About the Netherlands
Easy to explore Europe
From the Netherlands it is easy to explore the rest of Europe. Not only the neighbouring countries Germany and Belgium are easy to visit, the country is also well connected to all major European capitals. You can easily travel by bus and train to Paris, London or Copenhagen, and it’s just as simple to hop on a plane to visit Rome of Barcelona.
Dutch society is very international. Since the 17th century, major Dutch cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and even Groningen have been international trading hubs, resulting in a melting pot of many nationalities.
This international character means the Dutch are generally tolerant and open about different cultures and believes. This shows in the way they interact with each other: you are free to voice your opinion and speak your mind. People are not very easily offended, but expect them to also be direct with you! This directness, not intended to be offensive, is something you may have to get used to.
An important part of Dutch society is the wish to all work together for the greater good. We call this the poldermodel. It means that for important decisions, everyone should be able to voice their opinion and negotiations go on until there is an agreement everybody’s happy with.
Safety and diversity
The Netherlands is a place with a lot of diversity. In the major cities, you find people of all walks of life, different religions, different political conviction and different sexual orientation. The Netherlands is famous for its progressive stance on equality and diversity. Everyone in the Netherlands has the right to be who they want to be and to be with who they want.
The major part of the population associates itself with the Christian fate, but there are also large Muslim and Jewish communities. Whether you want to go to church, mosque, synagogue, Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh places of worship, you can do so freely in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is a safe country by international standards. Violence and street crime levels are relatively low. Just take the usual care, like not putting your phone in your back pocket and making sure you always lock your bike.
In case something does happen, you should feel confident about approaching the police. They are there to help you and are friendly and open.
Holland or the Netherlands?
The country’s formal name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands – Netherlands for short. The name refers to the flatness and low level of the land. Much of it is at or below sea level.
The Netherlands is also often called 'Holland', which refers to the 2 western coastal provinces, North and South Holland. In the 17th century this was the most powerful area of the Dutch Republic.
In international communications the names are used interchangeably. Both the Netherlands and Holland refer to the small country that is wedged between Germany, Belgium and the North Sea.
Did you know that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is bigger than just the Netherlands? There are 3 Caribbean municipalities that are also part of the Kingdom: Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten.
Learn more about the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Wikipedia.