More than 16 million people call the Netherlands home. It is the most densely populated country in Europe and one of the most densely populated countries in the world. More than forty percent of the total population lives in the urban agglomeration area called the Randstad.
Down-to-earth and tolerant
The Dutch are known for being level-headed and down-to-earth. They frown upon boasting and bragging. “Act normally and you will be conspicuous enough” is an often-heard expression. The Dutch are also very direct. Some people find this tactless, but the Dutch consider it a sign of honesty and openness. The Dutch are also known as a tolerant people, particularly to those of different opinions and persuasions. They are used to discussing differences of opinion and admire those who stand up for themselves, their ideas and ideals. Freedom is a cherished virtue in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is a multicultural society. This is primarily evident in the larger cities. You will find more than two hundred different nationalities in the city of Amsterdam alone. The largest minority groups in the Netherlands are Turkish, Surinamese, Moroccans and Antilleans from the Dutch Caribbean.
The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, fairly low unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and an important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. A highly mechanised agricultural sector employs no more than 2% of the labour force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Netherlands, along with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency on 1 January 2002. The country is one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment.
The stern financial policy has been abandoned in 2009 on account of the current credit crises. The relatively large banking sector was partly nationalised and bailed out through government interventions. Large unemployment, double the current rate of 4% is expected since the Netherlands is an open economy. A large deficit in government accounts of 5% is expected for 2009. The government wants to stimulate the economy by accelerating already planned projects. Fundamental reforms for long term recovery will be implemented as well.
While the private sector is the cornerstone of the Dutch economy, governments at different levels have a large part to play. Public spending, including social security transfer payments, is at 47.9% of GDP (2005). Total tax revenue was 37.5% of GDP (2005), which is below the EU average. In addition to its own spending, the government plays a significant role through the permit requirements and regulations pertaining to almost every aspect of economic activity. The government combines a rigorous and stable micro-economic policy with wide-ranging structural and regulatory reforms. The government has gradually reduced its role in the economy since the 1980s. Privatisation and deregulation is still continuing. With regards to social and economic policy, the government cooperates with its so called social partners (trade unions and employers’ organizations). The three parties come together in the Social-Economic Council (‘Sociaal Economische Raad’), the main platform for social dialogue.
Trade and investment
The Netherlands, which derives more than two-thirds of GDP from merchandise trade, had strongly positive balance of payments for 2005 estimated at €31.5 billion. Leading export markets (2005) are Germany with 25.1%, Belgium with 12.2% and the United Kingdom and France with both 9.4%. Leading suppliers (2004) are Germany (17%), Belgium (9.4%), China (8.8%) and the United States (7.8%). As becomes clear from these figures, Germany is by far the most important trading partner of The Netherlands.
Economy of the Netherlands
Fiscal year calendar year
Trade organisations EU, WTO and OECD
GDP $794.777 billion (2009 est.)
GDP growth -4.3% (2009 est.)
GDP per capita $48,223 (2009 est.)
GDP by sector agriculture: 1.9/o; industry: 24.4%; services: 73.7% (2009 est.)
Inflation (CPI) l.2% (2009 est.)
Population below poverty line 10.5% (2005 est.)
Gini index 30.9 (2007)
Labour force 8.33 million (2009 est.)
Labour force by occupation agriculture: 2%; industry: l8%; services: 80% (2005 est.)
Unemployment 4.3% (Jan. 20l l)
Average gross salary 3,728 € / 5,035 $, monthly (2006)
Global Soft The Netherlands
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