macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Map of the Netherlands

Kingdom of the Netherlands (capital Amsterdam) and neighboring states

Village of Giethoorn

Giethoorn, a village where transportation is by boat or bicycle. (Iceskating during the winter.) Images

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Netherlands is the sixth-largest economy in the euro-zone and is noted for its stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, sizable trade surplus, and 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 only 2% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports... After 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth, the Dutch economy – highly dependent on an international financial sector and international trade - contracted by 3.5% in 2009. To recover, the government sought to boost the domestic economy by accelerating infrastructure programs, offering corporate tax breaks for employers to retain workers, and expanding export credit facilities. The stimulus programs and bank bailouts, however, resulted in a government budget deficit of 5.3% of GDP in 2010 that contrasted sharply with a surplus of 0.7% in 2008. The government of Prime Minister Mark RUTTE began implementing austerity measures in early 2011, mainly reducting expenditures, which resulted in an improved budget deficit in 2011. However, in 2012 tax revenues dropped, GDP contracted, and the budget deficit deteriorated. In 2013, the government budget deficit decreased to 3.3% of GDP due to increased government revenue from higher taxes. However, spending on social benefits also increased, due to a rise in unemployment benefits and payments for pensions. The high unemployment rate and tax increases have contributed to continued decreases in household disposable income, causing the Dutch economy to contract."

Economic growth rate
2013: -0.8%
2012: -1.2%
2011: 0.9%

Unemployment rate
2013: 8.3%
2012: 6.4%
2011: 5.2%
2010: 5.5%
2009: 5%
2008: 4.%

2009 health expenditures, 10.8% compared to 16.2% for the US.

Value Added Tax: 19% (Nov 2010) (Wikipedia figure)

Import/export ratio
2011: exports are 112.2% of imports, a favorable balance

The Netherlands produces a large surplus of food, which it exports. It also exports machinery and equipment, chemicals and fuel. Its largest export partner is Germany, at 25.3% in 2003.

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 1.6%


2010: Living in an urban area: 83%
2008: Living in an urban area: 82%

2011: 2.33 more people arriving than leaving per 1,000 population.

Density for 2005, 395 per square kilometer – one of Europe's more densely populated nations.

Ten percent of Catholics in the Netherlands attend mass weekly (New York Times, April 19, 2005). World Factbook: Roman Catholic 30%, Dutch Reformed 11%, Calvinist 6%, other Prestant 3%, Muslim 5.8%, other 2.2%, none 42% (estimated for the year 2006).

Schools are financed by the state whether they are Catholic, Protestant or Muslim.

2008: Dutch 80.73%, European Union 5%, Turkish 2.2%, Surinamese 2%, Moroccan 2%, Netherlands Antilles & Arabs 0.8%, other 4.8 %.


Western Europe, between Belgium and Germany. Slightly smaller than New Jersey. Capital: Amsterdam.

The Netherlands has approximately 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) of dikes, and 27% of the country is below sea level – where 60% of the population lives. Flooding has been made more of a danger by developments on the Upper Rhine lowland plain: urbanization, deforestation and canalization of sections of rivers, which have taken away much of the buffer function of rivers.  


Constitutional monarchy. Prime Minister appointed by the monarch, usually the leader of the political party that won a majority in national elections.

Bicameral legislature, members of the First Chamber appointed by provincial councils, members of the Second Chamber elected by popular vote to a four-year term.

Capital: Amsterdam

Recent History

Over 60% of the Netherlands is below sea level. To protect against flooding, between 1950 and 1997 the Dutch built the Deltaworks. According to Wikipedia, "The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers. The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared the works to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World."

A founding member of NATO and the European Economic Community (now the European Union). Participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.

On November 2, 2004 the movie maker Theo Van Gogh, who had produced a film about the treatment of women in Islamic societies, was murdered by a Muslim young man. This was followed by Dutch citizens attacking Islamic sites and calls for the toleration that is traditional among the Dutch. 

August 30, 2010: In her new book, Nomad, Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes Holland as "the safest place I had ever lived, and the place where I was happiest." She writes that "although Dutch people are fond of calling Holland a classless society, that is far from reality." She adds that the Dutch politician, Pim Fortuyn, "called the political leadership class of Holland the regenten, the regents, who control real power behind the scenes. The regeten form an elite triangle: the upper class and royalty ... leaders of the unions, and directors of corporations."

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.