When you think of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – where the tulips grow, the windmills turn, people walk on clogs and eat cheese – white sandy beaches and tropical islands are not the first things that come to mind. However, all these things are part of the Kingdom. It not only consists of the Netherlands, a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy in Western Europe, it also consists of the islands Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. These islands are separate countries and work together with the Netherlands as partners within the Kingdom.
On the 10th of October 2010, the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved, making Curaçao and Sint Maarten constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – a status Aruba already obtained in 1986. The other three islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are now collectively known as the Caribbean Netherlands. From October 10, 2010 the Dutch government took over their governmental tasks and recognized them by the law as Dutch municipalities, ‘public entities’ of the Netherlands. Other public entities are the Kingdom, municipalities, provinces and water boards.
The Netherlands is a representative parliamentary democracy organized as a unitary state. Its administration consists of the Monarch and the Council of Ministers, which is headed by a Prime Minister. The people are represented by the States General of the Netherlands, which consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate.