Land and People
Temperate maritime climate, influenced by the North Sea, with relatively moderate winters, moderate summers, and rainfall throughout the year
Dutch and Frisian are both official languages in the Netherlands. Besides these, there are 30 other regional and city dialects. Twenty percent of the population has a mother tongue other than Dutch. In the four biggest cities—Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht—over 110 languages are spoken. After Dutch, the languages spoken most are Turkish, Hindi, Arabic, English, and Berber.
Culture and Food
Enjoy the rich history of the Netherlands, historic cities and sites such as castle’s (Muiderslot, De Haar, Doorwerth and Ammersoyen for example). Cities with typical Dutch canals and fortifications, like Utrecht, Amsterdam, Delft, Leiden and Haarlem. Besides that, think of painters like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals. Would you like to see their work? There are many museums that exhibit their work. And then there are windmills, tulips, dikes, wooden shoes and ships.
Do you like cheese? Then the Netherlands (also called Holland) is the place to be. Not just the cheese coming from Gouda or Edam are a good choice, but there are many more varieties, both in shape and in flavor.
Did you know that the almost 17 million inhabitants of the Netherlands own, and use, some 19 million bicycles? There are even specially reserved bicycle lanes of paths (almost 35,000 kilometer or 21,700 miles).
Half of the more than 16 million people in the Netherlands, or Low Countries, live and work below sea level. The country may be low and small, but it is among the world’s richest nations. Interestingly, the Netherlands owes much of its prosperity to the sea. An important reason why the Dutch, the inhabitants of the Netherlands, choose to stay in this region is the fertility of the land. It is well suited for agriculture, horticulture, and cattle raising. And because Europe’s major rivers flow into the sea here, the country’s location is also economically strategic. No wonder that the Netherlands—including Rotterdam harbor, one of the world’s largest ports—is called the gateway to Europe!
There are also many lakes that are scattered over the western and northern parts of the country. Yes, there is water in abundance, and because of it, Holland has always been associated with dikes, windmills, and wooden shoes.