Ask a typical traveler about the Netherlands, and things like windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, cannabis and prostitutes come to mind. Fortunately, the country has much more to offer.
The most international city in the world
The Dutch were real world explorers. Amsterdam has an extensive colonial history: Discovering Australia (New-Holland), Tasmania, Taiwan (Formosa), Indonesia. They also owned parts of America, Africa, Vietnam, Japan and China. In Holland’s Golden Age, the world’s first multinational company was born: The Dutch East Indies.
In those days, Amsterdam was the centre of international trade. People from all countries migrated to Amsterdam. A lot of marks of that time can still be seen throughout the city. According to Amsterdam’s own city administration, the city still has 178 different nationalities, which is a world record.
Is leaving Amsterdam any good?
A common misunderstanding is that Amsterdam is Holland. But actually, unlike most other small countries, Holland consists of 12 provinces which all have their own capital, dialect and culture. The provinces of Friesland and Limburg even have their own minority-language. This is the result of a very dynamic and interesting history.
The Netherlands is home to more than 16 million people, which marks the highest population density in Europe (487 citizens per square kilometer). Amsterdam is good for roughly 1 million. The city is lovely, but as far as the Dutch are concerned; if you’ve only been to Amsterdam, you have not really visited this exciting country.
Is it Holland, or The Netherlands?
Why does this country have two names? From the 10th to the 16th century, the region “Holland” (which are now only 2 of the twelve provinces) was a unified political part of the Roman Empire. From the 17th century on, Holland continued to be the maritime and economical power of The Netherlands (or the Dutch Republic, as it was called back then).
Nowadays, the term “Holland” is used to refer to The Netherlands as a whole. This is accepted by the Dutch. However, if you take a ride to the east, away from the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, the people there may want to correct you.
Europe’s most language-friendly country
The map below shows that 90 percent of Dutch people can hold a conversation in English; that’s not far behind from the U.K. and Ireland, which are actual English-speaking countries. If English is not your native language, there’s still chance the Dutch can follow you because the typical Dutch person speaks at least 3 languages. This probably makes Holland the most communication-friendly country in Europe.