By Royal Appointment

The Netherlands

The International Butler Academy is located at Huize Damiaan, in the historical village of Simpelveld in the Limburg Province of The Netherlands. It lies in the southern part of The Netherlands: about two hours driving from Amsterdam, 10 minutes from Belgium, 10 minutes from Germany, and about 60 minutes from France. Please email or call ahead for specific directions. There is often confusion about Holland. Some people call the Netherlands, Holland, but it is not the same. Holland applies to a province.

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MAP OF THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY TO THE RIGHT, BELGIUM BELOW
THE INTERNATIONAL BUTLER ACADEMY IS LOCATED IN THE FAR SOUTH
 

 ResizedImage503599 Map Simpelveld

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Background

In a country where you can get a sex change on the national health scheme, and where Hilde and her two dads can share a joint (legally!) to celebrate that she likes boys too, why does the washing up always get done straight after dinner? The Netherlands has managed to combine liberal attitudes with one of the most orderly societies on earth, in a community that manages to be radical and sensible without being silly or staid. The Dutch aren't bogged down in their clichés, even though bikes, dykes, windmills and blazing flower fields are pretty much the norm outside the major cities.

For travelers, the integration of the clog (wooden shoe) and the microchip works well. The Netherlands is easy to travel in and the locals are friendly and speak excellent English, but towns are still surrounded by canals and castle walls, the endlessly flat landscape that inspired the nation's early artists still stretches unbroken to the horizons, and the dykes still occasionally threaten to give way.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate Kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I but suffered a brutal invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II.  A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EC, and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.

The standard of health care (and other social services) is very high, with an unusually high proportion of national income devoted to public health. Certain medications may be brought into The Netherlands provided you have a doctor’s prescription. You do not need any inoculations and it is safe to drink tap water. For police assistance, fire or ambulance emergencies, dial 112 anywhere in the country.

Summers are lovely but along with your shorts and beachwear pack a light-weight raincoat - the odd shower cannot be ruled out. Winter winds can be cold and you should certainly wrap up well in January and February. The average temperature in these months hovers just above 2 degrees centigrade. The voltage in The Netherlands is 220 volts. Hotels may have a 110-volt or 120-volt outlet for shavers, but travelers are advised to bring a power converter and an adapter for two-prong, round-prong plugs with side grounding contacts.

Dutch is the national language. However, English is spoken by almost everyone. In addition, many Dutch people speak German and French. In The Netherlands, Value Added Tax (VAT) and service charges are included in your check in hotels, shops and taxis. This is even the case for your restaurant check. Tips for extra service are always appreciated but not necessary. It is customary to give taxi drivers and waiters a tip of about 10 percent. Many public restrooms have an attendant who is usually tipped EUR 0.50.

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Passport Information

Valid passport required by all except nationals of EU countries (except Finland and Sweden) who hold a valid national ID card. When required, passports and identity cards, must be valid for at least 3 months after the last day of the intended visit.

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Visa Information

A visa required by all visitors except nationals of Australia; Brunei; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Jamaica; Malawi; Malaysia; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Singapore; and Venezuela for visits up to 3 months. Nationals do not require a visa to visit a country that is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. The following do not require visas for any of the Schengen member states. a) EU nationals; b) Andorra; Argentina; Brazil; Canada; Chile; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Hungary; Iceland; Israel; Japan; Liechtenstein; Malta; Mexico; Monaco; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; San Marino; The Slovak Republic; Slovenia; South Korea; Switzerland; Uruguay; and Vatican City.

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Geography

Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany. Geographic coordinates: 52 30 N, 5 45 E.  Map references: Europe. Area: total: 41,532 sq km, land: 33,889 sq km, water: 7,643 sq km.  Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey.  Land boundaries: total: 1,027 km. border countries: Belgium 450 km, Germany 577 km. Coastline: 451 km. Climate: temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters. Terrain: mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders); some hills in southeast. Elevation extremes: lowest point: Prins Alexanderpolder -7 m, highest point: Vaalserberg 321 m. Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, arable land. Natural hazards: the extensive system of dikes and dams protects nearly one-half of the total area from being flooded                  

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People

Population: 17,000,000 (July 2004 est.).  Age structure: 0-14 years: 18% (male 1,497,290; female 1,431,671), 15-64 years: 68% (male 5,490,518; female 5,305,848), 65 years and over: 14% (male 885,839; female 1,281,071) (2000 est.).  Population growth rate: 0.57% (2000 est.).  Birth rate: 12.12 births/1,000 population (2000 est.).  Death rate: 8.72 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.).  Net migration rate: 2.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.).  Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2000 est.).  Infant mortality rate: 4.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.).  Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.28 years, male: 75.4 years, female: 81.28 years (2000 est.).  Total fertility rate: 1.64 children born/woman (2000 est.).                  

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Nationality

Noun: Dutchman (men), Dutchwoman (women), adjective: Dutch. Ethnic groups: Dutch 91%, Moroccans, Turks, and other 9% (1999 est.).  Religions: Roman Catholic 34%, Protestant 25%, Muslim 3%, other 2%, unaffiliated 36% (1991).  Languages: Dutch. Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% (1979 est.).

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Government

Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands, conventional short form: Netherlands, local long form: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, local short form: Nederland. Data code: NL. Government type: constitutional monarchy.  Capital: Amsterdam; The Hague is the seat of government. Administrative divisions: 12 provinces (provincien, singular - provincie); Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland, Zuid-Holland. Dependent areas: Aruba, Netherlands Antilles.  Independence: 1581 (from Spain). National holiday: King's Day, 27 April. Constitution: adopted 1814; amended many times, last time 17 February 1983. Legal system: civil law system incorporating French penal theory; constitution does not permit judicial review of acts of the States General; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations.                                

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Economy

The Netherlands is a prosperous and open economy in which the government has successfully reduced its role since the 1980s. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 4% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Dutch rank third worldwide in value of agricultural exports, behind the US and France. The Netherlands successfully addressed the issue of public finances and stagnating job growth long before its European partners. This has helped cushion the economy from a slowdown in the Euro Zone. Strong 3.8% GDP growth in 1998 was followed by an only slightly lower 3.4% expansion in 1999. The outlook remains favorable, with real GDP growth in 2000 projected at 3.25%, along with a small budget surplus. The Dutch were among the first 11 EU countries establishing the euro currency zone on 1 January 1999.  GDP: purchasing power parity - $365.1 billion (1999 est.). GDP - real growth rate: 3.4% (1999 est.). GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $23,100 (1999 est.). Population below poverty line: NA%. Labor force: 7 million (1998 est.). Labor force - by occupation: services 73%, industry 23%, agriculture 4% (1998 est.). Unemployment rate: 3.5% but generous welfare benefits have prompted large numbers to drop out of the labor market (1999 est.). Budget: revenues: $163 billion expenditures: $170 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.). Industries: agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing. Industrial production growth rate: 3% (1999). While the global issues are still felt worldwide, stimulus programs, accelerated infrastructure programs since 2008, and fiscal consolidation ,measures in 2011 have helped the Netherlands to see a slow and steady return to financial stability. The Dutch economy ranks sixth among the 43 countries of the European region.

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Currency

Euros has been a standard currency since January 1, 2002. Before Netherlands guilder, gulden, or florin (f.) = 100 cents. Exchange rates: euros per US$1 - 0.9867 (January 2000), 0.9386 (1999); Netherlands guilders, gulden, or florins (f.) per US$1 - 1.8904 (January 1999), 1.9837 (1998), 1.9513 (1997), 1.6859 (1996), 1.6057 (1995) Note: on 1 January 1999, the EU introduced a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in some member countries at a fixed rate of 2.20371 guilders per euro; the euro replaced the local currency in consenting countries for all transactions in 2002.

By Royal Appointment