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Facts & Figures


The provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe, that make up the Northern Netherlands, have a combined population in the region of 1.8 million people. Please see below for more facts and figures about the demographics and economy of the North.

In business terms, the Northern Netherlands has several very strong sectors including Agrifood and the Bio-based economy, the Chemical industry, Data centers, Life sciences, Off-shore wind energy, and Water technology. For more information, please see our strong sectors page.

The Northern Netherlands investment agency, NV-NOM, has produced an interesting fact-sheet about the logistical advantages of being located in the region. Aside from this, NOM has information on the business climate of the region, as well as other informative resources.

To read our IWCN leaflet on business in the North, just visit this page

Business and Knowledge Institutions

The Northern Netherlands is proud to be home to several exceptionally high-level tertiary education and research facilities. These range from world-regarded research universities, to those involved in more practical studies- all have a good relationship with local businesses, and are more than happy to collaborate on interesting proposals. Please see below for a short introduction to each institution:

  • The University of Groningen (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) is a world top-100 university (AWRU rankings) and is considered the best in the Netherlands for various subjects (Keuzegids)
  • The Hanzehogeschool Groningen is similarly highly rated, both in the Netherlands and across Europe. It has a wide range of research and teaching departments, and is top-rated in the Netherlands for courses in bio-technology, radio-technology, chemical development and education
  • NHL Stenden is the coming-together of several institutions, with branches in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe. It has particular strengths in sustainability, business and technology
  • Wetsus, Leeuwarden, is the highest rated center for water technology in Europe. It has both research and teaching programmes, and a world-wide reputation for excellence at the cutting edge of water technology

Additionally, each Knowledge Institution has a number of research associations, affiliated institutes, and many have strong connections with multiple other international universities.

Make it in the North

Make it in the North is the flagship internationalization programme in the Northern Netherlands, supported by a mixture of local government, business and knowledge institutions. It includes seven sub-projects aimed at attracting new businesses and talented international people to the Northern Netherlands, as well as retaining the near-10,000 strong contingent of students in various tertiary education.

Other sub-projects include career fairs for internationals, resources for businesses looking to invest or move to the North, and the news websites The Northern Times and Here & Now, the first English-language outlets for internationals looking to keep their ‘finger on the pulse’ in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe.

Further sub-projects are aimed at better informing Northern businesses looking internationally, and international businesses considering the North.

For more information, or to support the programme, or a sub-project, just visit the dedicated website.

Information is also posted on The Northern Times, whilst cultural events are accessible via Here & Now

Facts and Figures

Facts gathered from CBS (the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics) and Eurostat.

The Province of Groningen

  • Population: 583,721
  • % of non-Dutch residents: 7.8%
  • Largest city: Groningen (pop: 200,336)
  • Closest airport: Groningen Airport Eelde
  • Closest seaport: Delfzijl/Eemshaven
  • Regional GDP: €26 Bn
  • Unemployment: 8.2%

For more information about the Province of Groningen, please see the European Commission page

The Province of Friesland (Fryslân)

  • Population: 646,092
  • Official Languages: Dutch, West Frisian
  • Largest City: Leeuwarden (pop: 122,293)
  • Closest Airport: Groningen Airport Eelde
  • Closest Seaport: Harlingen
  • Regional GDP: €18.2 Bn
  • Unemployment: 6.7%

For more information about the Province of Friesland, please see the European Commission page

The Province of Drenthe

  • Population: 491,867
  • Capital: Assen (pop: 67,601)
  • Largest city: Emmen (pop: 107,471)
  • Regional GDP: €13.8 Bn
  • Unemployment: 6.5%

For more information about the Province of Drenthe, please see the European Commission page