That is why I decided to start writing more posts about my home country. I will share hidden and off the beaten track places to visit in the Netherlands, how to get around, typical Dutch food such as ‘bitterballen’ and much more!
I hope I can make you fall in love with the Netherlands…
The Netherlands: a brief introduction
The Netherlands is a tiny country (~41.000km2) in Western Europe with a population of over 17 million. With over 400 people per square kilometer, the Netherlands has the highest population density in Europe and the 5th highest population density in the world.
There are 12 ‘provinces’, a province is similar to a county in the UK or state in the USA. Though of course a province in the Netherlands is tiny, just like the country itself. The 12 provinces of the Netherlands are:
- Noord Brabant
- Noord Holland
- Zuid Holland (also check this post about visiting The Hague)
Check the map below to see where the 12 provinces are.
Fun fact: did you know that the maximum distance you can travel within the Netherlands (from the most Northeastern part of Groningen to the Southwestern part of Zeeland) is around 400km?
So far, I have lived in 4 provinces in my life: I grew up in Overijssel and went to high school in Zwolle (one of the beautiful Hanse cities in the Netherlands).
After my high school graduation, I moved to Groningen to study at the Rijksuniversiteit. For my first job, I lived in Amsterdam for a while and I currently live in Utrecht.
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. If you plan on visiting Amsterdam, be sure to check out this great post from my friend Karen, who lives in Amsterdam, as she explains about the do’s and don’ts in this world-famous city.
Dutch the official language of the Netherlands, however, Fries (Frisian in English) is also an officially recognized language. Don’t expect many people to speak Frisian to you though, it’s only spoken in the province of Friesland.
People in the Netherlands call themselves ‘the Dutch’ and we are known around the world for our cheese, mills and flowers.
Football is the most popular sport in the Netherlands and we tend to go a bit crazy during the European or World Football Championships! There is actually a term for it: Orange Fever.
The whole country is outfitted in orange (people wear orange outfits and entire streets are decorated with orange flags and balloons). This is how we show our support for the national football team.
The whole country watches the football matches and we are absolutely euphoric when we win. When we lose however…
There is much more to be told about the Netherlands but I’ll save that for future posts. For now I’ll end this post with 10 fun facts about the Netherlands:
- There are more bicycles (19 million) in the Netherlands than people (17 million).
- Dutch people drink huge amounts of milk, over 320 liters per person each year.
- We also eat a lot of cheese, yearly we devour almost 20 kilos per person.
- About a quarter of the Netherlands is below sea level and to protect the country from the ocean, we have approximately 80.000 kilometers of dikes.
- The colors of the Dutch flag are red, white and blue. Red is for the people, white for the church and blue for the nobility.
- Schiphol airport lies 4,5 meters below sea level.
- Licorice is typical Dutch candy, each year we eat about 2 kilograms per person.
- The Netherlands exports two-thirds of the world’s flowers, many of which are colorful tulips.
- The Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands, 323 meters above sea level.
- 4 out of 10 people in the Netherlands work part-time.
What have you always wanted to know about the Netherlands? Leave a comment below!