Netherlands (The Kingdom of the)

History of Relations | Diplomatic Representation | Travel Info | Health Requirements | Climate Info | Currency Info | Trade Info | Visits and Meetings | Agreements | Interest Groups/ Organisations

History of Relations

Relations between South Africa and the Netherlands reach back to the creation of a trading post by the Dutch East India Company in Cape Town in 1652. Since then the relations between the two countries have gone through many high and low points.

During this century, successive Governments in the Netherlands have over the years encouraged the transition to democracy and equal rights in South Africa. The anti-apartheid movement in the Netherlands was one of the strongest and most effective in the world, which effectively placed a constraint on bilateral contact with the Apartheid governments in many spheres. Three major anti-apartheid organisations existed. Upon democratisation in SA, the two largest anti-apartheid movements (Anti-Apartheid Beweging Nederland [AABN], and Kommittee Zuidelijk Afrika [KZA]) merged and converted themselves into the Nederlands Instituut voor Zuidelijk Afrika (NIZA). Niza conducts projects aimed at development and the upliftment of our people.

Relations between the Netherlands and South Africa have particularly strengthened since 1990, with further impetus given to bilateral relations by the South African referendum in 1992 and the inauguration of the Government of National Unity. Since the breakaway from the Government of National Unity by the National Party, the Government of the Netherlands has on several occasions reiterated its support for the present Government.

General elections in the Netherlands took place in March 1998 and in May 1998 a new coalition government (PvDA [Social Democrats], VVD [Liberals], D66 [Liberal-Democrats]) was sworn in by Queen Beatrix.

The new Government is basically a continuation of the former coalition government, and is again under the leadership of Prime Minister Mr Wim Kok. It is popularly known as Paars 2, (referring to the political spectrum contained in the coalition government).

Diplomatic Representation

South African Representation in the Netherlands

H E Mr V P Madonsela
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

South African Embassy

The Netherlands Representation in South Africa

H E Mr J P M Peters
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Royal Netherlands Embassy

Travel Info

Visa Requirements for South Africans

For more information contact the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria.

Health Requirements

No specific immunisation is required. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is however required from travellers coming from an infected area.

For further information go to Travelers' Health.

Climate Info

The Netherlands lies in the temperature zone of the Northern Hemisphere and has a maritime climate owing to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and to prevailing sea winds. Daily and annual temperature ranges are moderate. The mean January temperature is a little over 1 degree C rising to 20 degrees C in July. Although spring is usually drier than autumn, rainfall is fairly even throughout the year. Annual rainfall is about 76.5 mm. There is little variation in climate from region to region since the country is small, but the difference in latitude between north and south (over 300 km) does have some effect on temperature, while the maritime influence is less inland. Together these factors can give rise to marked regional differences in temperature. The average number of summer days (with a maximum temperature of 25 degrees C or over) ranges from 5 in the Friesian Islands off the north coast to more than 35 in the southern province of Limburg. Contrary to what might be expected, there is no gradual decrease in rainfall away from the coast, since summer storms are more frequent inland.

For up-to-date weather information click here

Currency Info

The monetary unit is the Dutch Guilder (Dfl), but the Netherlands also forms part of the single European Monetary Unit (EUR).

For current exchange rates click here.

State and Official Visits / Bilateral Meetings

No Information

Bilateral Agreements

If you have any queries with regard to treaties please contact the Treaty Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at 012 351 1000.

Trade Info

South Africa's main exports to the Netherlands are coal, chemicals and agricultural products.

For current information on trade statistics between South Africa and the Netherlands, visit the website of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of South Africa.

Interest Groups and Information

         Netherlands organisation for international cooperation in higher education (Nuffic)

Nuffic was formed by the various institutions of higher education in the Netherlands to promote international cooperation in the field of higher education. Nuffic also administers the scholarship and bursary schemes for the individual universities and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. For more information go to the web site or e-mail:


SENTER is concerned with development assistance coordination from the Netherlands. It provides a service that enables organisation to access development assistance funding etc. For more information go to the web site.

         Vereeniging ZASM (Zuid-Afrikaansche Stichting Moederland)

The ZASM operates as an institute, financing the activities of the Nederlands-Zuidafrikaanse Vereniging, the Stichting Studiefonds voor Zuidafrikaanse Studenten and the Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut.

The ZASM operates with funds originally donated by the Zuidafrikaanse Spoorwegmaatschappij and held in trust by the present ZASM.

         Nederlands Zuidafrikaanse Vereniging (NZAV)

The NZAV was founded in 1881 in order to provide the Dutch need for the cultural exchange between the Netherlands and South Africa with a more structural foundation. The NZAV has at the moment about 1,000 members. The NZAV is a non-political organisation. The aim of the NZAV is to promote cultural relations between the Netherlands and South Africa, in its fullest sense.

Constitution and activities of the NZAV. The NZAV is active with lectures, information sessions and the exchange of information with reference to South Africa.

It also arranges visits for influential persons from the Netherlands and South Africa. Further the NZAV is functioning in close cooperation with the Suid- Afrikaanse Stichting (Library) and the Stichting Studiefonds voor Zuidafrikaanse Studenten.

         Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut (Library)

This Institute (Library) was founded in 1939 in Amsterdam. This Institute has 18,000 books available and 5,000 books of the NZAV, amongst which several Africana. In 1984 the anti-apartheid demonstrators occupied the Institute in "Action Bookcharge" (Aksie Boekenstorm). In the process the building was bombarded with paint-bombs and books were thrown in the Keizersgracht. The Institute is open on weekdays and also serves as an information centre about South Africa.

         Stichting Studiefonds voor Zuidafrikaanse Studenten

This Foundation was founded in 1885 and is managed by the NZAV board. The Foundation makes several scholarships available every year (even up to 25 scholarships) to South African students so they can study at Dutch Universities, colleges or other education centres. Funds for the scholarship are obtained from an inheritance of the Zuid-Afrikaanse Spoorweg Maatschappij.

Address: All these foundations are housed at:

Keizersgracht 141
Tel. (020) 6 249 318

         Netherlands Association of Municipalities (VNG)

The VNG is an association of all Dutch municipalities. Since the democratic changes that took place in SA in 1994, the VNG has been actively involved in promoting the twinning of cities between SA and The Netherlands. In 1997, VNG and the South African Local Government Association concluded a Memorandum of Understanding in terms of which the two organisations formally agreed to cooperate mainly in the field of the training of local government officials and councillors. To date, a significant number of local councillors and officials have received training in various municipalities in The Netherlands under a programme developed jointly by SALGA and VNG.

The contact details of VNG are as follows:

Nassaulaan 12, PO Box 30435
2500 GK The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel: 0931 70 3738675
Fax: 0931 70 3635682


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