Known for its long-standing trade traditions, the Netherlands is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. The Netherlands, as its name suggests, is low-lying and almost a third is below sea level.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Amsterdam
- Ethnic groups: Dutch 77%, EU citizens 6%, Turks 2%, Moroccans 2%, Indonesians 2%, Surinamese 2%, other 8% (2017)
- Language: Dutch (official), Frisian (official)
- Religion: Roman Catholic 24%, Protestants 16%, Muslims 5%, others 6%, none 50% (2015)
- Population: 17 036 000
- Control Form: Constitutional monarchy
- Area: 41 500 km²
- Currency: euro
- GNP per capita: 50 539 PPP $
- National Day: April 27th
The population of the Netherlands in 2017 was estimated at 17 million. The population has grown very rapidly during periods: The population doubled in the period 1835–1910, and again in the period 1910–1967. Later growth has slowed, especially in the 1970s. In the period 1990–2003, annual population growth was estimated at 0.6 percent.
Growth has slowed primarily as a result of falling birth and death rates, but immigration from abroad has also slowed down in recent years.
The Netherlands has the highest population density in Europe, apart from the small states. It nevertheless switches sharply between the regions. About 90 percent of the population lives in cities and towns.
Particularly strong is the urbanization in an annular area in the west, Randstad Holland, which is an almost interconnected chain of cities along the edge of the green center in the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. Here are the biggest cities (2018): Amsterdam (854 047), Rotterdam (638 712), The Hague (532 561) and Utrecht (347 483). Other major industrial centers are Eindhoven (229,126) in Noord-Brabant, Groningen (202,810) and Arnhem (157,223) in Gelderland.
Among the residents of foreign origin there are many from the former colonies of the Netherlands. One of these groups is the Ambonese, who have roots in Ambon in Indonesia. They would not accept Achmed Sukarno’s dissolution of Indonesia’s federal structure and fled to the Netherlands when the colonial rule ceased. Another larger group of immigrants has roots in Suriname: When this country became independent in 1975, many feared poverty and distress and went to the Netherlands. By the way, the Netherlands has many immigrants from Turkey and Morocco.
In the north of the Netherlands, in the province of Friesland, the Frisians live, and in the post- World War II period these had to fight to get Frisian language and culture recognized.
The official language is Dutch. In the province of Friesland, Frisian is the official language next to Dutch.
In addition to the Dutch standard language, the language has some dialects. In the province of Groningen, the original Frisian language has been supplanted by Lower German (in the Netherlands called Saxon). Lower German is also the spoken language in the provinces of Drenthe and Overijssel.
In Noord- and Zuid-Holland the dialect is Dutch, except in a part of Noord-Holland, where the dialect is a mixture of Frisian and Dutch. The Flemish dialect is spoken in the southern part of Zeeland (Zeeland Flanders), in Brabant Brabant, Brabant and Limburg Limburg.
The dialect differences in Dutch can be very large, and different dialects are often not mutually intelligible.
Largest Cities (2018)
|The Hague||532 561|
|Province||Capital||Area 1 (km 2)||Residents (2017)|
|North Netherlands||–||8357||1 722 000|
|Overijssel||Zwolle||3337||1 151 827|
|Gelderland||Arnhem||4995||2 059 641|
|Oost-Nederland||–||9758||3 622 900|
|Utrecht||Utrecht||1356||1 295 535|
|Noord-Holland||Haarlem||2660||2 833 398|
|South Holland||The Hague||2860||3 679 072|
|West-Netherlands||–||8668||8 190 300|
|Noord-Brabant||‘S-Hertogenbosch||4938||2 528 936|
|Limburg||Maastricht||2167||1 117 801|
|South Netherlands||–||7105||3 646 800|
1) Land area