According to a 1998 estimate, the Netherlands has a population of
15,731,112. The overall population density is 379 persons per sq
km (981 per sq mi), making the Netherlands one of the most densely
populated countries in the world. The nation is heavily urbanized,
with about 89 percent of the population living in urban areas.
The largest cities are Amsterdam (population, 1998 preliminary,
717,304), the country's capital; Rotterdam (590,436), one of the
world's leading seaports; The Hague (441,561), the nation's seat
of government; and Utrecht (232,983), a manufacturing hub.
Sixteen other cities had between 100,000 and 200,000 inhabitants
in the mid-1990s. Many of these cities are concentrated in the western
provinces of Noord-Holland (North Holland), Zuid-Holland (South
Holland), and Utrecht, comprising the large urban region called
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, which is spoken
throughout the country.
In the province of Friesland, however, a large percentage of the
population speaks another Germanic language, Frisian, as its first
Roman Catholics constitute about 33 percent and Protestants 23 percent
of the Dutch population. About 3 percent are adherents of Islam,
and the country also has a small Jewish community.
About 39 percent of the people do not belong to a religious body.
The Roman Catholics are concentrated in the southern part of the
The Protestants are divided among several denominations, the largest
being the Dutch Reformed church.
The Netherlands has no official religion, but the Reformed church
has had a close association with the Dutch state since the founding
of the Dutch Republic. All the country's monarchs have been members
of the Reformed church.