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  Introduction Back To Top

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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 8.86 cu km/yr (6%/60%/34%)
per capita: 544 cu m/yr (2001)

Total renewable water resources:
89.7 cu km (2005)

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

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, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
52 30 N, 5 45 E

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Zuidplaspolder -7 m
highest point: Vaalserberg 322 m

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

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

total: 41,526 sq km
land: 33,883 sq km
water: 7,643 sq km

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

451 km

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

Irrigated land:
5,650 sq km (2003)

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

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

Natural hazards:

Land use:
arable land: 21.96%
permanent crops: 0.77%
other: 77.27% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.66 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
19,000 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.25 years
male: 76.66 years
female: 81.98 years (2008 est.)

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

Net migration rate:
2.55 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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

Median age:
total: 40 years
male: 39.2 years
female: 40.9 years (2008 est.)

16,645,313 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
5.3% of GDP (2005)

Population growth rate:
0.436% (2008 est.)

Dutch (official), Frisian (official)

Death rate:
8.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 4.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 17 years
female: 16 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.6% (male 1,496,348/female 1,427,297)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 5,705,003/female 5,583,787)
65 years and over: 14.6% (male 1,040,932/female 1,391,946) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
10.53 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Roman Catholic 30%, Dutch Reformed 11%, Calvinist 6%, other Protestant 3%, Muslim 5.8%, other 2.2%, none 42% (2006)

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

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James B. CULBERTSON
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) 361-4688
consulate(s) general: Amsterdam

National holiday:
Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:
constitutional monarchy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Christian Trade Union Federation or CNV [Rene PAAS]; Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers or VNO-NCW [Bernard WIENTJES]; Federation for Small and Medium-sized businesses or MKB [Loek HERMANS]; Netherlands Trade Union Federation or FNV [Agnes JONGERIUS]; Social Economic Council or SER [Alexander RINNOOY KAN]; Trade Union Federation of Middle and High Personnel or MHP [Ad VERHOEVEN]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Regina "Renee" JONES-BOS
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, Los Angeles, Miami, New York

International organization participation:
ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

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 directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: First Chamber - last held 29 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2011); Second Chamber - last held 22 November 2006 (next to be held by early 2011)
election results: First Chamber - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CDA 21, PvdA 14, VVD 14, Socialist Party 11, Christian Union 4, Green Left Party 4, D66 2, other 5; Second Chamber - percent of vote by party - CDA 26.5%, PvdA 21.2%, Socialist Party 16.6%, VVD 14.6%, Party for Freedom 5.9%, Green Party 4.6%, Christian Union 4.0%, other 6.6%; seats by party - CDA 41, PvdA 33, Socialist Party 25, VVD 22, Party for Freedom 9, Green Party 7, Christian Union 6, other 7

Legal system:
based on civil law system incorporating French penal theory; constitution does not permit judicial review of acts of the States General; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

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; one of the oldest flags in constant use, originating with WILLIAM I, Prince of Orange, in the latter half of the 16th century

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)

Dependent areas:
Aruba, Netherlands Antilles

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

Political parties and leaders:
Christian Democratic Appeal or CDA [Pieter VAN GEEL]; Christian Union Party [Arie SLOB]; Democrats 66 or D66 [Alexander PECHTOLD]; Green Left Party [Femke HALSEMA]; Labor Party or PvdA [Mariette HAMER]; Party for Freedom or PVV [Geert WILDERS]; Party for the Animals or PvdD [Marianne THIEME]; People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberal) or VVD [Mark RUTTE]; Reformed Political Party of SGP [Bas VAN DER VLIES]; Socialist Party [Agnes KANT]; plus a few minor parties

name: Amsterdam
geographic coordinates: 52 23 N, 4 54 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: The Hague is the seat of government; time descriptions apply to the continental Netherlands only, not to the Caribbean components

adopted 1815; amended many times, most recently in 2002

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX (since 30 April 1980); Heir Apparent WILLEM-ALEXANDER (born 27 April 1967), son of the monarch
head of government: Prime Minister Jan Peter BALKENENDE (since 22 July 2002); Deputy Prime Ministers Wouter BOS (since 22 February 2007) and Andre ROUVOET (since 22 February 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following Second Chamber elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is 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 consultations to the cabinet on legislative and administrative policy

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Hoge Raad (justices are nominated for life by the monarch)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Germany 24.4%, Belgium 13.6%, UK 9.1%, France 8.5%, Italy 5.1%, US 4.3% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
109.6 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

Electricity - imports:
23.14 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
$47 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$2.277 trillion (30 June 2007)

Unemployment rate:
4.6% (2007 est.)

Oil - exports:
1.639 million bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$41,300 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
20.3% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.876 trillion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$687.5 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$909.5 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
30.9 (2005)

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6734 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
2.1% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the Euro Area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 15 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Labor force:
7.7 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
Germany 17.7%, China 10.5%, Belgium 9.3%, US 7.3%, UK 5.8%, Russia 5.1%, France 4.4% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 24.4%
services: 73.6% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
2.648 million bbl/day (2005)

$537.5 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
46.42 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
euro (EUR)

Economy - overview:
The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate 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 mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 3% of the labor 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 has been one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment and is one of the five largest investors in the US. The pace of job growth reached 10-year highs in 2007, but economic growth fell sharply in 2008 as fallout from the world financial crisis constricted demand and raised the specter of a recession in 2009.

Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $5.452 billion (2006)

Natural gas - exports:
55.66 billion cu m (2007 est.)

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

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

Electricity - exports:
5.565 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
10.5% (2005)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.72% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:

Electricity - production:
97.33 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$485.3 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
100 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 21%
services: 76% (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.416 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$26.98 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Oil - consumption:
984,200 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$872.5 billion (2008 est.)

Public debt:
57.3% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$726.9 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$956.5 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 22.9% (1999)

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

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 89.9%
hydro: 0.1%
nuclear: 4.3%
other: 5.7% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
25.73 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
76.33 billion cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $408.5 billion
expenditures: $398.8 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
88,950 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
15 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
7.334 million (2007)

8.1 million (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 4, FM 246, shortwave 3 (2004)

15.3 million (1996)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
17.3 million (2006)

Television broadcast stations:
21 (plus 26 repeaters) (1995)

Telephone system:
general assessment: highly developed and well maintained
domestic: extensive fixed-line fiber-optic network; large cellular telephone system with 5 major operators utilizing the third generation of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology
international: country code - 31; submarine cables provide links to the US and Europe; satellite earth stations - 5 (3 Intelsat - 1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean, 1 Eutelsat, and 1 Inmarsat (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
52 (2000)

Internet hosts:
10.983 million (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

6,215 km (navigable for ships of 50 tons) (2007)

condensate 81 km; gas 7,394 km; oil 578 km; refined products 716 km (2007)

total: 2,801 km
standard gauge: 2,801 km 1.435-m gauge (2,064 km electrified) (2007)

Ports and terminals:
Amsterdam, IJmuiden, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Vlissingen

1 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 622
by type: bulk carrier 9, cargo 381, carrier 19, chemical tanker 44, container 76, liquefied gas 15, passenger 16, passenger/cargo 15, petroleum tanker 11, refrigerated cargo 10, roll on/roll off 23, specialized tanker 3
foreign-owned: 203 (Belgium 2, Cyprus 8, Denmark 29, Finland 14, France 1, Germany 75, Ireland 10, Italy 1, South Korea 1, Norway 12, Sweden 28, Turkey 1, UAE 5, UK 2, US 14)
registered in other countries: 178 (Antigua and Barbuda 20, Australia 2, Austria 2, Bahamas 9, Cambodia 1, Canada 1, Cyprus 22, Germany 1, Gibraltar 21, Isle of Man 1, Liberia 6, Luxembourg 2, Marshall Islands 8, Netherlands Antilles 38, Panama 14, Paraguay 1, Philippines 23, Portugal 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, US 1, unknown 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 20
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 2 (2007)

total: 135,470 km (includes 2,582 km of expressways) (2007)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 4 (2007)

27 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
20 years of age for an all-volunteer force (2004)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 3,950,825
females age 16-49: 3,850,800 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 3,233,773
females age 16-49: 3,150,790 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Royal Netherlands Army, Royal Netherlands Navy (includes Naval Air Service and Marine Corps), Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, KLu), Royal Military Police (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 105,735
female: 100,747 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.6% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

Illicit drugs:
major European producer of synthetic drugs, including ecstasy, and cannabis cultivator; important gateway for cocaine, heroin, and hashish entering Europe; major source of US-bound ecstasy; large financial sector vulnerable to money laundering; significant consumer of ecstasy

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