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Published December 23rd 2012
Ask the question of what the Netherlands is known for to Dutch and foreigners and you'll get answers like liberal, tulips, windmills, wooden shoes, cheese and canals. Netherlands is much more than these. Here are 60 interesting facts I'd picked up to share with travellers visiting this wonderful country. Some local readers may also be interested to share them with family and friends.
1) The herring with chopped raw onions and pickles is a national dish. The Dutch consume 12 million kilograms every year, which translates to at least 5 fish per person.
2) Netherlands and Holland are not synonymous. Holland is largely the western coastal region of the Netherlands, comprising of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Leiden and the Hague.
3) The first country to legalise same sex marriages in 2001.
4) The Dutch are the world experts on keeping back water from the sea and rivers turning Netherlands into an Atlantis. The US government turned to the Dutch for help during the hurricane Katrina disaster.
5) 70% of the world's bacon comes from Netherlands.
6) The Dutch are the tallest in the world with an average height of 184 cm for men and 170 cm for women. Some believe its the combined result of DNA and dairy.
7) Gin was invented in the Netherlands. Called "jenever", it was originally used for medicinal purposes in the 16th century.
8) The Schiphol Airport is actually 4.5 m below sea level.
9) It is only logical that the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum house the largest Van Gogh collections in the world.
10) For 4 evenings in a row during May and June since 1909, thousands of Dutch school children and their parents walk 5 or 10 km at a time through streets in huge processions called the avondvierdaagse, or 'evening four-day marches' while slurping on half-cut lemons and sweets on strings around their necks.
11) 75% of the world's flower bulb production comes from Netherlands.
12) Most graves are leased for 10, 15 or 20 years only and not purchased due to the short supply of grave space.
24) The famous Dutch windmills were used to pump away water for hundreds of years.
25) About 2/3 of Netherlands is vulnerable to flooding with 25 percent below sea level and 50 percent less than 1m above sea level.
26) Fans of Victoria's Secret will be interested to know that one of the lingerie brand's Angels, Doutzen ,is Dutch and one of the world's top earning supermodels, with her own wax figure in the Amsterdam Madame Tussaud's.
27) 86% of the population speak English as a second language.
41) Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 - 1890) famed for his post-Impressionist work and far-reaching influence on 20th century art was Dutch. In addition to his world-famous vase of sunflowers and starry night, he produced more than 2,000 paintings in just over 10 years with most of his best-known works in his final 2 years.
42) It would take just 48 hours for an entire province of Flevoland, 3 times the size of Manhattan, New York to be submerged in water if a dike broke in that area.
43) There are close to 1,000 museums in Netherlands.
44) It the highest number of part-time workers in the European Union with four in every ten people.
45) Dutch electronic dance music has conquered the world with DJs like Armin van Buuren, Tiësto and Afrojack exporting their music to the remotest corners of the world. The exports totalled
EUR81.5 million in 2010.
46) One of the most popular snacks in the Netherlands is french fries dipped in mayonnaise.
47) It is still the historic windmill capital of the world with over 1,000 vertical mills still in working condition. Imagine the sight when it once had 10,000 windmills.
48) Dutch cheese is the best cheese in the world, as agreed by 40 judges from 17 countries who judged 2,500 cheeses in the 2012 World Cheese Making Contest held in the US.
49) One of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history, Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669), is Dutch. He is also an important art figure in Dutch history, famous for his work "The Night Watch" (1642).
50) Wooden shoes or clogs or "Klompen" have been popular in the Netherlands for about 700 years as industrial footwear worn by farmers, fishermen, factory workers, artisans and others to protect their feet from injury and keep them dry.
51) Orange is the official colour of Netherlands because of the House of Orange, who led the Dutch revolt against Spain and later became the Dutch royal family.
52) On average, the Dutch person cycles 2.5 km per day and 900 km per year.
53) Despite soft drugs being legal in Netherlands, you almost never see a Dutch person getting high.
54) The Dutch beer brands Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel are among the most famous brews in the world.
55) The 19 polder draining windmills of the Kinderdijk is a UNESCO site.
56) Dutch adults love to put sprinkles (the kind kids put on ice cream) on toast.
57) Cheese markets where farmers' cheeses have been weighed, tasted and prices for the past 300 years still exist in Woerden and Gouda.
58) Despite the rainy weather, the Dutch use raincoats and rain "suits" instead of umbrellas because the windy is too strong and it an acrobatic feat to hold one and cycle at the same time
59) Although the colours of the Dutch National flag are Red, white and Blue as per the royal decree by Queen Wilhelmina in 1937, a orange pennant is flown as a sign of allegiance of the Dutch people to the House of Orange to accompany the national flag.
I'm from the netherlands and I always learned that those cute windmills were to grind grains for flow, spices, oil and water. Not only water. You should look inside one, it has a big round grinder and that's why wind is needed.
There are over 30 types of windmills for over 30 purposes. The most common ones are/were used for grains and spices.
How I wish one,day I could go to The NEtherlands.........the canals, the boats and the flowers? I can't imagine they were in my dreams. Surprisingly its only today that I read about the country and knew that maybe I was in The Netherlands during my dreams...so sad....only in my dreams