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The Netherlands is a small butvery densely populated country in western Europe. It has 17 million inhabitants and a surface area of 41,543 km². Its capital city is Amsterdam, while its national government sits in The Hague (Den Haag).
The Netherlands has a natural border with the North Sea in the north-west, and land borders with Germany in the east and Belgium in the south. It is generally a very flat country, except for a few hills in the far south-east (Zuid-Limburg). The hill of Vaals rises to 323 metres above sea-level.
The country stands at the mouth of several important rivers: the Rhine (Rijn), Meuse (Maas), and Scheldt (Schelde). The western part of the Netherlands is more urbanised (especially the Randstad area between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht). Other important cities are: Almere, Amersfoort, Arnhem, Breda, Deventer, Eindhoven, Enschede, Groningen, Heerlen, 's-Hertogenbosch, Leeuwarden, Leiden, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg, Venlo, Vlissingen, and Zwolle.
The Netherlands is a prosperous country with a high per capita income, and was one of the six co-founder member states of the European Economic Community, precursor of the European Union (EU). The port of Rotterdam grew to become the largest in the world in the later decades of the 20th century, and it remains of vital importance for the distribution of goods to and from mainland EU.
The Netherlands is composed of 12 provinces and 441 municipalities.
The Netherlands has one of the densest road networks in the world. In 2008 the country had 136,135 km of public roads, of which 5,012 km were state roads (rijkswegen), 7,848 km were provincial roads, and 123,237 km were municipal roads. The density of motorways is approximately 57.5 route-km per 1000 km²: the highest in the European Union.
Road categories in the Netherlands
Types of roads
- Motorways (autosnelwegen) can be provincial, but most of them are nationally administered and maintained by the Netherlands highway agency, the Rijkswaterstaat.
- Non-motorways (niet-autosnelwegen) are mostly maintained by the provinces, although some are the responsibility of the national state or of municipalities.
There is a single integrated system for numbering all main roads in the Netherlands, motorways and non-motorways. Roads are numbered in the series 1–999 and these numbers are prefixed by an A or an N, indicating whether the road concerned is a motorway (A) or a non-motorway (N). For any particular route, the road number remains the same even if the road type changes.
- 1–175: Most of these roads are maintained by the Rijkswaterstaat, although some (i.e. the N34, N35, and N69) are provincially maintained.
- 176–999: These roads may be mainatianed by the Rijkswaterstaat, by provinces, or by municipalities. Those numbered 176–400 are more important (and are signed as such); the remainder are less important.
- Other road number types:
- r-roads: recreational roads.
- s-roads (s = stad, i.e. city): city roads in Amsterdam and Almere.
Length of the road network
Theotal length of all roads in the Netherlands in kilometres per year (Source:):
Length of all state roads maintained by the Rijkswaterstaat (Source:). Length in kilometres, per year:
Length of all roads maintained by the provinces (Source:). Length in kilometres, per year:
Length of all roads maintained by municipalities ans "waterschappen" (Source:). Length in kilometres, per year:
- Motorways (Autosnelwegen) 130 km/h
- Motor roads (Autowegen) 100 km/h
- Other roads
- Outside built-up areas 80 km/h
- Within built-up areas 50 km/h