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The Netherlands is known for its stable political and economic environment. It has a transparent legal system, strong rule of law, and efficient bureaucracy. The Dutch government actively promotes a favorable business climate, providing incentives and support for both domestic and foreign investors.

While Holland is most commonly used to talk about the Netherlands, Holland is actually just a part of the Netherlands. When we Dutch talk about Holland, we mean the provinces of North and South Holland. But the Netherlands includes another ten provinces. More than 17 million people live in these provinces.

The Netherlands in facts and figures

The Netherlands is located in Northwestern Europe. The country shares a border with Germany in the East and Belgium in the South. The West and North are the Dutch coast and are delimited by the North Sea. The euro is the official currency.

Top 10 facts about the Netherlands

  1. The Netherlands is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

  2. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam.

  3. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family.

  4. A population of over 17 million people speaks Dutch. 

  5. On Texel, there are more sheep than people.

  6. Nearly one-third of the Netherlands lies below sea level.

  7. Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel is the lowest point of the Netherlands (-6.76 meters NAP).

  8. The Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands (323 meters). Here you can also visit the Drielandenpunt (tri-border area).

  9. The Netherlands boasts some 35.000 kilometers worth of bike paths.

  10. The highest museum density can be found in Leiden. Here, there are as many as 13 museums within walking distance.

Dutch flag

The Dutch flag is also called the national tricolor. The flag consists of three horizontal blocks in red, white, and blue.

The Netherlands or Holland?

The Netherlands consists of twelve provinces. In addition to North and South Holland, these are Utrecht, Gelderland, North Brabant, Overijssel, Flevoland, Drenthe, Friesland, Groningen, Limburg, and Zeeland. Every province has its own landscape and atmosphere. The lakes in Friesland, the hunebeds in Drenthe, and the Biesbosch in North Brabant are unique, for instance.

The real difference between the Netherlands and Holland? It is quite complicated, actually! This clip will explain.

Do’s and don’ts in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a liberal and tolerant nation. That does not mean that everything is allowed, but the Dutch generally have an open attitude with regard to freedom of speech, same-sex marriage and the use of soft drugs.

Do’s in the Netherlands

  • Are you visiting Amsterdam? Then consider going on a day trip from Amsterdam and discover the peace and space outside the city. Cycle through the polder and along the Amstel River or take a train to enjoy a day at the beach. 

  • Always bring your ID when you go out. You must be able to confirm your identity at any time.

  • You can pay by card (’PIN’) in most locations.

  • Rent a bicycle and enjoy the beautiful landscape!

  • Always bring a light coat. Even in summer, it may get chilly when a sea wind blows and rain showers may be sudden and unexpected all year round.

Don’ts in the Netherlands
  • Avoid walking on cycling lanes if you don’t want to be run over. They are often distinguishable by a red paint directly next to the pedestrian lane.

  • Drinking alcohol in public is often forbidden, although it depends per municipality. Terraced cafés and restaurants (HORECA), as well as some parks, can be an exception.

  • Avoid setting appointments around dinner time. The Dutch like their privacy and prefer to eat with their family. It is not common to invite unexpected guests to stay over for dinner.

  • Buying drugs in the street. Hard drugs are illegal and you should only buy soft drugs in designated coffee shops. Coffee shops are licensed locations where weed and other soft drugs are for sale: this is noticeably different from a café that sells coffee, other beverages, or lunch. The legislation surrounding the availability of soft drugs changes regularly, so read up on the latest before you fly to the Netherlands.

Read all this and more in the practical information for visiting the Netherlands.

Visiting the Netherlands

The Netherlands is beautiful to visit throughout the year. Every season has its own mood and charm. In spring, the flower bulb fields are blooming, and visiting the Keukenhof is a must! In summer, you can enjoy the sun and sea on one of the gorgeous beaches along the Dutch coast. Fall is the time to discover beautiful nature on the bicycle and, of course, eat venison at one of the excellent restaurants in the Netherlands. Winter in the Netherlands is really ‘gezellig’ (pleasant). Go Christmas shopping at one of the Christmas markets or ‘tie on the irons’ to go ice skating.

Bikes at Amsterdam Canal
Colorful Houses
Netherlands Flag


The Dutch – all 17 million – live in 41,526 square kilometers, little more than half the size of Scotland. This makes the Netherlands one of the world's most densely populated countries.

The Netherlands is best known for its tulips, windmills and clogs. Less well known is that the Netherlands has the eighteenth largest economy in the world, and ranks tenth in GDP per capita (World Bank). Many Dutch are familiar with doing business with foreigners since the Netherlands has a long history of international trade. The Dutch prefer to get down to business quickly and engage in relatively little small talk. Communication is direct and to the point, and may seem blunt. 

The Netherlands has a large pull factor for innovation, academe and learning: the Dutch have won Nobel prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine, economics, and peace. The world's planners and architects flock here to learn about Dutch solutions for urban planning, water management, building-with-nature, and circular economy. There are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague, up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. 

With more than half the country at or below sea level, the Dutch are experts on water management. The low-lying Netherlands has been fighting back water for more than 1,000 years when farmers built the first dikes. Windmills have been clearing the land of water since the 14th century. The country's universities are producing some of the world's best water engineers and managers and it is exporting its expertise abroad. Flevoland is the youngest province of the Netherlands and consists almost entirely of land reclaimed from the sea.

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