15 February 2017

Written by Marc Lamberts
for Daily Focal 

I’m from the Netherlands and I love the UK. I guess that’s old new for everyone, but sometimes it’s great to talk about the country I live, rather than the country I want to live in. I suppose for outsiders; the Netherlands is pretty awesome. So my great mind – ahum – thought it was a good idea, to blog about it. So here are 10 random facts and things about the Netherlands!

1. It’s the Netherlands, not Holland
For some historical reason everyone likes to refer to us as Holland, but it’s false. Holland consists of two provinces: North and South. There are 10 other provinces and together they are the Netherlands.

2. We are not constantly stoned
Although we have got the regulations on soft drugs, we are not constantly stoned. People seem to think that the majority of the Dutch people do drugs, but nothing could be further from the truth. I guess when you walk through Amsterdam, you might get that impression. But Amsterdam is not the Netherlands. Just because we have the opportunity doesn’t mean that we constantly are hitting the bong 24/7

 3. ±23 million bikes
We are a bike country and I mean bicycles. We are just a small country with 17,5 million inhabitants, but everyone has a bike. Scared the living crap out of my mum when she moved from Tanzania to the Netherlands, but she’s plodding along just as awkward as we Dutchies do. It’s the easiest way to cover shorter distance. More than 85% of the Dutch have got more 1 or more bikes at home and on average we cycle 2,5 km a day per person. Over 900 km per year!

 4We learn different languages
A lot of people say that we Dutch speak other languages more than other. Well, that’s true. Because Dutch is not exactly a global language we are taught different languages at school. From the age of 10 we learn English. From the age of 12/13 (depends where you live) you are taught German and French. For the children with a higher learning ability, there’s also Old Greek and Latin. But remind me again why we should learn dead languages?

 5. Oldest anthem in the world
We have the oldest anthem in the world, it’s ±400 years old. Now that’s something right? It’s kind of a funny anthem, not as uplifting or motivating if you ask me. Fun fact: it’s the Dutch anthem but it says we are from German blood and we honour the Spanish king. Scenes.

 6. Sports
We are a small nation, but there are some sports we do have a decent track record. We are pretty decent in Football, well we used to be anyway. We have good players though. Other sports we do well in are Field Hockey, Swimming and Ice skating.

 7. Religious areas
Of course we have different religions all over the country but traditionally the country can be divided in two religious regions. The North is Protestant or Reformed and the South is Roman-Catholic.

8. King William III
The Dutch Steward of Holland or Stadtholder was a Prince and became King of England, Ireland and Scotland. So in reality he was king of the Netherlands ├índ the UK. Pretty awesome, but I’d think not everyone thinks the same way. His great-great-grandson became the first King of the Netherlands. 

9. Relationship with Germany
Although older people hate Germany for obvious reasons an odd 70 years ago, Germany is of vital importance to the Netherlands. A lot of people work in Germany and in fact, our economy is 40% dependent on the German economy, so we are in the same both all the time. Our languages are from the same language family, so yeah, basically we are brothers & sisters. 

10. Amsterdam is not the Netherlands.
I know a lot of people go to Amsterdam, but I hate when people say that they have seen the whole country just because they seen Amsterdam. The Netherlands is so much more than our touristic capital. I mean, you wouldn’t claim to know Yorkshire or Devon by saying: Yeah seen London mate, it’s all the same. 

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