Seniors Ask, “Is It Holland, Dutch, Netherlands?

The Netherlands, officially called the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is in English often referred to as “Holland” and the people are often referred to as “Dutch.” What senior travelers probably remember most, like me, is that much of it is below sea level.

The Netherlands is a geographically very low-lying country, with about 20% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level, and 50% of its land lying less than one meter above sea level.

Who in their right mind would live in such an environment anyhow?  Well, let’s check it out and see why seniors find the  Netherlands attractive and fun but first we need to clarify the difference between Holland and The Netherlands. The country is just kinda hanging up there lynch pinned between Belgium and Germany with the North Sea coming in from all sides.

Holland is actually a region and former province located on the western coast of the Netherlands. The term Holland is also frequently used to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. Confusing huh?

Oh yes, The Hague is the seat of government and the chief of state: Queen Beatrix, since 30 April 1980. If you spend much time in this country you will learn that The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade.


The Unusual Terrain

The terrain is mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land called ‘polders.’  Those polders produce lots of grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits and vegetables. Its name literally means “Low Countries”.

And Dutch cheese: Gouda, Edam, Leerdammer, Leyden cheese, Maasdam, Parrano and Vlaskaas. And water water water everywhere with the country is located at mouths of three major European rivers (Rhine, Maas or Meuse, and Schelde).

Sixteen million folks crowd into this small area that has hundreds of windmills and millions of colorful, bright, inviting tulips. Both Dutch and Frisian are the official languages and the Euro is the local currency. Look for lots of tall blond folks wearing orange. Orange is related to the Dutch Royal Family and represents the national identity of the Netherlands.

 Seniors Are Drawn to Amsterdam

The Netherlands consists of twelve provinces  and three Dutch-speaking islands in the Caribbean, Aruba, Sint Maarten and Curaçao. Amsterdam is one main reason that seniors are drawn to the Netherlands. It’s a totally awesome city.

My brother Steve traveled extensively all over Europe and Amsterdam always remained his favorite city. Steve, a botanist, was always enthralled with the acres upon acres of tulips that are grown in the country.

Going Dutch

I stumbled upon an article by Russell Shorto in the NY Times called ‘Going Dutch.”  It’s interesting and informative, a personal testimony about what it’s like to live in Amsterdam as an American.

 So ‘hebben een mooie tocht’…that’s Dutch for Bon Voyage. jeb

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