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Netherlands country profile

27 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 04 July 2012

The Netherlands, as the name indicates, is low-lying territory, with one third of the country at or below sea level. The Netherlands is a founder member state of the European Union.


Koninkrijk der Nederlanden

The Netherlands, as the name indicates, is low-lying territory, with one third of the country at or below sea level. Many areas are protected from flooding by dykes and sea walls. Much land has been reclaimed from the sea, the Flevoland polder being the most recent example.

The Dutch Parliament (or Staten Generaal) consists of two chambers. The first with 75 members is indirectly elected and has limited powers. The second chamber, or lower house, is directly elected and controls the government. Members of both houses serve a four-year term. Given the balance among Dutch political parties, all governments are coalitions.

Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, electrical and electronic machinery. It has a dynamic agricultural sector. The port of Rotterdam is the busiest in Europe, serving a vast hinterland which stretches into Germany and central Europe.

The Netherlands has a history of great painters. The 17th century was the age of the Dutch Masters, such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen. The 19th and 20th centuries are no less remarkable for their high-calibre artists like Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan.

Well-known Dutch specialities include raw herring, smoked eel and pea soup, not forgetting Dutch cheeses such as Edam or Gouda.

Official name: Kingdom of the Netherlands

Area (km2): 41,526

Population: 16.7 million (July 2011 est.)

Capital: Amsterdam

National holiday: 30 April

Currency: Euro (€)

Date of joining: 23 July 1952

Head of state: Queen Beatrix I

Head of government: Prime Minister Mark Rutte (since 14 October 2010), note - Mark Rutte tendered his resignation 23 April 2012; new elections will probably be held on 12 September 2012

GDP (millions €): 594.608,0 (2008); 583.171,9 (forecast for 2009)

GDP per capita in PPS: 33.800 (2008); 31.600 (forecast for 2009)

Real growth rate of GDP: 1.6% (2011 est.); 1.6% (2010 est.); -3,5% (forecast for 2009)

Unemployment rate: 4.4% (2011 est.); 5.5% (2010 est.)

National debt as % of GDP: 64.4% (2011 est.)

Inflation: 2.3% (2011 est.), 1.3% (2010 est.)

Public deficit/surplus as % of GDP: -3.8% (2011 est.)

Source: Eurostat

Head of State:
Head of Government:
Foreign Minister:

Map of The Netherlands

Source: European Commission, CIA - The World Factbook

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