The Netherlands has more than 17 million inhabitants. With 504 inhabitants per square kilometre, it is densely populated. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, where 820,000 people live. Amsterdam is part of the ‘Randstad’, the urban area with a lot of economic activity in the west of the country. The Hague (520,000 inhabitants), where the government is located, and the important port and city of Rotterdam (620,000 inhabitants) are also part of the Randstad, as well as two airports, including Schiphol Airport.
The Netherlands has two official languages: Dutch and Frisian. Many Dutch do not only speak Dutch, but are also quite competent in English.
The Netherlands is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, together with Curacao, Aruba, and Saint Martin (Sint Maarten). The government of the Netherlands consists of ministers, led by a prime minister. The king is also part of the government. Following elections, the political parties in the Second Chamber of the States General form the new government.
The official currency of the Netherlands is the euro. The Netherlands was one of the twelve EU countries that adopted the euro as its official currency in 2002. The Netherlands has an open economy with an extensive (international) financial sector, which relies heavily on foreign trade. For example, the Netherlands is an important European transport hub. The port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport play an important role here.
Key sectors are Agri & Food, Chemistry, the creative industries (fashion, architecture), energy, High-Tech Systems and Materials, Logistics, Life Sciences & Health (e.g. medical technology), Horticulture, and Water and Maritime. Dutch businesses excel in all of these areas.
The Netherlands does not have exchange controls.
The current corporation tax rate is 20% – 25%. This will decrease in the next few years to 16% – 21% (2021).
In 2017, the Netherlands was proclaimed the most competitive economy in the European Union for the second year in a row by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The main pillars are innovative strength and a good infrastructure.
The Port of Rotterdam even has the best port infrastructure in the world. Besides the Port of Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport is also of major importance to the economy in the Netherlands. The infrastructure has to be good in a densely populated trading country. This also poses the greatest challenge: in the strong regions of the Randstad and Brabant, the major roads for the transport of goods are very busy. The number of traffic jams on these major roads increases rapidly. Traffic jams cause unnecessary economic damage. In 2018, approximately 270 kilometres of new roads will be constructed and the government will focus on the development of new technologies that can contribute
to a faster flow of traffic. In addition to roads, the government will invest in inland waterways, bridges and locks (approximately 965 million in 2018). This will be done in a sustainable manner which is properly integrated into the environment.
All major cities in the Netherlands can be reached by train. On the busiest routes, the use of trains will be expanded. This is crucial for a well-functioning labour market.
A very conscious trend is the increasing sustainability of transport. Major cities will eventually only permit access to fully electric trucks. Studies are conducted to determine if economic driving is possible on the main roads, fewer polluting trucks are being deployed and the use of alternative fuel sources is on the rise.
The main trading partners of the Netherlands are its neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany, as well as France, the United Kingdom and Spain.