Coat of Arms
Prime Minister Mark Rutte
»Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
»41,543 km2 (134th)
» Per capita -$47,365 (13th)
»$880.394 billion (16th)
» Per capita -$52,249 (10th)
»Euro (EUR), US dollar (USD)
»CET (UTC+1), AST (UTC-4)
The Netherlands is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a small, densely populated country, lying mainly in Western Europe, but also including three islands in the Caribbean.
The European part of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders with Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. The largest and most important cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam,
The Hague and Rotterdam. Amsterdam is the country’s capital while The Hague holds the Dutch seat of government and parliament. The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe – as large as the next three largest combined.
The Netherlands’ name literally means “Low Country”, inspired by its low and flat geography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding one metre above sea level.
Most of the areas below sea level are man-made. Since the late 16th century, large areas (polders) have been reclaimed from the sea and from lakes, amounting to nearly 17% of the country’s current land mass.
With a population density of 406 people per km² – 497 if water is excluded – the Netherlands is a very densely populated country for its size. Only Bangladesh, South Korea and Taiwan have both a larger population and a higher population density.
Nevertheless, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of food and agriculture products, after the United States.
The Netherlands has a developed economy and has been playing a special role in the European economy for many centuries.
Since the 16th century, shipping, fishing, trade, and banking have been leading sectors of the Dutch economy. The Netherlands has a high level of economic freedom. The Netherlands is one of the top countries in the Global Enabling Trade Report (3rd in 2014).
The Netherlands is one of the world’s 10 leading exporting countries. Foodstuffs form the largest industrial sector.
Other major industries include chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical goods, and tourism (in 2012 the Netherlands welcomed 11.7 million international tourists). Examples include Unilever, Heineken, financial services (ING, ABN AMRO, Rabobank), chemicals (DSM, AKZO), petroleum refining (Shell), electronical machinery (Philips, ASML), and car navigation (TomTom).
The Netherlands has the 17th-largest economy in the world, and ranks 10th in GDP (nominal) per capita. Between 1997 and 2000 annual economic growth (GDP) averaged nearly 4%, well above the European average. Growth slowed considerably from 2001 to 2005 with the global economic slowdown, but accelerated to 4.1% in the third quarter of 2007.
In May 2013, inflation was at 2.8% per year. In April 2013, unemployment was at 8.2% (or 6.7% following the ILO definition) of the labour force.
In Q3 and Q4 2011, the Dutch economy contracted by 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively, because of European Debt Crisis, while in Q4 the Eurozone economy shrunk by 0.3%.
The Netherlands also has a relatively low GINI coefficient of 0.326. Despite ranking 7th in GDP per capita, UNICEF ranked the Netherlands 1st in child well-being. On the Index of Economic Freedom Netherlands is the 13th most free market capitalist economy out of 157 surveyed countries.
The Netherlands is ranked 20 with an Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of 1.18949
Top 5 Products exported by The Netherlands
- Refined Petroleum (15%),
- Crude Petroleum (5.4%),
- Computers (3.3%),
- Packaged Medicaments (2.4%),
- Human or Animal Blood (1.5%)
Top 5 Export destinations of The Netherlands
In 2011 the Netherlands was visited by 11.3 million foreign tourists. In 2012, the Dutch tourism industry contributed 5.4% in total to the country’s GDP and 9.6% in total to its employment.
With its global ranking of 147th and 83rd place for total, contribution to respectively GDP and employment, tourism is a relatively small sector of the Dutch economy.
North Holland was by far the most popular province for foreign tourists in 2011. Out of all 11.3 million tourists, 6 million visited North Holland.
South Holland took the second place with 1.4 million. Germans, Britons and Belgians made up the majority of foreign tourists, respectively 3, 1.5 and 1.4 million. There are seven World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is well known for its art and rich historical heritage.
The tourism industry of the Netherlands is focused on North Holland, where the country’s largest airport Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located. Given the relatively small size of the Netherlands, it is easily possible to travel to locations in South Holland within an hour.
These two provinces constitute the majority of the densely populated Randstad, where the largest cities are located. The other provinces of the Netherlands are much less popular with foreign tourists and do not feature as much tourist attractions.
With a long coastline along the North Sea and its many lakes, the Netherlands offers plenty of opportunities for watersports and beach recreation.
- For many foreigners, nothing captures the idea of the Netherlands more vividly than windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, and remarkably flat lands. Although some of these characteristics have evolved into stereotypes far off from the daily lives of Dutch people, there’s still a lot of truth to them and plenty of authenticity to be found. The Dutch have preserved many elements from this part of their past, both for touristic and for historic reasons.
- Kinderdijk boasts a network of 19 windmills, once used to drain the adjoining polder. The Zaanse Schans has windmills as well, and a nice museum with traditional crafts and old Dutch houses on display. Schiedam, world-famous for its jenever, has the tallest windmills in the world, and they’re right in its lovely old town centre.
- Thinking about the Dutch countryside, you might imagine wide, flat, grasslands with black and white cows. If you do, you’re not that far off. A large swathe of the country, especially the western part of it, consist of polders; reclaimed land separated by ditches. These rural areas are dotted with picturesque villages, old farms, impressive summer estates, and of course, windmills; the Zaanstreek-Waterland is especially scenic. For a touch of folklore, see the traditional clothing and fishermen boats in Volendam or Marken.
- The Netherlands is a major international player in the flower industry. The tulip fields are seasonal, and are specific to theBulb Region and some areas in North Holland. They are a lovely Dutch alternative to the lavender fields you could find in France. The famous Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden, only opens between March and May. It is a great way to see what the Dutch flower industry has to offer.
- They make great destinations for a recreational bike trip or can serve as a laid-back base, from where you can explore cities in the area. The rolling hills of South Limburg have characteristic timber-framed houses and a lot of castles. The province ofGelderland combines its many castles (Palace ‘t Loo in Apeldoorn being the highlight) with the natural scenery of theVeluwe. Don’t worry if you’re headed elsewhere: you’ll find a beautiful countryside in every Dutch province.