The Netherlands Country Profile


Country Profile: The Netherlands

Official Country TheNetherlands.

Governmental system:

The Netherlands government system is comprisedof a unitary parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarch.The monarch is the head of state but with limited powers although hecan be consulted regularly on government matters (Hoogenboom, 2010).The current head of state is King Alexander Willem. The primeminister is the head of government and the leader of the party withmajority parliamentarians and the current one is Mark Rutte.

Head of state:

The head of state is the king who heads theconstitutional monarchy. The current head of state is King AlexanderWillem.

Official language(s):

The official language in The Netherlands isDutch language. The other regional languages spoken by other ethnicgroups are Frisian, English, Papiamento and Turkish languages.

Major religions:

Religion is The Netherlands is perceived as apersonal rather than a public matter with almost 49 % having noreligious affiliation (De Hart, 2015). There is a strong RomanCatholic following in the South accounting for 24 % of the populationand Protestants in the North covering 16% of the population. Otherminor religions include Islam (5%), Judaism (0.1%), PKN (6%), andother religions (5%) (De Hart, 2015).

Major cities:

The Netherlands has about twenty major citiesand towns. The top ten cities based on population include Amsterdam,the capital of the Netherlands. Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht,Eindhoven are the top five cities. The other main cities are Tilburg,Almere, Groningen, Breda and Nijmegen.

Climate: Ports/waterways:

The Netherlands enjoys a moderate maritimeclimate. The summers are cool and winters are mild with highhumidity. The landscape is flat with only 50% of land being above sealevel. The major wind flow is south-west (Loucks et al, 2005).Rotterdam is the centre of the largest port in Netherlands. RiverMeuse and River Rhine connect this port to hinterland and Switzerlandproviding efficient water way for water transport.

Infrastructure status:

The Netherlands has one of the bestinfrastructural developments in the world. It is the home to fastelectric trains like Betuweroute Fast Freight Railway modern portsand water ways modern and busy airports like Schiphol Airportelectric vehicles and modern highways and other road networks. DeltaWorks have been constructed along the coastline to reduce flooding inareas such as South Holland.


The Netherlands is a densely populated countrywith around 17 million people as per the 2013 demographics. Most ofthe population is Dutch accounting for 81% of the population. Theother ethnicities include Indonesians accounting for 2.4% ofpopulation Germans at 2.2% Turks at 2% Moroccans at 1% Arubans,Antilleans and Surinamese at 2% (Gallego, 2010)


The Netherlands major allies are the EuropeanUnion countries and the United States. Netherlands is part of theEuropean Union, NATO, signatory in Schengen Accord and treaty ofAmsterdam (Smith, 2013).

Historic Adversaries:

In 55 BC Julius Caesar conquered most of thepresent day Netherlands along rivers Meuse and Rhine. There brokerevolts involving the occupants Celtics, Batavia and Frisians(Annesley, 2005). Over more than 300 years the Romans settled inthese lands until the franks and Saxons invaded. Conquered by theWest Franks and the Frankish language had replaced the languages ofthe Germanic tribes (Palmer, 2014). After a wave of wars and revoltsamong the Saxons, Germans and Belgians, king Napoleon settled for ashort time until the great powers of Europe established the freekingdom of Netherlands in a congress in Vienna.

Conflicts (both past and present):

The Netherlands conflicts began after declaringneutrality during WW II where Germans invaded the land and forced themonarch Queen Wilhelmina (1890–1948) to flee to Britain with otherofficials after she refused to surrender to Germans (Palmer, 2014).This neutrality was broken in 1940 and the Dutch joined the alliedforces against the Germans and her axis frontier (Deak et al., 2009).The Dutch resisted for five days but were overrun by the Germans withdestruction of major cities like Rotterdam Arnhem and Nijmegen. TheDutch sustained severe damages but were liberated by Allied forces in1945 (Deak et al., 2009).

Date admitted to UN: December10, 1945.

Reputation/role within the UN:

A non-security council member where majorUnited Nations Organizations are housed such as InternationalCriminal Courts, International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and UnitedNations Sustainable Development Department. The Netherlands alsocontributes soldiers for UN peace keeping mission and alsocontributes 1.86% of UN annual budget.

How much the country pays in UN dues?

The Netherlands contributes 1.86% of grossannual budget for UN.

Has the country paid its UN dues? : YES

Has this nation signed the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights and its two covenants? YES

Human rights record:

Although the Dutch has maintained a relativelygood record on human rights, there are pertinent issues that hasarose over the years on human rights violations. There has beenextensive detention of immigrants and asylum seekers in the country.There are no meaningful safeguards for asylums appeals andrepatriation procedures for rejected applicants. Child traffickinghas been an issue in the country since it remains a conduit forillegal drugs and child trafficking into the Europe.

Ethnic/cultural issues:

The liberal laws experienced in the countryhave seen more tolerance in religion, abortion, drug-use, same sexmarriages, prostitution and many other socio-political aspects oflife (De Beer, 2007).

Is this nation politically stable?Yes.

The Netherlands has traditionally enjoyedpolitical stability which reflected the consensual and effectivenature of Dutch life organization. The initial polder model was thebasis of this stability which meant an area enclosed by protectivedikes to secure it from turbulent high waters. In such similarmanner, the Dutch way of life was efficiently organized and plannedin such a way it was all-inclusive in terms of different views,customs, attitudes and political orientations (Ter Avest et al.,2007). Politics were based on tolerance and negotiated consensus onissues affecting the country without causing any conflicts. Thisresulted in liberal laws that have changed the people’s initialtraditions.

These liberal laws have seen more tolerance inreligion, abortion, drug-use, same sex marriages, prostitution andmany other socio-political aspects of life (Ter Avest et al.,2007).However, in recent times, the model has seen many obstaclesespecially after extra judicial killings of prominent politicianssuch as murder of Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo Van Gogh in 2004, whowere widely criticizing immigration and terrorist tendencies in thecountry and women rights in the society.

The period of stability ensued afterwards buthas been broken again by the immigration issues where the then primeminister Balkenende was ousted out and reappointed again. Since hisreappointment as the coalition head in 2007, the political stabilityhas been intact which have seen ushering in of the current primeminister in 2010 (Ter Avest et al.,2007). The current prime minister and king promote the safety of thenation with continued focus on political tolerance and liberal laws.Although the frequent challenges can never be missed in modernpolitics especially in the area of immigration and foreign policy,many citizens feel that their government is doing all the best tomaintain the stability.

Being the center of international criminalcourts of justice and tribunals, the Netherlands should bepolitically stable to serve as an example to the other nations (TerAvest et al., 2007). It would be detrimental for a country chargedwith upholding legal framework for crimes against humanity to beinvolved in the same crimes.

Military organization:

Netherlands military organization comprises ofthe army, navy and air force. The various branches include the RoyalNetherlands Army, Navy and Air force Marine Corps and Royal militaryconstabulary (Caforio, 2006).

Military expenditures:

The annual budget for the military is8,000,363, 000 Euros as per the 2015 data translating to 1.2% of GDP.

Major weapons &amp nuclear capability:

The artillery used by the Netherlands militaryinclude armored and non-armored vehicles, unmanned aerialsurveillance vehicles stinger missiles short and long rangesurface-to-air missiles hand guns sub machine guns carbinesassault rifles battle riffles general purpose machine guns sniperrifles heavy machine guns short guns hand and propelled grenadesanti-tank rocket launchers and missiles mortars and marine ships,submarines, jet fighters and helicopters (Caforio, 2006).

Economic System:

The Netherlands has one of the best free marketenabling immense economic freedom. Shipping, fishing and agricultureas well as trade and banking have been the cornerstone of Dutcheconomy for centuries (UNDP, 2015). Her economy is open and with aninternational orientation.

Standard of living (UNDP Annual Report):

According to the UNDP annual report 2015, TheNetherlands had 0.922 in Human Development Index indicating a highcategory of human development and hence standards of living (UNDP,2015). The GDP stands at US$ 350 billion with per capita income atUS$22,000 per head.

Development status:

After World War II, the governments increasedindustrialization and foreign trade. In 1990’s, industrial growthdecreased and saw the service sector continue to expand (Furnivall,2010).Over the years foreign trade and technological industries haveflourished.

Balance of payments/trade:

The Netherlands goods and services exports andimports have expanded representing over 60% of GDP (Tonra, 2001). Thecurrent account surplus was $17.5 billion.

Major exports/imports:

The main exports are manufactured goods,agricultural products, electronics and machines. Others arechemicals, petroleum products and natural gas (Tonra, 2001). The mainimports are manufactured products, clothing and machines. Also crudepetroleum and chemicals form a bulk of the imports.

Major trade partners:

European Union makes up the largest tradingpartner with German being the biggest partner. USA and China are alsoimportant partners.

Trade blocs/associations:EU, NATO and UN.

Environmental stance:

Due to the fast population and economic growth,there has been increased stand on preservation and sustenance ofnatural environment. The government has been categorical onpreservation of countryside which has seen immense pressure frommodernized and mechanized farming, large population encroachment forresidential and recreational land and increased waste disposal.Therefore, The Netherlands government has come up with comprehensiveland-use plans through zoning system whereby each zone has aprioritized land usage (Biesbroek et al., 2011).

Agricultural products:

The main crops are sugar beets, potatoes,wheat, barley, rye, triticale, bulbs, tulip, hyacinth, daffodil,narcissus, crocus, flowers and dairy farming.


The main industries include agriculturechemical industry electronics automobile banking serviceindustries shipping horticulture media and trade.

Natural resources:

The main natural resources in The Netherlandsare natural gas and petroleum especially in the North Sea drillingzones. The country also has peat in the southern part. Salt is animportant natural resource as well as sand and gravel. Arable farmingland supports agriculture making the country one of the biggestexporters of agricultural products

Energy sources

Netherlands mostly depend on natural gas andpetroleum as energy sources. Natural gas is the main fossil fuel withmain drilling at North Sea. The second main source is oil alsoabundant in North Sea. Nuclear generation provides 450 MW and islocated in Borssele, Zeeland. Coal is also another energy source inthe country of which most of it is imported. Hydropower is the leastused in the country.

What are four problems/threats that currently affect this nation?

The widening disparity among the people is oneof the problems facing The Netherlands.

This gap is mainly between the educated and thenon-educated citizens, with the latter being disadvantaged by thewave of globalization that has locked the country. The well-educatedreap a lot from exports and imports and other trade opportunitiesthereby becoming richer and richer. The disadvantaged people remainpoorer and expect on the government for survival. Themain economic partners are European countries like Germany, Italy, UKand France and United States. Russia and China are also key partners.The main factors for economic growth in the Netherlands are monetarystability, corruption-free society, strong judicial system andeconomical openness and flexibility.

Another threat facing the country is the impactof climate change and loss of biodiversity. The continuedindustrialization has led to air and water pollution causing climatechange and harm to the biodiversity (Biesbroek et al., 2011). Many ofthe marine life has been endangered by the waste effluents fromindustries prompting the government to protect some of the land mass.Air and water pollution are also rampant in thecountry due to high amounts of carbon dioxide and Sulphur dioxideemitted from industries.

Both industrial and agricultural wastes such as heavy metals,phosphates and organic compounds are responsible for water and soilpollution. The government has overtime established air pollutionmonitoring system through public health department to reduce theamount of waste emitted by industries (Biesbroek et al., 2011).Increased excise duty on gas has helped curb emissions fromautomobiles. Land protection programs to preserve specific naturalresources from pollution has also been instituted, for instance, in2003 around 14% of total land was under protection.

Flooding is another threat facing the country.The landscape in the Netherlands is flat with only 50% of it beingabove sea level by merely a meter. This has caused a flooding menacein the country since any changes in oceans and water bodies causeflooding throughout the land. Government initiatives like Delta Workshave helped to curb this scenario.

Terrorism as a global pandemic has been athreat to the Dutch people. The government has not initiated crediblemechanisms to curb such terrorist threats leaving the peoplevulnerable. The country has experienced many immigrants over theyears especially following the Syrian refugee crisis and turkeybombings. This has put a lot of pressure to the government to enactlaws governing immigration as well as protecting the human rights.

Heart of this nation’s identity

The Netherlands can be identified by four mainaspects the landscape topography, the political neutrality duringworld wars the home to UN’s criminal courts and the politicalliberalization. The Netherlands is unique in its landscape whosemostly flat land is. Only 50% of the land is above sea level bymerely a meter. These both provide a unique soil formation good foragriculture and cattle rearing. On the negative such topography isprone to flooding because any changes in water bodies results inflooding in most of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is well known worldwide for herneutrality stand in world affairs especially during the world wars.This means that she did not involve in any alliances in wars withother nations but remained secluded minding her own internal affairs.This has advantages on her economy and development but was adverselyaffected by the globalization that was taken place outside herborders through warfare and commercial trade. During the Second WorldWar she was forced to join the allied forces when Germans invaded hermajor cities forcing the monarch and other government officials toflee to Britain. After the war, the Netherlands opened up its marketto the outside world promoting free trade and economic freedom. Thishas brought prosperity to the country through favorable balance oftrade and directs other foreign investments. Based on TheNetherlands foreign policy’s commitments of European integrationand Atlantic cooperation as well as upholding internationaldevelopment and law, the country has entered in various blocs withthe European Union and NATO.

The Netherland’s identity is also enshrined on the UN’s criminaljustice system which has its entire major headquarters in thecountry. The Hague, one of the cities in the country has earned thetitle of “Legal City” due to the many international legal systemsit houses. Some of the notable ones are International CriminalCourts, International criminal tribunals on Rwanda, former Yugoslaviaand Lebanon and International Court of Justice among others.

The Netherlands is also known for her liberal laws which have seenmuch of its religion becoming secular. These laws have legalized mostof the controversial social-political aspects of the society such asabortion, prostitution, same-sex marriage, hard drug usage andsecularism. These laws have been promoted by the polder model wherethe Dutch way of life was efficiently organized and planned in such away it was all-inclusive in terms of different views, customs,attitudes and political orientations (Ter Avest et al., 2007).


Annesley, Claire (ed.). A Political andEconomic Dictionary of Western Europe. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylorand Francis, 2005.

Biesbroek, R., Klostermann, J., Termeer, C., &ampKabat, P. (2011). Barriers to climate change adaptation in theNetherlands. Climate law, 2(2), 181-199.

Caforio, G. (Ed.). (2006). Handbook of theSociology of the Military. Springer Science &amp Business Media.

De Hart, J., Dekker, P., Hellemans, S., &ampJonkers, P. (2015). Floating believers: Dutch seekers and the church.

Deák, I., Gross, J. T., &amp Judt, T. (Eds.). (2009). The politicsof retribution in Europe: World War II and its aftermath. PrincetonUniversity Press.

De Beer, P. (2007). How individualized are theDutch? Current sociology, 55(3), 389-413.

Furnivall, J. S. (2010). Netherlands India: A study of pluraleconomy. Cambridge University Press.

Gallego, F. J. (2010). A population density grid of the EuropeanUnion. Population and Environment, 31(6), 460-473.

Hoogenboom, B. (2010). The governance of policing and security. InThe Governance of Policing and Security (pp. 73-81). PalgraveMacmillan UK.

Loucks, D. P., Van Beek, E., Stedinger, J. R., Dijkman, J. P., &ampVillars, M. T. (2005). Water resources systems planning andmanagement: an introduction to methods, models and applications.Paris: Unesco.

Palmer, R. R. (2014). The age of the Democratic Revolution: apolitical history of Europe and America, 1760-1800. PrincetonUniversity Press.

Smith, K. E. (2013). European Union foreign policy in a changingworld. John Wiley &amp Sons.

Tonra, B. (2001). The Europeanisation of national foreign policy:Dutch, Danish and Irish foreign policy in the European Union. AshgatePublishing.

Ter Avest, I., Bakker, C., Bertram-Troost, G., &amp Miedema, S.(2007). Religion and education in the Dutch pillarized andpost-pillarized educational system. Religion and education in Europe:Developments, contexts and debates, 203-219.

UNDP. (2015).Human Development Report 2015. Work for humandevelopment. Briefing note for countries on the 2015 HumanDevelopment Report-Netherlands. UNDP.