Or rather the paradox that is the Netherlands
I would like to say the Netherlands is just like any other nation on the planet. But that would be lying.
It already starts with the name. Is it Holland or the Netherlands? Technically and officially it is the Netherlands but the Dutch also tend to accept Holland when people refer to the Netherlands. It is actually the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 2 of the 12 Provinces carry the name Holland, South and North.
If you get over the confusion of the name and you take a risk into the history of the country, things get very clear. No I am kidding it doesn’t.
In general countries turn from Monarchies into Republics, not so the case for the Netherlands. They were a republic twice.
The first time around from 1588 to 1795 as “the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands” when part of the Netherlands separated from Spanish rule.
In early 1795, intervention by French revolutionary forces led to the downfall of the old Dutch Republic and a new republic was born with the name “the Batavian Republic.
This lasted until 1806 when a French chap called Napoleon Bonaparte took a shine to the country.
In 1813 Napoleon was defeated and on 20 November of that year the then Prince of Orange Willem Frederik van Oranje-Nassau became the sovereign of the state. After the re-unification of the Northern ad Southern provinces in 1814 it was decided that on 16 March 1815, Prince Willem would be crowned King and henceforth the country became a Monarchy
Why Dutch? There doesn’t appear to be a clear explanation where the name Dutch came from, it is probably a confused version of Deutsch which is from our neighbors at the east.But let me stress we are not the same people.
The Dutch are known for their generosity towards their fellow man but on the other hand they are also know to be a bit tight, sayings like “Going Dutch” illustrates this. And yes the Dutch are generous they give substantial donations to charities and they willingly invite those who are in need of help.
However before we get carried away on how great the Dutch are. There are some black pages in the Dutch history books. And no I am not talking about the Dutch national team not qualifying for Euro 2016,embarrassing as it is it doesn’t constitute a black era in the history books.
During the 16th and the 17th centuries,the so called Golden ages, the Dutch gathered enormous amounts of wealth via colonization and by exploiting the colonies for their minerals,spices,gold, silver and via slavery. The Dutch were among the biggest slave traders.
Although the climate is a C-Climate being a moderate sea climate, there can be exteme differences in temperatures from -20deg c in winter to 42deg c in summer, albeit not like that every year, it does regularly happen.
Because of the often severe winters , skating on natural ice is very popular. In the most Northern province ,when weather permits is there is skate marathon called “de elfsteden tocht” meaning the 11 cities tour which is a track of about 200 KM, for it to be held there needs to be severe frost for several weeks. The last one was held in 1997.
It is said that when a vote was taken which language was going to be spoken in the US , the Dutch language only was short 1 vote. How different the Hollywood movies would have been.
Most of the vegetables you see in supermarkets come from the Netherlands even though it is one of the countries with the highest density population wise.
The biggest enemy of the Dutch is basically the North Sea, but through the innovative approach by the Dutch in most all aspects of life, they appear to be winning that battle albeit at a high cost. During the floods of 1953, about 1500 people perished. The Delta works are engineering at its best and is second to none.
Currently the population is close to 17 Million, packed in a country the size of Munster in Ireland but yet there is enough county side around, the Dutch are very creative with their spaces, they always have been. Ironically we are also the tallest people in the world.
With a few blemishes in the history the Netherlands, in all it’s complexity is a great nation.