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The Netherlands is low-lying country in western Europe located west of Germany and north of Belgium According to a 1993 estimate the Netherlands had a population of 15224942 The overall population density was about 449 persons per sq km about 1162 per sq mi which makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world About 89 percent of the population live in urban areas The largest cities are Amsterdam population 1992 estimate 713407 the countrys capital Rotterdam 589707 one of the worlds leading seaports The Hague 445287 the nations seat of government and Utrecht 232705 a manufacturing hub The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch which is spoken throughout the country The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government operating under an 1812 constitution with amendments The hereditary monarch who has had little power in running the government since the constitution was revised in 18 48 acts as the head of the state while the principal executive official of the country is the prime minister He is appointed by the monarch and heads a cabinet that is responsible to the States-General legislature The Dutch parliament called the States-General consists of a First Chamber composed of 75 members elected to terms of up to six years by the provincial legislatures and a Second Chamber made up of 150 members popularly elected to terms of up to four years under a system of proportional representation Either or both chambers may be dissolved by the monarch on condition that new elections be held within 40 days The Second Chamber is by far the more important of the two the First Chamber has little more than a rarely exercised veto power over the legislative process The Netherlands uses systems of proportional representation in electing municipal provincial and national assemblies This allows even small political parties to win a seat In the 1986 Secon d Chamber elections for example more than 25
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