Politics & economy

Holland is a constitutional monarchy with an open economy.

Key facts

Official name Kingdom of the Netherlands
Form of government constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament
Head of state the hereditary monarch (currently King Willem-Alexander)
Head of government the prime minister (currently Mark Rutte)
Capital city Amsterdam
Seat of government The Hague

For centuries, international trade has been a key element of the Dutch economic system. Because of its location in the delta through which several major European rivers connect to the North Sea, Holland was ideally situated to become a centre of trade and transport for all of western Europe.

The 17th century is known as the Golden Age of Dutch history, with Dutch ships carrying 90 % of all goods in Europe. Today, international trade is still the main driver of economic growth. Holland is the sixteenth largest economy in the world and one of the ten leading exporting nations.

Holland’s main trading partners are its neighbours Germany, Belgium, the UK and France.

Service, agriculture and design

Today, over 80 % of Dutch economic activity is service-based.

But Holland is also one of the three largest exporters of agricultural products in the world. One-fifth of all Dutch exports are food products and flowers.

In recent years, Dutch design has become famous worldwide. From fashion and architecture to music and new media, the design sector is filled with talent.


The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. All adult citizens have a right to vote directly in a system of proportional representation.

In this system a large number of parties can win seats in parliament, which means that no single party will have an overall majority. For this reason, cabinets are always multiparty coalitions chaired by the prime minister.

The cabinet's duties include the day-to-day business of government, preparing legislation and putting it into practice, and maintaining international relations. The monarchy symbolises national unity and therefore has a more ceremonial character.

There are three main moderate political tendencies: the social democrats, the Christian democrats and the liberal parties. The smaller parties are generally less moderate variations on one of the three main lines.

last modified Jan 28, 2014 12:20 PM