Bordering the North Sea between Belgium and Germany, the Netherlands is low and flat, except in the southeast where some hills rise up to 322m. About half of the country is below sea level, with much of the land reclaimed from the sea. An extensive system of dikes and dams protects against flooding.
Holland is famous for its flowers, both wild flowers such as daisies and buttercups and cultivated varieties, best known among them the Dutch tulip. Wild or large animals are practically nonexistent but many bird species can be found, especially seagulls swarming over the coastal areas. Many kinds of fish abound in the lakes and rivers and harbour seals are found along the North Sea coast.
Air and water pollution are significant environmental problems in the Netherlands. Pollution of the country's rivers results from industrial and agricultural pollution, including heavy metals, organic compounds, nitrates and phosphates.
The generation of 6,000 megawatts from North Sea wind parks would provide enough energy to run all trains in the Netherlands and to power six million homes
In addition to the big-name Dutch beer brands, you can also find organic beers ranging from light pilsners to rich browns and dark stouts.
A number of Dutch retailers and supermarkets are displaying the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label, indicating that their seafood products come from well-managed fisheries. Look for the label when buying seafood in the Netherlands.
Schiermonnikoog National Park: Located on an island in the very north of the country in the Wadden Sea, this national park is known for its tidal flats, salt marshes, sand dunes and beaches. Many bird species are found here and seals can occasionally be seen lying on the sandbank at the northwest end of the island.
Vondelpark: Covering 47 hectares, this is Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park, providing a perfect getaway from the city. The park consists of a mosaic of lakes, meadows and woodlands, and hosts a film museum, open air theatre and several playgrounds.
Oosterschelde National Park: Covering 37,000 hectares in the country’s southwest, this is the Netherlands’ largest national park. It is known for its extensive tidal areas, which attract many bird species. The park is popular for scuba diving as well as sailing, fishing, cycling and bird watching. There are regular sightings of seals and porpoises.
De Hoge Veluwe National Park: An easy day-trip from Amsterdam, this national park of woodlands, sand dunes and heathlands is home to wild boars, and red and roe deer. Free white bikes are available to get around the 5,500-hectare park.
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