With a surface area of more than 41,000 km2, and a population of around 17 million people, the Netherlands is one of the smallest and most populous countries in the world. It may be small in size, but certainly isn’t in impact. The Netherlands has the 17th largest economy in the world and the 7th largest in the European Union, consistently ranking among the top places in the world to live and work.
A compact country with a charming landscape and rich history, the Netherlands is quite a popular tourist destination. For a small country, the Netherlands has a great deal to offer global and local visitors: beautiful coastlines, cities and countryside, art and architecture, history and culture; design and innovation. Thanks to its central location and good transport infrastructure, visitors can easily travel across regions and cities, and to neighbouring countries. And most importantly, Dutch people are known for being open-minded and welcoming.
Innovation and business climates
The Netherlands has one of the most open and stable economies in the world and is among the best countries for technology and innovation. The World Economic Forum (WEF), in its 2019 Global Competitiveness Index, ranks the Netherlands No. 1 in the world for macroeconomic stability, the most competitive economy in Europe, and the 4th most competitive economy in the world.
The Netherlands offers outstanding physical and digital infrastructure – including Europe’s largest port and the AMS-X exchange – and world-class research institutes. The enterprise-friendly Dutch government offers attractive incentives to stimulate innovation and sustainable business activities. As an internationally-oriented country, the Netherlands is home to a workforce that is highly proficient in English as well as many highly educated foreign workers.
The Dutch educational system is known as a fair system with equal opportunities for all and it continues to rank extremely well internationally. The Netherlands is at the thirteenth position of the PISA worldwide ranking. The Netherlands is the only country other than the US and the UK with more than three universities in the Times 200. The Dutch promote learning, skills acquisition and knowledge through education policy. There is a wide variety of schools which all work under national examination standards. A successful baccalaureate examination gives access to university level education.
Research and Education
The Netherlands is a popular study destination for students, especially in higher education. Dutch students are also increasingly doing work placements, internships, or degrees abroad. NUFFIC, which is a Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education encourages and facilitates this development along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. Internationalisation in education is important as global movement increases and it becomes advantageous for young people to gain experience in interacting with people from different backgrounds. Not only does that apply to the primary and secondary levels of education, but also to higher education. Uniquely, the Dutch higher education system consists of three different levels; technical vocational training, applied sciences degree and academic degrees.
Business climate and foreign investment
Ranked No. 4 by Forbes ‘Best Countries for Business’, the Netherlands is truly a world-class business destination. With a competitive international business climate, and home to more than 15,000 international companies – from global giants to fast-growing gazelles - the Netherlands offers foreign businesses a favourable environment to locate and expand their business.
Visiting the Netherlands
Tourism is important to the Netherlands. The NBTC (Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions) is the destination management organisation of the Netherlands. NBTC works for and with parties from various sectors on the positioning, development and marketing of the Netherlands to make it a liveable, popular and valuable destination for visitors, companies and residents. For more information on tourism in the Netherlands see Visit the Netherlands.