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60 Interesting Facts About Netherlands

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by Lionel (subscribe)
Join me as I travel, play, eat, live and work in cities and places around the world.
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.

13) It has more than 4,000 km of navigable canals, rivers and lakes.

14) It was one of the six founding members of the European Union.

15) The highest point in Netherlands, Vaalserberg, is only 323 meters above sea level. The rest of the nation is as flat as a pancake.

16) Parental leave for both full-time working mothers and fathers, is up to 57 days and can be taken at any time until the child is 8 years old.

17) The main square of every city has its own brightly lit Christmas tree.

18) A person drinks on average 74 litres of beer a year in the Netherlands.

19) Dutch love abbreviations, using 3 alphabets as a quick way of saying "please", "mainly", "so-called", "starting at", "except for", "in relation to", "instead of" and "well-known Dutch person".

20) Its elaborate mosaic of dikes if strung together would stretch for nearly 80,000 kilometres.

21) The Dutch are the world's biggest coffee drinkers after the Scandinavians with an average of 140 litres of coffee a year or 3.2 cups a day.

22) The Dutch have the lowest incidence of lactose intolerance of any country at only 1%.

23) An average of 2 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.

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.

28) Rotterdam is the second largest port in the world.

29) The Dutch city of Eindhoven is also known as the "City of Light" because the electronics giant Philips started there with products like light bulbs.

30) The Dutch were the first to import coffee to Europe on a large scale as early as the 1600s and 1700s

31) Dutch brewery Heineken is the 3rd largest beer brewer in the world with over 140 breweries in over 70 countries. Back home, it owns around 50 percent of the Dutch beer market

32) There are specially-designated "fietspaden" or bike paths all over the country and pedestrians cannot walk on them.

33) According to The Brewers of Europe, the Netherlands exports the largest proportion of beer production of any country in the world with approximately 50%.

34) Its commitment to foreign aid is 2nd among the leading 18 nations according to UNICEF.

35) It has the highest population density in Europe with 487 inhabitants per square kilometre.

36) About 30% of all Dutch births happen at home as a result of a large and established network of certified midwives.

37) The Dutch have been making cheese since 400 AD.

38) It is the largest exporter of cheese in the world with a dairy industry turning over around EUR7 billion.

39) The Maeslantkering, a movable storm surge barrier near Rotterdam that is twice as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall.

40) The world-famous tulips and tulip fields of Netherlands do not not originate from the country. The first tulip bulbs were actually imported from Turkey.

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.

60) It is the bicycle capital of the world with more than 18 million in the country. That's more than 1 bicycle per person.
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Why? 60 interesting facts about Netherlands the tourism board doesn't tell you
Your Comment
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.
by shatr (score: 0|4) 3649 days ago
you can walk on bike paths...but why would one...there are plenty foot paths
by wkv (score: 0|5) 3640 days ago
That is so interesting thank.
by Marie (score: 0|4) 3826 days ago
Very interesting. I always enjoy reading your fact articles.
by Ms. Samantha (score: 2|362) 3820 days ago
For no 57... there is also a really famous Cheese Market in Alkmaar. It is held every Friday morning from 1st of April until the 1st Friday in September. Really fun to go see!
by fdmli (score: 0|2) 3062 days ago
Why is there a picture of Belgian Fries (Manneken Pis is Belgium, not Dutch)
by rpmdb (score: 0|2) 3060 days ago
I live in Holland and there are so many points I would challenge - the comments already made are some of them. Facts should be facts and not guesses.
by jenni (score: 0|3) 3058 days ago
they dig what's left up
by bjorn (score: 0|2) 2841 days ago
To the author: pls do your homework before posting bs. Soft drugs isn't legal in the Netherlands, only tolerated (unofficially).
by jeroe (score: 0|2) 2841 days ago
Marihuana is not legal in The Netherlands. Get your facts straight. It is merely condoned (gedoogd). You will be prosecuted if you carry more than 5 grams. Or if you grow more than five plants. Below that number, nothing happens in terms of criminal charges. Plants however will be seized.
by Remco (score: 0|2) 2840 days ago
I haven't checked if this is true at all, but during my last visit to the US a menu (and we all know that is a reliable source of information...) told me that the Dutch invented the orange carrot like the ones we eat all over the world. Before carrots were a different colour. It was to honour the Royal family. Or something.
by margr (score: 0|2) 2688 days ago
The tallest people of the world is not because of diary. Its because the Dutch used to be liberal and had free choice for everyone. Since women tend to marry taller men, their offspring was taller as well. It became a vicious circle.
by db636 (score: 0|2) 3207 days ago
rotterdam is fourth in world, largest in europe
by shubh (score: 0|2) 3213 days ago
all very interesting but im a little concerned about #12 most graves are leased for 10, 15 or 20 years only and not purchased due to the short supply of grave space. But where do they but the people who were in the grave before the new person?
by macki (score: 0|2) 3317 days ago
What happened to Alkmaar as the Cheese Weigh market in Noord Holland for fact #57 ? It is certainly a sight to behold and should be listed as a tourist attraction, as it was years ago.
by jgrif (score: 0|2) 3334 days ago
I found this article very interesting and helpful for my report
by brady (score: 0|2) 3399 days ago
nr 19: 3 Alphabets ? how about 3 letters?
by arnob (score: 0|3) 3436 days ago
Point 15: don,t forget the Veluwe and Utrechtse Heuvelrug.
Not everything is as flat as you say next Vaals.
by kvane (score: 0|2) 3446 days ago
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 sad....only in my dreams
by ellej (score: 0|2) 3516 days ago