Holland is the name popularly used to refer to the Netherlands. It is located in the North Western part of Europe. The countries bordering Holland are Belgium, Germany and across the north Sea, the UK. The name Holland is used as a brand name to promote business and tourism in the Netherlands. Holland is world famous for tulips, windmills, dykes, cheese and wooden shoes.
FACT 1: The official name of the country commonly called Holland is the (kingdom of the) Netherlands. It consists of 12 provinces. Two of the provinces north and South Holland together make up Holland. As these two provinces had a strong economic and maritime presence in the 17th century, the Netherlands became known throughout the world as Holand. ca
FACT 2: About 25% of the country is below sea level. Dams, dykes, sluices and locks are an important feature of the country and much of the country’s literature and art focuses on these features that are unique to the Dutch landscape.
FACT 3: Amsterdam is the capital city. It was founded is the 12th century as a small fishing village. Rotterdam in the North is Europe’s largest port and considered the Western entrance to Europe. The Hague is the capital of the province of South Holland. It is known as the International City of Peace and Justice.
FACT 4: The tulip, originally from Persia and Asia Minor, has come to be a symbol of Holland. The botanist Clusius popularised it in Holland by distributing bulbs freely to his friends. Today it is widely grown in Holland and the world’s largest display of tulips is at Keukenhof. In spring the Dutch nurseries are a wealth of form and colour as the tulips begin their world famous flowering season.
FACT 5: The Dutch were fierce warriors and excellent seafarers. The did not submit to Roman rule and joined them as allies in 13BC. From the 4th to the 8th century the region was a part of Charlemange’s Empire. Later it passed to the House of Burgundy and then to the Hapsburgs of Austria. In the 16th century the Spanish controlled the region. In 1568 William of Orange also known as William the Silent, revolted against Spanish rule and in 1579, under the Union of Utrecht, the seven northern provinces became the United Provinces of the Netherlands.
FACT 6: Dutch cheese making dates back to pre- Christian times. Archaeologists have found the remains of cheese making equipment dating back to 200 BC. Today the Dutch produce 650 million kg of cheese a year, a third of which is exported. Holland is the world’s largest exporter of cheese. Gouda and Edam are the most popular cheeses from Holland.
FACT 7: Though wooden shoes were popular among the elite in all of Europe in the Middle Ages, many consider the wooden shoe to be solid Dutch heritage. The wooden shoe has been losing popularity in Holland over the decades. The shortage of leather during the second world war led to a revival of the wooden shoe cottage industry. Today wooden shoes are rarely worn in Holland.
FACT 8: Many painters of genius have come from Holland. The most famous are Rembrandt van Rijn (born 1606), Jan Vermeer and Vincent van Gogh (1853 to 1890)
FACT 9: Dutchmen are also celebrated in Literature. Erasmus (1462-1536) was a famous Dutch Renaissance classical scholar, humanist and social critic. Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) a young Dutch monk wrote the inspired ‘Imitation of Christ’.
FACT 10: Perhaps the most well-known citizen of Amsterdam is Anne Frank, a young German Jew who was a victim of the holocaust. Her diary was an account of her days of hiding in the rooms concealed behind her father’s office It was found after the war and was translated from the original Dutch into several languages. It is the subject of several plays and films.