30 facts about the Netherlands and the Dutch culture
If you are planning a trip to the Netherlands, make sure you get to know the country a little bit more by reading these facts about the Netherlands and the Dutch culture!
1. Most cities feature some beautiful canals
Think about the big cities Amsterdam and Utrecht: those cities have some beautiful canals and those canals are very photogenic!
2. It does not always rain in our country
When people think of the Netherlands, they mostly think about rain and bad weather. I have to admit that we get a lot of rain through the year, but we simply live in four seasons per year. That means that in spring and summer the weather is better and there is less rain then in fall and winter.
3. Amsterdam is our capital city
Well, who does not know that? But it is a fact: Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and therefore it is the most touristic and crowded city of the Netherlands. However, this city does not completely feature the country. There are so many other beautiful places in the Netherlands to visit and those places can be very different from Amsterdam.
4. We celebrate Kingsday every year
Our national feast is on the 27th of April, namely Kingsday. Every year we nationally celebrate the King’s birthday. At this day, everyone is dressed in orange (our national colour) and are partying in all kinds of cities around the Netherlands. Everywhere on the streets you can find bars, music, dj’s and people having fun.
5. We have some very nice places to go to the beach
In the West side of the Netherlands, you can find the North Sea. In summer, it is nice to spend a day or a few days at the beach. Examples of places to go are Scheveningen, Texel, Cadzand, Vlissingen and Zandvoort.
6. ‘Poffertjes’ is a popular meal in the Netherlands
Poffertjes are like mini pancakes. It is a sweet pastry dish which mostly is eaten with powdered sugar. If you are a fan of pancakes, you should definitely try poffertjes when you are visiting the Netherlands!
7. You can still find a lot of mansions through the Netherlands
And those mansions are really pretty and photogenic.
8. We love to bike to actually anywhere
Sometimes you would see even more bicycles than cars riding around. The Netherlands is the bicycle capital of the world with more than 18 million in the country. Furthermore, there are specially-designated bike paths (fietspaden) all over the country, which makes it extra safe (as well for foreigners) to bike around the country.
9. We often eat chocolate sprinkles on bread as breakfast or lunch
Yeah, it just tastes really good!
10. We have low lands and wind mills
The Netherlands is well-known for her low lands and wind mills, which is absolutely true we have it. The Netherlands is still the historic windmill capital of the world with over 1.000 vertical mills still in working condition. Furthermore, the highest point in the Netherlands, Vaalserberg, is only 323 meters above sea level.
11. We rarely wear clogs
The clogs used to be popular back in the days as industrial footwear worn by farmers, fisherman, factory workers and others to protect their feet from injury and keep them dry. Nowadays, we actually rarely wear them. When you go to the Netherlands, do not expect people to walk on clogs, because you will not see them. However, you can still spot and buy them in several souvenir shops.
12. The famous beer brand Heineken comes from the Netherlands
The Dutch brewer Heineken is the third largest beer brewer in the world with over 140 breweries in over 70 countries. In the Netherlands, it owns around 50 percent of the Dutch beer market. In Amsterdam, you can do the Heineken Experience. In the very first brewery of Heineken you can get an interactive tour around the dynamic world of the beer brand.
13. Raw herring with onions is a popular meal
You have to love (raw) fish for it, but the herring with chopped raw onions is a national dish in the Netherlands. Personally I love it and it is definitely worth the try when you are visiting the Netherlands.
14. There is a huge difference between West and East
The people are slightly different and you go from big cities to more nature and less touristic cities. The East is also definitely worth the visit when going to the Netherlands. You will meet a whole new side of the country.
15. Not everyone smokes weed or uses other drugs
Coffee shops and drugs are mostly popular under the tourists who visit the Netherlands, because soft drugs are legal in our country. However, foreigners may think every Dutch person uses drugs, but this is absolutely not true. There are many people who do not do drugs or even never tried it.
16. Every year at New Year’s day lots of people do the ‘Nieuwjaarsduik’
In many cities around the Netherlands people do the ‘Nieuwjaarsduik’ at the first of January each year. This means that people who would like to join can enter this event whereby everyone will be doing a dive in the water.
17. You can eat ‘bitterballen’
Another typical Dutch dish! You can compare it with the croquette a little bit: it is a savoury meat-based snack, typically containing a mixture of beef or veal, beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper, resulting in a thick roux. We eat it a lot as a snack, combined with a glass of wine or beer.
18. Tulips are the Netherlands’ most famous flower
Thousands of people come each year to Haarlem (foreigners and Dutch people) to see the beautiful tulip fields as they grow. Popular fields are the Flower Parade and Keukenhof park. There are over 1.500 varieties and 80% of the world’s tulips come from the Netherlands. However, the tulip is not native to the Netherlands. It was imported from Turkey in the 16th century.
19. We celebrate the Gay pride
Every year the Gay pride takes place in Amsterdam. This is a huge celebration of devotion towards equality for the gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex communities. The Netherlands was the first country where same-sex marriage became legal, namely since 2001. This year the Gay Pride will take place from 23 July till 7 August (2016). The Canal Parade and street parties will take place from 5 till 7 August (2016).
20. ‘Stroopwafels’ is a Dutch delicacy
Another delicious Dutch snack, is the stroopwafel. This is a waffle, made from two think layers of baked dough, with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. You should definitely give it a try when visiting the Netherlands!
21. Not only Dutch is an official language
There is one province in the Netherlands where most of the inhabitants can speak another language, namely Friesland. Here they can speak Fryslân, which is also an official language in the Netherlands. However, there are more Dutch who can speak English than Fryslân.
22. Most of the Dutch people can speak English
Going on by the last point, approximately 87 percent of the Dutch people can speak English. This is very nice when it comes to foreigners who would like to visit the Netherlands. There would be no problem to communicate with the local people. Also, 66 percent of the Dutch people can speak German.
23. The Netherlands and Holland are not the same
A lot of people (even Dutch people) think Holland is the same as the Netherlands, but this is not true. The Netherlands stands for our country, while Hollands stands for the western coastal region of the Netherlands, comprising the provinces North-Holland and South-Holland.
24. Gin (Jenever) was invented in the Netherlands
Gin was invented in the 16th century. It was originally used for medicinal purposes.
25. In July there is the ‘Vierdaagse’ in Nijmegen
Every year the event ‘Nijmeegse Vierdaagse’ take place in the Dutch city Nijmegen. This is a walking performance ride where each year 42.000 walkers participate in. The event take place for four days and people are walking either 30, 40 or 50 kilometers a day. The route differs each day and take place in and around the city Nijmegen. This year the 100st Nijmeegse Vierdaagse take place from 19 till 22 July (2016).
26. We drink a lot of coffee
Furthermore, coffee actually is Dutch. The Dutch introduced coffee to Europe in the 16th century. Nowadays, we drink approximately three cups of coffee per day per person.
27. Dutch people eat the most liquorice per year
An average of two kilograms of drop or Dutch salty-sweet liquorice is consumed by each person per year with over 80 typical kinds of liquorice available to choose from. Personally I am fan of the salty ones.
28. We have a lot of famous DJ’s
Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Afrojack, Hardwell and Martin Garrix are all examples of internationally famous dj’s.
29. And also other international famous people
Artists like Vermeer, Rembrandt and van Gogh are still internationally famous.
30. The Netherlands is a big cheese producer
The Netherlands is the largest exporter of cheese in the world with a dairy industry turning over around seven billion euros. Furthermore, cheese markets where farmers’ cheeses have been weighed, tasted and prices for the past 300 years still exist in Woerden and Gouda.