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The Netherlands has de facto always been a country of immigration. Yet, it does not consider itself as such. One out of five inhabitants in the Netherland has an immigrant background or has been born in a family in which one of the parents is an immigrant. Yet, large numbers of indigenous Dutch find it hard to acknowledge this fact. Likewise, the reception of newcomers has been rather awkward and sometimes in contradiction with the widely celebrated image of the Netherlands as the heartland of tolerance and multiculturalism. Also, many complaints can be heard about the supposedly ‘tardy’ progress of immigrants' incorporation. This paper, providing an overview of immigration into the Netherlands, suggests that immigration is always a painful process, but also that immigrants eventually find their way into the mainstream.

Keywords: Immigration; assimilation; integration; policy; the Netherlands

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES), University of Amsterdam, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 237, 1012 DL Amsterdam, the Netherlands., Email:

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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