Most Googled: How many bicycles are there in the Netherlands?

Most Googled: How many bicycles are there in the Netherlands?

Everybody knows that the Netherlands is a particularly small country, and naturally, this has piqued the curiosity of people all over the world. Some of the most asked questions about the homeland of the Dutch are concerned with whether the Netherlands is in the EU, as well as how many people live there, and, more importantly, just how many bicycles can actually be found in the country.

So, in this edition of “Most Googled”, we aim to answer the above questions on the Netherlands. As “the land of bicycles” it stands to reason that there are quite a lot of bikes in the country but, in order to fully understand exactly how many there are, we will first answer a few other frequently searched-for questions about the Netherlands.

Is the Netherlands in the EU?

Yes; in fact, the Netherlands was one of the founding members of the European Union! The EU’s foundation document, the Treaty on the European Union, was signed in the Netherlands, in Maastricht, on February 7, 1992, by the 12 member states of the European Communities. Thus, the Treaty on the European Union has come to be commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty.

The 12 founding states of the EU were Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The two signatories for the Netherlands were then Minister of Foreign Affairs Hans van den Broek and then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Wim Kok. Ruud Lubbers was Prime Minister at the time.

The reason why the treaty was signed in Maastricht is that during the negotiations the Netherlands held the presidency of the Council of the European Union. The presidency was formed in 1958 and rotated between EU member states every six months. It is responsible for overseeing the Council of the European Union.

How big is the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in Europe. There are around 50 internationally recognised sovereign countries in Europe (including those that fall partially within the continent's geographical / political boundaries). With a total area of around 41.198 square kilometres (excluding its overseas territories), the Netherlands ranks around 18th on the list of the smallest countries in Europe.

This only takes into account the area of the part of the countries that are actually in Europe. So, for example, the area of Turkey is around 783.562 square kilometres, but the area of European Turkey is 23.764 square kilometres.

The Netherlands is roughly the same size as Switzerland. Many of the countries that are smaller than the Netherlands are microstates like Monaco and Vatican City, or only have their European area represented, like Turkey and Azerbaijan.

How many people live in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has a population of over 17 million people. Given that the land area of the Netherlands is around 33.800 square kilometres, the population density equates to about 508 people per square kilometre. This means there are more people per square kilometre in the Netherlands than in countries like the UK and Germany, both of which are much bigger than the homeland of the Dutch!

The only countries with a greater population density than the Netherlands are the microstates of Monaco, Gibraltar, Vatican City, Malta and San Marino.

How many bicycles are there in the Netherlands?

All around the world, the Netherlands is known as “the land of bicycles” - and for good reason. There are around 23 million bicycles (including about 2,4 million e-bikes) in the Netherlands - that’s more bicycles than people! This equates to an average of 1,3 bicycles per person in the Netherlands, and about 680 bikes per square kilometre. In fact, data has shown that around 2,3 percent of the world’s bikes are in the Netherlands!

You only have to take a stroll through any Dutch city to get a scope of how many bicycles there actually are in the Netherlands. And, if you manage to catch sight of the Dutch authorities pulling bicycles out of canals with their giant magnets, you’ll get an idea of how many bikes end up in the Dutch waterways as well!

Research by the Dutch government revealed that, in 2016, there was a total of around 4,5 billion journeys undertaken by bike. This meant that the Dutch cycled a distance of 15,5 billion kilometres that year and, since then, the number of people cycling in the Netherlands has only gone up.

Now you know!

So, there you have it; not only is the Netherlands part of the EU, but it’s also one of the founding members and the founding treaty was signed in the Dutch city of Maastricht. As for the bicycles, there are more bicycles than humans in the Netherlands - showing that the Netherlands really does deserve its title of “land of the bicycles”.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of “Most Googled”. If you have any other topics you’d like us to tackle, let us know in the comments below!

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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