The Netherlands, also known as Holland, borders Belgium, Germany and the North Sea. It has a population of 16.6 million, 0.8 million of whom live in the capital, Amsterdam. The population is projected to increase to 17.6 million by 2030, with the proportion of over 65s increasing from 23% to 40% over the same period. The official language is Dutch, although English is widely spoken. 30% of the population are Catholic and 20% are Protestant. The Euro is the official currency. The standard rate of VAT is 19%

 Netherlands                               Capital: Amsterdam



16.6 million à 17.6 million (2030)

Proportion of people over 65 is 23% à 40% (2030)




30% Catholic, 20% Protestant

GDP / head

€ 36,100   (EU average: € 25,100)





GDP growth (volume)



-0.9% in 2012 (f)

1.3% in 2013 (f)

Unemployment rate

(Feb 2012)

4.9%   (EU average: 10.2%)

Inflation rate

2.5%   (EU average: 3.1%)


Figures relate to 2011, except where indicated.                                      Source: Eurostat, Searce (2012)


The Netherlands has a GDP per capita of €35,400, compared to the EU average of €24,400 in 2010. According to the OECD, the Dutch economy grew by 1.4% in 2011, and is expected to grow by 0.3% in 2012 and by 1.5% in 2013 (compared to the Eurozone average growth of 1.6%, 0.2% and 1.4% respectively). The inflation rate was 2.5% in 2011, compared to 3% in the EU. The unemployment rate was 4.9%, compared to 9.8% in the EU as a whole in 2011.

Dutch society is egalitarian and people are generally tolerant. They are also thrifty, hardworking and disciplined. These characteristics are reflected in how the Dutch do business. Direct communication is valued highly, although this can sometimes be seen as blunt. Decision-making is often by consensus rather than seniority. Once a decision is made it will be adhered to.