General information

The Dutch – all 16 and a half million of them – live in 41,528 square kilometers, little more than half the size of Scotland. This makes the Netherlands one of the world's most densely populated countries.

The Netherlands is best known for its tulips, windmills and clogs. And for its low altitude and vulnerability to flooding. Less well known is that the Netherlands has the sixteenth largest economy in the world, and ranks tenth in GDP per capita. Equally little known is that the Dutch have won Nobel prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine, economics and peace or that the world's planners and architects flock here to learn about Dutch solutions for this crowded country.

Facts and statistics

  • About 60% of the population live below sea level.
  • The highest point in the Netherlands is the Vaalserberg in the province of Limburg. It is 321 metres/1,053 feet above sea level.
  • The lowest point in the country, located in the Prince Alexander Polder northeast of Rotterdam (Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel), is 6.76 metres/ 22.18 feet below sea level.
  • Head of State: Queen Beatrix
    Type of state: constitutional monarchy
    Seat of government: The Hague
    Capital: Amsterdam
  • Population: 16.5 million
  • Number of households: 7.24 million
    Average life expectancy men: 78 years, women: 82 years
    Average age: 38.7 (gradually increasing: in 1990, it was 36.6)
    Religion: 6 out of 10 persons profess to being religious
    Healthy to very healthy: 81%
  • Labour force: 7.714 million
    Unemployment Mar. 2009: 320,000 (4.5% of labour force)
    Economic growth 2008: 2%
  • Gross National Product per capita: € 36,000
    Most important trade partner: Germany
  • Average income: € 31,000 net
  • Average price of a house: € 233,00

Languages of the Netherlands

The official language is Dutch, which is spoken by a majority of the inhabitants.

There is a tradition of learning foreign languages in the Netherlands: about 70% of the total population have good knowledge of conversational English, 55– 59% of German and 19% of French. Most Dutch secondary schools also teach classical languages and/or modern languages. Modern languages with official state exams are English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Russian and Frisian.