The Netherlands

The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and a parliamentary democracy since 1848. The monarch is the head of state, at present King Willem-Alexander. The Netherlands in its entirety is often referred to as “Holland”, although North and South Holland are actually only two of its twelve provinces. The capital of The Netherlands is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. The major international airports are Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Eindhoven Airport and Maastricht-Aachen Airport. The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe. From 1962 until 2002 it was the worlds busiest port, now overtaken by first Singapore and then Shanghai.

Dutch Golden Age
The Dutch Empire grew to become one of the major seafaring and economic powers of the 17th century. The Dutch Golden Age was a period in Dutch history in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world.  In this period, colonies and trading posts were established all over the world. Dutch settlement in North America began with the founding of New Amsterdam, on the southern part of Manhattan in 1614. In South Africa, the Dutch settled the Cape Colony in 1652. By 1950, the Dutch owned 16,000 merchant ships. During the 17th century, the Dutch population increased from an estimated 1.5 million to almost 2 million.

Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company (in Dutch: Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) was established in 1602. It is often considered to have been the first multinational corporation in the world and it was the first company to issue stock. The VOC eclipsed all of its rivals in the Asia Trade. The VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tons of Asian trade goods. By contrast, the rest of Europe combined sent only 882,412 people from 1500 to 1795.

Having been set up in 1602, to profit from the Malukan spice trade, in 1619 the VOC established a capital in the port city of Jayakarta and changed the city name into Batavia (now Jakarta). Over the next two centuries the Company acquired additional ports as trading bases and safeguarded their interests by taking over surrounding territory. It remained an important trading concern and paid an 18% annual dividend for almost 200 years.

The Netherlands has had many well-known painters. The 17th century, was the age of the “Dutch Masters”, such as: Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century were Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. M.C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist.

The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza. All of Descartes’ major work was done in The Netherlands. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) discovered Saturns moon Titan, argued that light travelled as wavers, invented the pendulum clock and was the first physicist to use mathematical formulae. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms with a microscope.

In the Dutch Golden Age, literature flourished as well, with Joost van den Volden and P.C. Hooft as the two most famous writers. In the 19th century, Multatuli wrote about the poor treatment of the natives in Dutch colonies. Important 20th century authors include Harry Mulish, Jan Wolkers, Simon Vestdijk, Hella S. Haasse, Cees Nooteboom, Gerard (van het) Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans. Anne Franks “Diary of a Young Girl” was published after she died in the Holocaust and translated from Dutch to all major languages.

Replicas of Dutch buildings can be found in Huis ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan. A similar Holland Village is built in Shenyang, China. Windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese and Delftware pottery are among the items associated with The Netherlands by tourists.

Spyker was a Dutch car manufacturer, started in 1880 by coachbuilders Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker. In 1903 the “ij” was changed into “y” to be able to market the brand better in foreign countries. They started their business in Hilversum but moved to Trompenburg, Amsterdam in 1898. In that same year Spyker manufactured the “Golden Carriage”, which is still in use by the Dutch King today.

In 1899 they started building automobiles and in 1900 put their first models on display, two-cylinder 3HP and 5HP similar to the Benz. Four-cylinder models were introduced in 1903, along with the six-cylinder Spyker 60HP, a racer with the world’s first ever four-wheel drive car with a single engine and four wheel brakes. An engine with six cylinders was also a worlds first.

The 1905 cars featured a round radiator grill which became a feature of many of the pre war cars. In 1907, an 18HP model successfully competed in the Peking to Paris race. In 1913, the company was having financial problems again and in 1915 was taken over by new owners and renamed “Nederlandsche Automobiel en Vliegtuigfabriek Trompenburg” (Dutch Car and Aircraft company). Under the new owners, the previous complex model range was simplified and a new car, the 13/30 C1, introduced: sales were disappointing.

Hendrik-Jan Spijker died in 1907 when the ferry he was on when returning from England sank, and this loss led to the bankruptcy of the original company. A group of investors bought the company and restarted production, Jacobus Spijker was no longer involved.

During World Ware I, in which the Netherlands were neutral, they manufactured aeroplanes and aircraft engines. In 1922 the company went bankrupt again and was acquired by Spyker’s distributor in Britain who renamed the company to Spyker Automobielfabriek. Production continued and prices dropped but the company continued to decline. Final production was of the C2 two-ton truck and the C4 car which laster until 1926 when funds finally ran out. It is estimated total Spyker car production was at most 2,000 cars.

In 1999, a new company, Spyker Cars was founded, unrelated to the original company but for the brand name.

After the Second World War, luxury cars and lorries were very scarce. This meant a big opportunity for DAF. In 1949, the company started making lorries, trailers and buses, changing its name into Van Doorne’s Automobiel Fabriek (Van Doorne’s Automobile Factory). The first lorry model was the DAF A30.

In the winter of 1954, Hub van Doorne had the idea to use belt drive, just like many of the machines in the factory that were belt-driven, to drive road vehicles. In 1955, DAF produced its first drafts of a car belt drive system. Over the next few years, the design was developed and refined. In Februari 1958, DAF demonstrated a small belt-driven four-seater car at the Dutch car show (the AutoRAI). The public reaction was very positive and 4,000 cars were ordered. In 1959, DAF started selling the world’s first car with a continuously variable transmission, the small four-seater DAF 600. This was the first of a series of models to be released in subsequent years, including the DAF 33, DAF 44, DAF 55 and DAF 66, all using the innovative Variomatic transmission system.

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