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Basic Information

Area: 41,526 km²

Calling code: +31

Population: 16,408,557

Official Language: Dutch

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 17:34


The Netherlands is a consituent country of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, located in Western Europe and bordering the North Sea, Belgium and Germany.

According to the CIA Factbook, The Netherlands covers a total area of 41,543 square kilometres and is the 134th largest country in the world. Estimates in 2010 put the population at 16,783,092 with 80% Dutch, 5% European Union, 2.4% Indonesian, 2.2% Turkish, 2% Surinamese and 2% Moroccan. The official languages of The Netherlands are Dutch and Frisian, although English is also widely spoken.

The country has a population density of 400.5/km2, ranking it 28th versus other countries across the globe.

The Netherlands operates a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. Renowned for it’s efforts to achieve consensus on important issues from both the political community and it’s citizens, The Netherlands was ranked by The Economist in 2008 as the 4th most democratic country in the world.

The Netherlands has 12 administrative divisions or provinces are; Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Noth-Brabant, North Holland, Overissel, Utrecht, Zealand and South Holland. The capital is Amsterdam, but the seat of the government is in The Hague.

The Netherlands participates in a number of international organisations and was a founding member of The EU, NATO, OECD and WTO.

The official currency of The Netherlands is the Euro.


The CIA estimated The Netherland’s GDP in 2009 at $794.8 billion and a GDP (PPP) $660 billion. GDP per capita in 2009 stood at $39,500 ranking it the 21st richest country in the world.

The Netherlands has a well developed market economy and a high standard of living that is closely aligned with other major European economies. The country has a large services sector that generates 75% of the national GDP and a strong industry sector accounts for around 24% of GDP.

The Netherlands also benefits from a small but dynamic agricultural sector that produces 1.6% of national GDP. Food stuffs produced include grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruit, vegetables and livestock.

The Netherlands main industries include agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectrics and fishing. Tourism is also key with Amsterdam ranked as the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe, welcoming around 4 million visitors per year.

Trade with other EU countries accounts for a large proportion of the country’s imports and exports. Considered one of the world’s leading exporting countries commodities are sent primarily to Germany 25%, Belgium 12%, France 9% and UK 8%.

The Netherlands also imports a number of products, primarily machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs and clothing with 17% coming from Germany, China 11%, Belgium 9% and the United States 8%.


According to the IMD World Competitiveness Year Book 2009 the Netherlands ranks as the 3rd highest country in terms of the quality of its basic infrastructure.

The country is connected by a large road system that stretches 136,827 kilometres, 2,582 kilometres of which are expressways. Eurostat reported that in 2008 the road network delivered 81,457 million tons of goods across The Netherlands.

The Netherlands has a number of companies that operate a dense network of train stations and railway lines that link Dutch and International cities. The CIA Factbook estimates that the railways throughout the country stretch over 2,896 kilometres and are estimated to transport a total of 7,295 million tons of freight (EuroStat 2008).

Most large Austrian cities operate an extensive public transport network consisting primarily of trolleybuses, trams, buses and subway systems. Cycling is also very popular in the Netherlands with major cities offering a good network of bike lanes and paths.

The Netherlands has several international airports, with Schipol in Amsterdam being the largest. Other significant points of entry by air are Eindhoven, Maastricht, Rotterdam and Eelde. Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek reported that in 2010 commercial aviation in the country transported over 5 million air passengers per month.

The Netherlands is home to a network of waterways and ports, the busiest of which is the Port of Rotterdam. According to official port authority figures in 2009, Rotterdam’s port is the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world transporting over 387 million metric tons per year.


The CIA Factbook in 2009 estimated The Netherlands labour force at 7.75 million. 80% of the labour force work in services sector which is comprised of banking, tourism, real estate, education, transportation and communication.

18% work in the industrial sector which is dominated by the foodstuffs industry, but also includes chemicals, machinery, metallurgy and electrical goods manufacturing. At 2%, the smallest proportion of the work force work in agriculture producing grain, vegetables, fruits and livestock.

The labour force is predominantly Dutch with a small proportion being made up of Western Europeans, Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Caribbeans.

The Netherlands government spends an estimated 5.5% of GDP (2005) on education and it’s focus results in a skilled work force and a high literacy rate of 99%. OECD in 2008 ranked the Netherlands education system as the 9th best in the world. The country has compulsary education for all children aged 4 to 18 years which is divided into elementary, secondary and higher education. Secondary education is comprised of three different educational tracks, depending on what is best suited to the individual. The highest level of high school education is Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs (VWO) which lasts six years and allows students to attend a university once completed.

In 2009 the CIA Factbook estimated The Netherlands unemployment rate at 4.9%

Business Costs

Research carried out by KPMG in 2010 revealed that overall the Netherlands offered foreign businesses the cheapest location in Europe in terms of Business costs, raking third globally behind Mexico and Canada. The study looked at the cost of setting up a new company, alongside running costs over a 10 year period.

The Netherlands individual income tax rates work on a partly progressive scale of 0%-52%, with four tax bands. Residents are required to declare their worldwide income and not just that which was earned within the country.

In terms of corporate taxes, the Dutch government has set the corporate tax and capital gains rate at 25.5%, making it one of the most competitive European markets and an attractive place for companies and investors.

The Netherlands also enjoys a far reaching tax treaty network that comprises of more than 80 countries and provides extensive benefits to residents.

The standard VAT rate in the Netherlands is 19%, whilst a reduced VAT of 6% can be applied food, agriculture and other essentials whilst certain sectors are exempt.

In 2009 the Netherlands set a minimum wage of €1,398 per month or €322 per week for adults aged 23 years and over engaged in full time work.

Research carried out by Cushman and Wakefield in 2009 revealed that The Netherlands offered competitive location costs versus other major European cities, with an average office rental cost in Amsterdam of €423.53/sq.m per year and in Rotterdam CBD €423.53/sq.m per year.
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