Ready to learn a few interesting facts about the Netherlands?
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Netherlands facts:
1. When you talk about the Netherlands, there are really two bodies to consider. Taken alone, the Netherlands is a small country in Central Europe which borders Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom off the shore and across the North Sea. As a monarchy, however, the official name of the sovereign state is called the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The mainland in Europe is simply called the Netherlands, which is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (confusing, huh?). The Kingdom of the Netherlands includes three other constituent countries located in the Caribbean: Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. About 98% of both the land area and the population of the entire Kingdom is comprised of the constituent country of the Netherlands in Europe.
Related Read: Saint Martin vs. Sint Maarten: What’s the Difference?
2. There are also three “special municipalities” in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Known as the “Caribbean Netherlands,” the three special municipalities of the Netherlands are the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, and sometimes they are known by the acronymic “BES islands.”
3. The capital of Saba is The Bottom! How cool is that, right? Originally, Saba’s capital was called De Botte, which is old Dutch meaning “The Bowl,” as it is situated tucked in between mountains. However, the English language corrupted the name De Botte into The Bottom, which became its official name today.
4. Dutch is the official language of the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, different regions have a second official language. In Saba and Sint Eustatius, English is an official language; in the municipality of Bonaire, Papiamentu is an official language; and in the province of Friesland, West Frisian is an official language. On top of these languages, there are also regional minority languages recognized by the government, including Sinte Romani, Dutch Low Saxon, Limburgish, and Yiddish.
5. The Netherlands’ motto, however, is in French! Located on the blazon of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, you’ll find the words “Je Maintiendrai,” which means “I shall maintain.”
6. The Netherlands means “lower lands” or “low countries.” And, it is quite low, in fact, as only half of the country is more than 1 meter above sea level, while about 17% of the country is actually below sea level. The name “Holland” is also used informally to refer to the Netherlands, although Holland is really just a region of the Netherlands; there is both North Holland and South Holland, two of the 12 provinces which make up the country.
7. The word “Dutch” is also the demonym used for the Netherlands. You would call something or someone from the Netherlands Dutch. However, for the other three constituent countries (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten), it’s better to use their own demonyms, which are Aruban, Curaçaoan, and St. Maartener, respectively, although the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals.
8. The population of the Netherlands is just over 17.4 million people (2020 estimate). However, if you consider the population including the other constituent countries of the Netherlands and the special municipalities, the population is about 17.7 million people.
9. Dutch men are the tallest in the world, on average. According to a 2016 study, the average male in the Netherlands is exactly 6 ft (183 cm) tall. Dutch women are pretty tall, as well, but they lose out to women from Latvia as the tallest females in the world, measuring 5 ft 7 in (170 cm).
10. Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is located in the northwest of the country near the North Sea’s shore. A city full of canals and known sometimes as “the Venice of the North,” Amsterdam has more than 1,200 bridges throughout to help pedestrians and bicyclists navigate around!
11. However, The Hague, to its south, is the seat of government. The Hague is where the Dutch Cabinet, Supreme Court, and other bodies are located. The Hague also is known as the home of international law, as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are located in the city.
12. The Netherlands was the world’s first country to allow same-sex marriage, way back in 2000. As Onno Hoes, a spokesperson for a homosexual rights group, told The New York Times, “This is a historic event, it’s fantastic. We’re the first country in the world where there is no distinction made on the basis of gender.”
13. Most carrots are orange today because of the Netherlands! The original carrots were purple, white, or yellow in color. However, in the 17th century, Dutch growers cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange who helped lead the Dutch towards independence. Orange remains the color most associated with the Netherlands, even though their flag is red, white, and blue.
Well, that’s all our Netherlands facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about the Netherlands we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!