The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II.

A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU) and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999. In October 2010, the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and the three smallest islands – Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba – became special municipalities in the Netherlands administrative structure. The larger islands of Sint Maarten and Curacao joined the Netherlands and Aruba as constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.



Dutch Flag

Dutch Flag


Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany

Geographic coordinates:
52 30 N, 5 45 E

Map references:

total: 41,543 sq km
country comparison to the world: 135
land: 33,893 sq km
water: 7,650 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey

Land boundaries:
total: 1,027 km
border countries: Belgium 450 km, Germany 577 km

451 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters

mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders); some hills in southeast

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Zuidplaspolder -7 m
highest point: Mount Scenery 862 m (on the island of Saba in the Caribbean, now considered an integral part of the Netherlands following the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles)
note: the highest point on continental Netherlands is Vaalserberg at 322 m

Natural resources:
natural gas, petroleum, peat, limestone, salt, sand and gravel, arable land

Land use:
arable land: 25.08%
permanent crops: 0.88%
other: 74.04% (2011)

Irrigated land:
4,572 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources:
91 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 10.61 cu km/yr (12%/88%/1%)
per capita: 636.7 cu m/yr (2008)

Natural hazards:

Environment – current issues:
water pollution in the form of heavy metals, organic compounds, and nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates; air pollution from vehicles and refining activities; acid rain

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note:
located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde)

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People & Society

noun: Dutchman(men), Dutchwoman(women)
adjective: Dutch

Ethnic groups:
Dutch 80.7%, EU 5%, Indonesian 2.4%, Turkish 2.2%, Surinamese 2%, Moroccan 2%, Caribbean 0.8%, other 4.8% (2008 est.)

Dutch (official)
note: Frisian, Low Saxon, and Limburgish are recognized as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Roman Catholic 28%, Protestant 19% (includes Dutch Reformed 9%, Protestant Church of The Netherlands, 7%, Calvinist 3%), other 11% (includes about 5% Muslim and lesser numbers of Hindu, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, and Orthodox), none 42% (2009 est.)

16,877,351 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66

Age structure:
0-14 years: 16.9% (male 1,460,234/female 1,393,766)
15-24 years: 12.2% (male 1,046,323/female 1,006,114)
25-54 years: 40.4% (male 3,423,777/female 3,399,378)
55-64 years: 17.6% (male 1,088,860/female 1,094,574)
65 years and over: 17.1% (male 1,331,258/female 1,633,067) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 52.8 %
youth dependency ratio: 25.9 %
elderly dependency ratio: 26.8 %
potential support ratio: 3.7 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 42.1 years
male: 41.2 years
female: 42.9 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.42% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161

Birth rate:
10.83 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181

Death rate:
8.57 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75

Net migration rate:
1.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48

urban population: 83.2% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.74% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
AMSTERDAM (capital) 1.056 million; Rotterdam 1.014 million; The Hague (seat of government) 635,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
29.4 (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
6 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 171

Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.66 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 205
male: 3.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 81.12 years
country comparison to the world: 22
male: 79.02 years
female: 83.34 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.78 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
note: percent of women aged 18-45 (2008)

Health expenditures:
12% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 9

Physicians density:
3.92 physicians/1,000 population (2007)

Hospital bed density:
4.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
22,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
18.8% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 103

Education expenditures:
5.9% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 45

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 18 years
male: 18 years
female: 18 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 9.5%
country comparison to the world: 110
male: 8.9%
female: 10% (2012)

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Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands
conventional short form: Netherlands
local long form: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
local short form: Nederland

Government type:
constitutional monarchy

name: Amsterdam; note – The Hague is the seat of government
geographic coordinates: 52 21 N, 4 55 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: time descriptions apply to the continental Netherlands only, not to the Caribbean components

Administrative divisions:
12 provinces (provincies, singular – provincie); Drenthe, Flevoland, Fryslan (Friesland), Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant (North Brabant), Noord-Holland (North Holland), Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland (Zealand), Zuid-Holland (South Holland)

Dependent areas:
Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten

23 January 1579 (the northern provinces of the Low Countries conclude the Union of Utrecht breaking with Spain; on 26 July 1581 they formally declared their independence with an Act of Abjuration; however, it was not until 30 January 1648 and the Peace of Westphalia that Spain recognized this independence)

National holiday:
King’s Day (for 2014, the holiday will be on 26 April; thereafter it will fall on the King’s Birthday of 27 April (1967))

previous 1597, 1798; latest adopted 24 August 1815 (substantially revised in 1848); amended many times, last in 2010 (2013)

Legal system:
civil law system based on the French system; constitution does not permit judicial review of acts of the States General

International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER (since 30 April 2013)
head of government: Prime Minister Mark RUTTE (since 14 October 2010); Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk ASSCHER (since 5 November 2012); note – Mark RUTTE tendered his resignation 23 April 2012; new elections were held on 12 September 2012 in which his party won the most seats; during the interim period he remained in office in a care-taking position; he was sworn in again to be prime minister on 5 November 2012
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following Second Chamber elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch; deputy prime ministers appointed by the monarch
note: there is also a Council of State composed of the monarch, heir apparent, and councilors that provides advice to the cabinet on legislative and administrative policy

Legislative branch:
bicameral States General or Staten Generaal consists of the First Chamber or Eerste Kamer (75 seats; members indirectly elected by the country’s 12 provincial councils to serve four-year terms) and the Second Chamber or Tweede Kamer (150 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: First Chamber – last held on May 2011 (next to be held in May 2015); Second Chamber – last held on 12 September 2012 (next to be held by May 2017)
election results: First Chamber – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – VVD 16, PvdA 14, CDA 11, PVV 10, SP 8, D66 5, GL 5, other 6; Second Chamber – percent of vote by party – VVD 26.6%, PvdA 24.8%, PVV, 10.1%, SP 9.7%, CDA 8.5%, D66 8.0%, CU 3.1%, GL 6.7%, other 2.5%; seats by party – VVD 41, PvdA 38, PVV 15, SP 15, CDA 13, D66 12, CU 5, GL 4, other 7

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court or Hoge Raad (consists of 41 judges: the president, 6 vice-presidents, 31 justices or raadsheren, and 3 justices in exceptional service, referred to as buitengewone dienst); the court is divided into criminal, civil, tax, and ombuds chambers
judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the monarch from a list provided by the Second Chamber of the States General; justices appointed for life or until mandatory retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: courts of appeal; district courts, each with up to 5 subdistrict courts

Political parties and leaders:
Christian Democratic Appeal or CDA [Sybrand VAN HAERSMA BUMA]
Christian Union or CU [Arie SLOB]
Democrats 66 or D66 [Alexander PECHTOLD]
Green Left or GL [Bram VAN OJIK]
Labor Party or PvdA [Diederik SAMSOM]
Party for Freedom or PVV [Geert WILDERS]
Party for the Animals or PvdD [Marianne THIEME]
People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy or VVD [Mark RUTTE]
Reformed Political Party or SGP [Kees VAN DER STAAIJ]
Socialist Party or SP [Emile ROEMER]
plus a few minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Christian Trade Union Federation or CNV [Jaap SMIT]
Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers or VNO-NCW [Bernard WIENTJES]
Federation for Small and Medium-sized businesses or MKB [Hans BIESHEUVEL]
Netherlands Trade Union Federation or FNV [Ton HEERTS]
Social Economic Council or SER [Wiebe DRAIJER]
Trade Union Federation of Middle and High Personnel or MHP [Reginald VISSER]

International organization participation:
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CBSS (observer), CD, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EITI (implementing country), EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO,

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Rudolf Simon BEKINK (since 20 July 2012)
chancery: 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 244-5300, [1] 877-388-2443
FAX: [1] (202) 362-3430
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco
consulate(s): Boston

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: ambassador Timothy BROAS (since 19 March 2014)
embassy: Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ, The Hague
mailing address: PSC 71, Box 1000, APO AE 09715
telephone: [31] (70) 310-2209
FAX: [31] (70) 310-2207
consulate(s) general: Amsterdam

Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue; similar to the flag of Luxembourg, which uses a lighter blue and is longer; the colors were those of WILLIAM I, Prince of Orange, who led the Dutch Revolt against Spanish sovereignty in the latter half of the 16th century; originally the upper band was orange, but because it tended to fade to red over time, the red shade was eventually made the permanent color; the banner is perhaps the oldest tricolor in continuous use

National symbol(s):

National anthem:
name: “Het Wilhelmus” (The William)

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Economy – overview:
Netherlands is the sixth-largest economy in the euro-zone and is noted for its stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, sizable trade surplus, and important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs only 2% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. Netherlands, along with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency on 1 January 2002.

The Dutch financial sector suffered as a result of the global financial crisis, due in part to the high exposure of some Dutch banks to US mortgage-backed securities. In 2008, the government nationalized two banks and injected billions of dollars of capital into other financial institutions, to prevent further deterioration of a crucial sector. After 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth, the Dutch economy – highly dependent on an international financial sector and international trade – contracted by 3.5% in 2009. To recover, the government sought to boost the domestic economy by accelerating infrastructure programs, offering corporate tax breaks for employers to retain workers, and expanding export credit facilities. The stimulus programs and bank bailouts, however, resulted in a government budget deficit of 5.3% of GDP in 2010 that contrasted sharply with a surplus of 0.7% in 2008.

The government of Prime Minister Mark RUTTE began implementing austerity measures in early 2011, mainly reducting expenditures, which resulted in an improved budget deficit in 2011. However, in 2012 tax revenues dropped, GDP contracted, and the budget deficit deteriorated. In 2013, the government budget deficit decreased to 3.3% of GDP due to increased government revenue from higher taxes. However, spending on social benefits also increased, due to a rise in unemployment benefits and payments for pensions. The high unemployment rate and tax increases have contributed to continued decreases in household disposable income, causing the Dutch economy to contract.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$699.7 billion (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
$705.3 billion (2012 est.)
$714.2 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$722.3 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:

-0.8% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
-1.2% (2012 est.)
0.9% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$43,300 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
$43,200 (2011 est.)
$41,600 (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
26.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
27.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
28.3% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 45.3%
government consumption: 27.7%
investment in fixed capital: 15.7%
investment in inventories: 0.4%
exports of goods and services: 86%
imports of goods and services: -75.2%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 2.6%
industry: 25.4%
services: 72.1% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits, vegetables; livestock

agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing

Industrial production growth rate:

0.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159

Labor force:
7.939 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 2.3%
industry: 18.8%
services: 78.9% (2011 est.)

Unemployment rate:
8.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
6.4% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
9.1% (2013 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 24.5% (2012 est.)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
30.9 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 115
32.6 (1994)

revenues: $315.5 billion
expenditures: $339.3 billion (2014 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
43.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-3.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132

Public debt:
74.3% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
71.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment, debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
2.5% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
0.75% (31 December 2013)
country comparison to the world: 118
1.5% (31 December 2010)
note: this is the European Central Bank’s rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
2.3% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
2.65% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$401.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
$389.9 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money:
$1.169 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17
$1.136 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.736 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
$1.7 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$675 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
$651 billion (31 December 2012)
$594.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance:
$65.87 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$51.54 billion (2012 est.)

$576.9 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
$550 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels; foodstuffs

Exports – partners:
Germany 26.5%, Belgium 13.7%, France 8.8%, UK 8%, Italy 4.5% (2012)

$511 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$498.5 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs, clothing

Imports – partners:
Germany 13.8%, China 12%, Belgium 8.4%, UK 6.7%, Russia 6.4%, US 6.1% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$71.95 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
$54.82 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$2.347 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
$2.434 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$646.4 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$605.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$1.034 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$961.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar –
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.7752 (2012 est.)
0.755 (2010 est.)
0.7198 (2009 est.)
0.6827 (2008 est.)

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