Netherlands Society

By | December 1, 2021

Population and society

The history of the Netherlands, urban architecture, agriculture and the fate of the Dutch population are closely linked to the morphology of the territory and the delicate balance between land and sea that distinguishes it. 25% of the surface of the Dutch territory is below sea level, while 50% is less than a meter above. Since the twelfth century, this geological peculiarity has led the population to devise sophisticated engineering solutions to steal land from the sea. The construction of embankments, dams and complex systems of locks is still the main tool used today. In particular, the locks allow the water to drain between the earth and the dam, thus making the dried up land cultivable, which takes the name of polder: that of Beemster, conceived in 1612, is the best known and, since 1999, has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The canals of Amsterdam, the ‘Venice of the North’, are also a World Heritage Site, living testimony to the coexistence of land and water in the urban landscape of the Netherlands.¬†For Netherlands society, please check

The population density, equal to almost 500 residents per km 2, makes the Netherlands the first state in Europe and the third in the world among the countries with an area greater than 2,500 km 2, after Bangladesh and South Korea. The Dutch cities, in which about 90% of the population resides, boast levels of livability among the highest in the world, as attested by the indices of social well-being: women they have opportunities equal to those of men and the corruption perceived by citizens is very low. Dutch cities also welcome a multi-ethnic demographic landscape. Foreigners residing in the Netherlands amount to around 20% of the total population, 5% coming from European countries and the remainder mainly from Indonesia, Morocco, Suriname and Turkey.

Over the last decade, migratory flows have shown a fluctuating trend, decreasing strongly in 2002 and then increasing again between 2006 and 2008. In the context of the refugee crisis of the summer of 2015, the Netherlands welcomed 8,000 Syrian refugees. The marked heterogeneity of belonging to religious confessions corresponds to the ethnic mix. 28% of the Dutch population professes a Catholic creed, 19% Protestant, about 5% Muslim, while around 1% are Hindu and Buddhist. The relative majority of the population (42%) declare that they do not adhere to any religious cult.

Population Parliament Health Education Density Immigrants Equality

Freedom and rights

The Netherlands are traditionally proponents of liberal policies, careful to interpret the sudden change of society and its customs. In 2000 the right to euthanasia was legalized, although already in 1993 it was recognized in specific cases; in 2001 the first four marriages between persons of the same sex took place in Amsterdam and the legislation recognized the right of homosexual couples to adopt children; abortion is legal and divorce proceedings are very short; prostitution is considered a legal profession. In addition, the Netherlands has unique drug legislation in the world, which dates back to 1976 and was passed to regulate the drug market and monitor its impact on society.

On the other hand, the question of the integration of immigrants is the bare nerve of the liberal system and of rights. In the last decade, a feeling of intolerance towards Islamic immigrants has spread in Dutch cities. In particular, acts of vandalism, disfigurement of mosques, discrimination and insults against the Islamic community have significantly increased following two news events. On May 6, 2002, a far-left militant killed Pim Fortuyn, leader of the first party in the city of Rotterdam. Fortuyn, a homosexual and eccentric politician on the Dutch right-wing scene, had become a spokesperson for citizens’ fears of Islam and non-European immigration and had quickly gained widespread popular support. On November 2, 2004, on the other hand, murdered at the hands of an Islamic extremist Theo van Gogh, film director and friend of Fortuyn. The filmmaker had just made a controversial film on the condition of women in Islamic society, thus becoming a target of extremists.

Netherlands Society