Fact File – The Netherlands
Area:16,000 square miles.
Environment: Much of Netherlands is below sea level, reclaimed from the sea and protected by dams and dikes. The rivers Rhine, Maas and Schelde run into its coastline. The climate is temperate.
Life expectancy: male 75 years, female 81 years.
Ethnic groups: Dutch 93%, others, including Surinamese, Turks and North Africans 7%.
Languages: Dutch (official), Frisian and English.
Cities: Amsterdam (750,000) – capital; The Hague (500,000) – seat of government; Rotterdam (600,000) – major seaport (over 1 million).
Politics: A democratic, constitutional monarchy (Queen Beatrix).
Economy: The Netherlands has strong industrial, agricultural and service sectors. It is rich in fertile land and has access to large gas and petroleum deposits, with its own oil refining facilities. It exports machinery, agricultural and food products. 4.4% are unemployed, but many more depend on state welfare.
Religions: Roman Catholic (especially in the south) 36%, unaffiliated/secular 31%, Protestant 28%, Muslim 3%, others 2%.
Protestant denominations: Over 100, including various Dutch Reformed; Mennonites; various Pentecostal; Lutheran; Baptist Union; Moluccan; various Free Evangelical; and others.
History: Holland became independent from Spain in 1568. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815, although in 1830 Belgium seceded from it. The Netherlands was occupied by Germany during the Second World War. It is a founder member of NATO and the EU.