The Netherlands, or -as the natives call it- “Holland”, is internationally best known for its windmills, canals and flower exports.  Citizens of the Netherlands as well as our language are both referred to as “Dutch”.  Our head of State is Her Majesty Queen Beatrix

We are a rather liberal and generous country and so, many immigrants and refugees from around the world have made the Netherlands their new home. 

The Netherlands has one of the highest population densities in the world.  Approximately 16 million people live on 16,000 square miles, which equates to about 1,000 people per square mile.  By comparison, Florida’s population of app. 15 million is spread over an area of app. 53,000 square miles.  About 40 percent of the population lives in the two western provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland which also contain three of Holland’s largest cities: The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Caribbean islands of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles also are part of the Netherlands. 

In addition to their native language, most people speak at least 2 foreign languages, usually German and English.

The most popular sports are soccer, tennis, ice-skating, basketball (known as "korfbal"), badminton and field hockey.  Almost every Dutch person cycles; many people use bicycles as their main means of transportation to go to work or to school.

Most regions organize local festivals to commemorate events or tradition. For example, in May coastal areas celebrate Vlaggetjesdag (little flag day), which marks the beginning of the herring season, a long story by itself; suffice it to say that is when you can eat the best raw herring.  In the south there is a popular tradition of pre-Lenten Carnival.  This celebration begins on a Sunday and finishes at midnight on Tuesday. Businesses close or operate with a skeleton staff on that Monday and Tuesday. Tourists from the north come down to watch the festivities at Den Bosch and Breda, but by reputation the liveliest Carnival takes place in the far south.   Luilak, on the Saturday before Whitsunday (the Pentecost; 50 days following Easter), means “lazybones.”  On this day, young people rouse their neighbors by generating all kinds of noise starting early in the morning. Children who fail to get up and join the noisemakers are called Luilak. In some areas it is part of the tradition to bake and eat special Luilakbollen or Lazybones Cakes.   Martinmas, on November 11, is Saint Martin’s Day, also known as Beggars’ Day. Children go around their neighborhoods singing and begging for treats, sounds familiar?

 I can only advise you to come visit our country, we are funny and very easy going people, so what are you waiting for?

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