Stairs in central hall of the Groninger Museum
Trap in centrale hal van het Groninger Museum © Frans Lemmens via Hollandse Hoogte ANP

Fun facts about the Netherlands

Did you know that the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe? Is it true that the Dutch really eat so much cheese? What about the football madness, all those flapping flags on 27 April and the famous 'fight against the water'? Read the facts and trivia about our country, the royal family and things you might notice during your visit.

The Dutch

Internationally, the Dutch are known to be rather direct in their approach. We simply call that honesty and openness. We like to complain, especially about the weather, but we also find creative and innovative solutions for everything. Some 17.5 million people live in an area of 41,5000 square kilometres in the Netherlands. Is that a lot? Yes, the Netherlands is not only the most densely populated country in the EU, but one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Over 40% live in the 'Randstad', the area between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Speaking a few words Dutch

Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands. You will of course make a good impression on your holiday if you can already speak a few words. It most closely resembles German. A second Dutch language is also spoken in the province of Friesland: Frisian. Besides this officially recognised regional language, there are also dialects and other regional languages. No talent for language? No problem, because most Dutch people speak English and often a bit of German or French as well.

Convenient on holiday:

Thank you = Dankjewel Good morning = Goedemorgen Goodbye = Tot ziens

The Dutch flag

Canal houses with Dutch flags and orange pennant during King's Day

The Dutch flag is a horizontal tricolour of red, white and blue. On King's Day and Liberation Day, it looks as if everyone in the Netherlands has put up their flags. Many Dutch people also raise a flag when their child has passed their final exams, with a school bag on the mast. And when the king is at home, the flag flies above his palace. It is customary to lower the flag at sunset. On Remembrance Day, all the flags hang at half-mast.

The Royal Family

Since 1815, the Netherlands has been a kingdom, officially called the Kingdom of the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander has been the Dutch Head of State since 2013. His wife, Queen Maxima, is present on many official occasions and she also has her own duties. The royal family is loved by many Dutch people. The King's birthday is celebrated throughout the country on 27 April. It is a real Orange celebration!

Read more about the Royal Family or discover Royal Netherlands

Pastures and cloudy skies

A favourite topic of conversation for the Dutch is the weather. There are all kinds of words for 'rain', from miezer (drizzle) to pijpenstelen (pipe stems, cats and dogs). In summer, it can be warm and in winter it can snow and freeze. The changing weather also creates beautiful landscapes, such as the fresh green pastures with grazing cows and some impressive clouds in the sky. That's the Netherlands! But you can also discover hills and dunes, wetlands and high moorlands, ancient forests and even mountains in our country.

Visit the different provinces and the many nature reserves.

Dutch and the water

The Netherlands has a strong connection with water. It has over 450 kilometres of coastline bordering the North Sea. 26% of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Three major rivers cross the country: the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt. No less than 4,400 km of navigable rivers, canals and lakes. It's a miracle we still have dry feet here. And that has not always been the case! For centuries, the Netherlands has been battling with water: with dikes, waterworks and reclamation projects. In order to create extra living space and agricultural land, a whole new province has been reclaimed from the water: Flevoland. But we also enjoy water sports and beautiful wetlands.

Go to the Hollandstory Water

Caribbean Netherlands

The Dutch Caribbean refers to three 'special municipalities' of the Netherlands: the islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, which are located in the Caribbean Sea. In the overseas Caribbean, there are three more islands that belong separately to the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Until 2010, all the islands together formed the Netherlands Antilles, a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The difference between the Netherlands and Holland and other riddles

Watch this video: The Netherlands vs. Holland

7x fun facts about the Netherlands

  • In the Netherlands, there are no less than 37,000 kilometres of cycle paths.
  • Almost a third of the Netherlands is below sea level.
  • The Dutch are the tallest people in the world.
  • More sheep than people live on the Wadden Island of Texel.
  • Amsterdam is built entirely on piles and has 1200 bridges.
  • The Netherlands has the highest museum density in the world.
  • Dutch people eat an average of 14.3 kilos of cheese per person per year.

Holidays and special events in the Netherlands

Bitterballen, stroopwafels and other typically Dutch foods. Discover our top 5 and eat like a local.

Discover the history of these traditional and typically Dutch drinks.