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All countries have their good points and bad points. However, there is no denying that some countries seem to attract universal praise from all corners, as well as stellar reputations as places to visit, live, work, and study.
One such country is The Netherlands, the flat, water-logged, windswept, and tiny country of 17 million people in the northwest corner of Europe.
The country regularly tops international rankings in a wide range of categories, as well as enjoying a reputation as one of the most progressive, friendly, and forward-thinking places in the world. If you’re wondering what all the hype around The Netherlands is about, read on to find out.
Perhaps the number one reason for the widespread affinity that the world shares for The Netherlands are that famed Dutch tolerance which, although it comes with some surprising limits that few people might be aware of, can still be described as one of the most progressive legal and social climates in the world. The Netherlands was among the first places on Earth to legalise gay marriage, recreational drug use, euthanasia, voting for women, and protections for non-binary people, to name just a few. Dutch people truly believe in the mantra “live and let live”, and their admirable legal system reflects that.
Dutch visions of progressiveness do not just remain limited to their own shores but are actively spread on the world stage. This can be seen in government, where Dutch politicians frequently extol the virtues of Dutch tolerance in intergovernmental organisations such as the UN, EU, and the OECD. It can also been seen in the Dutch business landscape. Take, for example, Sensi Seeds, an Amsterdam-based marijuana seed grower that owns the largest seed bank on the planet. As well as selling seeds to passionate growers around the world, Sensi Seeds actively pursues its mission to ensure universal legalization and acceptance of cannabis use around the world.
One thing that cannot be denied is the fact that The Netherlands punches well above its weight on the world stage. Despite being one of the smallest and most densely-populated countries in the world, it is also the 17th largest economy in the world. Not only that, but The Netherlands is actually the second-largest exporter of food in the world after the United States, owing to its innovative intensive farming methods. The Netherlands is also one of Europe’s most-visited countries, with more than 15 million people visiting its largest city, Amsterdam, every single year.
An Economic Powerhouse
The Netherlands is also a great place to work and invest, thanks to the booming domestic economy. Many of the world’s largest companies, including Sony, Uber, Airbus, and Twitter, have their European office in the Netherlands. The country also ranks as one of the easiest places in the world to set up a new business, according to the Ease of Doing Business Index. On top of this, The Netherlands has enjoyed some of the highest per-year GDP growth out of any European country for much of the past decade – a testament to the country’s historical position as a global epicentre of commerce and trade.
It should not come as a surprise that the country that gave the world Rembrandt and Van Gogh has an unbelievably rich array of culture on offer. One could head to the biggest cultural institutions of the state, such as the Rijksmuseum, one of the largest museums in the world, to gaze upon masterpieces such as The Night Watch and The Milkmaid. One could sample delicious Dutch cuisines such as bitterballen, kibbeling, edam, gouda, or stroopwaffel. Alternatively, one could soak up Dutch culture simply by sitting by the canal on a hot summer night with a beer in hand, watching the world go by.
With all of this culture, tolerance, and prosperity, it makes sense that The Netherlands is one of the happiest countries in the world. According to the World Happiness Index, Dutch people are the fifth happiest on Earth, after Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic people. This happiness is often attributed to the strong social safety net in The Netherlands, which helps to ensure that people’s basic needs will always be met. Of course, the country’s carefree and tolerant attitude also helps a bit.
The Netherlands might have strong laws governing what people can say, as well as a significant amount of bureaucracy that affects all forms of life. However, this does not have a negative impact on the freedom of its inhabitants. Across a range of metrics, The Netherlands ranks as one of the most socially, economically, and culturally free places in the world. There is a high level of social mobility that gives Dutch people the freedom to pursue their own life choices, as well as a tolerant atmosphere that ensures they won’t be discriminated against for their choices. That is freedom in the truest sense of the word.
If this list convinced you that it’s time to up sticks and move to The Netherlands, we don’t blame you. Veel geluk!