The Netherlands is a country located in the north-west of Europe. It borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. The country has a population of about 17 million. With more than 400 people per square kilometre of land area, it is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. The country is relatively small, maximum distances being 200 kilometres from west to east and 300 kilometres from north to south.
Almost half of the population lives in the Randstad, a large, somewhat ring-shaped, metropolitan area located in the west of the country, with the so-called “green heart” in the middle. It contains the four largest cities: the capital, Amsterdam; the seat of government, The Hague; the city of Rotterdam, with one of the biggest harbours in the world; and Utrecht, located centrally in the country.