Netherlands

10 fun facts about the Netherlands

Since I live in the Netherlands, I have discovered interesting things about the country, and sometimes surprising or strange habits.

I am sure that you will learn at least 2 or 3 things that you did not know with this article, and that you will be able to bring up again on occasion, to shine in society! 

1) In the Netherlands, they say that God created the Dutch people, but that the Dutch people created the Netherlands

Indeed, more than 25% of Dutch territory is below sea level and almost 50% does not exceed 1 metre. If you are looking for mountains in the Netherlands, you’re wasting your time. The highest point of the country is… 321 meters. The lowest point of the country lies near Rotterdam and is at -6,76m. Schipol International Airport, near Amsterdam, is almost 5 metres below sea level. This relief (or rather absence of relief) so peculiar, and partly due to the fact that very early in the history of the country, the soils were drained and dried, won over the sea, in order to obtain more farmland. These are the famous polders, which represent almost 17% of the Dutch territory. This made de soils collapsing. This fight against water is still topical; In the Netherlands, pumps run continuously to pump water out of the ground. This is also partly why we find canals and mills all over the country, including in the countryside

2) Dutchies are the world’s tallest people

The Dutch are tall. Like, really tall. They are also considered the world’s tallest people in the world, according to a study of NCD : Men measure on average 1,84m and women 1,70m. So needless to say that with my 1,58m, I feel like I’m in a forest, and my worst nightmare is to lose my friends at a party.

3) Holland vs. Netherlands

So let’s make things clear once and for all: I live in the Netherlands, in the PROVINCE of South Holland. The inhabitants of this country are the Dutch people, and they speak a language of the same name. When you speak of Holland dear reader, you do not speak of the country in its entirety, but of a region, located in the west part of the Netherlands, which the birthplace of the country. Today, there are 12 provinces in the Netherlands, includingNorth Holland, where Amsterdam is located, and South Holland, where Rotterdam is located. Amen.

4) In Dutch, there is no dialect or slang

The Dutch language is difficult to learn, especially for French people (who are certainly not known in the world for their ability to speak several languages). But what is surprising (but how much life-saving for anyone who wants to practice a little bit the language of Van Gogh) is that there is not really dialects or slang in Dutch. No backward-slang or other linguistic quirks like this. On the other hand, young people in particular do not hesitate to use English words.

5) Everyone (or almost) speaks English

Indeed, more than 86% of Dutch people speak English according to a Eurobarometer study (I won’t embarrass French people by compary these figures with the French ones). On television for example, foreign shows and movies are not dubbed but subtitled, which makes it easier to learn. The only problem is when you want to practice your Dutch: Dutchies will tend to automatically switch to English as soon as they see you struggling with the 3 poor Dutch sentences that you have laboriously learned.

6) Bikes always have the priority

I already talked a little about it in my article about cycling in the Netherlands, but indeed, the Dutch Driver’s manual code is formal: bicycles have the absolute priority on the road, including on pedestrians.

7) In the Netherlands there are more bikes than people

18 million of bicycles for 16 million inhabitants. Indeed, most households have one bike per person, which is used for every day, another, often running bike for the weekend, possibly a third for guests, etc.

8) Dutchies lunch is weird

This will certainly be the topic of an entire post one of these days, but gastronomy in the Netherlands is not their strenght. But the worst is what Dutchies consider to be their lunch. Bread and cheese. And that’s all. But guys, where did you see that it was a meal?! Normally, bread and cheese are after the main course and before or as a dessert. Am I a little too French here? So everyone brings his little sandwich (his tosti as they say here) and eat that in front of his computer at the office. Moreover, in many companies, we don’t even find a microwave, but a simple grill. A nightmare for all the internationals in this country. And especially for French people (thank God I’m not concerned).

9) They have diner at 6pm 

With such a lunch they inevitably have diner very early, i.e. at 6pm. Well, I do not want to generalize either, this is not the case of all Dutch people, but you have to know that it will not offend anyone if you come to a restaurant for dinner at this time. If I do that, I get up in the middle of the night because I am starving.

10) Marijuana in the Netherlands

Contrary to a widespread idea, the use of marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands. It is only decriminalized, and therefore tolerated. So theoretically, if you’re caught smoking a joint in the street, you can get a fine. That’s the theory. In fact, strolling the streets of Amsterdam is evolving in a huge fog of ganja (yes I exaggerate a little), and no one cares. You can smoke your joint in the street, no one will come to tell you anything. The sale of cannabis in the famous coffeeshops, is strictly regulated though. As for the possession, it is limited to 5 grams per person, which is considered the limit for personal consumption. Consumption in public places is also very supervised. Concerning the growing, it is allowed but limited to 5 plants per person, again this is considered as personal consumption. All the paradox of the Dutch legislation on cannabis is that if the sale is allowed in the coffeeshops, production is strictly prohibited. As a result, resale establishments must supply themselves with illegal channels, fuelling drug trafficking within the European Union. A new law has recently been voted to allow, on an experimental basis, the cultivation of professional cannabis, so that the coffeeshops no longer have to go through these criminal streams. Finally, know that in some cities of the Netherlands, like in Maastricht, if you want to smoke, you will need a weed pass, only available for Dutch residents, in order to avoid tourism linked to dope smoking.

And you, did you know all this? 

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