More than half of Dutch workers are in services such as government, trade, tourism, transportation and communication. The transportation sector is particularly important. Rotterdam's Europort is the world's largest harbour and Schipol Airport near Amsterdam is a centre for air traffic. About a quarter of the workforce is employed in manufacturing and industry, including steel, chemical, petroleum, pharmaceutical and electronics.

 Farming and fishing occupy about a fifth of the workforce. Flowers are the Netherlands' best-known and largest crop. Every spring brilliant tulip fields cover the landscape. The efficient fresh-flower trade can send a bouquet of Dutch roses to the other side of the world in less than 24 hours. Potatoes and greenhouse vegetables are also important. The milk from Dutch dairy farms is used to make the famous Dutch chocolate and many different kinds of Dutch cheeses. There are also large pig and poultry farms. 

The Netherlands takes environmental concerns seriously. Scientists and farmers are working together to find safer, cleaner farming methods. They are exploring organic growing, recycling and new disease-resistant varieties of plants.

 The fishing fleet brings in herring, eel, sole, cod and shrimp. Mussels and oysters are cultivated. More than 500 years ago Dutch fishermen learned how to pickle fish on board their ships so it would keep while the fishing fleets ventured farther out to sea. 

Did you know? 

In the 17th century, a craze called "tulipomania" swept the country. Tulips became so popular that people had to pay huge sums to buy a single bulb. Eventually, the government regulated the tulip trade. 

Traditionally, most paid Dutch workers were men, but more Dutch women are working outside the home now. Parental leave and daycare are becoming more widely available to parents work. Still, because home life is highly valued, the role of women working in the home is also important. Historically women were in charge of domestic matters. Dutch people saw housework as a serious, demanding job. Their standards were high: for example, housewives used to wash the sidewalk in front of their houses regularly.