personal basis. There is no threshold for small-
party representation. Campaigns usually last six weeks, and each party 
is limited to a budget of about $600,000. The electoral system makes a 
coalition government almost inevitable. The most recent elections for 
the Second Chamber were held in May 1994. 
 
The First Chamber is composed of 75 members elected for four-year 
terms by the 12 provincial legislatures. It cannot initiate or amend 
legislation, but its approval of bills passed by the Second Chamber is 
required before bills become law. The First Chamber generally meets 
only once a week, and its members usually have other full-time jobs. 
The current First Chamber was elected following provincial elections 
in March 1995. 
 
Courts. The judiciary comprises 62 cantonal courts, 19 district courts, 
five courts of appeal, and a Supreme Court which has 24 justices. All 
judicial appointments are made by the crown. Judges nominally are 
appointed for life but actually are retired at age 70. 
 
Local Government. The first-level administrative divisions are the 12 
provinces, each governed by a locally elected provincial council and a 
provincial executive appointed by members of the provincial council. 
The province is formally headed by a queen's commissioner appointed 
by the crown. 
 
Defense Forces. The defense structure of the Netherlands comprises the 
Ministry of Defense and the various branches of the armed forces. 
Political responsibility for the defense of the Netherlands lies with 
the 
minister of defense and the state secretary for defense. 
 
The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces has a peacetime strength of 
about 85,500 military and civilians. The Royal Netherlands Army takes 
part in the new German-Netherlands Corps and in numerous 
international peacekeeping efforts. The Army features an elite Air 
Mobile Brigade supported by a range of transport and attack 
helicopters. The Royal Netherlands Navy is composed of escort ships, 
submarines, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, a mine 
countermeasure force, and a Marine Corps, as well as the necessary 
supporting elements. Priority has been given to anti-submarine warfare, 
with emphasis on air defense and surface warfare. The weapons 
systems of the Royal Netherlands Air Force are primarily fighter 
aircraft and surface-to-air guided weapons. 
 
Political Parties 
 
From the end of World War II until December 1958, the Netherlands 
was governed by a series of coalitions built on a Labor-Catholic base. 
From 1958 to 1994, governments were formed primarily from a center-
right coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, with the 
social democratic-oriented Labor Party generally in opposition. 
 
The current government, formed in August 1994, is a three-way 
"Purple Coalition" of the Labor (PvdA), Liberal (VVD), and 
Democrats '66 (D'66) parties headed by Prime Minister Kok of the 
PvdA. The coalition parties hold 92 of the 150 seats in the Second 
Chamber. The Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) is in opposition 
with 34 seats. Eight minor parties hold the remaining 24 seats. 
Descriptions of the four main parties follow. 
 
--  The Labor Party, a European social democratic party, is left of 
center. Labor has 37 seats in the current Second Chamber, which 
makes it the largest party. The party joined the VVD and D'66 in the 
"Purple Coalition" to form the present government, after having spent 
the past five years in an alliance with the CDA. Labor's program is 
based on greater social, political, and economic equality for all 
citizens, although in recent years the party has begun to debate the 
role of central government in that process. Although called the Labor 
Party, it has no formal links to the trade unions. 
 
--  The Christian Democratic Appeal was formed from a merger of the 
Catholic People's Party and two Protestant parties, the Anti-
Revolutionary Party and the Christian-Historical Union. The merger 
process, begun in the early 1970s to try to stem the tide of losses 
suffered by religiously based parties, was completed in 1980. It 
supports free enterprise and holds to the principle that government 
activity should supplement but not supplant communal action by 
citizens. On the political spectrum, the CDA sees its philosophy as 
standing between the "individualism" of the Liberals and the "statism" 
of the Labor Party. The CDA won 34 seats in the 1994 parliamentary 
elections, which was a significant drop from its previous 54. For the 
first time in 76 years, the CDA is not a governing party. 
 
--  The Liberal Party is "liberal" in the European, rather than 
American, sense of the word. It thus attaches great importance to 
private enterprise and the freedom of the individual in political, 
social, and economic affairs. The VVD is generally seen as the most 
conservative of the major parties. The VVD was the junior partner in two 
governing coalitions with the CDA from 1982-89, and is now in the three-
way coalition with 31 seats in the Second Chamber. 
 
--  Democrats '66, once the largest of the "small" parties in the Dutch 
parliament, has grown in size and influence. The electoral fortunes of 
D'66 have fluctuated widely since the party's founding in 1966. The 24 
seats it currently holds are double the average of the party's showing 
over the last 20 years. D'66 is a center-left party, generally portrayed 
as 
between the CDA and PvdA, with its strongest support among young, 
urban, professional voters. It professes a pro-European platform of 
ethnic and religious toleration. D'66 is currently a governing party. 
 
Domestic Drug Policy 
 
Although prosecuting international drug traffickers is a top national 
priority, the operation in the Netherlands of "coffeehouses" selling 
cannabis products--of under 30 grams--is tolerated, albeit under strict 
criteria and increasing government scrutiny. And while drugs are not 
legal in the Netherlands, Dutch policy treats domestic drug use as a 
health issue, stressing prevention and treatment. 
 
The legal basis of Dutch domestic drug policy is the Opium Act of 
1919 (amended in 1928 and 1976). In addition to permitting authorities 
to treat drug use as a health problem, Dutch law also permits them to 
divide responsibility for implementing and enforcing the Opium Act 
between the Health and Justice Ministries. 
 
The Opium Act distinguishes between "drugs presenting unacceptable 
risks"--i.e. "hard drugs" such as heroin and cocaine--"and traditional 
hemp products"--called "soft drugs." The law imposes penalties for the 
possession, sale, transport, trafficking, and manufacture of all drugs 
listed in the Opium Act, except for medical or scientific purposes. Drug 
consumption, per se, is not prohibited. 
 
The Netherlands spends about $200 million on health care for people 
with various types of addictions; about 40% of this funding goes to 
drug addicts. To combat the spread of the HIV among drug users, the 
Netherlands has extensive needle exchange programs. 
 
Principal Government Officials 
 
Head of State--Queen Beatrix 
Prime Minister--Willem Kok 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs--Hans van 
Mierlo 
Ambassador to the U.S.--Adriaan Jacobovits de Szeged 
Ambassador to the UN--Niek H. Biegman 
 
The Netherlands' embassy in the U.S. is at 4200 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 
Washington, DC 20016; tel: 202-244-5300; fax: 202-362-3430. 
 
FOREIGN RELATIONS 
 
The Netherlands abandoned its traditional policy of neutrality after 
World War II. The Dutch have since become engaged participants in 
international affairs. Dutch foreign policy is geared to promoting a 
variety of goals: transatlanticism; European integration; Third World 
development; and respect for international law, human rights, and 
democracy. 
 
As a relatively small country, the Netherlands generally pursues its 
foreign policy interests within the framework of multilateral 
organizations. The Netherlands is an active and responsible participant 
in the United Nations system as well as other multilateral organizations 
such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, 
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 
WTO, and International Monetary Fund. A centuries-old tradition of 
legal scholarship has made the Netherlands the home of the 
International Court of Justice; the Iran Claims Tribunal; the Yugoslavia 
and Rwanda War Crime Tribunals; and the European police 
organization, Europol. 
 
Dutch security policy is based primarily on membership in NATO, 
which the Netherlands joined in 1949. The Dutch also pursue defense 
cooperation within Europe, both multilaterally--in the context of the 
Western European Union--and bilaterally--as in the German-
Netherlands Corps. In recent years, the Dutch have become significant 
contributors to United Nations peacekeeping efforts around the world. 
 
The Dutch have been strong advocates of European integration, and 
most aspects of their foreign, economic, and trade policies are 
coordinated through the EU. The Netherlands' postwar customs union 
with Belgium and Luxembourg (the Benelux group) paved the way for 
the formation of the European Community (precursor to the EU), of 
which the Netherlands was a founding member. Likewise, the Benelux 
abolition of internal border controls was a model for the wider 
Schengen accord, which today has 10 European signatories--including 
the Netherlands--pledged to common visa policies and free movement 
of people across common borders. 
 
Foreign Aid 
 
The Netherlands is the fourth-largest foreign aid donor, giving about 
1% of its gross national product in development assistance. The 
country consistently contributes large amounts of aid through 
multilateral channels, especially the UN Development Program, 
International Development Association, and EU programs. A large 
portion of Dutch aid funds also are channeled through private ("co-
financing") organizations that have almost total autonomy in choice of 
projects. 
 
In 1995, Dutch development assistance--as defined by the OECD--was 
about $4 billion. The policy priorities of Dutch aid for 1995 were the 
environment, women in development, urban poverty alleviation, and 
research. Dutch aid is also targeted on emergency aid, programs for the 
private sector, and international education. 
 
The Netherlands is a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction 
and Development, which recently initiated economic reforms in 
Central Europe. The Dutch strongly support the Middle East Peace 
Process and contributed $22 million in 1994 to international donor-
coordinated activities for the occupied territories and also for 
projects in which they worked directly with Palestinian authorities. 
These projects included improving environmental conditions and support 
for multilateral programs in cooperation with local non-governmental 
organizations. In 1995, the Dutch provided significant amounts of aid 
to Bosnia and Rwanda, among others. 
 
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION 
 
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings 
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans 
avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for 
all countries and include information on immigration practices, 
currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the subject country. They can be obtained by telephone at (202) 647-
5225 or by fax at (202) 647-3000. To access the Consular Affairs 
Bulletin Board by computer, dial (202) 647-9225, via a modem with 
standard settings. Bureau of Consular Affairs' publications on obtaining 
passports and planning a safe trip abroad are available from the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800. 
 
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may 
be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 
647-5225. 
 
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking 
water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health 
Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-
95-8280, price $14.00) is available from the U.S. Government Printing 
Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800. 
 
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 
 
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to 
register at the U.S. embassy (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" 
listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you 
in case of an emergency. 
 
Further Electronic Information: 
 
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the 
CABB provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and 
helpful information for travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of 
charge to anyone with a personal computer, modem, 
telecommunications software, and a telephone line. 
 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the 
Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. 
foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes 
Background Notes; Dispatch, the official weekly magazine of U.S. 
foreign policy; daily press briefings; directories of key officers of 
foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN is accessible three ways on the 
Internet: 
 
Gopher: dosfan.lib.uic.edu 
URL: gopher://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ 
WWW: http://www.state.gov 
 
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly 
basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on 
the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an 
array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. 
Priced at $80 ($100 foreign), one-year subscriptions include four discs 
(MSDOS and Macintosh compatible) and are available from the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 37194, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 
or fax (202) 512-2250. 
 
Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy 
information also is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO). By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. 
For general BBS information, call (202) 512-1530. 
 
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department 
of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related 
information, including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on 
the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB 
Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information. 
 
========================================= 
Background Notes Series -- Published by the United States Department 
of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication 
-- Washington, DC --  Series Editor: Marilyn J. Bremner 
 
Netherlands -- Department of State Publication 7967 -- April 1996 
 
This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without 
permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402.  
 
The most current Background Notes information can be found on the 
Department of State's World Wide Web site at http://www.state.gov 
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