As a founding member of the Euro, the Netherlands replaced (for accounting purposes) its former currency, the "Gulden" Guilder, on January 1, 1999, along with the other adopters of the single European currency. Actual Euro coins and banknotes followed on January 1, 2002. One Euro is equivalent to 2.20371 Dutch guilders.


The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy in which the government has reduced its role since the 1980s. Industrial activity is predominantly in food-processing (for example Unilever and Heineken International), chemicals (for example DSM), petroleum refining (for example Royal Dutch Shell), and electrical machinery (for example Philips). In the northern place Slochteren one of the largest natural gas fields in the world is situated. So far (2006) exploitation of this field resulted in a total revenue of €159 billion since the mid 1970s. N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie still is the largest public-private partnership P3 world-wide following the global energy-transition of 1963 from coal to gas, coupling oil and gas prices. With just over half of the reserves used up and an expected continued rise in oil prices, the revenues over the next few decades are expected to be at least that much.



The Netherlands has the 16th largest economy in the world, and ranks 10th in GDP (nominal) per capita. Between 19 98 and 2000 annual economic growth (GDP) averaged nearly 4%, well above the European average. Growth slowed considerably in 2001-05 due to the global economic slowdown, but accelerated to 4.1% in the third quarter of 2007. Inflation is 1.3%. Unemployment is at 4.0% of the labour force. By Eurostat standards however, unemployment in the Netherlands is at only 2.9% - the lowest rate of all European Union member states. The Netherlands also has a relatively low GINI coefficient of 0.326. Despite ranking only 10th in GDP per capita, UNICEF ranked the Netherlands 1st in child well-being.