“In Europe I always have fun bike riding in Amsterdam.” -Ezra Koenig
Europe is the world’s third most populous continent with over 741 million inhabitants. The European continent is one filled with history, culture and diversity. There are many different languages spoken and various cultural distinctions that can be observed while traveling through the continent.
Not only is Europe rich in history and culture but also in tourism.
Fresh croissants in Paris, savoury ravioli in Napoli, gyros and spanakopita in Santorini, fish & chips in London and paella in Valencia are all reasons tourists flock to Europe during every month of the year.
Tourists from all over the world do extensive research before planning their trip in order to decide what activities and countries they wish to discover during their trip of a lifetime.
The Netherlands has become a major touristic destination in recent years with many individuals wishing to ride bikes along the canals in Amsterdam or visit the expansive and awe-inspiring tulip fields in Keukenhof Gardens.
Whether your trip to Holland is purely business or simply pleasure, it would be wise to be up to date on facts and basic information about the Netherlands. Superprof is here to tell you that there is no need to buy any Lonely Planet book in order to be informed about Holland because we will now provide readers with 10 interesting facts about the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is one of the few geographic locations in the world with people living below sea level. A recent estimate has found that 26% of the country’s area and 21% of the country’s population is below sea level. Another important fact to point out is that only about 50% of the Netherlands land is one metre above sea level.
No wonder the Netherlands is known as the “low countries!”
The country is extremely flat and has suffered from great floods in the past such as the St. Lucia flood in 1287 and the North Sea flood in early 1953 that have caused serious damage to infrastructure and killed many people.
Since the middle ages, the Dutch have found solutions for their flooding problems. The solutions to the floods and being below sea level included the construction and creation of outer sea-dikes, inner canal and river dikes. The creation of additional dikes to reduce flooding was realized with the Delta Works project that has been acknowledged by many as an engineering marvel and one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
It is suggested that due to global warming in the 21st century, the rise in sea level will affect the Netherlands. The reinforcement of coastal defences such as dunes and dikes has already been planned to deal with these environmental issues.
If you already feel short and out of place in your own country I don’t recommend going to the Netherlands! This is due to the fact that men and women in the Netherlands are the tallest in the world when it comes to average height.
Men have an average height of 1.825 m and women have an average height of 1.69 m. This is the world’s highest average and is a stark contrast in comparison to men and women in Indonesia who have an average height of 1.58m and are the world’s shortest people.
The fact of being the tallest people in the world has not always been the case with the Dutch. In the mid-18th century, the Americans and other Europeans towered over the Dutch in terms of height. Nevertheless, in the past 200+ years, the average height for men of Dutch descent has grown 20cm while the American average only grew 6cm.
Scientists attribute DNA, nutrition, social equality, some of the best healthcare in the world and the regular consumption of dairy products as reasons for the Dutch being so tall.
According to a 2017 estimate by the World Bank, there are approximately 508 people per square kilometre. This makes the Netherlands one of the most densely populated countries in the world and the most densely populated country in Europe when excluding the particularly small nations of Monaco, Gibralter and Vatican City. We exclude these countries because they have fewer than 1 million inhabitants.
There are over 17 million people living in the Netherlands in a geographical territory of 41,500 square kilometres.
The most heavily populated areas in the Netherlands are the functional urban areas of Amsterdam with approximately 2.5 million residents, Rotterdam with about 1.42 million inhabitants and The Hague that has 850,000 people living in the metro area.
Despite being densely populated the Netherlands has much space for agriculture, green areas and fields.
When people think of the Netherlands they think of fields of tulips everywhere, however, they are originally from Turkey. (Source: pixabay)
What do you think of when you the word Holland comes to mind? Many people would say tulips because they have been a staple part of the Netherland’s culture for centuries.
The vast majority strongly believe that tulips originated from Holland and that they have been an everlasting symbol for the Dutch people. However, what if I told that tulips did not originate from the Netherlands, would you believe me?
Well, believe it or not, tulips are not native from the Dutch country. Tulips were imported from Turkey at the beginning of the 16th century but have always played an important part in Dutch culture. For example, Tulip Mania, that lasted from 1636 to 1637, left many in poverty after the prices of tulip bulbs were more expensive than houses and due to this fact, the market collapsed.
Tulip bulbs were rediscovered during the last months of WWII when starving people used them as a food source. In the modern-day Netherlands, the Dutch celebrate National Tulip Day which is always the third Saturday in January.
While people in the Netherlands either speak Frisian or Nederland, known as the Dutch language, they rank as the highest country in the world on the English Proficiency Index (EPI) narrowly beating out Denmark and Sweden. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 Dutch people speak English as a second language. That’s around 90% of the population!
The Dutch are very talented when it comes to learning languages because according to an EU language report, 94% of the population could speak at least two languages and this towers above the European average of only 54%.
The Dutch are taught English at a very high level in school and via conversation. It is also important to note that more than half of the population speak German making many residents of the Netherlands trilinguals.
Cycling is an extremely important part of Dutch culture. Fun fact, there are more bikes than people in the Netherlands. (Source: pixabay)
According to recent statistics published, there are over 18 million bicycles which are 1 million more than the total amount of residents living in the Netherlands. Cycling is an extremely important aspect of Dutch culture.
The Dutch love to cycle in order to get to work, school, to the shop or they do it just for fun in order to observe a beautiful new landscape. It is estimated that Dutch people cycle an average of 2.9kms per day and use their bikes for a quarter of all trips they may need to take.
The Dutch have also invented a bicycle known as the bakfiets which is a combination between a wheelbarrow and bike. It’s not necessarily the prettiest thing you’ll ever see but it is extremely practical for bringing kids to school and moving heavier things around.
Just to get an idea of how many bikes there are in the Netherlands Groningen Station has over 10,000 places available to park your bike!
Pale lager, witbier, herfstbok, lentebok and IPA’s are all popular brews in the Netherlands that will leave beer experts spoiled for choice and extremely content.
Major Dutch beer brands include Heineken, Amstel and the less commonly known but equally enjoyable De Molen.
Before 2010, the Netherlands was the largest exporter of beer in the world until Mexico surged pass with more international sales. Nevertheless, Holland has remained comfortably in the second spot for years and according to a 2017 estimate report, it is responsible for 13.6% of all the beer exports in the world earning over $2 billion in profits.
Other European countries such as Belgium, Denmark and Germany export a lot of beer as well.
A third of the Dutch beer exported is sent to the United States. It is safe to say that Americans love a cold pint of Heineken on a hot summer night!
During most the 17th century, also known as the Dutch Golden Age, the Dutch economy was gigantic and was considered one of the best if not the absolute top in the world.
In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was founded as the first multinational company in the world to meet the demands of trade by creating trading posts and establishing colonies all over the world. They were also the first to issue stocks in the year of their founding in 1602.
This lead to the establishment of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange which is the oldest stock exchange in the modern world.
Due to these advancements, the Dutch Republic was unparalleled in terms of progress and economic gain throughout the 17th century.
Despite being densely populated and small in size, the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest agriculture exporters. They constantly compete with bigger countries such as China, the United States and Germany for exporting the most agricultural and horticultural goods.
2016 was an unprecedented year for the Netherlands when they were the second biggest agriculture exporters after the United States reaching a record high amount of 94 billion euros worth of goods exported to other countries.
Agriculture accounts for 21% of all Dutch exports. Seeds, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers and plant bulbs are all very popular exports. It is important to note that the Netherlands exportation of plant bulbs such as tulips accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total.
Agriculture employs 4% of those working in the Netherlands due to the fact that a lot of the work is done with machines.
Gouda, Edam and Maasdam cheeses are all famous internationally. (Source: pixabay)
Gouda, Edam, Maasdam and Leyden. The Netherlands produces extremely savoury cheeses that are enjoyed by people all over the world. The Netherlands is the second biggest exporter of cheese in the world after Germany. The most recent number recorded was over $3.4 million in profits in annual exportation. The majority of cheese exported was shipped to Germany.
Gouda is arguably the most popular Dutch cheese that is exported to other countries. It originates from the city of Gouda and is one of the oldest types of cheese in the world that is still in production today.
Many Dutch kinds of cheese, especially Gouda, can be eaten in a sandwich, on their own or with Dutch mustard as a popular snack.
There are many Dutch cheese markets that are still being operated mainly for the enjoyment of international tourists.
Holland is a beautiful place to visit with a lively culture, stunning architecture, delicious food, friendly people, plenty of windmills and many interesting facts to discover. Plan your trip right away to uncover the unique magic of the Netherlands!