About Holland

Learning about Holland's culture and society helps you to get to know the country and its people.

“The rest of the world is a big place”, say the Dutch, well aware of how small their country is. Although small in size, Holland has a rich cultural tradition.

Holland or the Netherlands?

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four countries, the Netherlands itself in mainland Europe, and the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, as well as three special municipalities, the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, also in the Caribbean.

The country’s formal name is the Netherlands, meaning 'low countries', because much of the land is at or below sea level.

The Netherlands is also often called 'Holland', a name that refers to the area that is nowadays taken up by the two western coastal provinces, North and South Holland. In the 17th century this was the most powerful area of the Dutch Republic and many people still use the name Holland to refer to the country as a whole.


For decades the country’s historical ties with other parts of the world has brought foreigners to settle in Holland, bringing some of their own ideas and cultures. This makes the Dutch generally open-minded and tolerant. Dutch society is now home to over 190 different nationalities.

Although Dutch is the national language, most people also speak English and often another foreign language, such as German or French.

Another characteristic of the Dutch is their openness and direct manner. You can say exactly what is on your mind; the Dutch are not easily offended.


There is plenty to see in Holland, whether you’re strolling through town, making a boat trip on the canals or lakes, lazing on the beach or walking in the woods and dunes.

Major international music stars regularly play at Dutch stadiums and smaller venues. Musicals and theatre are also very popular and with over 1,000 museums there is a lot to discover.

And don’t be surprised to see people dressed in orange and partying in the street on Queen’s Day or during international football championships.


The Dutch do not have a tradition of fine cooking, and hot meals are limited to one a day, traditionally in the evening. 
Breakfast is generally sliced bread with cheese, sliced cold meat and/or jam. Most people have sandwiches for lunch, sometimes with soup or a salad. Dinner is traditionally a combination of potatoes and vegetables with meat or fish.

However, Dutch tastes have become more international and refined. You will find a large variety of products in the supermarkets, and many restaurants offer a wide range of international dishes.

last modified Aug 14, 2015 08:44 AM