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Living in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a country where visitors will feel at home easily. The Dutch are generally very hospitable and friendly to foreigners. With the abundance of social and cultural activities available, living in the Netherlands can be a special and rewarding experience.

Famed for its liberal social policies, maritime trading traditions, battles to hold back the sea and the robust communication of its natives, the Netherlands consistently ranks as one of the top places in the world to live and work. The standard of living is high and a survey by UNICEF reveals Dutch children to be the happiest children in the developed world. The Netherlands also took eighth place in the Economist Intelligence Unit's new 'where-to-be-born' ranking. The aim of this index, stated by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was to 'measure which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead'.

With its more than 16 million inhabitants, the Netherlands is the fourth most densely populated country in the world. However, no Dutch city has yet reached a million inhabitants and each retains a unique character and architectural style.

Rotterdam is The Netherlands' second largest city. Though largely destroyed during the Second World War, Rotterdam, home of Europe's biggest port, has managed to become a modern international city at the forefront of architectural design. In terms of sights, Rotterdam's attractions are enticing, most notably the Kunsthal, exhibiting contemporary art, and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, which has an outstanding art collection including representative works from almost all the most important Dutch painters: both are in the city's designated culture zone, the Museumpark. Other city highlights include Oude Haven, the city's oldest harbour, ravaged during World War II but sympathetically redeveloped, and Delfshaven, an antique harbor that managed to survive the bombs pretty much intact. Rotterdam also boasts a string of first-rate festivals, including the much-lauded North Sea Jazz Festival and the colorful Summer Carnival.

A short taxi or tram ride from Rotterdam's centre will take you to the delightful, leafy suburb of Hillegersberg. In the north of the Netherlands' premier port city, characterized by exclusive housing, beautiful parks and boutique shops, Hillegersberg is home to its own thriving expatriate community. And, for over fifty years, this has also been the location of the American International School of Rotterdam.

All in all, the Netherlands remains an attractive place to live in and expats are an intrinsic part of the Dutch knowledge-based economy. Dutch people are generally receptive, curious, cultured and friendly. Even though the official language of The Netherlands is Dutch, English is widely spoken and with many international companies headquartered in the Netherlands, there are plenty of employment opportunities.

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