Background: The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU), and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999. In October 2010, the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and the three smallest islands - Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba - became special municipalities in the Netherlands administrative structure. The larger islands of Sint Maarten and Curacao joined the Netherlands and Aruba as constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany
Area land: 33,893 sq km
Area water: 7,650 sq km
Coastline: 451 km
Country name conventional long form: Kingdom of the Netherlands
Country name conventional short form: Netherlands
Country name former: Kingdom of the Netherlands
Population: 16,847,007 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17% (male 1,466,218/female 1,398,463); 15-64 years: 67.4% (male 5,732,042/female 5,624,408); 65 years and over: 15.6% (male 1,141,507/female 1,484,369) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.371% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 10.23 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 8.85 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.052 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female; total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.59 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 5.08 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 4.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.68 years; male: 77.06 years; female: 82.44 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.66 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 22,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Dutchman(men), Dutchwoman(women); adjective: Dutch;
Ethnic groups: Dutch 80.7%, EU 5%, Indonesian 2.4%, Turkish 2.2%, Surinamese 2%, Moroccan 2%, Caribbean 0.8%, other 4.8% (2008 est.);
Religions: Roman Catholic 30%, Dutch Reformed 11%, Calvinist 6%, other Protestant 3%, Muslim 5.8%, other 2.2%, none 42% (2006);
Languages: Dutch (official), Frisian (official);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $680.4 billion (2010 est.); $669 billion (2009 est.); $696.1 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $770.3 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 1.7% (2010 est.); -3.9% (2009 est.); 1.9% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $40,500 (2010 est.); $40,000 (2009 est.); $41,800 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.6%; industry: 24.9%; services: 72.4% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 10.5% (2005);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.5%; highest 10%: 22.9% (1999);
Labor force: 7.86 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 2%; industry: 18%; services: 80% (2005 est.);
Unemployment rate: 5.5% (2010 est.); 4.8% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $356 billion; expenditures: $399.3 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: agroindustries, metal and engineering products, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, construction, microelectronics, fishing;
Industrial production growth rate: 3.2% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 108.2 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 124.1 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - exports: 10.56 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - imports: 15.45 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Socialist newsmagazine), Amsterdam
Dutch design is at a crossroads and needs to embrace the world, and I'm sure the resourceful pool of Dutch talent will manage it.
Analysis indicates Iraq policy has cost British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi heavily at the ballot box.
Former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Rudolphus (Ruud) Lubbers took on his latest international role when he assumed the position of U.N. high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) in early January. Lubbers, 61, succeeded Japan’s Sadako Ogata, who had held the position for almost a decade.