Facts and figures

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Here are some interesting facts and figures about the Netherlands. They are supplied by renowned research institutes and placed in an international context for a global perspective.

The Netherlands is home to a highly pleasant living environment

An attractive place to live

  • Whether visiting for business or pleasure, the Netherlands is home to a highly pleasant living environment. It currently ranks seventh worldwide in terms of quality of life.
  • According to the UNDP, the Netherlands ranks 4th place worldwide with regard to prosperity. In determining ‘prosperity’, the UNDP takes into account a country’s GDP as well as other aspects of human well-being, such as life expectancy, public health, literacy levels and educational standards. Of the 186 countries listed in the UNDP index, the Netherlands ranks 4th.
  • A relatively high proportion of Dutch people work part-time. This is often a deliberate decision, allowing employees to combine work with caring for their family. From an international perspective, the number of people - and particularly women - in the Netherlands who work part-time is high: nearly 75% of all Dutch part-time workers are women.
  • Nevertheless, the average working week for full-time employees is more or less on a par with most other Eurozone countries. The same applies to the number of hours worked in a year by full-time employees.
  • According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, levels of corruption and nepotism in the Netherlands are among the lowest anywhere in the world.

Education, knowledge and research

  • Dutch schoolchildren achieve good scores in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA): fifth place within the OECD and second in the EU. The PISA survey is conducted every three years among 500,000 school pupils across 70 countries, and evaluates the capacity of 15-year-old schoolchildren to understand and solve academic problems.
  • According to the European Commission, the Netherlands has a world-class vocational education and training (VET) system, with built-in mechanisms to adapt to current and future skills needs so that training is more demand-driven.
  • Furthermore, compared to many other EU member states, life-long learning is commonplace in the Netherlands: adults regularly engage in further education in order to continually improve their skills and knowledge levels.
  • Dutch universities score quite highly for teaching and research in a number of international rankings. Wageningen University (WUR), for example, is a global leader in green biotechnology. In addition, the Netherlands is also home to a significant number of renowned knowledge and research institutes such as ECN and TNO, which play an important role in the government-initiated public-private
    innovation programmes.

Agriculture & Food

  • The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of agri-food products.  Together with the USA and Spain, Holland is one of the top 3 exporters of vegetables and fruit.
  • The total value of Dutch agricultural exports was 80.7 billion euros in 2014.
  • In 2012 the Dutch agri-food industry contributed 48.7 billion euros of added value to Dutch GDP.
  • The Netherlands is the largest exporter of tomatoes and potatoes in the world. In 2013 the Dutch agrifood sector exported tomatoes to the value of about 1.8 billion US dollars.
  • Holland is one of the world’s leading developers and manufacturers of food processing machinery. Dutch industry produces 80% of the world’s capacity of poultry processing machinery, and a substantial amount of cheese production
    machinery.
  • Dutch agricultural entrepreneurs use efficient and sustainable production systems and processes, resulting in a productivity that is five times higher than the European average.
  • For decades, the Dutch agriculture sector has succeeded in maintaining its lead over international competitors through continual investment in innovation in agri-food value chains. The Netherlands is a hotbed of R&D in the area of agri-food, due largely to the excellent knowledge infrastructure and close collaborations between knowledge institutes, government and the private sector, the so-called 'golden triangle'.
  • The Netherlands has a world-leading position in the design and
    manufacture of milking robots.

Horticulture

  • The Dutch horticulture sector is a global trendsetter and the undisputed international market leader in flowers, plants, bulbs and propagation material.
  •  A quarter of the world trade in horticultural products (24%) is in Dutch hands. Holland has a 52% share of the worldwide trade in floricultural products, making it the dominant global supplier of flowers and flower products. Some 80% of all flower bulbs traded worldwide come from the Netherlands, the majority of which are tulips.
  • The sector is the number 3 exporter in nutritional horticulture products.
  • Dutch horticultural innovations include intelligent greenhouses that can float on water, moving platforms, robots, innovative lighting, water and waste recycling, and greenhouses that generate more energy than they consume and thus contribute to a reduction in CO2.
  • Of the approximately 1,800 new plant varieties that enter the European market each year, 65% originate in the Netherlands. In addition, Dutch breeders account for more than 35% of all applications for community plant variety rights.
  • The Dutch are the world’s largest exporter of seeds: the exports of seeds amounted to 1.6 billion dollars in 2014.
  • In 2014 the Netherlands was the world’s second largest exporter (in value) of fresh vegetables. The Netherlands exported vegetables with a market value of 7.8 billion US dollars.

Water

  • The Dutch are renowned for their integrated water management and multi-disciplinary approach that balances social, economic, environmental and  engineering needs (‘Building with Nature’).
  • Dutch companies are involved in the sustainable development of low-lying urban agglomerations such as Jakarta and Bangladesh, and coastal development in areas such as Dubai, Vietnam and Romania.
  • 40% of the freely accessible market for water management is in Dutch hands.
  • The Dutch Delta Works are listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest flood defence project in the world. With almost 16,500 kilometres of dykes and 300 structures, the project is one of the most extensive engineering projects in the world. The Oosterscheldedam is the largest single tidal barrier in the world,
    at 9km in length.
  • The Dutch invest heavily in innovation and R&D through public-private partnerships. These include renowned institutes such as Deltares, MARIN, Wetsus and KWR Watercycle Research Institute. TNO and large Dutch private firms are also recognised for their water R&D.
  • In the field of water technology and maritime technology, the Netherlands ranks 8th worldwide for global patents.
  •  The Dutch began using innovative waste water treatment techniques in the 1970s. Some 99.9% of Dutch households have access to clean, entirely chlorine-free drinking water. Additionally, the level of recycling of industrial waste water is high, and this recycled water is of such high quality that it can be used in the food and beverage industries.
  • The Dutch maritime cluster comprises 12 sub sectors and 12,000 companies, which employ 224,000 employees. The cluster has a strong international focus: 60% of the seagoing ships produced in the Netherlands are destined for export.

ICT and high-tech

  • The Netherlands is an international internet hub. It has the most competitive internet market and the second highest online connectivity in the world. 98% of households are connected to (broadband) internet compared to the European average of 62%.
  • Dutch companies invented WiFi, the CD and the DVD. Bluetooth was invented by Dutch electrical engineer Jaap Haartsen. And high-tech equipment from Dutch companies are used in 90% of all silicon chips produced worldwide.

Life Sciences and Health

  • The Netherlands ranks 9th in patent applications for biotechnology.
  • With approximately 375 innovative life sciences companies clustered within a 120 mile radius, Holland is the most geographically concentrated region in the world when it comes to creating economic and social value in Life Sciences and Health.

Energy

  • Holland has an international reputation for research in renewable energy, for instance in the field of solar energy, with institutes such as FOM and ECN, as well as various universities. The Dutch team from Delft University of Technology has won the World Solar Challenge, the biennial competition for solar cars, in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2013.
  • The Dutch have leading expertise in offshore wind energy, co-combustion of biomass in coal-fired power plants, pretreatment methods of biomass, the use of landfill gas, and the use of heat pumps combined with heat and cold storage.

Prosperous economy

  • In terms of surface area and population size, the Netherlands is not a particularly large country and ranks 133rd and 64st worldwide.
  • In stark contrast, the country’s economic performance ranks much higher. The size of the economy, or the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is about 615 billion euros in 2014. The Netherlands has the seventeenth-largest economy in the  world and the sixth-largest in the European Union.
  • The rate of unemployment in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in Europe. From 2006 to 2013, an average of 4.4% of the potential working population was unemployed, while the corresponding rate in the euro countries was 9.6%.
  • As the fifth-largest exporter of goods in the world, the Netherlands occupies a prominent position when it comes to world trade. In 2014, the Netherlands exported goods worth a total of almost 672 billion US dollars, which is about 3.6% of the world’s total exports.
  • The Netherlands is also a significant exporter of commercial services - exports of commercial services amounted to 189 billion US dollars (138 billion Euros) in 2014, which placed the country sixth in the world rankings.

More interesting facts and figures have been compiled by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency in a single, easy-to-use booklet titled Holland Compared - Facts & figures about The Netherlands.

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