NL: The Netherlands or Holland?

I’m never sure what the actually country name of the Netherlands is. Is it Holland, or is it the Netherlands. As a kid, I remember learning about the country “Holland, ” and it’s wooden shoes and windmills. My boyfriend refers to his country of origin at the Netherland’s (and he SWEARS that every Dutch person has a pair of wooden shoes that they store in a locker in Schipol airport whenever they leave the country). However, when I found myself in conversation with Dutch nationals they always asked: “is this your first time to Holland?”

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The official name of “Holland” is actually the “Kingdom of the Netherlands.” The country is ruled by King Willem-Alexander. (His birthday April 27th is a national holiday, and a wild party.)

As I asked the various Dutch people I met, the answer was often “oh, we thought it was easier to say Holland to foreign tourists,” or  “In English, don’t you say Holland?”


In English, Holland is named for it’s “Hollow Land,” in Dutch “The Netherlands” translates to “Low Lands.” While in Netherland’s I learned that Holland is a historical name that refers to an ancient area of the Netherlands. Today, Holland refers to the two most populated provinces of the country; Upper Holland and Lower Holland. Amsterdam, the states capital city, is located in Upper Holland, and Rotterdam the “2nd” city is located in Lower Holland.

The majority of the country 23 feet below sea level, when running I felt like I could go for EVER! In the middle ages, Windmills were used to prevent flooding of essential farm land. For some, Windmills are still “home, sweet, home.”

I found it interesting that the countries capital city is not actually where the countries government convenes. The government meets in De Hagg, a city located half way between Amsterdam and Rotterdam.


When I first arrived in The Netherlands, I expected the distances to be more vast between cities. Land wise, everything in the Netherlands is relatively close. It takes at most 3 hours to drive across the country. So, when in the Netherlands you can rest assures that you’ll fit all your sightseeing wants in.