The Netherlands has an excellent infrastructure of ports, airports, and roadways. It also has a highly developed telecommunications system. Since the Netherlands is one of the main points of entry for goods imported into Europe, it is very important for the nation to maintain its transport system in order to move products into the interior of the continent. In order to improve the infrastructure, the government plans to launch a range of new projects over the next decade. A minimum of US$35 billion has already been budgeted to pay for a variety of projects including a high-speed rail link between Amsterdam and Brussels. There are also plans for a special rail system to connect Rotterdam and areas of Germany. Work is ongoing to improve the existing highway and rail network, and, by 2010, the government expects to spend an additional US$5.5 billion on these projects. Among these funds are US$2.4 billion to expand highways and US$500 million for improvements of regional roadways. The new work will concentrate on helping ease traffic congestion in the heavily urbanized areas of the west, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam. One of the main ongoing infrastructure projects in the Netherlands is the effort to prevent flooding. Over half of the country's territory is protected from flooding by an extensive system of dams and dikes.
In order to pay for current and future projects, the government established a special infrastructure fund. This fund is designed to provide supplemental money for infrastructure works without having too great an impact on the national budget. The fund is made up of proceeds from the sale of natural gas and any surplus tax funds. There are also plans to gain additional revenues by building toll roads and special pay lanes.
The nation has 125,757 kilometers (78,145 miles) of roads, 113,018 kilometers (70,229 miles) of which are paved. There are 2,235 kilometers (1,388 miles) of expressways that link the major cities and facilitate transportation from the coast across the country. All of the major Dutch cities have widespread and inexpensive public transportation systems. The high degree of urbanization has also led many Dutch cities to build comprehensive bicycle pathways that allow people to bike instead of using cars or other vehicles. Still, 79 percent of the Dutch use their personal cars for transportation.
The nation has 2,739 kilometers (1,702 miles) of railways. Transportation is also aided by an extensive network of waterways and canals. In total, there are 5,046 kilometers (3,135 miles) of waterways in the country, and 47 percent of these are usable by watercraft of 1,000 tons or larger. The main Dutch ports are Amsterdam, Dordecht, Groningen, Haarlem, Maastricht, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. Rotterdam is the world's largest seaport and handles more tonnage than any other harbor. Some 70 percent of all imports that go into the Netherlands come through Rotterdam. In 1996, the port set a record of 293.4
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
billion tons of goods received. Because of a trench that extends into the North Sea, supertankers and other large ships with capacities of up to 350,000 tons can access the port. The Dutch merchant marine includes 563 ships of at least 1,000 tons. These ships range from cargo and petroleum tankers to passenger cruise ships. There are 28 airports in the Netherlands, 19 of which are paved. Amsterdam Airport is Europe's fifth busiest airport. The country also has 1 heliport. The kingdom's main airline, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is one of the largest in the world and has partnership agreements with a number of other international air carriers.
In order to provide energy resources throughout the country, the Netherlands has a well-developed pipeline system. There are 418 kilometers (260 miles) of crude oil pipelines, 965 kilometers (600 miles) of pipelines for other petroleum products, and an overwhelming 10,230 kilometers (6,356 miles) of natural gas pipelines. In 1998, the nation produced 88.7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electrical power. Some 400 million kWh of electricity were exported that year, but since the nation consumed 94.3 billion kWh of power, it had to import 12.2 billion kWh of electricity. Over 91 percent of electricity is produced by fossil fuels, while atomic energy provides 4 percent. Hydroelectric plants and solar energy provide most of the rest of the nation's energy needs. The kingdom is dependent on imports of oil and coal. However, the nation is a net exporter of natural gas, and it has extensive oil and natural gas fields in the North Sea. The government is highly supportive of efforts to develop solar energy resources. By 2020, the government plans to have solar energy account for 10 percent of energy consumption (this would supply the energy needs of 400,000 homes). In theory, the Netherlands could supply all of its energy needs through solar power. It would need 800 square kilometers (308 square miles) of surface for solar panels. This area is already available on the roof surfaces of houses and buildings.
The nation's telecommunications system is also highly developed. The government began privatizing the telecommunications industry in 1989. By 1997, service for all fixed line telephones was privatized. The country has 5 underwater cables for transatlantic communications and 3 earth stations which receive satellite transmissions. The nation maintains 2 communications satellites. There is a program underway to replace the existing communications cables with fiber-optic cable. Over 90 percent of homes in the Netherlands are serviced by cable television systems. Concurrently, there have been dramatic increases in the use of mobile phones. By 2000, there were 6.8 million mobile phones in use. The Dutch are among the first people in Europe to begin using the third-generation mobile communications systems which allow mobile phone users access to high-speed data (such as e-mail and the Internet) and video communications via their phone. In 1999, there were 70 Internet service providers in the Netherlands.