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European Union

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The Netherlands

Background: The 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 a brutal 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 EC, and participated in the introduction of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999.
Geography Netherlands
Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany
Geographic coordinates: 52 30 N, 5 45 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 41,526 sq km
water: 7,643 sq km
land: 33,883 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
Coastline: 451 km
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters
Terrain: mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders); some hills in southeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Zuidplaspolder -7 m
highest point: Vaalserberg 322 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, arable land
Land use: arable land: 27%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 72% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 5,650 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: flooding
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-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde)
People Netherlands
Population: 16,067,754 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.3% (male 1,502,687; female 1,437,141)
15-64 years: 67.9% (male 5,548,188; female 5,362,412)
65 years and over: 13.8% (male 913,020; female 1,304,306) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.53% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 11.58 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 8.67 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 4.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.58 years
female: 81.59 years (2002 est.)
male: 75.7 years
Total fertility rate: 1.65 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.19% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 15,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Dutchman(men), Dutchwoman(women)
adjective: Dutch
Ethnic groups: Dutch 83%, other 17% (of which 9% are non-western origin mainly Turks, Moroccans, Antilleans, Surinamese and Indonesians) (1999 est.)
Religions: Roman Catholic 31%, Protestant 21%, Muslim 4.4%, other 3.6%, unaffiliated 40% (1998)
Languages: Dutch
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99% (2000 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Netherlands
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
Capital: Amsterdam; The Hague is the seat of government
Administrative divisions: 12 provinces (provincien, singular - provincie); Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, Zeeland, Zuid-Holland
Dependent areas: Aruba, Netherlands Antilles
Independence: 1579 (from Spain); note - the northern provinces of the Low Country concluded the Union of Utrecht, but it was 1648 before Spain finally recognized their independence
National holiday: Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA in 1909 and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX in 1980), 30 April
Constitution: adopted 1814; amended many times, last time 17 February 1983
Legal system: 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
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
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 Wim KOK (since 22 August 1994) and Vice Prime Ministers Annemarie JORRITSMA (since 3 August 1998) and Els BORST-EILERS (since 3 August 1998); note - Wim KOK and his cabinet resigned 16 April 2002 after taking blame for the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 while they were under the protection of Dutch UN peacekeepers, but were asked to stay as a caretaker government until a new administration was formed after elections on 15 May 2002
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: none; 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; vice 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 prime minister 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 for 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 25 May 1999 (next to be held 15 May 2003); Second Chamber - last held 15 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2006)
election results: First Chamber - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CDA 20, VVD 19, PvdA 15, D66 4, other 17; Second Chamber - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Christian Democrats 43, List Pim Fortuyn 26, Labor Party 23, VVD 23, Green Party 11, Socialist Party 9, D66 7, Christian Union 4, others 4
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Hoge Raad (justices are nominated for life by the monarch)
Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Appeal or CDA [Jan Peter BALKENENDE]; Christian Union Party [M. VAN DAALEN]; Democrats 66 or D66 [Thom DE GRAAF]; Green Party [Otto Ter HAAR]; Labor Party or PvdA [Adrianus MELKERT]; List Pim Fortuyn [leader NA]; People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Liberal) or VVD [Hans F. DIJKSTAL]; Socialist Party [Jan MARIJNISSEN]; a host of minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: Federation of Netherlands Trade Union Movement (comprising Socialist and Catholic trade unions) and a Protestant trade union; Federation of Catholic and Protestant Employers Associations; Interchurch Peace Council or IKV; large multinational firms; the nondenominational Federation of Netherlands Enterprises
International organization participation: AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CCC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Joris M. VOS
consulate(s): Boston
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York
FAX: [1] (202) 362-3430
telephone: [1] (202) 244-5300
chancery: 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Clifford M. SOBEL
embassy: Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ, The Hague
mailing address: PSC 71, Box 1000, APO AE 09715
telephone: [31] (70) 310-9209
FAX: [31] (70) 361-4688
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
Economy Netherlands
Economy - overview: The Netherlands is a prosperous and open economy depending heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate 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 4% 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 continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment. Economic growth slowed considerably in 2001, as part of the global economic slowdown, but for the four years before that, annual growth averaged nearly 4%, well above the EU average.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $413 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $25,800 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3.3%
industry: 26.3%
services: 70.4% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 25.1% (1994)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 32.6 (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 7.2 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation: services 73%, industry 23%, agriculture 4% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate: 2.4% (2001)
Budget: revenues: $134 billion
expenditures: $134 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing
Industrial production growth rate: 1.9% (2001)
Electricity - production: 87.953 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 90.27%
hydro: 0.16%
other: 5.33% (2000)
nuclear: 4.24%
Electricity - consumption: 100.712 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 4.031 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 22.946 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits, vegetables; livestock
Exports: $214 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels; foodstuffs
Exports - partners: EU 78% (Germany 26%, Benelux 12%, France 12%, UK 11%, Italy 6%), Central and Eastern Europe, US (2000)
Imports: $195 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, fuels; foodstuffs, clothing
Imports - partners: EU 56% (Germany 18%, Benelux 10%, UK 9%, France 6%), US 10% (2000)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $3.5 billion (2000 est.)
Currency: euro (EUR); Netherlands guilder (NLG)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code: EUR; NLG
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); Netherlands guilders per US dollar - 1.9837 (1998), 1.9513 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Netherlands
Telephones - main lines in use: 9,132,400 (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 4,081,891 (April 1999)
Telephone system: general assessment: highly developed and well maintained
domestic: the existing system of multi-conductor cables is gradually being replaced by fiber-optic cables; the density of cellular telephone traffic is rapidly increasing and further modernization of the system is expected in 2001, with the introduction of the third generation of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)
international: 5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean), 1 Eutelsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions) (1996)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 58, shortwave 3 (1998)
Radios: 15.3 million (1996)
Television broadcast stations: 21 (plus 26 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 8.1 million (1997)
Internet country code: .nl
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 52 (2000)
Internet users: 8.7 million (2001)
Transportation Netherlands
Railways: total: 2,808 km
standard gauge: 2,808 km 1.435-m gauge (2,061 km electrified) (2001)
Highways: total: 116,500 km
paved: 104,850 km (including 2,235 km of expressways)
unpaved: 11,650 km (1999)
Waterways: 5,046 km (of which 3,745 km are canals)
note: 47% of total route length is usable by craft of 1,000-metric-ton capacity or larger
Pipelines: crude oil 418 km; petroleum products 965 km; natural gas 10,230 km
Ports and harbors: Amsterdam, Delfzijl, Dordrecht, Eemshaven, Groningen, Haarlem, Ijmuiden, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Utrecht, Vlissingen
Merchant marine: total: 622 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,587,662 GRT/5,251,529 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Belgium 1, Canada 1, Denmark 5, Finland 5, Germany 55, Ireland 12, Norway 12, Sweden 17, United Kingdom 33, United States 12 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 3, cargo 380, chemical tanker 46, container 64, liquefied gas 16, livestock carrier 2, multi-functional large-load carrier 15, passenger 9, petroleum tanker 28, refrigerated cargo 34, roll on/roll off 18, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 5
Airports: 28 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 20
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (2001)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 6 (2001)
Heliports: 1 (2001)
Military Netherlands
Military branches: Royal Netherlands Army, Royal Netherlands Navy (including Naval Air Service and Marine Corps), Royal Netherlands Air Force, Royal Constabulary
Military manpower - military age: 20 years of age (note - age 17 for cadets and midshipmen) (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 4,077,917 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 3,546,030 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 96,082
note: Netherlands has an all-volunteer, 74,100 force in 2001 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $6.5 billion (FY00/01 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.5% (FY00/01 est.)
Transnational Issues Netherlands
Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: major European producer of illicit amphetamine and other synthetic drugs; important gateway for cocaine, heroin, and hashish entering Europe; major source of US-bound ecstasy.


This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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