The Gateway to Europe

The Dutch economy owes its favorable reputation, as ‘the gateway to Europe’, partly to its advanced transportation infrastructure. The port of Rotterdam is the eighth largest seaport in the world in terms of total cargo, whilst Schiphol Airport is the fifth largest airport in Europe. Its prestige is also due to its esteemed telecom infrastructure, extensive railway network and central geographic location.

Sectors in the Dutch economy

The Services Sector is the most dominant in the Netherlands, accounting for approximately two-thirds of both its GNP and its work force. Another major sector is that of Mineral Extraction, in particular the production of natural gas. Other sectors that consistently contribute to the Dutch economy are: restaurants, trade and repair services, health care and services related to it. A final important one is agriculture and food. 75% of the Netherlands’ agricultural produce is exported, and it generates approximately 10% of Dutch GNP.


The Randstad is the area of the Netherlands that spans and includes Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. After Paris, London and Milan, the Randstad is the largest economic urban area in the EU, measured in terms of gross domestic product. This is largely due to the strong presence of financial and commercial services, which fuel the Dutch economy.


For several years, the commercial services sector has been, and remains, the largest employer in the Netherlands. It is closely followed by the health care and manufacturing industries, whilst the trade, transport, financial services and information technology sectors are attracting an increasing amount of employees too. Science and engineering are demonstrating a constant and steadily rising need for international and capable workers, in areas such as water management, green and renewable energy, and logistics.

International individuals who travel to the Netherlands are often enticed into staying here to find a job. They are as motivated as companies are to settle in the Netherlands, particularly since the opening of the frontiers within the European Union. The Dutch government recognizes the value of welcoming in top-notch specialists, who contribute to the knowledge pool and economy of the Netherlands. Accordingly, they have introduced a number of tax measures, aimed at making it more attractive for non-Dutch nationals to reside and work here. What is more, the bureaucratic red tape surrounding this, which was once so strong and complex, has been simplified. This reduces the number of hoops employers and employees have to jump through, in order to obtain the necessary papers.


All in all, this makes the Netherlands a wealthy country with a high per capita GDP. This is boosted by social security measures, which guarantee a minimum income, quality health care and good education.

Side Note
Some Statistics & Facts

  • The total land surface area of the Netherlands is 33,948 km2/21,218 m. This excludes all inland and territorial waters wider than 6 meters/20 feet. If all the water surface area is included, the Netherlands has an area of 41,526 km2/25,954 mi2
  • The Netherlands’ North Sea coastline is longer (642 km) than its border with either Belgium (407 km) or Germany (556 km)
  • About 60% of the population lives below sea level
  • The highest point in the Netherlands is the Vaalserberg in the province of Limburg. It is 321 meters/1,053 feet above sea level
  • The lowest point in the country is 6.76 meters/22.18 feet below sea level. It is in the Prince Alexander Polder northeast of Rotterdam (Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel)
  • Head of State: King Willem-Alexander
  • Type of state: constitutional monarchy
  • Seat of government: The Hague
  • Capital: Amsterdam
  • Population: 17.1 million
  • ‘Non-Western’ non-native Dutch: 2.1 million
  • ‘Western’ non-native Dutch: 1.66 million
  • Number of households: 7.72 million
  • Average life expectancy for men born now: 80 years, for women: 83.3 years
  • Population growth: 110,000
  • Labor force: 8.88 million
  • Unemployment: 538,000
  • Unfit for work: 803,000
  • No. of jobs: 10 million
  • No. of self-employed persons: 2.1 million
  • Inflation 2016: 0.3%
  • Economic growth 2016: 2.2%
  • Budget surplus: 0.4%
  • Consumer confidence: 12%
  • Most important trade partner: Germany
  • Average income: € 36,500 gross
  • Average price of a house: € 350,000

Useful links
Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS):
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment:

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