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Interesting facts about the Netherlands

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Interesting facts about the Netherlands

Land & People

  • The Netherlands has the highest population density (493 inhabitants per square km - water excluded) of any European country with over 1 million inhabitants. Worldwide, only Bangladesh and Taiwan, among major countries, have a higher density of population.
  • The 'Netherlands' mean "Low Country" in Dutch. About half of its surface area is less than 1 metre above sea level. Its highest point is 321 metres (1,053 ft) above sea level.
  • Dutch people are the tallest in the world, with an average height of 184 cm for men and 170 cm for women.
  • A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked the Netherlands as the best country for children to live.
  • The OECD Better Life Index found that, as of 2022, the Dutch had the highest civic engagement of any European country.
  • Dutch people have the lowest incidence of lactose intolerance of any country - only 1%.
  • The village of Giethoorn, in the province of Overijssel, does not have any roads. All transport is done by water over one of the many canals. It is known as the "Venice of the Netherlands".


  • New York City started as Dutch colony called New Amsterdam. Many places names in New York remind of the Dutch origins of the city, such as Flushing in Queens (famous for Flushing Meadows), named after Flushing in the Dutch province of Zeeland.
  • The Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus, is the oldest in the world. It was written and first used from 1568, although it was only officially adopted in 1932. The national flag of the Netherlands dates from 1572 and is also the oldest tricolour flag.
  • Gin was invented in the Netherlands under the name of Jenever. It was first sold as a medicine in the late 16th century.
  • Orange-coloured carrots appeared in the Netherlands in the 16th century. Before that carrots were white, yellow, black, purple or red. Orange carrots are said to have been bred in honour of the House of Orange, who led the Dutch Revolt against Spain and later became the Dutch Royal family. Orange is still the official colour of the Netherlands and a sign of patriotism. The Dutch national football team wears a bright orange shirt. And the country's largest financial institution, the ING Group, makes abundant use of the national colour on its logo and on the decoration of its banks.
  • The Dutch were the first Europeans to discover Australia and New Zealand in the 17th century. Australia was then named "New Holland". New Zealand was named after the province of Zeeland.Tasmania was named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (1603-1659).
  • The island country of Mauritius was named in 1598 in honour of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands at the time.
  • Although the Portuguese were the first Europeans to "discover" tea in East Asia, it was the Dutch who introduced the beverage commercially to Europe in 1610. Tea didn't reach England until the 1650's.
  • Indonesia was a Dutch colony until 1945. Jakarta was then called "Batavia", after the Latin name for the Netherlands. Dutch language is still spoken by a minority of Indonesians.

Government & Politics

  • The Netherlands has two capitals : Amsterdam (the official capital by constitution since the 19th century) and The Hague (the seat of government and first capital since 1584).
  • Soft drugs (e.g. cannabis, "magic mushrooms") are legal in the Netherlands. Only licenced "coffee shops" are allowed to sell such drugs, although people are allowed to grow cannabis at home for their personal use.
  • Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. However, prostitutes must be at least 18, and clients must be at least 16.
  • Abortion on demand at any point between conception and viability has been legal since 1981.
  • The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages in 2001.
  • The Netherlands was ranked second worldwide in the United Nations's e-Government Readiness Index.

Culture & Sciences

  • The Netherlands has spawned many world-class painters, such as Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Jan Steen, Vincent van Gogh or Piet Mondriaan.
  • The microscope, the telescope, pendulum clock and the mercury thermometer are all 16th or 17th century Dutch inventions.
  • The Dutch company 'Philips' invented the audio tape (in 1967), the video tape (in 1972), the Compact Disk (in 1982) and the CD-ROM (in 1985).
  • There are 1180 windmills in the Netherlands.
  • Tulips were imported from the Ottoman Empire and became very popular in Holland in the early 17th century. Nowadays, the Netherlands is the world's first producer and exporter of tulips.
  • Keukenhof Park is the largest flower garden in the world.
  • Smith & Jones in Amsterdam is Europe's first and only addiction clinic, treating everything from compulsive gambling to alcoholism, and from eating disorders to video game addiction.
  • As of 2010, the Netherlands had the highest percentage of broadband subscriptions in the world, with 38% of the population connected.


  • Famous Dutch companies include Philips, Akzo Nobel , Royal Dutch Shell (half-British), Unilever (half-British), Heineken, IKEA (formerly Swedish) as well as the banks ING and ABN-AMRO.
  • The KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) is the longest running national airline in the world. It was founded in 1919.
  • The Netherlands has long been one of the richest countries in the world. Its GDP per capita was estimated to be the highest in the world in 1820, and the 2nd highest in Europe in 1900 (after Belgium). Nowadays, it still enjoys the 4th highest nominal GDP per capita (or 3rd at PPP) within the European Union.
  • The Netherlands have the highest level of foreign direct investment per capita in the world.
  • In 2021 the Netherlands overtook Iceland and Switzerland as the country with the highest employment rate of the 38 OECD countries, with 80% of the working age population actually employed (as opposed to only 69% in the USA).
  • Rotterdam, in South Holland, is the largest seaport in Europe. It used to be the largest port in the world by cargo tonnage, until being overtaken by Singapore in the 1990's, then Shanghai in 2003.
  • DHL's Global Connectedness Index has ranked the Netherlands as the world's most internationally connected country for many years in a row. The ranking is based on economic depth (size of the country's international flow compared to its domestic economy) and geographic breadth (number of countries it connects with).


A few famous Dutch companies :

  • Royal Philips Electronics :one of the largest electronics and home appliances companies in the world.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines : major international airline.
  • Royal Dutch Shell : Anglo-Dutch oil company.
  • Unilever : Anglo-Dutch company owning many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products.
  • ING Group: the world's largest banking/financial services and insurance conglomerate in 2012.
  • ABN AMRO : Dutch bank.
  • AEGON : insurance company.
  • Heineken and Amstel : brewing companies
  • Mexx and McGregor : fashion brands.
  • Vedior and Randstad : human resources and staffing services companies.
  • Akzo Nobel : healthcare products, coatings and chemicals.
  • KPN : telecommunications company owning such operators as BASE (Belgium), E-Plus (Germany), Simyo (France and Spain) and iBasis (USA).
  • Getronics : Information and Communication Technology company.
  • IKEA : international home products retailer (founded in Sweden but headquartered in Holland).
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