Holland was once a superpower upon whose empire the sun never set. Today it is on the leading edge of social change. This history of Holland, from its earliest beginnings to the present day, provides an up-to-date survey of modern Dutch history, including the current Dutch approach to a number of social issues, such as the welfare state, the environment, socialized medicine, and the role of the military in the post-Cold War world. Containing a wealth of current information and statistics, this work should help the reader to understand the Dutch both within the historical context in which Holland exists and as world leaders in social change as we approach the 21st century. This history provides a contemporary overview of Holland's geography, economy, political system and society. Chapters arranged chronologically trace the history and culture of the nation from the Ice Age to the new post-Cold War world. Chapters on recent Dutch history show how Holland has claimed a leading role in social change; the Dutch have authorized euthanasia, socialized medicine and legalized soft drugs. A selection of brief biographical sketches will introduce the reader to many of the important Dutch personalities throughout Holland's history, and a bibliographical essay will help the researcher to locate recommended books and other materials for further reading.