The Netherlands is a small country sandwiched between Germany and Belgium in the western part of Europe. This low-lying nation hardly ever comes to mind when you think about visiting Europe. This is because being surrounded by so many other great countries has led to people overlooking this remarkable one.
This article will take you over some of the most fascinating and intriguing facts about the Netherlands that will make you fall in love with the place. Read on and you will find the country to have earned a spot on your bucket list. So fasten your seat belts and let’s dive in.
Here Are the 12 Most Fascinating Facts about the Netherlands That Will Blow You Away
1. Calling the Netherlands Holland is Not the Correct Way to Address it.
An extremely common misconception that people have is the Holland and the Netherlands are the same country which is far from the truth. The Netherlands consists of a total of twelve provinces.
Two of these twelve provinces – South Holland and North Holland – make up the area called Holland. So essentially, Holland is a group of two provinces within the Netherlands.
Taking a glance into the history of this region, Holland was an area of vital importance to the financial prosperity of the Dutch kingdom as it is connected to the North Sea.
This became the reason for the name Holland to be mistaken for the entire Netherlands. The Dutch State officially cleared this misconception in January of 2020 in an effort to restructure its global image.
2. The Netherlands Has the Lowest Elevation of Any European Country
The literal meaning of the word Netherlands is lower countries and so many people may have already realized this fact. However, knowing the figures paints a whole new picture to this unique aspect.
Close to 26% of the Netherland’s land mass lies below sea level. Even more astounding is the fact that roughly 60% of Netherland’s population is currently sitting five meters below sea level.
A hill located in Vaalserberg, South Limburg, is the highest point in the Netherlands which stands at a height of 322.5 meters. On the other hand, the lowest point is seven meters beneath the sea level and is located in Zuidplaspolder.
Surprisingly, even the Amsterdam airport sits five meters beneath the sea level. Fortunately, the Dutch folk are quite skilled at drying off the land using pumping stations, windmill-powered pumps, and various other equipment.
3. The First Stock Market was Invented by the Dutch
In an effort to provide financial assistance to the Dutch East India Company and to its prolonged trading expeditions from the Netherlands, Dutch businessmen and legislators invented the first ever stock market in the world back in 1602.
In the same year, the Dutch also established the Amsterdam Stock Exchange which, by some, is regarded as the oldest modern stock exchange globally. They also beat the world in inventing the first Fairtrade certification during the 1980s by the name of Max Havelaar certificate.
4. Netherland is Ranked as the fifth happiest country in the world
According to the annual World Happiness Report of 2021, the Netherlands is ranked as the fifth happiest country in the world.
The World Happiness Report is a study that takes into account 156 different nations and ranks them according to factors such as trust, freedom, healthy life expectancy, social support, and corruption.
Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Iceland are the only countries that surpass the Netherlands in this regard, meanwhile the Dutch state outranks its close neighbors, Belgium and Germany by a very large margin.
5. In Netherlands, Bicycles Outnumber the People
The population of the Netherlands is approximately seventeen million while the number of bicycles in the country peaks at more than twenty-two million. This figure, of course, includes all types of bicycles such as sports, mountain, and even bakfiets which have a large carrier at the front to help easily carry children, items, and pets.
Some sources suggest that an average Dutch person can cycle up to a thousand kilometers per year making around two hundred to three hundred trips. Others claim that on average, the Dutch cycle for around 2.8 kilometers each day.
The shortcoming of having such an abundance of bicycles is that bike-theft has become very prevalent in the Netherlands with more than a hundred thousand bikes being reported missing each year.
6. Twenty Percent of the Netherlands’ Population is Foreign
Over three million of the total population are foreign-born, meaning that they come from a non-Dutch family. This roughly translates to one person in every five being a foreign-born.
Moreover, over half of the immigrants in the country come from non-western countries such as Surinam, Antilles, Turkey, Aruba, and Morocco.
If you’re someone who yearns for cultural diversity and would love to mingle and socialize with people from different ethnic groups and try their traditional dishes, Netherlands is one of the best places where you’ll get to experience this. This multicultural mix is the most prominent in major Dutch cities such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
7. Close to Eighty Percent of the Flower Bulbs in the World Are Supplied by the Netherlands
The Netherlands has taken the world lead in the export of flowers, the majority of which are tulips. Somewhere around two billion tulips are exported annually to different countries all around the world.
FloraHolland auctions in Aalsmeer, Rijnsburg, and Naaldwijk are globally the biggest trading center for flowers and plants. The tulips and other flowers grown in the Netherlands are usually sold in this auction.
8. The Population Density of the Netherlands Exceeds That of Any Other European Country
According to the data recorded by the United Nations, Netherland’s population in its entirety amounts to 17,140,098. The land area covered by the Dutch territory, on the other hand, adds up to around 33,720 square kilometers.
The above figures work out to give the Netherlands a population density of 508. This value is higher than that of any other European country making Netherland one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Astonishingly, over forty percent of the population of the Netherlands is distributed among The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Amsterdam. Moreover, more than ninety percent of the people live in urban regions of the country.
9. A Dutch Electronics Company invented the DVDs, CD, and Blu-Rays
Philips – A Dutch company and a giant in the world of electronics invented the physical media that we know and love even in today’s digitized era. In 1963, Philips invented the cassette and two decades later, in association with Sony, the giants invented the CD thereby replacing the cassette.
Over time, the VHS started becoming outdated and so Philips evolved its product the CD into the DVD which sometime later further blossomed into the Blu-ray disk. This industry leading company revolutionized many other appliances in Europe such as blenders, TV’s, and ovens.
10. The Netherlands is the Most Licorice-Consuming Nation in the Entire World
It would be an understatement to say that the Dutch folk have a sweet tooth. This nation of candy-loving people just cannot get enough of licorice and end up consuming nearly thirty-two kilograms of this sweet candy each year. The stat translates to about two kilograms for each individual which is the highest rate of licorice consumption in the world.
This sweet black treat is also believed to have certain medicinal properties such as anti-inflammatory properties therefore some people use it for remediation of minor illnesses. However, excessive intake of this sugary stuff can severely damage the cardiovascular system and liver.
11. The Beloved Dutch Flower – The Tulip – Does Not Originate from the Netherlands
The tulip has become a symbol and representative of the Dutch culture and also is one of the largest exports of this Dutch state therefore it may come as a shocker to learn that this glorious flower does not originate in the Netherlands.
In fact, this vibrant flower was initially brought to the Netherlands from Turkey during the sixteenth century and since that day, it has become an integral part of the Dutch culture and tradition.
The love and demand for the flower abnormally increased causing the prices of tulip bulbs to skyrocket in the 1630s.
This period in the Dutch Golden Age was known as tulip mania, named rightly so because the craze for the flower had pushed their value up on par with that of actual houses. And so many farmers started growing the flower, setting the foundation for the widespread tulip field you see today.
12. Netherland’s Population is Regarded as the World’s Tallest Nation
The Dutch folk have an average height of 175.62 centimeters while the men on average are 182.53 centimeters tall. This makes the Dutch population the tallest in the world.
Some scientists associate this feature to growth-friendly factors in the Dutch environment such as high consumption of dairy products, low social inequality and excellent health care.
15 Things You Didn’t Know about the Netherlands
One of the smallest countries in the world, yet, one with some of the most fascinating landscapes, cultures and people. Here are 15 things you didn’t know about the Netherlands that will make you want to pack your bags and head there right away.
The Dutch have played a key role in the past yet many people are unaware of the incredibly intriguing facts that we just discussed above. This country is packed with beautiful landscapes, amazing cultural diversity, and has one of the best living standards of any country in the world. In a nutshell, it is a place worth visiting.
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.