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Health care systems in transition: Netherlands

Den Exter A, Hermans H, Dosljak M and Busse R: Busse R, van Ginneken E, Schreyögg J and Wiesbaum W(eds)
Copenhagen: European Observatory on Health Care Systems and Policies





The Kingdom of the Netherlands (Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, in Dutch) is located in western Europe, bordering the North Sea (451 km of coast) to the west and north, Belgium (450-km border) to the south and Germany (577-km border) to the east (Fig. 1). It covers an area of 41 532 km2 (33 889 km2 of land and 7643 km2 of water. The highest point is Vaalserberg in the southeast corner, near the border with Belgium and Germany (altitude 322.5 m), and the lowest point is near Rotterdam, in Prins Alexanderpolder (Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel, 6.74 m below sea level). The climate in the Netherlands is moderate, with an average temperature of 16–17 °C in summer and 2–3 °C in winter. The total population is 16 258 032 people (2004) 8 045 914 males (49.5%) and 8 212 118 females (50.5%). The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam (737 000 inhabitants, 2003), but the seat of government is in The Hague (Den Haag; 464 000 inhabitants, 2003). The Netherlands comprises of 12 provinces and is a very densely populated country, with more than 450 inhabitants per square kilometre. Eighty-one per cent of the population are natives (Natives are persons whose parents were born in the Netherlands, irrespective of their own country of birth), and 19% have a foreign background (Persons are considered to have a foreign background if at least one parent was born abroad), like Moroccan, Surinam and Turkish. Regarding religion, 31% are Roman Catholic, 14% Dutch Reformed, 8% Calvinist, 5.5% Muslim, 0.6% Hindus, 1.9% other and 40% unaffiliated (2002). Of the population, 24.5% are 19 years of age or under, 28% are between 20 and 39 years of age, 33.6% are between 40 and 64 years of age, 10.4% are between 65 and 79 years of age, and 3.4% are 80 years of age or older (2004). The rate of live births is 12.5 births per 1000 inhabitants(2002), and the death rate is 8.8 deaths per 1000 inhabitants (2002). Forty-three per cent (43%) of the population are married, 45% are single, 5.4% are widowed and 5.8% are divorced (2004).

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