The Netherlands Wim Meeus
Background Information The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Its origins as a state date from the year 1579, when it was founded as the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. By the beginning of the twenty-fi rst century, slightly more than 16 million people were living in The Netherlands. The 12 to 24 age group accounted for 2.5 million persons. About 15% of the individuals in this age group were of non-Dutch and non-Western origin (most of them originate from Surinam, Morocco, and Turkey). In 2009 the gross national income was about €527,000 million (CBS 2010b), approximately 62 times larger than in the late 1940s (CBS, 2001b).