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10 fun and interesting facts about the Netherlands that you probably didn't know

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Alumni in Russia

About Holland

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04.17.2020

While we all stay at home, we decided to share some interesting piece of information about the country that unites us all - the Netherlands. Ready to know more?

1. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe

The Netherlands’ small size actually makes it the most crowded country in Europe, thanks to the current population being at more than 17 million (as of July 2019). The density is 508 people per sq. km. In comparison, the United Kingdom has a population density of only 277 people per sq. km. Over 45% of the total population of the Netherlands live in the Randstad, which makes up the cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

2. The national anthem is the oldest in the world

The Wilhelmus is the country’s national anthem. Although it did not become the official anthem until 1932, the music dates back to at least the year 1572, making it the oldest melody used in a country’s anthem. The origin of the lyrics are uncertain, but it is said that the words are at least 400 years old.

3. Carrots are orange because of the Dutch

Carrots are known for their distinct orange coloring. However, they weren’t always this way. Dating back to the 10th century, the vegetable was likely originally white or purple. William III of England, who was often known as William the Orange, helped in gaining Dutch independence from Spain in the 17th century. The story goes that Dutch farmers turned their carrots orange as a tribute, and the new color became more popular than before, and continues to be the Netherlands’ official color today.

4. Clogs are not as popular as they seem

The Dutch are known for wooden shoes called clogs. Clogs are a traditional footwear dating back to the 13th century, but most Dutch residents don’t wear them today in the cities, and the shoes have instead become a tourist icon. Outside of the big cities, however, travellers may see farmers and other village townspeople still rocking the footwear. Clogs are rarely worn although they are ingrained in Dutch culture, for example, there are many clog-related idiomatic expressions. Traditionally, klompen were used as protective footwear for labour workers as they’re sturdy, waterproof and easy to clean, and in rural Netherlands they are still sometimes seen in the fields. 

5. Gin was invented by the Dutch and introduced to the Brits

Gin (jenever) was invented in the 16th century, and reportedly became popular in Great Britain after William of Orange (King William III) occupied the English, Scottish and Irish thrones with his wife Mary. A popular story for the term ‘Dutch courage’ allegedly derives from when gin was used by Brits and the Dutch during the Thirty Years’ War.

6. The Netherlands has one of the highest levels of English proficiency in the world

Narrowly beating Denmark and Sweden, according to the English Proficiency Index (EPI). Some nine in 10 Dutch people speak English as a second language. According to the latest EU language report (2012), 94 percent of Dutch people could speak two languages, well above the EU average of 54 percent. Considering more than half of the population also speak German, many must speak at least three languages. The Netherlands is one of the top countries where residents are more likely to learn a language at school, around 91 percent, and via conversation.

7. The Netherlands is the world’s second biggest beer exporter

Dutch brewers exported 1.6 billion euros of beer in 2014 – one-third going to US markets – and was the world’s biggest exporter of beer until 2010, when it was overtaken by Mexico.

8. The Netherlands is home to more bikes than people

There are around 18 million bikes in the country, including the clever (if not so elegant) bakfiets which combine a bike and a wheelbarrow. Ideal for taking the kids to school, bakfiets are even occasionally used for moving house. Dutch cycle an average distance of 2.9km per day and use bicycles for more than a quarter of all trips, compared to just 2% in the UK.

9. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers more direct flights than any airport in the world

in 2016, Schiphol operated 4,633 flights per week in 2016, according to a report by Dutch economic institute SEO on behalf of the Airport Council International. Schiphol is 100 percent government-owned and handles around 60 million passengers per year.

10. CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray were invented in the Netherlands

Philips, a major Dutch company, developed CDs in 1979, in a joint project with Sony, in their headquarters in Eindhoven. They also developed cassette tapes and popularised many home electronics items in Europe, such as TVs and blenders.

P.S. Neanderthal traces have been found near Maastricht...

...thought to trace back at least 250,000 years (Belvédère excavations). Of a later date are Palaeolithic remains, between 8,000 and 25,000 years old. The Maastrichtian is, in the ICS geologic timescale, the latest age (uppermost stage) of the Late Cretaceous epoch. The term was introduced into scientific literature by Belgian geologist André Hubert Dumont in 1849, after studying rock strata of the Chalk Group close to the city of Maastricht. These strata are now classified as the Maastricht Formation.

Source: This is a compilation of materials taken from IAmExpat, Wonderful Wanderings, Expatica and Things to do in Amsterdam.

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