Dee Plomassy in the Netherlands
Dee: So pleased to see you again. I’ll be your host here in the Hague.
Here’s the Supreme Court House. It’s just one of dozens of grand government buildings that lie in the streets of the Hague. The king and queen of the Netherlands live in this neighborhood as well. They send their regards, by the way.
For a long time, different parts of the Netherlands were controlled by kings, emperors, and armies from different parts of Europe. The country became independent in 1648, and it almost immediately became a great place to live. It had freedom of religion, good food, and a strong navy. In other words, the 17th century was the Dutch golden age. But if you ask me, it’s still an A+ country.
People call this country Holland. But Holland is just a region of the Netherlands. Netherlands means “low countries”, and the name fits well. More than 40% of the land here is below sea level. Why isn’t it under the North Sea? Because dunes and man-made walls called dykes keep the water from spilling over onto the land.
The Prince Hendrik Monument honors the man who developed the Netherlands’ maritime industry. Ships, in other words. The Dutch became good at building ships, sailing them, and traveling the world. By 1700s, Dutch colonies and trading posts trotted the globe from Java to India, from South America to Africa. Foreign relations are the key, my friend. No nation ever got rich all by itself.
The Hague is one of the Netherlands’ two capitals, so national law is important here, but so is international law. Because the International Court of Justice is here. When two countries have a dispute, and they want to solve it through arbitration, they come to the Hague. It’s such a civilized way from nations to behave.