The Netherlands is known for it's vibrant culture, fascinating history and stunning countryside.
Learn more about this European country below.
Facts About The Netherlands
The Vital Stats:
Official Name: Nederland (in Dutch)
Population: 17.4 million (2020)
Area: 41,865 sq km – (131st in the world, similar size to Switzerland or Denmark)
Largest City: Amsterdam
Official Languages: Dutch
Say Hello: Hallo!
Currency: Euro €
Driving Side: Right side of the road
Anthem: "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe" ("William of Nassau")
Time Zone: UTC+1
Human Development Index: 0.933 (very high – 10th in the world)
The Flag of The Netherlands
DID YOU KNOW?
The flag of the Netherlands and the flag of Russia are almost the same, except the Russian flag has the blue on top and the red on the bottom.
The canals and bridges of Amsterdam, the nation's capital city.
Welcome to The Netherlands!
Tulip fields and windmills - iconic images of The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a country located in Western Europe. It borders Belgium to the south and Germany to the east. To the north is the North Sea. The Netherlands also has three islands in the Caribbean which are Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba which were part of their former colonies. The national language is Dutch.
The Netherlands is also known as ‘Holland’ although this name is becoming less popular as it mainly refers to the area around the four major cities in the Netherlands - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. Although Amsterdam is the capital city, The Hague has a lot of the Dutch government located there as well as being the home city of several important international organisations. Rotterdam is also important as it has the largest seaport in Europe.
Netherlands literally means "lower countries" because it has an exceptionally low elevation and is very flat. It is popular to cycle just about anywhere in The Netherlands!
The country is the 12th most densely populated country in the world and the 2nd most densely populated country in the European Union. Even so, it is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products (the U.S. is first), because of the fertile soil and mild climate.
The Netherlands has been a parliamentary monarchy since 1848 and is known for its long record of social tolerance. The Netherlands gave women the right to vote in 1919 and became the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. Today, the Netherlands has a King and a Prime Minister.
The Netherlands ranks highly among many measures of success including freedom of the press, economic freedom, quality of life, and happiness of the people.
Spring tulip blossoms in the Keukenhof park in Lisse. Over 7 million tulips bloom there every year in a stunning display.
A brief history of The Netherlands
Around 3,000 years ago, Germanic tribes and Celtic people lived in the area now known as the Netherlands. Over the centuries, many groups rose to power and fell again including the Romans, the Saxons, the Franks, and the Spanish.
In 1566, William of Orange overthrew Spanish rule and began the process of Dutch independence. In the late 16th century, the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ began, and the Netherlands became one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries in the world. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company became the world’s first multinational company and expanded Dutch trade and influence across the world.
In 1652, the Dutch navy warred with the English and in 1688, they invaded England and took over the monarchy. In 1795, the French invaded The Netherlands and Napoleon took power, but by 1815, the rest of Europe was growing ever more concerned about France’s ambitions, and the French were sent packing.
In 1839, after years of war between the south and the north, Belgium broke away from the Netherlands.
Another major event in Dutch history occurred in 1953 when a major storm collapsed several dikes and flooded the south, resulting in 1,800 deaths. To prevent flooding like this happening again, the Netherlands began a 30-year construction project called the ‘Delta Works’, a huge public project to build sea storm barriers.
The Delta Works was a massive construction project in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers in the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland. The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline.
Our 'TOP SPOTS' Map of The Netherlands
DID YOU KNOW?
Only half of the entire country is higher than 1 metre above sea level!
Geography of The Netherlands
Much of The Netherlands is below sea level and it is a very flat country, with about a quarter of its area (and one-fifth of its population) located below sea level. Only half of the entire country is higher than 1 metre above sea level!
The highest point is just 321 metres above sea level. This is in the southeast, the area closest to Europe. Most of the areas below sea level are actually man-made, from the peat extraction industry and being caused through land reclamation. Since the late 16th century, these large sunken areas have been preserved through complicated drainage systems.
Much of the country was originally formed by the estuaries of three large European rivers: The Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt. In the past these rivers were a natural barrier between kingdoms and created a bit of a cultural divide.
On 14 December 1287, St. Lucia's flood affected the Netherlands and Germany and 50,000 people were killed in one of the most destructive floods in recorded history. As we talked about above, the Dutch government began the Delta Works building program, to prevent these flooding disasters in the future.
The climate in the Netherlands is considered mild with moderately warm summers and cool winters, but often with high humidity.
The Rijksmuseum is the national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. It opened in 1885. The museum has on display 8,000 objects, from their total collection of 1 million objects which date from the years 1200–2000. Among these are some masterpieces by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer.
The Dutch People
Around 17.5 million people live in the Netherlands and it is densely populated. It has one of the oldest populations in the world, and life expectancy is very high. The Dutch are the tallest people in the world with an average height of 1.81 metres for males and 1.67 metres for females! The official language is Dutch but there are several regional languages still spoken today. English is spoken by around 90% of Dutch people, and 70% can converse in German! Healthcare and education for the Dutch people are considered some of the best in the world.
There are many famous and influential Dutch people throughout history, and you can read more about Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Vincent Van Gogh, Christiaan Huygens, Anne Frank, and more in the Netherlands: Explore the World from Home Guide.
Girl With A Pearl Earring by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer
Fun facts about The Netherlands
The Dutch are the largest consumers of liquorice (locally known as ‘drop’) in the world. Each person eats about 2 kilos per year!
The Dutch people love cheese! The Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of lactose intolerance in the world.
The Netherlands is one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world.
Lisse in the south is home to Keukenhof, known as the ‘Garden of Europe’. Over 800 varieties of tulips are grown there.
Amsterdam has over 1200 bridges!
Every first Monday of the month, across the entire country there are sirens rung at 12 noon that last for 1 minute and 26 seconds. It is a test alarm in case of an environmental disaster.
In the Netherlands it is considered quite normal for Dutch people to greet each other with three kisses on the cheek.
Cornelis Drebbel, a Dutch 17th century physicist, invented the first submarine. The first model was a large wooden structure covered in leather, which used tubes to bring air underwater. He designed and built his submarine in England and tested it in the River Thames.
Carrots were not always orange! In the 17th century, Dutch farmers began cultivating orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange. Originally carrots were grown as purple, white, and yellow varieties.
download a sample recipe and activity from the
The Netherlands: Explore-the-World-from-Home Guide