An Introduction To The Netherlands

An Introduction To The Netherlands - Sky at Havelte Drenthe hei

2015 was all about exploring faraway places such as New Zealand and Southeast Asia. But as a born and raised Dutchie I am pretty proud of my tiny but beautiful country: the Netherlands!

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…

Now for 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:

• Drenthe
• Flevoland
• Friesland
• Gelderland
• Groningen
• Limburg
• Noord Brabant
• Noord Holland
• Overijssel
• Utrecht
• Zeeland
• Zuid Holland (also check this post about visiting The Hague)

Check the map below to see where the 12 provinces are.

An Introduction To The Netherlands - The 12 provinces of the Netherlands!

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, moved to Groningen for university, lived in Amsterdam for work and currently live in Utrecht.
introduction to the netherlands
The beautiful ‘grachten’ of Utrecht with the famous Dom tower in the background…
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. Or take a look at this 3 day Amsterdam itinerary for some sightseeing inspiration. Also check out this extensive guide about the best neighborhoods to stay in Amsterdam and this Amsterdam city guide.

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.

Amsterdam the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands and famous for its many bridges and canals.

People in the Netherlands call themselves ‘the Dutch’ and we are known around the world for our cheese, mills and flowers.

Mill in Utrecht the Netherlands
Just another mill in the center of Utrecht!

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…

Oranjegekte in the Netherlands

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:

1. There are more bicycles (19 million) in the Netherlands than people (17 million).
2. Dutch people drink huge amounts of milk, over 320 liters per person each year.
3. We also eat a lot of cheese, yearly we devour almost 20 kilo per person.
4. About a quarter of the Netherlands is below sea level and to protect the country from the ocean, there is about 80.000 kilometers of dikes.
5. 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.
6. Schiphol airport lies 4,5 meters below sea level.
7. Licorice is typical Dutch candy, each year we eat about 2 kilogram per person.
8. About 30% of Dutch women give birth at home instead of in the hospital.
9. The Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands, 323 meter above sea level.
10. 4 out of 10 people in the Netherlands work part time.

What have you always wanted to know about the Netherlands?

An introduction to my home country, the tiny but beautiful Netherlands! 12 provinces, lots of bicycles, famous for our flowers, mills and much more... An introduction to my home country, the tiny but beautiful Netherlands! 12 provinces, lots of bicycles, famous for our flowers, mills and much more...

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  1. Antonette
    January 5, 2016 / 11:37 pm

    I always like to share with foreigners that we actually have to share our highest mountain with Belgium and Germany 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading more stories, it’s always fun to read about my own country!

    • Lotte
      January 6, 2016 / 10:48 am

      Haha I know, not even our own mountain… But we do have a long coastline and 5 awesome islands! Thanks for reading along about our Holland:-)

  2. Kate
    December 13, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    These are wonderful posts! I’m planning to study abroad in Amsterdam this spring. I would love to see more posts from you.

    • Lotte
      December 15, 2018 / 11:27 am

      Thank you Kate! I wish you a wonderful time in Amsterdam:-)

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