The Netherlands - Cheese, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll
Holland - a Little Giant
Many tourists visit yearly Holland, with typical expectations like Tulips, Delft Blue and Wind Mills. They also have often mixed feelings (or expectations) about the free Drugs policy, the Red Light Districts and Gay-Lesbian movement. Holland is much more than this. All people are very kind and helpful and they even speak your language! Mostly English of course. After enumeration of historical facts, I will try to explain you something more about The Dutch, how they look at their own country and to the rest of the world. If you want to visit Holland it makes it easier to understand the backgrounds of this little proud country.
The Netherlands looks very insignificant but its influence on the world appears to be much larger than it looks like, from free thinking, discoveries, the naval battles, consumer products, art, sports and business products. For example discovering Australia then, was equal to flying to Mars now.
In the 17th century The Netherlands proved the power of free thinking. During our salvation from the oppressive Spanish domination, which took eighty years, the nation already sky rocketed itself to illumination and discoveries in all directions, which already started only by the smell of freedom.
Dutch is closely related to English and is not difficult to learn, except for the typical pronunciations of the 'g' and the 'r'.
The history of Holland is long and rich, which contributes to its current status.
Facts and Figures
Country increased by reclamation
Sweet water surface
Amount of primary dikes
Public road network
Inhabitants in 2011
Amount of Foreigners
GDP per capita (2012)
Amount of Museums
Amount of large theater, music and cultural festivals
Amount of amusement parks
Amount of International airports
Happiest Children in the World
According to a study of UNICEF children in The Netherlands are the happiest children in the world among the rich countries. For the second time this study is carried out by UNICEF. The first research was done over the period from 2000 to 2003. The second time the research was done over the period 2009 to 2010. The Netherlands was in both cases number one, followed by Scandinavian countries. The United States, Lithuania, Latvia and Romania are at the bottom of this list.
Studied topics: Material well-being, Health and safety, Education, Behaviours and risks, Housing and environment.
Due to lack of data Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus, Israel, Japan, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Turkey were not studied.
Rotterdam - Fourth Harbour in the World
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Hong Kong, China
Highlights of Holland's Most Famous History
The history of The Netherlands starts with the findings of hunter-gatherers in the Belvédère quarry near Maastricht, 250,000 years ago.
The history of Holland becomes increasingly complicated at the end of the late Middle Ages, from 1500 with the growing power as a global trading nation. The highlight of the Dutch history is the 80-year war with Spain and the murder of Willem van Oranje in 1584. The national anthem is about this period.
In 1588 the United Provinces was founded. It was a new phenomenon that a country was governed without a king. The power of The Netherlands grew rapidly with the formation of 'The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands'.
- In 1606 discovers the Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon Australia, with his ship the Duyfken.
- In 1607 destroys the Dutch fleet the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Gibraltar.
- In 1609 discovers Henry Hudson the river that he called to himself, The Hudson.
- In 1612 Sultan Ahmed I grants The Dutch the rights to trade with the enormous Ottoman Empire.
- In 1616 discovers Willem Cornelisz Schouten Tierra del Fuego, the most Southern part of Argentina.
- In 1626 Peter Minuit buys the island Manhattan from the Manhattoes indians for 24 dollar. He called it Nieuw-Amsterdam, the later New York.
- In 1628 The Dutch intercepted the Spanish treasure fleet, that carried enough to fund all the war spending of The Dutch for one year.
- In 1635 The Dutch start with the highly lucrative slave trade.
- In 1642 discovers Abel Tasman New-Zealand and Rembrandt completes 'De Nachtwacht'
- In 1648 the 80-year war between The Netherlands and Spain comes to an end. Many festivities in The Netherlands are the remainings of this period.
- In 1652 Jan van Riebeeck lays the foundations for the occupation of South-Africa. Until 1795 The Netherlands exploited South-Africa, until the British took over control during the Napoleonic wars. South-Africa was a tactical stop on the route to Eastern Indonesia.
- 1653/1654 The Dutch are exhausted of endless battles and are expelled by the Portuguese from Brasil and suffered one of its biggest defeats in history in a battle against the British fleet, called the Battle of the Gabbard,
- In 1659 the famous scientist and inventor of the pendulum clock, Christiaan Huygens discovers the Rings of Saturn. He also developed many mathematical theories.
- In 1662 Amsterdam becomes the most powerful trading city in the world. The Dutch are in constant battle with the British Empire around the world, especially in the Caribbean. The war between The Republic and The Commonwealth goes with ups and downs and lasts until 1674.
- In 1665 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek builds his own microscope and discovers microscopic life forms. Later he obtained the nickname 'Father of Microbiology'. In 1679 he discovers the Sperm Cell.
- In 1680 declares Lodewijk XIV, also called The Sun King, war to Holland.
- In 1722 discovers Jacob Roggeveen Easter Island in Pacific.
- In 1730, homosexuality becomes punishable by death.
- In 1775 The Netherlands supports the rebellions in the American War of Independence with arm support.
- In 1782 are The Netherlands the first to officially recognize the United States as a nation, six years after the 4th of July, 1776 (many sources mention wrong dates about the first official recognition). The US and The Netherlands became allies against the English Empire.
- Starting from around 1710 Holland becomes less militant and is mainly busy with establishing connections and trading. The Netherlands was in this period a world-power with a global colonial trading network and kept itself preferably aloof after a long period of constant war.
- In 1795 the revolutionary changes that came over from France, after the violent French Revolution, are peacefully implemented in The Netherlands and were the basis of the modern Netherlands.
- In 1800 the period of terror of Napoleon Bonaparte starts, finally defeated in the battle of Waterloo in 1815 by a joined army of the English, The Netherlands, the Kingdom of Hanover and Prussia.
- In 1806 the republic of The Netherlands becomes a monarchy.
- After The French Revolution in 1815 The Netherlands and The Southern Netherlands (now Belgium) made an attempt to become a united republic. This collaboration quickly failed and in 1830 the state 'Belgium' declared its independence.
- In 1815 The British Empire returns full control over the East Indonesian Colony to The Netherlands. The Netherlands become the United Kingdom of The Netherlands. In 1830 the kingdom becomes stable after the independence of Belgium.
- From 1830 to 1870 are The Netherlands in constant crisis, with war against Belgium, against the British Empire and tries to control the enormous colonies in Indonesia and the Caribbean.
- From 1870 with the start of the Steam Era the trade through the eastern colonies starts to be very profitable.
- In 1900 Hein Lorentz discovers the Lorentz transformation which was the basis of the Special Relativity Theory of Albert Einstein.
- In 1911 Kamerlingh Onnes discovers superconductivity in his Cryogenic laboratory in Leiden. Anthony Fokker makes his first test flight with 'De Spin', which means 'spider'.
- In 1914 The Netherlands remains neutral in the WW I, a policy that remained from 1839. This policy appeared to be very profitable for the Dutch shipping, which grew during this period with nearly 20%.
- In 1924 Fokker makes his first intercontinental flight from The Netherlands to Indonesia.
- In 1933 the 'Afsluitdijk' was completed, it was a major victory over the raging sea and one of the biggest artificial sea barriers in the history. The everlasting battle against the raging seas made The Dutch inventive in building dikes. Popular saying is 'God created the world, the Dutch created The Netherlands'.
- In 1940 Holland was overrun by the Nazi's in less than 5 days. The biggest port in the world Rotterdam was totally destroyed. The Nazi's threatened to bomb Utrecht in the same way, which made the Dutch surrender.
- In 1942 Japan invades the East Indonesian Colony. The Dutch loose the Battle of the Java Sea of the Japanese, because the canons of the Japanese ships had a greater range.
- In 1944 Anne Frank and her family and household members are arrested. Anne dies short before the end of the war in concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Her diary became famous all over the world, more than 30 million copies are sold in 60 countries.
- At the 5th of May, 1945 The Netherlands is liberated by the Allies Forces.
- In 1945 The Netherlands is at war with its colony, the Republic of Indonesia. This war will last 4 years, until 1949 and is known as the Indonesian War of Independence.
The Illuminated Netherlands
In the 17th century the Dutch ships, with its courageous crew, were the 'spaceships' of their time in the highly illuminated Netherlands, that discovered and recorded many exotic places around the globe.
In this era Christiaan Huygens already fantasized about the possibility of alien life on Mars, something that was unthinkable and was punished in the rest of Europe with horrific torture and death.
The crown of the nation is 'het Paleis op de Dam', the symbol of ultimate freedom. Today this place is still the pilgrimage of free thinking in all directions.
The Netherlands became in the 17th century the refuge for all free thinkers, writers, artists and scientists, that is comparable with the gifted spirits that fled to the United States from the oppressing German regime in 1930s of the 20th century.
This lightness of being never left the soul of this little nation. This is why everything is possible in Amsterdam in a peaceful way without being judged or condemned.
Building the Replica of the Famous 'Batavia'
The Modern Less Turbulent History
- In 1953 during a north-westerly storm and spring tide large area's of South West Holland are flooded. This event causes a new era of dike reinforcement, called the 'Deltaplan' and became one of the 7 World Wonders of the New World.
- In 1957 The Netherlands adopts the Delta Act, it is the start of a plan to reinforce the dike structures far into the 21st century. The enormous projects must prevent Holland from flooding a second time. In this plan a human life is valued at 3 million $.
- In 1959 the tenth largest natural gas field in the world is discovered in the North of Holland. It will ensure Holland’s position as a major energy supplier.
- In 1964 I was born :)
- In 1967 a conscript was sentenced to two years in prison because he refuses to go to the hairdresser.
- In 1973 more than 3 million trees fall during one of the heaviest recorded storms in history. The ship of 'pirate radio' Veronica strands on the beach.
- In 1974 four members of The Japanese Red Army hostage the French Embassy. It is the first hostage in the history of The Netherlands.
- In 1975 the Dutch colony Suriname becomes an independent republic.
- In 1979 the Dutch government agrees with the installation of US Cruise Missiles on its territory. This leads to the largest demonstrations The Netherlands had ever seen, without success.
- In 1984 abortion is legalized. The first abortions were already tolerated in a clinic in Arnhem in 1971.
- In 1985 the French secret service cowardly sinks the Dutch Rainbow Warrior in the harbour of Auckland in New Zealand. It was a successful attempt to stop the protests against French nuclear tests near Moruroa.
- In 1986 the so called 'Oosterscheldekering' becomes operational after 15 years of constructing. It is by far the most impressive storm surge barriers ever made. It is built to last for 200 years, it maintains the tides and can withstand the heaviest storms.
- In 1987 the world's first public monument for the persecuted gays and lesbians is revealed in Amsterdam.
- In 1990 Herman the Bull was born. It was the first genetically modified bovine (family of oxen) in the world. He has 55 offspring. Herman contains parts of human DNA so that female offspring produces milk with Lactoferrine, especially for direct use in baby food.
- In 1991 with the disintegration of the Soviet Union the Cold War comes to an end, after 46 years of nuclear threat.
- In 1993 euthanasia is legally regulated.
- In 1995 the enclave Srebrenica that was under protection of a Dutch regiment comes in the hands of Serbs. 8000 Bosnians are killed. It is a deep trauma in the pride of the Dutch nation.
- In 1996 I married for the first time :)
- In 1999 two Dutch physicists were awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics.
- In 2000 the fireworks disaster in Enschede destroys a whole city area, killing 23 people, destroying 450 homes and heavily damages 1500 other buildings.
- In 2001 marriage between two people of the same sex is legalized. Adoption of children is also included in this new law.
- In 2002 the Dutch Guilder (ƒ) is replaced by the Euro (€). The Dutch Guilder is the most solid currency in Europe. The majority of the Dutch regret the switch to the Euro (and still). It took away the self-will of the nation.
- In 2005 the Dutch voters reject the Constitutional Treaty for Europe.
- In 2008 the big Dutch banks are hit hard by the global financial crisis. The Dutch government supports most of the banks to prevent total collapse. The connections and investments of the modern banks appear to be complicated and nearly untraceable.
- In 2010 Holland loses in the thrilling final from Spain.
Did you ever visited Holland?
4. No respect for authority
6. Not Wrapping The Message
7. Dinner at 18:00 p.m.
9. Belletje Trekken
10 Most Typical Habits
1. Haringhappen - consumption of a fish called Herring by sliding it into the mouth like shown on the picture. By storing the Herring in brine the fish undergoes a maturation process. Bringing in the first Herring, is a real contest among the fishermen. The first barrel that weighs around 25 kg, brings in around $80,000 and traditionally goes to charity.
2. Koninginnedag - Every Dutch citizen celebrates Queens Day (soon Kings day 26th April) Most of the visitors of the festival in Amsterdam wear orange, originated from Willem van Oranje (Orange). The royal family are called 'De Oranjes'. Everywhere is jumble sale of people that try to sell their old stuff. It is impossible to go by car through cities, because of Koninginnedag.
3. Birthday celebrations - The host organizes in the living room a circle of chairs where the invitees take place mostly besides the same people of last year. They first eat cake with coffee and then sausages with cheese with soda or beer. Mostly without music. The host that celebrates his/her anniversary is continuously absent making snacks in the kitchen. Everyone is happy when this is over and may go home again.
4. No respect for Authority - Employees have not so much respect for the boss as in other cultures. Employees refuse to carry out tasks if the boss has no reasonable explanation why this task has to be carried out. The Dutch strongly believe all people are equal, this counts especially for bosses.
5. Cycling - Especially in the major cities most people go on bicycle. Being a cyclist has the highest status, all other traffic users must stop for the cyclist even when the cyclist has no priority. not respecting this high status of cyclists can bring you in serious troubles with the law.
6. Not wrapping the message - Dutch think it is not polite to hide things for you and will express their feelings in a direct way. For most cultures this is unbelievable rude and unpolite. Besides this they won't wrap their message, so that the receiver can handle the message easier. The Dutch believe this is a waste of energy. The insult threshold of the Dutch is very high, for most insults they are totally immune.
7. Dinner at 18:00 p.m. - Probably the only thing to insult the Dutch is calling at 18:00 p.m. because everyone is having dinner. The good news is that this dinner is very short, at its maximum it will take 30 minutes.
8. Avarice - The Dutch are probably, together with the Germans the most stingy people in the world. They will count every penny. In their focussed avarice they will do their shopping everywhere, picking up all discounts. Mostly done by car, travelling many kilometres and spending their savings double on fuel, but this is another 'kind' of money, the Dutch think. All jokes the Belgians make about the Dutch are about their avarice. 'Going Dutch' is an expressions that's really true - everyone pays their own share of dinner in a restaurant, which can lead to hilarious scenes.
9. Belletje Trekken - Every child spent his/her naughty part of childhood with 'Belletje Trekken', which means ringing doorbells and then as fast as you can run away. Your status will rise quickly if you're brave enough to ring the bell of most scary man from the neighbourhood. You're even more brave if you say 'I was pulling the bell, but forgot to run away'. This will bring you everlasting glory of ultimate coolness.
10. Sinterklaasfeest - 'Sinterklaasfeest' is all about children getting presents from a centuries old men that is surrounded with black servants. Children put their shoes before sleeping near the chimney. In the night Sinterklaas goes with his horse over the rooftops and somehow puts presents in the shoes of children. Parents tell their children that the servants turned black by climbing chimneys all the time. In 2013 the government wanted to forbid the black servants 'De Zwarte Pieten' because it should be discriminating. Children suffer their first shock at an age around 8 to 10 that 'Sinterklaas en de Zwarte Pieten' doesn't exist and that the parents always putted the presents in their shoes.
The Catacombs of Valkenburg
Lelystad Batavia Shipyard
Peat Corpses of Drenthe
World Famous World Heritage in Lemmer
The Thickest Tree of Holland
Leaning Tower of Bedum
The Vatican of Oudenbosch
The Defence Lines of Amsterdam
Maeslantkering of Rotterdam
Fort Rammekens of Ritthem
10 Nice Unknown Places to Visit Too
The catacombs of Valkenburg, Province of Limburg - At the time of the persecution of Christians in the Roman era it was prohibited to bury the dead. For Christians cremation was paganish. That's when arose secret underground catacombs, where they could bury their loved ones. The catacombs are similar with the ones in Rome. The size of the labyrinth is estimated around 3,000 km!
Lelystad Batavia shipyard, Province of Flevoland - The Batavia is a replica of the famous V.O.C. ship from 1628. The replica is docked at the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad where it is built. You can walk around on the Batavia and experience how it was like to be a sailor on this ship. Currently the famous warship The Seven Provinces is under construction.
Peat Corpses of Assen, Province of Drenthe - During mining of the peatlands in the nineteenth century in Drenthe several amazing discoveries were made. 2000 years ago, before the beginning of our era, people were sacrificed in the marshes. The skeleton disappeared through the acidic environment, but the skin of the body was preserved. The peat corpses of Drenthe are comparable with the famous Tollund Man in Silkeborg, Denmark.
World famous World Heritage in Lemmer, Province of Friesland - At the World Heritage List of the United Nations, among others structures like the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza and the Acropolis in Athens is also 'het Woudagemaal van Lemmer'. However, the old pumping station is not just a building, the largest pumping station in the world is steam powered and has still an important function.
The thickest tree of Holland, Province of Gelderland - The thickest tree in The Netherlands needed about 450 years to grow to its current size. The tree is called the Goblin Tree. The tale goes that you can lure the goblins from the tree with a song. A more plausible explanation for the hole in the tree is a shell burst during World War II. When the tree was just planted, Australia was not yet discovered by Willem Janszoon and was still an unknown continent.
Leaning tower of Bedum, Province of Groningen - The tower of Pisa is nothing compared to the tower of Bedum, that leans 4.2° in contrast to the tower of Pisa that leans 3.2°. This one is 30% more leaning! But less famous, because Holland has many leaning towers and buildings.
The Vatican of Oudenbosch, Province of Noord-Brabant - Pope Pius X granted more then hundred years ago, the cathedral of Oudenbosch the honorary title of 'Basilica Minor'. The huge dome is 63 meters high and towers over the town and the surroundings. In 1865, when construction started, there lived only 3,500 people in Oudenbosch. Despite the small population of the then pastor of the little community was determined to build the cathedral.
The Defence Lines of Amsterdam, Province of Noord-Holland - During the Eighty Years' War, the 'Watergeuzen' built a defence line to defence the cities in a controlled way. It was easy to defend against the enemy by controlled flooding. The areas were too deep to walk through and too shallow to sail over.To walk along the defence takes approximately one week and consists of building and tunnels. It is one of the largest lines of Europe and is a World Heritage.
Maeslantkering of Rotterdam, Province of South-Holland - This huge doors were the alternative for dike reinforcement and forms in normal weather no obstacle to shipping of the 360-meter-wide waterway. The doors are strong enough to withstand the heaviest storms and tides.
Fort Rammekens of Ritthem, Province of Zeeland - The oldest sea fortress of Western Europe is in Ritthem. The fort was built between 1547 and 1557 to protect the ports of Antwerp and Middelburg and also served as an anchorage for ships of the Dutch East India Company.
Great Dutch Brands and Products
- ASML: By far the largest producer of the so called wafer stepper machines in the world. More than 60% of all chips in the world are produced on the inventive machines of ASML. The most advanced chip producers like Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments and Toshiba use all the machines of ASML. The profits of the niche market in which ASML operates are so high that it exceed 20%.
- DJ's: Most of the great DJ's come from Holland, like: Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Sander van Doorn, Tiësto, Fedde le Grand and Hardwell. Amsterdam is the leading city when it comes to electronic music.
- Endemol: The largest independent TV producer in the world. Endemol operates in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Eastern Europe, Latin America, India, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East, producing annually 10,000 hour of content.
- Heineken Royal Brewery: One of the largest brewers in the world and also one of the strongest brands in the business that was founded in 1864. Heineken beer is available in 178 countries and brewed in 2011 around 16,5 billion litre beer.
- Mammoet: A typical Dutch company, that is specialized in only one thing: Lifting. If Mammoet cannot lift it, nobody can. One of their most famous projects was Lifting the Kursk, although by far not their largest. Mammoet is specialized is both on- and offshore lifting. The favourite proverb of the director of Mammoet is 'if we are on the toilet without toilet paper, we all have the same problem', expressing we are basically all the same, with the same kind of problems.
- Royal Philips: The famous Dutch producer of all different kinds of electronic equipment, from home electronics to medical equipment.
- Royal Ahold: A giant food retailer with many brands all over the world, with an annual global turnover that is comparable with McDonald's.
- Senseo: The Senseo coffee machine is the result of a joint venture between Philips and Douwe Egberts, which you could call a marriage between a machine producer and a coffee roaster. Worldwide more than 25 million Senseo's are sold, therefore one of the most successful coffee machine ever.
- Royal Shell: Together with BP, Chevron, Total and ExxonMobil is Shell one of the largest oil drilling and exploiting companies in the world. Every year the share holders are again happy with the immense profits the Dutch-English joint venture is making.
- TomTom: Largest producer of satellite navigation systems in the world. TomTom produces also many in-built navigation for the major car manufacturers.
- Unilever: Unilever is together with Nestlé and Kraft the largest food producer in the world, from which Unilever is the largest ice cream producer. Unilever is owner of around 400 brands.
- Van Oord: Also a typical Dutch company mainly specialized in dredging and sand spraying. This sounds very simple, but appearances are deceptive. The big artificial islands in Dubai are all made in charge of The Dutch, because no one else can handle these projects on this scale. Van Oord is also involved in nearly all large harbour projects all over the world.
How The Dutch Look at the World
The Dutch are still people who like to travel around the world, not always aware that times are changed and the human race expanded with sevenfold since the times the Dutch ruled the world together with the British. The Dutch have a feeling somewhere deep inside they are a superpower, but the rest of the world doesn't share this opinion, unfortunately.
The Dutch view on other countries (not meant offensive):
- United States: Needs our decisive military support and advice in again one of their foolish interventions. Our support of 1% feels like 99%.
- Great Britain: We have no hard feelings to the always in tea stirring aristocrats with their superb clever humour. But the chains at Gillingham were not clever enough to stop our superb tactical insight. We love their inventive machines, but unfortunately too complicated and not so reliable. The battlefield is now moved to the soccer competitions. But in silence we love the British.
- Germany: Descendants of the Nazi's that make damn good cars and machines and still they are avaricious. We love them for their sausages, beer, highways without speed limits and cheap shopping malls for Christmas.
- Scandinavians: We love them. We can even impress them with our humour.
- Belgium: Our little brother that suffers of identity crisis and is not as clever as us. Best cities to go out.
- France: Very nice country, but unfortunately it is occupied by the French that eat too much garlic. They don't even speak English and their highways cost money!
- Spain: Too noisy and too expressive, so we prefer to spend our pension time in our own communities with our own food at 18:00. Fighting with bulls is very strange, we prefer to send bulls to the butcher without too much hubbub.
- Portugal: Good vacation destination, calm people, but we still blame them they stole Brazil.
- Greece: Why on earth we asked them to join us in the Euro zone? But it's nice to go on vacation.
- Italy: Noisy machos, that invented corruption. We envy them for their light-hearted artistic abilities. They make good olive oil, by the way.
- The Eastern Bloc: Pale faced grey people that like to eat cabbage soup with waxy potatoes. Scary environment with endless plains and forests and no sea anywhere.
- Japan: Very scary. We fear their brutal battle forces, but admire their iron discipline.
- Indonesia: Still ours, but under pressure of our beloved big brother the US we were forced to squander it.
- Australia: Still ours too, but the British stole it and putted prisoners on it. It was not honest.
- South-Africa: Kaap de Goede Hoop (Cape Good Hope) was a resting place on long journeys until the British empire also took it from us. This was not honest too.
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