A long and distinguished maritime history

The Netherlands’ international focus and outward orientation originate in a long and distinguished maritime history. The Netherlands has been a seafaring nation for over five centuries.

As a small country that is situated partially below sea level and has no natural resources, the Netherlands has developed a close commercial connection to rivers and seas. Throughout history, the Dutch have ventured out to discover the world and set up new lines of business. Every stage in the development of shipping, shipbuilding, global trade and maritime services has a chapter in the Netherlands’ maritime history. Around 1600 AD, Amsterdam was the centre for Baltic trade. The strong shipping industry boosted the Dutch Republic’s rise as a major naval power in the 17th century. During this period – known in the Netherlands as the Golden Age – the lion’s share of Western European trade was carried out by the Dutch merchant fleet. These historical achievements still account for the characteristics of today’s extensive maritime industry, consisting as it does of very prominent sectors on a global as well as a European scale. Maritime equipment from the Netherlands powers the world’s most complex seagoing vessels. The world’s first ever yachts were constructed here. The short-sea f leet is highly flexible and of prime importance for inter-EU goods transport. The Dutch are specialists in heavy-lift vessels and are innovators in the offshore oil and gas production sectors. Furthermore, the Netherlands is home to the largest reefer shipping company in the world.

The Dutch help to protect the world’s urban areas against rising seas. Dutch companies gave the world the marvel that is Dubai’s Palm Island and raised the Russian submarine Kursk when no one else could do so. Furthermore, the Dutch navy participates in peacekeeping missions all over the world. All these maritime successes account for our nationwide ‘can do’ attitude. The Dutch are respected craftsmen. who take pride in the quality of their work and are always on the lookout for pragmatic, sustainable solutions.