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Netherlands

The Netherlands has a very strong economy and has been playing a special role in the European economy for many centuries. Since the 16th century, shipping, fishing, trade, and banking have been leading sectors of the Dutch economy. The Netherlands is one of the world's 10 leading exporting countries. Foodstuffs form the largest industrial sector. Other major industries include chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical, goods and tourism.

Since the independence of Indonesia in the late 1940s, the Dutch economy has been redirected from colonial trade to that with the European nations. This led to the country becoming a major energy exporter as large deposits of natural gas were discovered. The national government has played a major role in the country's growth, especially through its economic planning. The government's influence is great and it distributes nearly half the Dutch national income. But also important in the economic growth of The Netherlands are the activities of a number of large private firms.