The Netherlands has a peace index of 1,53, making it the 16th safest country in the world according to the World Population Review. The Lower Lands and the rest of the world have to pass a review of several social aspects including education, transportation, potential risks of all types and wealth to be considered for this ranking.
The Netherlands is one of the safest countries, not only in Europe but in the whole world: the number 16th in the world ranking. Tourists and citizens feel calm and safe environment, besides, statistics show that possible risks you are exposed to are low.
What parameters are considered to call the Netherlands one of the safest countries in the world? Are there many crimes? Is it safe to travel there with children? Is Amsterdam also safe? There are many questions to consider before visiting or moving to a country, so if you want to know why the Netherlands is one of the safest and best choices, keep reading to find out why tourists, citizens and rankings call it one of the best.
How Safe is the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is among one of the safest countries in the world, making it to the top with Iceland, Japan, Portugal, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland or Ireland. What makes these countries safe are not only the safety measures and the efficiency of their police and security system, but also the mentality of their citizens, which have a lot to do with the creation of a safe environment.
The Netherlands is a very overpopulated country with over 17 million people living in one of the smallest countries in the world. Besides this, it is also one of the safest countries. Why is that? Well, what I would say that contributes the most is the mentality of Dutch people and their whole history.
One of the first things I learnt when I moved to the Netherlands was a subject called Dutch Present-Day Society. In there we would study all the reasons why the Netherlands ended up being the country it is today. Most of the focus of the study is contributions to the safeness of the country, among them: legalisation of drugs, Protestantism, geographic position, education and wealth, among others.
Legalisation of Drugs
Drugs being legal in the Netherlands is not a contribution to the possible danger but a way of making it a safe environment. This is a very controversial topic, but as far as I have studied, the reality is that unlike most people think about the legalisation of drugs and the Netherlands, the Amsterdam night scene and the whole Dutch system is danger and inappropriate environment for the family.
Drugs were legalised in the Netherlands in the 80s and since then what has happened is the Government gets to control more closely the consumption, production and trade of drugs in the country. They not only can control who consumes it but how much, where this is happening and many other aspects that other countries in the world are not even close to controlling. Besides, there are very few drugs (soft drugs) and very few places where it is allowed to be consumed and other types of rules that people ignore when talking about this topic.
I have learned throughout the years of living here that the way the Dutch system has of making the country safe and better to live in by controlling it all. This applies to different things:
- You have to be insured at all times for your own good but they control it.
- You can consume almost whatever substance you want as long as they tell you how much, when, how old you must be and so on…
- You have to pay by card most of the times and that way the Government knows where and how much money citizens are spending every day.
By controlling everything that is going on they can make sure the citizens are safe at all times.
There are many characteristics of this religion and what its contribution to society is. In particular, I want to talk about one of the remaining characteristics that centuries living under the protestant beliefs have helped to shape the Netherlands: in the Dutch society, the Protestantism has contributed to a trust-worthy society.
I love the term trust-worthy society because it defines the Netherlands perfectly well. It mainly implies that everybody trusts their neighbours, nobody has anything to hide and everything is transparent, windows to see inside the houses, opinions that sometimes are not that welcome and many other aspects. All of this contributes to their mentality and the safeness of every citizen.
Technically speaking, the Netherlands is in an awful location to establish a society. Why has it worked out so well and it is a wealthy and safe country besides being literally underwater?
The term Polder may ring a bell to many of you. Literally, a polder is a dam constructed to protect the land from ending up underwater and making the most out of it. Dutch society is the best to make the most out of a polder.
The Polder Model has shaped the way politics work in the Netherlands, the way Economy has evolved throughout the years has also been deeply influenced by it and so has been society. Basically, in a nutshell the Polder Model means everybody needs the collaboration of everybody to be able to face problems, no matter your wealth, social position or potential superiority. This implies that nobody would try to take advantage of you because they need your help in order to get a better final product.
All in all, if someone needs your help not to end up underwater, they won’t want to sabotage you and harm you, right?
Wealth and Equality
This aspect is something I have learnt while living in the Netherlands, not only because I studied it but because I have lived it closely.
Coming from Argentina, as beautiful as my country is, it is also a country with a lot of social class difference, something that doesn’t happen so drastically and obviously in the Netherlands. This country works a lot to make an equal society, helping those with bigger needs, establishing minimum and average salaries, eliminating most private schools and universities and a lot of other measures to make everybody equal.
Besides, the low percentage of unemployment and the high quality of life there is in the Netherlands make people have their basic needs more than covered and have other worries. Technically, people who have their basic needs and everything they need, a job and food, don’t really start thinking about stealing from others, right? At least, it seems to work that way.
Moreover, education and the possibilities everybody has of attending any type of school program they want also contributes to the mentality and growth of the society in general, contributing also to a lower level of danger and crime.
Safe in the Netherlands
In general, the Netherlands is one of the safest countries I have ever been to and you can actually feel it in the air. Most people travel to the bigger cities and wonder if this also applies there. Well, I have written an article about being safe in Rotterdam and being safe in The Hague. The same that applies to these two cities apply to Amsterdam: as long as you consider a few tips and measures you can take to make your trip a more pleasant one, the Netherlands and its big cities are equally as safe.
Of course the bigger the cities, the higher the chances of something happening. This doesn’t mean more than the fact that in the smallest town in the Netherlands, people live their houses unlock and the doors open without any type of worries and in Amsterdam, I would probably recommend you to remember your door just in case. Nothing will happen anyway, I have seen people doing it also in bigger cities, but the more people there are the higher the chances of something happening, right?
I have lived in smaller towns and the biggest cities: I have arrived late at night alone, I have travelling very early in the morning, I have been out and about and nothing has ever happened to me. However, there are some aspects you probably will want to keep in mind if you are coming here. Among the aspects to consider these are the main ones, recommended by Safety Around too:
- General Risk: considering that the Netherlands is the 16th safest country in the world, there are not many risks. If any at all, mostly for tourists but also for locals, mostly in bigger cities: pickpocketing. This is the most common crime and even though it is not the biggest deal, it wouldn’t be nice to have your passport, camera or wallet taken, right? What you can do is leave your belongings at home, on a safe or be very careful with them.
- Pickpocketing Risk: As I was saying, even though it is low it is one of the most common crimes. However, I have also experienced leaving my keys, my phone or my wallet on top of a table at a restaurant, on a train station, etc, and always getting it back afterwards. If it happens at all, it will always be on rush hours or big events, on public transportation when it is crowded, shopping areas and most touristic spots where people are distracted taking photos. This would be the moment when you will have to pay the most attention to your belongings: close the zipper of your bags, avoid having important things inside your pockets and so on.
- Assault Risk: another very low risk. Weapons are not allowed in the Netherlands and it is very unlikely that someone has them around in the streets. The risk of this happening is 1 in a million.
- Scams Risk: I mean, it is not as common as in other countries in the world, but of course being a tourist and ignoring the way things work in the country you are likely to pay more for a taxi or things like that. This will definitely more likely happen in bigger cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam. A way of avoiding it would be, for instance, travel with Uber, knowing exactly how much you are going to pay for your trip. Also, asking around at the hotel or shops before purchasing or doing something… getting your tour tickets at an official store, etc.
- Transport Risk: using public transportation has no risk whatsoever in the Netherlands. In my opinion, the way it works is one of the best in the whole world. The risk is almost zero. The Government controls the whole network of public transportation and you can access all the information available on their official websites, 9292.nl or NS.nl. Moreover, there are cameras and guards controlling everything at all given time, making sure nothing ever happens.
- Natural Disaster Risk: ok, sure, they are underwater, but they are good at making sure the water stays in place, actually, the best in the whole world! As scaring as it may be to think some natural disaster may happen in the Netherlands, the risk of earthquakes is low, inundation risk is low, there may be some wind and strong showers but that is about it. If you are worried about your flight being cancelled because of the weather, the risk is the same in the whole of Europe, which means that if you can afford to get travel insurance, you should.
- Women Travelling Alone Risk: I have lived alone in the Netherlands since I was 19 years old. I have had years of experience living alone in both small towns and big cities. This aspect is not something to worry about, being a woman in this country makes you feel powerful, fearless and safe. This is something very important for me, and I can say that even in areas such as the Red Light District, the port and so on I have always felt safe. I would, however, recommend not walking around at night after 1 or 2 am when there is nobody on the streets, etc, the simple precautions just in case you run into a drunk tourist. More than that, I have never ever felt unsafe, not even coming back home in a 3 am train or cycling at midnight through Vondelpark.
Potential Risks in the Netherlands
Something I would recommend to literally everybody is to have travel insurance. This doesn’t mean that travelling to the Netherlands is dangerous or you will have any problem, but you never know.
The potential risk we have mentioned already are pickpocketing (something that can literally happen in any touristic city or area), and the extra one that happens more commonly in the Netherlands are bike thefts.
There are two potential risks involving bikes, one is you being hurt or injured by a bike, and the other one is your bike being stolen.
- Stolen Bike: this is more likely to happen to Dutch than to tourists, but the risk is there. I have been given back my bag when I left it inside the museum, my cards, my phone, but I have experienced my bike being stolen 3 times while living in the Netherlands. The whole bike situation has created a black market in the Netherlands where these bikes are stolen and sold for a lower price online or face to face. It only means you have to be extra careful locking your bike with two chains or locks, leaving it in illuminated places and so on. Tourists also have to be careful with this because it happens rather often. You will not only end up losing your deposit but maybe you will have to pay for the whole bike. Therefore, be careful where you park it, always lock it properly and listen to the advice the bike owners have to tell you.
- Bike Accidents: Being involved in a bike accident is rather common in the Netherlands, mostly because of the huge amount of cyclist there is in the country, the number one bike country in the world. The danger is not only by you cycling on the bike but also walking on the streets. It only implies you being extra careful as a tourist walking around and as a cyclist respecting the untold rules in bigger cities and populated areas where you are cycling. Observing what Dutch cyclists are doing is key to learn how to survive in the bikes jungle.
All in All…
All in all, you couldn’t choose a safer and nicer destination to move to or to visit for a couple of days. The Netherlands is one of the coolest countries to visit. The only potential problems are common to any big or touristic place: pickpocketing, paying more for the same, potential inconvenience of travelling and not much more.