General Information

The Netherlands is the most densely populated country of the European Union and one of the mostly densely populated countries in the world. More than 40% of the total population live in the Randstad, the agglomeration of the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The landscape is characterized by water and a green, flat landscape. Three big European rivers (the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt) reach the ocean via the Netherlands and create an important delta. 26% of the Netherlands is under sea level. 

The Netherlands has a rich and turbulent history, being invaded numerous times and also expanding extensively abroad itself. Long known as the Low Countries together with Luxembourg and Belgium, the founding of the modern Netherlands only took place in 1579, while its current borders were set as late as 1830. The Dutch spirit for trade and foreign travel came to full fruition during the Golden Age in the 17th century, when large merchant fleets monopolised key shipping and trade routes east of Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. The wealth of the merchant class supported scores of artists, including Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and Rembrandt, who gained international fame for the Netherlands. Economic prosperity also led to religious freedom for many, and intellectual freedom for scientists and philosophers. In more current times, the Netherlands has been known to be an open and tolerant society, attracting people from all over the world. 

A small country, the Netherlands is one of the most open economies and one of the world’s top 5 biggest exporters. 75% of the professional population works in the tertiary sector, and 25% in the industrial sector. Despite a small agricultural sector (4%), the Netherlands is the largest horticultural exporter in the world, known for its flower bulbs and cut flowers. The Port of Rotterdam was the busiest port in the world from 1962 until 2002, and is still a vital facility that makes Holland a European leader in cargo transshipment and the petrochemical industry. Key Dutch multinational companies include Shell (oil & gas), Unilever (food/consumer goods), Akzo Nobel (paint & chemicals), Philips (lightning, medical, consumer products).

The role of the Royal Family is largely ceremonial within the constituational monarchy. The King and Queen play an important role in representing the Netherlands on state visits and during trade missions. 

HM King Willem-Alexander studied History at Leiden University in the Netherlands, completed military training in the Royal Dutch Navy and has since been involved in representative duties. Since 1998 until he ascended to the throne in 2013, the King was a member of the International Olympic Committee, and continues to display great enthusiasm and support for Dutch sportsmanship. The King takes a keen interest in water management, and formerly held the position of Chairman of the Advisory group on Water and Sanitation at the United Nations. He holds numerous honorary positions in the realms of science, defense, sports and charity.

HM Queen Maxima is originally from Argentina and married then-Prince Willem-Alexander in 2002. A former banking professional, the Queen takes a keen interest in microfinance. In 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appointed HM Queen Maxima to the position of the Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. She is also the Honorary Patron of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (since 2011). The Queen travels the world extensively to advocate for microfinance and inclusive financial systems. Her other interests include diversity and integration.

In March 2011, HM Queen Beatrix, now HRH Princess Beatrix visited Qatar, which was a successful state visit at all levels, and a good beginning for a privileged relationship between the two monarchies of both countries. 


Surface area: 41,528 km² (18.41% water)

Total population: over 16.5 million

Population density: 488 people per km²

Capital city: Amsterdam (inhabitants: 823.827 in early 2015)

Government: The Hague

Official languages: Dutch, Frisian (only spoken in Friesland)

Type of government: Constitutional monarchy - parliamentary democracy

Religion: 45% No religion, 27% Roman Catholic, 17% Protestant, 6% Muslim, 1% Hindu, 1% Buddhist 

Currency: Euro

National holidays: King’s Day (26 April) Liberation Day (5 May)

Highest point: 323 m (Vaalserberg, Limburg)

Lowest point: 6.7 m (Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, Zuid-Holland)

Average temperature in July: 17.4 °C

Average temperature in January: 2.8 °C