Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/1170

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816 NETHERLANDS

During the years 1850-1898, 302,868,689 guilders have beeli devoted to the redemption of the public debt. The total debt (1898) amounts to 1,092,093,754 gld. or 18/. 35. U. per head, and the annual charge to 32,491,093 or lOs. 9d. per head.

The rateable annual value of buildings was given at 124,301,000 guilders in 1897, and of land, 96,457,000 guilders. The total real property of the Netherlands in 1892 was estimated by the Minister of Finance at 308 million pounds ; the total amount of personal wealth, estimated from the declared inheritances, has been put at 572 million pounds ; the total wealth would thus be 22,000 million francs, or 880,000,000/. sterling.

The various provinces and communes have their own separate budgets ; the provincial expenditure and revenue for 1898 was estimated at 5,760,000 guilders : the special communal expenses in 1896 amounted to 93,994,000 guilders, whereof 22,051,000 guilders for debt. The communal revenues were, in the same year, 100,485,000 guilders.

Defence. I. Frontjerj

The Netherlands are bordered on the south by Belgium, on the east by Germany. On the former side the country is quite level, on the latter more hilly ; the land frontier is open all round. These frontiers are defended by few fortresses. The most effective means of defending the Netherlands consists in piercing the dykes, and inundating a great stretch of land between the Zuiderzee and the river, the Lek. The few roads lying above the level of tiie water are guarded by fortresses connected with each other ; the river can be defended by gun- vessels, if necessary. A. large part of the province of Utrecht, besides North and South Holland, with the principal towns, is thus secured.

II. Army.

The army of the Netherlands, according to the regulations of a law of 1861, is formed partly by conscription and partly by enlistment, the volunteers forming the stock, but not the majority of the troops. The men drawn by conscription at the age of nineteen — numbering yearly 1 1 ,000 — have to serve in person,^ nominally, five years ; but really only for twelve months, meeting afterwards for six weeks annually for practice, during four years. Besides the regular army, there exists a militia — ' schutterij ' — mainly for internal defence, divided into two classes. The first, the ' active militia ' (dienstdoende), exists in communes of 2,500'

1 In 1898 personal military service was I'endered obligatory, except or ministers of religion. Formerly substitution was allowed.