After creating my post on facts about Belgium, I thought: “Why not make a post like that for every country I've visited?” and got to work. Next up in this series is a list of fun facts about the Netherlands. I'm hoping these random Netherlands facts will teach you new facts about the country and make you curious enough to want to visit it.
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Interesting facts about the Netherlands
This post is part of a series of fun facts posts. I'm doing these posts for every country I have articles about here on the blog. Given their nature, these posts are research-based and even though a lot of time has gone into them, it's still possible a mistake has sneaked in. If you see anything that looks incorrect, please let me know at wanderer [at] wonderfulwanderings.com and I'll look into it. Thanks!
1. Here's a fun fact about Holland: using “Holland” to talk about the Netherlands is wrong. Holland comprises the Dutch provinces of North and South Holland. It used to be the economically strongest region of the country, which is why it's so known. The country's official name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands and it was established in 1815.
2. Neanderthal traces have been found near Maastricht, thought to trace back at least 250,000 years.
3. There are 20 national parks in the Netherlands, as well as hundreds of woods and lakes.
4. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. It did so in 2001.
5. Did you know that the official language Dutch isn't the only national language in the Netherlands? Frisian or Fryslân, the language spoken in the province of Friesland, is too.
6. The Netherlands has a long coastline along the North Sea. Only 50% of the country has land exceeding one meter above sea level, with most of the areas below sea level being man-made.
7. Amsterdam is the most densly populaed city in the Netherlands and home to at least 200 different nationalities.
8. According to the 2013 United Nations World Happiness Report, the Netherlands was ranked one of the happiest countries in the world! It is ranked fourth happiest out of all the countries in the world.
9. The Dutch are the biggest licorice eaters in the world. They consume 32 million kilos of licorice every year.
10. There are still over 1,000 traditional working windmills in the Netherlands. 19 of these can be found at the Unesco World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk. Historically they were used to pump water from the low-lying land back to the sea.
11. KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaartmaatschappij or “Royal Airline Company”), the Dutch national airline, is the oldest national airline in the world. It was founded in 1919.
12. What we now know as gin was invented as “jenever” in the Netherlands in the 16th century and originally used for medicinal purposes. It was the Dutch King William of Orange who made the drink popular in England when he became King of England, Ireland, and Scotland. He turned the image of it as a medicine to one of gin as a fashionable drink.
Nowadays, the name “jenever” can only be used for that kind of liquor made in Belgium, the Netherlands, two northern French departments, and two German federal states.
13. There are almost no streets in the Dutch village of Giethoorn, but there are lots of canals, which is why it's also known as the “Venice of the Netherlands”.
14. The Netherlands has the thirteenth-highest income per person in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps that’s why it is such a happy country!
15. The audiotape, the videotape, and the CD were all invented in Eindhoven by the Dutch company Philips.
16. With over 4.2 million international visitors, Amsterdam is now Europe’s 5th-busiest tourist destination. That's a lot of people for such a densely populated country! The Netherlands is one of the most visited countries in Western Europe.
17. Amsterdam is entirely built on wooden poles 11 meters deep. This is due to its soil which consists of thick layers of clay and fen.
18. There is about 15,000 km of bike lanes in the Netherlands. All that cycling must contribute to the long life expectancy of Dutch people.
19. Another interesting fact about the Netherlands is that the Dutch people are the tallest people in the world, with an average height of 1.81-1.84 meters for adult males and 1.67-1.70 (depending on the source) meters for women – which is probably just as well if things get a bit ‘watery’.
So many bikes!
20.There are more bikes (over 18 million) in the Netherlands than there are people.
21. Planes at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam actually land about 3 to 4.5 meters below sea level.
22. The Netherlands are famous for their tulips, but tulips originally didn't grow there. They were imported from the Ottoman empire in the 17th century. The importation of the bulbs led to ‘tulip mania'. This was a period that saw a vast increase in bulb prices due to their immense popularity.
23. Today, the Netherlands is the biggest producer and exporter of tulips in the world. The tulip fields are also one of the Netherlands' biggest tourist attractions. The world-famous spring flower parade is also a big draw for tourists. Spring flowers are put on display for all to see.
24. It's not just tulips. 75% of the world's flower bulbs come from the Netherlands, making it the most floral country in the world!
The Royal House on Dam Square
25. Another fun fact about the Netherlands? The Royal Palace situated at Dam Square is built on at least 13,659 wooden poles.
26. Maybe one of the more random facts on this list; home births are very popular in the Netherlands, with 30% of all Dutch babies born at home.
27. Almost 17% of the Netherlands's land area is reclaimed from lakes and sea. This means a staggering 26% of the country is below sea level.
28. The Dutch Max Havelaar certificate was the first fairtrade certification in the world.
29. Because the land is so flat, the Netherlands' highest point, which is 323 meters high, is actually referred to as a mountain. The Netherlands' highest point is located in Vaalserberg.
The Netherland's Lowest Point
30. The Netherlands' lowest point is the Zuidplaspolder and lies seven meters below sea level.
31. The Dutch national anthem, the “Wilhelmus” is the oldest national anthem still in use. It was written in 1568 and used ever since, although it only became the official national anthem in 1932.
32. The Netherlands' national flag is also the oldest tricolor flag dating back to 1572.
33. The second largest city in the Netherlands is Rotterdam which has the largest seaport in Europe.
34. In 2013 the Netherlands together with Denmark were ranked by the European Cyclists' Federation as the most bike-friendly country in Europe. Just as well with all those bicycles!
35. The Netherlands was a founder member of the Euro, swapping their “gulden” (guilder) to the euro on January 1, 1999.
36. Next up on the facts about the Netherlands list: the Amsterdam Stock Exchange Hendrik D-de Keyser is the world's oldest.
37. The Netherlands has produced many well-known painters including famous names such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, and Willem de Kooning. There are at least 22 Rembrandt paintings and 206 works by Van Gogh in Amsterdam alone.
Enjoying the list? Keep reading to learn more facts!
38. There are an astonishing 1,281 bridges in Amsterdam. It's a fun fact to know that that's a lot more bridges than in Venice!
39. The microscope was invented in the Netherlands in the 16th century.
40. In Amsterdam, you can find Europe's first and only addiction clinic, called Smith & Jones. It treats everything from gambling addictions to substance addictions and video gaming addictions.
Tulip Garden Keukenhof
41. The famous tulip garden Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world. Read about my visit to Keukenhof.
42. Well-known Dutch actors include Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Famke Janssen (the X-Men), and Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones).
43. The highest cable density in Europe is in the Netherlands.
44. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the specially designated bike lanes, found all over the country.
45. When schoolchildren pass their exams in the Netherlands, both a Dutch flag and a school bag are hung outside their homes.
46. Did you know that carrots didn't use to be orange? They were black, yellow, red, purple, or white. An orange variant was made in honor of the House of Orange, which led the revolt against the Spanish and later became the Dutch Royal Family.
47. That, by the way, is also why orange is the Dutch national color, even though the Dutch flag's colors are red, white, and blue. Even the national sports teams wear orange.
The Dutch flag was actually made orange following William of Orange's revolt against the Spanish. It was changed back to red, white, and blue in the 18th century.
48. A list of facts about the Netherlands would not be complete without mentioning how much Dutch people like to cycle! Dutch people cycle 2.5 km per day on average and 900 km per year.
49. The next fact about the Netherlands: there are approximately 1000 museums in the country, 42 of them situated in Amsterdam. This means the Netherlands has the highest concentration of museums in the world.
50. The Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy since 1815 and, since 1848, a parliamentary democracy. It has always had a coalition government.
King Willem Alexander is the current monarch, he has been king since 2013. Although he is head of state, he has very limited powers and remains neutral on political topics. Fun fact – the Dutch royal family is related to the royal family of the United Kingdom.
51. The telescope was invented in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
52. Though Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, the seat of government is in The Hague.
53. New York City was first called “New Amsterdam” and was founded as a Dutch Colony.
54. Both Australia and New Zealand were discovered by the Dutch. Australia was named “New Holland”, after a Dutch province, and New Zealand was named after the province of Zeeland. The latter is a great place to spend a weekend, by the way.
55. The most popular tourist souvenirs from the Netherlands include clogs (wooden shoes), miniature windmills, cheese, and tulips.
56. Although it was the Portuguese who discovered tea in East Asia, it was the Dutch who started to import it commercially into Europe in 1610. By the way: tea didn't get to the UK until about 40 years later!
57. A popular Dutch snack is raw herrings topped with onions.
58. Some well-known Dutch film directors include Fons Rademakers (The Assault), Jan de Bont (Speed), and Anton Corbijn (A Most Wanted Man).
59. Despite occupying only 0.008% of the world's surface, the Netherlands is the world's second biggest agricultural exporter after the USA. In 2019 the Netherlands exported nearly 95 billion Euros worth of agricultural goods.
60. Dutch foreign policy has always been characterized by its neutrality.
61. At only 1%, the Dutch have the lowest incidence of lactose intolerance of any country.
Europe's biggest bar!
62. In Groningen you can find the biggest bar in Europe. The “Drie Gezusters” (“Three Sisters”) fits 3,700 people.
63. Anyone could probably guess that the Netherlands has a huge dairy industry. The country is the world’s biggest exporter of cheese; its dairy products industry worth a mind-blowing €7 billion.
64. The Dutch have been making cheese since 400 A.D.
65. People in the Netherlands wear rain suits in lieu of umbrellas because of the blustery winds.
66. The Netherlands was one of the six founding members of the European Union.
67. If all the dikes controlling the water in the Netherlands would be put one behind the other, they would make a chain of almost 80,000 km long.
Want more? Keep on reading!
68. The province of Flevoland was almost entirely won from the water and it would only take 48 hours for it to flood entirely if one of the dikes broke. Flevoland is about three times the size of Manhattan in New York. The sea is kept back using a smart system of dikes, pumping stations, and dams.
69. The province of Zeeland has its own typical bacon. Zeeuws spek is a traditional Dutch bacon, originally a specialty from the province of Zeeland, eaten on whole grain bread with mustard. There is even a competition, organized by Slavakto – The National organization of butchers, to determine the best Zeeuws spek in the country.
70. In the Netherlands, 4/10 people work part-time. That's the highest number in the European Union.
71. Did you know the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe? The current population is approximately 17 million. That's a lot of people for such a small country.
72. No list of facts about the Netherlands would be complete without mentioning King's Day or Koningsdag!
King's Day is a famous celebration in the Netherlands. Everybody gets a day off work to celebrate the monarch's birthday.
The current monarch King Willem Alexander has his birthday on the 27th of April. On King's day there are lots of concerts, street parties and people sell their used items in what is known as vrijmarkt which means free market.
People dress in orange- the Netherland's national color and take part in oranjegekete – orange madness!
73.The Caribbean Netherlands consists of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius.
The islands have varying degrees of autonomy. Some are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, others are municipalities. The islands have a population of approximately 340,000 people. That's a much lower population density than the Netherlands itself!
74. The Dutch are big coffee drinkers, the Netherlands is number five in the world for the amount of coffee they consume. The famous coffee shops are found in every main city such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague. There are over 250 coffee shops in Amsterdam alone.
75. Bonus fact! The Dutch people have the highest level of English in the world. The Netherlands has the most non-native people proficient in English than any other country in the world.
Learn more about the Netherlands
Want to learn more facts about the Netherlands? These books are a good place to start.
And that's it for now! What did you think about these cool facts about the Netherlands? Did I miss an important fact? Did I get anything wrong? Let me know, but please be gentle.
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