Bikes, Heinekin and multilingual conversation in every direction, this is Holland.
This small nation is home to a population of nearly 7 million on a land mass (including extensive waterways) which is smaller than Ireland and sits nestled between the North Sea where the Rhine River begins, and Germany and Belgium. Holland’s proximity to the sea and the cultural diversity of Europe gives it a feeling of idyllic historical depth combined with the most contemporary culture and modern convenience. For a geographically small area the number of dialects of Dutch is astounding, these natural linguists generally speak and understand two or three of the major languages as well as their own and other Dutch dialects. There are three major Dutch centers which are Amsterdam of course, Rotterdam and The Hague.
The Dutch Capital city Amsterdam is home to a quarter of the population of Holland. Although internationally known for its red light districts Amsterdam is also one of the oldest and most cosmopolitan cities in all of Europe. Museums, cafes and fine restaurants are a small part of the unique flavor of Amsterdam. The historic canals of Amsterdam, the Van Gogh museum amongst a plethora of others, and many festivals and celebrations offer locals and visitors constant cultural enjoyment.
Amsterdam is also the central business district of the Netherlands and to an extent Europe. Just about every major world bank and corporation has offices in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam stock exchange is one of the oldest exchanges in the world.
Tourism is a major economy for Amsterdam and Holland in general. Although a large number of tourists go to Amsterdam for the famous red light district and marijuana cafés, a significant number of families visit Holland for the historic buildings, amazing architecture, the park spaces and the wonderful and unique culture. Amsterdam’s red light district is located in the older streets of the city set up to accommodate prostitution which is legal. It consists of a network of roads and alleys containing a few hundred small apartments rented by prostitutes who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, these are typically illuminated with red lights, hence the name of the district.
This vibrant port city is home to some of the most amazing architecture and art in the world as well as beaches, opera, theatre and international sporting events. The city is smaller and less congested than Amsterdam and so attracts a broad spectrum of tourists. The outlying area of Rotterdam consists of quaint village like settings. Gouda is nearby which is of course known for its cheese. This area and others in the vicinity are also famous for their monuments, pipes, windmills, waffles, art and canals.
The Hague is internationally renowned as the seat of the international military court. This is an honor which has made the city famous around the world. Holland is somewhat unusual in that The Hague is the seat of the government in Holland but it is not the capital city that is Amsterdam. The Hague was originally purchased as a hunting ground for aristocracy in 1230. In 1248 William II, Count of Holland extended the residence to a palace and a community evolved around this site in the years to follow.
All of Holland is easily accessible from other parts of Europe and the world by land, air and sea. Holland has been threatened throughout its history by both the ravages of the sea and the larger neighboring powers of Europe. This has resulted in a changing landscape with influences which make Holland a unique and fascinating place to live.
Holland Population: Holland is often used to describe the Netherlands which has a population of 16.4 million people. The area of Holland most commonly referred to is called the Randstad metropolitan area which has a population of 6.7 million people.
Demographics: The majority of the Dutch population is of European descent with 80% of the population being ethnic Dutch and the other 20% comprised of Turkish, Indonesian, German, Moroccan and Surinamese. The Dutch population is aging and the birthrate has been steadily declining. 30% of Dutch call themselves Catholic, 13% Dutch Reformed, 7% Calvinist, 5.5% Muslim and 41% consider themselves atheist or agnostic.
Weather: Like all seaside nations Holland is subject to changeable weather throughout the year although the general climate can be described as moderate, northern maritime with temperatures averaging 15 degrees Celsius. The average highs are 25 degrees through summer with lows of 5 degrees through winter.