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Facts and information about Holland
The Netherlands is the official name of this country but it is more commonly known as Holland. Though technically Holland is only 2 regions in The Netherlands, it is used to refer to the whole country.
The Netherlands When the Romans reached the mouth of the Rhine River in the year 50 B.C., they found themselves in a flat, sandy region, chilled by the cold north winds and prone to frequent flooding by the North Sea. They also found several tribes, perhaps of Germanic origin, who lived by hunting and fishing. The central region was occupied by the Batavians, as mentioned by Plinius, while the Franks, a Celtic race, had settled in the south, and the Frisians thrived in the north. The Saxons, the most Germanic of all, lived mainly in the region northeast of the Rhine. Nevertheless, despite their common origin, these populations differed greatly from one another. At first, it seemed that the Roman conquest was a boon to all, but soon revolts broke out; the first to rebel were the Frisians, followed by the Batavians. Both tribes joined together in 68-70 A.D. under the leadership of Claudius Julius Civilis, who was the organizer of the whole revolt. Nevertheless, the Romans were able to keep their legions in the territory for over three centuries – it was not until 300 A.D. that the pressure of the Germanic tribes began to make headway against the Roman domination. The Batavians were wiped out almost immediately and only the Frisians in the north managed to survive and oppose the Frankish onslaught. It was just as hard to Christianize the region as it had been to conquer it. In the south the conversion of the heathen was carried on by the Merovingian kings, in the north by two Anglo-Saxon missionaries, St. Willibrord and St. Boniface. Yet, the Frisians, for example, stubbornly clung to their paganism for at least two hundred years. During the Carolingian domination the emphasis on evangelization continued. On one hand, Charlemagne used force to subdue the Frisians and Saxons, while on the other, he gave them the laws that would govern them for centuries. At the same time, he divided the country into various provinces ruled by counts, who were actually vassals of the emperor. But even at this time the Dutch not only had to wage war against the elements, the most terrible of which was the sea, but they also had to stand up to just as dreadful human foes, the Vikings, whose savage incursions and forays meant the sacking, looting, and devastation of the Dutch towns. In 841 Charlemagne died and his vast Carolingian empire began to fall apart. Several power struggles later, Holland, and with her, Belgium found themselves part of the Germanic empire. During the Middle Ages, the Netherlands existed as a group of regions under the rule of the Counts of Gelder and Holland, the Duke of Brabant, and the Bishop of Utrecht. This period of Dutch history is mainly characterized by the internecine fighting among the various townships, by now wealthy and powerful in their own right, although foreign dynasties, such as those of Wittelsbach, Bohemia, Luxembourg, and Burgundy, would later overcome the local ones. The Burgundy dynasty managed to dominate all the others when Philip the Bold married Margaret of Flanders; his grandson, Philip the Good, went about consolidating his grandfather’s power by creating a huge state which took in all the other provinces and setting up a powerful regular army. He established provincial courts (administrative and law), and was also responsible for the creation of the office of stathouder a kind of governor who officially represented the emperor, wielding both political and military authority. Philip the Good was succeeded by Charles the Bold who died in a battle against the Swiss in the year 1477. Charles was succeeded by his daughter, Marie of Burgundy, who having married Maximilian of Austria, son of the emperor Frederick III, brought the Netherlands under Austrian domination. In 1500, Charles, the son of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, was born in Gand. He was king of Spain by way of his mother, and Duke of Burgundy and the Netherlands by way of his father. In 1519 upon the death of his grandfather, Maximilian of Austria, he was elected Holy Roman Emperor and at this point he could truly boast that the sun never set on his empire. As comprehensive and tolerant as he was in political matters, Charles V, a devout and zealous Catholic, could not accept the Protestant religion of the Netherlands. It was under his reign – as enlightened as it was in other respects – that the religious persecutions got underway. At the same time, the development of the Reformation and the resulting Dutch opposition to the Catholic religion, had a dual effect, for it was at the same time a fight to uphold a principle and a way of opposing the foreign invaders. In 1555, following Charles V’s abdication, Charles’ son, Philip, rose to the throne. He was completely unlike his father. Having grown up in Spain, he spoke neither French nor Dutch, and worse still, he had no inkling of what the problems of his subjects were. In short, his way of thinking, cultural background, and character were all thoroughly Spanish. A tremendous unbridgeable gap developed between Philip and the Dutch people who in the meantime had become more and more firmly entrenched in the Calvinist doctrines. This led to the formation of a movement to oppose the heavy-handed Spanish interference into Dutch affairs. The leaders of the anti-Spanish movement were the Count of Egmont, the Count of Hornes, and the Prince of Orange, William of Nassau, called “Willem de Zwijger,” that is to say, William the Silent, because he used to keep his mouth shut and his ears wide open. During the months of August-September 1566 the exasperation and rage of the people boiled over. Churches and monasteries were sacked, profaned, burnt, and destroyed. Philip’s reaction was swift and terrible. He sent the Duke of Alba, otherwise known as the “Iron Duke” at the head of a mighty army to crush the country under a reign of terror. The result was numerous executions, among which those of the Count of Egmont and the Count of Hornes, the death sentence was inflicted on William of Orange (who in the meantime had fled the country), and the rebel cities were sacked and burned down. This marked the start of a long and bloody war between Spain and the Netherlands, still torn by the fierce internal conflicts between Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists then raging. The outcome of this bitter struggle was the Union of Utrecht of 1579 which established the full autonomy of the Seven Provinces of the North and designated Dutch as the official language of the country. In 1584, in Delft, a Frenchman named Balthazar Gérard assassinated William the Silent and the leadership of the opposition passed to his son Maurice – who repeatedly offered the Dutch crown to Henry III of France and Elizabeth of England, trying to exploit their fierce rivalry with Spain. Things took a turn for the better when the Dutch made up their minds to rely on themselves and on themselves alone; thus the Republic of the United Provinces with the States General at the head of it was born from the ashes of the Union of Utrecht. Under the command of Prince Maurice the united army aided by the British fleet was able to defeat the Spaniards on both sea and land, so that in 1609 Philip was forced to acknowledge the independence of the Dutch republic and sign a twelve year truce with its representatives. Under the Treaty of Westphalia signed in 1648, all of the European powers recognized the new state, although this did much to increase the hostility of the great naval powers, mainly England. Thus Holland, her independent status no longer threatened, could concentrate her efforts on economic development, the result of which was that shortly afterwards, she became the richest state in Europe. Dutch ships sailed the high seas in direct competition with the British fleet and when Spain refused access to the Portuguese ports, the Dutch went off to Java to load their cargoes of precious spices. Then, in 1602 Johan von Oldenbarnevelt founded the East India Company, soon followed by the West India Company in 1621. From far-off Oriental and African trade routes, Holland’s merchant ships brought home spices, salt, gold, rice, ivory, and perfumes. The Dutch who stayed home were kept busy too – they were engaged in weaving, ship building, herring fishing, whale hunting, diamond cutting, and ceramic making. Merchants and the middle class in general came to dominate the whole structure of Dutch society. The economic boom was paralleled by a cultural flowering, especially in the fields of art and philosophic thought. Little Holland gave the world geniuses such as Erasmus, Spinoza, Grotius, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Hobbema. The exciting intellectual atmosphere and the stimulating liberty in the intellectual world even attracted a great thinker like Descartes who spent 20 years of his life in Holland and wrote his Discourse on Method in Leyden. Great spiritual discoveries went hand in hand with great geographical discoveries: Tasmania, New Zealand, the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Horn were discovered and explored. A group of Dutch pilgrims settled in the colony of New Amsterdam, later known as New York. All of this wealth and splendor began to excite the jealousy of England, Holland’s biggest rival on the seas. After numerous skirmishes, Cromwell got the English Parliament to approve the Navigation Act in 1651. It provided that foreign ships could only unload goods from their own territories in English ports and in addition were obliged to render homage to Britain’s naval power. In short, the English demanded that their supremacy be recognized. The constant battles they were compelled to wage against the British wore down the Dutch people’s resistance and self-confidence. A number of their colonies were lost and several ports could no longer be considered safe. After England, it was France’s turn to undermine the shaky Dutch empire. Louis XIV, in keeping with his expansionist aims, managed to mobilize several anti-Dutch powers, thereby forcing the Netherlands to take part in several exhausting joint wars. It was not until 1697 and the Peace Treaty of Ryswick that the long struggle finally drew to an end. At that point, the current Stathouder of Holland, William III of Orange, as husband of Mary, daughter of James II, was already king of England and could justly rejoice in the diplomatic victory he had been able to procure, i.e. the Netherlands, England, Prussia, and Austria were allied together in a joint effort against the Catholic countries, France and Spain. When William died in 1702, the Orange dynasty died with him and the leadership passed to the Orange-Nassau fine (which still rules Holland). Throughout the 18th century there was an alternation of republican and monarchist sentiment, whereby creating fertile terrain for the new ideas filtering in from revolutionary France. The army of the Convention entered the Netherlands, thus putting an end to the existence of the almost 200 year old Republic of the Seven Provinces. The last of the stathouders, William V, crossed the English Channel and sought refuge in England. The state born from this insurrection in 1795 was known as the Batavian Republic, but it was extremely short-lived, for in 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte set his brother Louis upon the Dutch throne. Louis was able to win the affection of his subjects in a brief time, but the “continental blockade” brought about the rapid decline of Dutch overseas trade. The Netherlands was thus annexed to the empire and in 1810 became a province of France. In 1813 the dynasty of the Orange was restored, and on November 30 the son of William V, who had taken the name William I, landed in Scheveningen. After the French defeat at Waterloo, the joint forces decided to reunite the northern and southern Low Countries in a single realm. The decision was sanctioned by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and Holland, Belgium, and the Duchy of Luxembourg were united in the Reign of the Low Countries under the rule of William I of Orange-Nassau. This proved to be a terrible mistake, since after more than two hundred years of political, linguistic, religious, and economic separation, the northern and southern provinces were divided by an unbridgeable gap: the northern population was Protestant and spoke Dutch, the southerners Catholic and spoke French, while the Flemish spoke Dutch, but they too were Catholic. These factors were further complicated by the political aspira tions of the English who, fearing a strong naval rival on the North Sea, did their best to exploit the rebellious uprisings in Belgium and strongly backed its independence movement. This diplomatic coup reached its goal when in 1831 after a pacific revolution, Belgium broke away from the Low Countries and Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, grandson of the English king George IV, rose to the throne. Under the next two monarchs, William II and William III, Holland enjoyed a long stretch of relative economic well-being and renewed expansion. Agriculture, industry, and commerce once more flourished, Indonesia was colonized, and social reforms could be enacted. The neutrality proclaimed by Holland in World War I did much to further her political prestige. William III’s reign was of brief duration and his daughter Wilhelmina soon succeeded him. Then, during the night between May 9 and May 10, 1940, despite the country’s declared neutrality, Hitler’s troops overran the Dutch borders and started bombing the country. No previous warning and no formal declaration of war had been issued. This shameful event was followed by five long years of blood and tears for the Dutch people who were encouraged to resist bravely by their Queen from her London exile. Finally, in 1945 the country was liberated. In 1948, after a reign which had spanned almost 50 years, Wilhelmina abdicated in favor of her daughter Juliana who, starting from the post-war period and continuing up to our day, has been witness to Holland’s rebirth and renewed splendor.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, which is spoken by about 21 million inhabitants. In all tourist destinations you can easily communicate in English, French and German.
Since January 2002, as in other European Union countries, the Netherlands introduced a common currency, the Euro. European currency has replaced the earlier Dutch guilder, also called the florin. The new currency has been adopted with enthusiasm, and most Dutch people believe that since the introduction of the Euro, everywhere prices increased radically. In all the larger stores, hotels and restaurants credit cards are widely accepted.
Best travel time
The Netherlands is situated in a temperate rain climate. The climate of the Netherlands is determined by the position of the sea. The closer you get to the sea, the lower the temperature difference between summer and winter gets. In summer it is usually warm and dry, often leads to freshening winds. In spring and autumn often encounter severe storms associated with heavy rainfall. In winter it is wet and cold. It is only very rarely snows. Average summer temperatures range from 10.5 to 21 °C.
The Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area. Travelling in and out of the Netherlands is possible with a Schengen Visa or with a passport of a country in the Schengen Area. For a concise list of countries check the links for nationals who need a Visa and nationals who don't need a Visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
No specific vaccinations are required for entry to the Netherlands. For tourist trips, it is recommended to vaccinate against tetanus and hepatitis. It's worth remembering to also purchase a minimum basic package of insurance: Accident and luggage insurance. If someone is suffering from chronic illness, or has plans to engage in sports you should insure yourself for that as well.
Voltage current in the Netherlands is 230 V, 50 Hz. Dutch socket contacts are compatible with type C, E and F. They are compatible with most European socket types. To see whether your plug fits check this list. Reception on cell phones is normally available. Just remember to run an option with your operator prior to departure (The cost of calls depends on your operator). Better yet, buy a prepaid card from a local service operator, its a lot cheaper.
Country and People
Family life is very important to the Dutch. Many Dutch people live in relationships without marriage, but they respect the rights of marriage. Dutch families are not large in general, but are imbued with great affection by all its members. The Netherlands is also famous for its colorful regional costumes. Mens wear consists of black trousers and a wide hat. Ladies wear dresses with embroidered corset, lace bonnet and shoes.
Traditions and Culture
Dutch people turn out to have very high tolerances for each type of diversity. They are very responsible and punctual. They are more a vibrant community of people, also in displaying emotions. The Dutch like to spend free time in nature. Very popular is cycling, which can be done virtually anywhere, because it's flat everywhere. Additionally they are a very proud nation. Two very important traditions in the Netherlands are the Queens Day celebrations and the celebration of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas). You might laugh about the fact that the Dutch way of life is riding a bike. The Dutch like to spend free time outdoors, bicycling everywhere. On Dutch streets you will almost always see someone riding a bike. In the Netherlands there are about 1,500 bicycle paths, by which you can easily and quickly get to any destination. The Dutch are more a vibrant community of people regarding displaying emotions. They are very proud, but also very tolerant.
Since the nineteenth century the Netherlands has a system of columns. This means that society is divided into four religious groups: Protestants, Catholics, socialists and liberals. At the moment the most important churches in the Netherlands are the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant church. To this day you can meet with small groups of orthodox Calvinists. Approximately 38% of Dutch people do not identify themselves with any religious community. The Netherlands has also reached other religions with it's multicultural population such as Muslim, Hinduism, Jewish or Buddhist.
When it comes to public transport we have several options to choose from: • Trains are the best means of long distance transport. Among all the cities in the Netherlands high speed trains run very frequently. Dutch railways are considered to be one of the best in Europe. To see when your train leaves check www.ns.nl/cs/Satellite/traveller. • Suburban buses are a very good complement to the trains, which do not reach to smaller towns. Bus stations are almost always at the railway stations. • The bike is also a very good method of transportation. Throughout the Netherlands, riding a bike is no problem. Most roads have an extra lane for bikes. Also, the Dutch countryside is very very flat and the bike is generally THE short distance transportation method for many people (for example: Amsterdam has almost as many bikes as inhabitants, 600’000 compared to 740’000.). Bike rentals in general are also very numerous because of this. To see whether you travel destination is already using this system check here All over the Netherlands the OV-chipkaart is soon available, the provinces of Groningen and Drente are the only regions where it isn't valid yet, also some trains don't support it yet either. It is a prepaid ticket with which you can hop on and off the train, bus or tram. It works with a chip inside the card which validates itself when held against the validation machine, also you have to check out before getting off. This ticket has become quite popular for public transport because of its simple use. It is momentarily valid in nearly all parts of the Netherlands.
Flights to Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the most common. You can use the services of low-cost airlines or buy a scheduled airline flight. Road infrastructure in the Netherlands is very good, larger cities are connected with the highway, so traveling by rental car is done without any difficulty. Being in the Netherlands is no problem. At the airport you can rent a car to explore the country on your own. The country offers lots of colorful tulips, great cheese and typical Dutch windmills. It is best to rent a car if you want to travel around the Netherlands. Depending on the season and company that rents the car, the cost of such a car varies between 50€ and 60€. That price is also influenced by the size of the vehicle. Remember to comply with road regulations, there are a lot of traffic lights and relatively high fines. The Netherlands has right-hand side traffic.
Taxis are available without much of a problem. They can be ordered by phone or caught on the streets.
Discover and Enjoy
Being in the Netherlands you have to visit Amsterdam of course, and there, the Van Gogh Museum, the streets of the red light district, the Heineken Museum, as well as doing a Grachtentour. It is also worth to walk through the old town of Amsterdam. Apart from Amsterdam, there are many other interesting places of course: The western part of the country Randstad, known as the Ring Towns. In this region an interesting place to visit is The Hague and Rotterdam (it has one of the largest ports in the world). Leiden and Delft: Famous for the porcelain factory and medieval buildings. The Keukenhof is the biggest flower park in Europe. The Haarlem Frans Hals Museum. The southern part of Holland (Zeeland, North Brabant and Limburg) is the Catholic part of the Netherlands. Maastricht: it is the oldest city in the Netherlands, it is known for its history and culture. It attracts a lot of tourist and is a Dutch center of education, with a large population of international students. The "Djiks", they are very important and impressive constructions. They have protected the Netherlands from disastrous floods. They resulted the in the creation of the buffer sea "Ijsselmeer". In the Netherlands you will find many interesting places and beautiful landscapes.
January: "Leiden International Film Festival" in Rotterdam, "International Chess Festival" in Wijk aan Zee. February: Exhibition of flowers in Bovenkarspel March: Flower Festival in the city Keukenhof April: Cheese market in Alkmaarzee, "Parade of Flowers" in the northern part of the Netherlands, Rotterdam Marathon May: Celebrations of the end of World War II, "Feast of windmills", music festival in Amsterdam, flagship gala on ships at the start of herring season June: Art festival in Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam, pop music festival in Landgraaf, "Eleven Cities bicycle race" starting in Bolsward, "Arab Film Festival" in Rotterdam July: Jazz Festival in The Hague, "International Exhibition of Roses". August: International Regatta (weekly) in Sneek, The famous "Parade of Homosexuals", Festival in Scheveningen (pyrotechnic), "Festival of Classical Music" in Amsterdam. September: "Parade of Flowers". October: The half marathon through the streets of Amsterdam, Salsa Festival in Haarlem. November: Parades to celebrate the arrival of St.Nicholas, "The Feast of Marijuana" in Amsterdam, "Domino Day" in Leeuwarden. December: 5th - St. Nicholas is celebrated
The Dutch eat two cold meals during the day (breakfast and lunch), and a warm dinner, consisting of fish, meat, potatoes and vegetables. The main dishes that can be found in the Netherlands include: chicken, fish, soups and braised dishes. The barrel salted herring, mackerel, served with bread is very good, and all that is combined with lots of onions. Popular and general are also available seafood. The traditional dish is mashed pot - it smashed potatoes mashed cooked with vegetables and fried bacon. Very popular in the Netherlands is cheese. There are several kinds of them: subtle, intense and sharp. The most popular of them is Gouda cheese, also known in Poland. It is produced from cow's milk in Gouda. Served to meals is the most popular drink: Beer (Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch). National liquor is Dutch gin with high volume (gin with a thick consistency.) The most popular dessert is apple pie and cinnamon pie