Key facts: the Netherlands

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Amsterdam

Population: 16.5 million; Dutch 83%, other 17%, of which 9% are non-Western origin, mainly Turks, Moroccans, Antilleans, Surinamese, and Indonesians (1999 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 31%, Dutch Reformed 13%, Calvinist 7%, Muslim 5.5%, other 2.5%, none 41% (2002)

Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany

Government: Constitutional monarchy; Chief of state: Queen Beatrix (since April 30, 1980); Head of government: Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende (since July 22, 2002)

Economy: The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. The economy is noted for stable industrial relations, moderate unemployment and inflation, a sizable current account surplus, and its important role as a European transportation hub. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining and electrical machinery. A highly mechanized agricultural sector employs no more than 2% of the labor force but provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. The Netherlands, along with 11 of its E.U. partners, began circulating the euro currency on Jan. 1, 2002. The country continues to be one of the leading European nations for attracting foreign direct investment. Economic growth slowed considerably in 2001-06, as part of the global economic slowdown, but during the four years before that, annual growth averaged nearly 4%, well above the E.U. average.

GDP per capita: U.S.$31,700 (PPP); Inflation 1.4%; unemployment 5.5% (2006 est.)

Currency: €1 equals U.S.$1.36 (April 30, 2007)

Exports: U.S.$414 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.); machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs

Imports: U.S.$374 billion; machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs, clothing

Major crops/agricultural products: Grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits, vegetables, livestock

Agriculture: 2.1% of GDP and 2% of the labor force

Source: World Factbook