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Explore the Netherlands: Surprising Facts About This Unique Country

Netherlands

It seems like people all over the world are feeling confused. Can you tell me more about the Netherlands? I’m curious to learn about this country. Is it the same as Holland? What do you mean by “the low countries?” Why are the people and language of the Netherlands referred to as ‘Dutch’? Let me clarify everything once and for all. I have a photo gallery that showcases interesting facts about the small and curious Northern European country that you probably didn’t know.

Please don’t mix it up with Denmark!

The Netherlands is located in the northwest of continental Europe. Belgium and Germany are its neighboring countries. The Dutch coastline is located on the North Sea, which is not too far from the UK. Actually, it’s possible for a ferry from the Netherlands to England to take as little as 6.5 hours.

Republic of the Seven United Netherlands

What’s the story behind its other name, Holland? During the period from 1588 to 1795, the country was referred to as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The provinces of the Netherlands included Groningen, Frisia, Overijssel, Guelders, Utrecht, Zeeland, and… Holland. Nowadays, the term “the latter” is commonly used as a shorthand way to refer to the entire country.

Dutch

What about the word ‘Dutch’ when English speakers use it? According to Dictionary.com, the word comes from the old English term ‘thiod,’ which meant ‘people’ or ‘nation.’ The term ‘Dutch’ was originally used to describe both the German and the Dutch peoples, which is why the Germans refer to their country as ‘Deutschland’. However, in the English language, ‘Dutch’ is now specifically used to refer to the people of the Netherlands.

Roughly one-third of the Netherlands is submerged in water

The Dutch have managed to reclaim a significant amount of their land from the water. The lowest point in the country is located in ‘Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel’, and it is situated 6.76 meters below sea level.

The world’s fifth-happiest nation

A Dutchman’s life has never been ruined by a fear of drowning. The World Happiness Report of 2022 reveals that the Netherlands ranks as the fifth-happiest country globally. The ranking remained the same as it was in 2021.

The foundation of Amsterdam was poles

Netherlands

Amsterdam is located on wet ground, so its older houses were constructed with wooden post foundations, which is typical for the area. The long beams, or more accurately, entire trees, had a thickness ranging from 13 to 20 meters (50 to 65 feet). The pairs of stakes were placed in the ground to provide support for the building, along with the layer of sand beneath it.

Crooked facades

Although the poles were a clever solution, it is worth noting that older canal houses in Amsterdam have occasionally tilted to the side. Living for centuries on top of moor and clay can really take a toll on a foundation!

Slanting façades

But here’s the interesting thing: the unusual feature of the facades was actually done on purpose. In Amsterdam, older houses were constructed with a slight incline towards the street. This design allowed movers to easily bring furniture and other items into the homes through a window. The stairs in older Amsterdam homes are typically too narrow to accommodate large objects. Additionally, you can also read about- Most Beautiful Places in the Netherlands.

The tallest individuals in the world are Dutch

The average height of men is around 182.5 centimeters (or 5 feet 9 inches), while women have an average height of about 168.7 centimeters (or 5 feet 5 inches). This makes them the tallest people in the world. It was confirmed once again by a study published in the medical journal The Lancet in 2019.

Eight newborns are delivered at home

Did you know that, according to expatica.com, around one in eight babies in the Netherlands are born at home? It’s interesting to note that this is one of the highest rates of home births among highly developed countries. In the UK, home births make up only 2% of all births each year.

The first country in the world to approve same-sex unions

On April 1, 2001, something historic happened in the Netherlands. Four homosexual couples, consisting of three male couples and one female couple, got married at the City Hall of Amsterdam. The Netherlands made history by becoming the first country to legally recognize a same-sex union.

The “Drielandenpunt” is the highest point

The highest point above sea level is found in the tri-border area where the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany meet at the same point. This place is incredibly high, sitting at an elevation of 323 meters (1,059 ft) above sea level.

There are more bicycles than people in the Netherlands

Netherlands

The population of the Netherlands is 17.1 million people, whereas the number of bicycles is 23 million. So, basically, what this is saying is that the average person from the Netherlands owns more than 1 bicycle.

Seniors continue to ride bicycles until old age

Even in their 80s, elderly Dutch people are still cycling. The average Dutch person rides about 1,000 km (621 miles) per year on a bicycle. Yes, it is easier because the Netherlands is completely flat.

The Dutch coastline is made up of dunes

I found some interesting information on Holland.com! It says that the Dutch coastline stretches for about 230 kilometers (or 143 miles). What’s even more fascinating is that about 75% of this entire coastline is covered by beautiful dunes. The dunes, being natural protectors of the land behind them, can reach depths of a couple of kilometers.

It has the world’s biggest floral garden

The tulip is the national flower of the Netherlands, and there are over 800 varieties of it. Every year, millions of tulips are produced in the country. During the spring season, ‘Keukenhof’, which is the largest flower garden in the world, welcomes visitors to experience a breathtaking display of vibrant natural beauty.

Tulips are not originally from the Netherlands

Interestingly, the national flower of the Netherlands is not native to the country. The tulip actually originates from the mountains of Mongolia and spread with the empire of Genghis Khan. Finally, the flowers were ‘discovered’ by the Dutch in the Turkish mountains of Anatolia and brought to their country for cultivation. If you want you can also read-

Have you ever wondered about Santa Claus and his peculiar helpers?

Saint Nicholas is actually the Dutch predecessor of Santa Claus. He doesn’t have elves, but instead, he has helpers called ‘Petes.’ During the late 19th century, individuals who portrayed ‘servants’ would often wear blackface, which involved white people darkening their skin to appear as if they were black. Recently, though, an increasing number of Dutch towns have chosen to stop using that controversial method.

Who are the largest consumers of black liquor in the world?

According to the website lostraveleros.com, the average Dutch person consumes around 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) of black licorice per year. I wonder why they enjoy it so much. It’s quite a mystery.

It’s the King’s birthday!

Hey there, foreign visitors! Just a friendly reminder: please be careful not to mix up the dates! Back when Queen Beatrix was still the ruler of the country, the Dutch used to celebrate her birthday on April 30th. But in 2013, when her son became king, Queen’s Day was changed to King’s Day, and his birthday was celebrated on April 27. Don’t be deceived by outdated travel guides! Every year on April 30, a handful of tourists arrive in Amsterdam wearing head-to-toe orange outfits, which is quite amusing for the locals. However, the tourists may not find it funny.

I hear an emergency siren every month

If you happen to hear an emergency siren at noon on the first Monday of the month, there’s no need to panic. The government has developed this protocol to ensure that the alarms are functioning properly in the event of any immediate danger to the population, such as fire, flood, or toxic fumes. Don’t worry about it unless you hear the siren on any other day or time of the month.

When you graduate, make sure to hang your backpack outside

When a Dutch high school student graduates, their parents celebrate by putting out the flag and displaying the backpack that their child wore to school. After her graduation in 2021, Dutch crown princess Amalia was seen doing the same thing.

There are some Dutch lands located in the Caribbean

The Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten are each part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. These countries are part of it. By the way, did you know that the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba are actually considered special municipalities within the Netherlands?

There are more sheep than people

Did you know that on Texel, an island in the North Sea off the coast of Friesland, there are actually more sheep than there are people? It’s quite fascinating!

It is estimated that 93% of the population in the Netherlands can speak English as a second language

Around 90 to 93% of the people in the Netherlands can speak English fluently. Based on the 2020 EF English Proficiency Index, this country is ranked as the top worldwide in terms of English as a Second Language Skills. There is a simple reason for this: the country has a long-standing tradition of engaging in international trade and transportation, and very few people in the world speak Dutch.

When greeting someone, it is common to give three kisses

When you’re in the Netherlands, it’s common for locals to greet each other by giving three kisses on the cheek. Yeah, having to greet three people can be a lot, especially at a party where you have to say hello to everyone.

Let’s start the party with a birthday cake!

In the Netherlands, it’s common to cut the cake at the start of a birthday party, unlike in many other countries, where it’s typically done at the end. Also, the cake isn’t just for kids. And we can sing a Happy Birthday song whenever the drinks start to kick in.


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