It can be very confusing; do we call that small country Holland or the Netherlands? Why does it have those 2 names? What is the difference between Holland and the Netherlands. And which one is actually correct? In this article I will give you an answer to these questions.
I already reveal: The Netherlands is the right name.
More than once when I am abroad, People asked me where I am from. When I answer with “The Netherlands”, the following question is: “You mean Holland?. Personally I don’t care much about how my country is called, but it is similar to calling a Scotsman an Englishman. It can be a sensitive thing.
It happens that the name of the Netherlands in other languages is based on ‘Holland’, for example the Polish ‘Holandia’, the Turkish ‘Hollanda’ or de Icelandic ‘Hollandi’. We can therefore conclude that the name Holland is deeply ingrained worldwide.
What is the Netherlands?
In fact, The Netherlands is the country that is depicted in the image. The Netherlands consists of 12 provinces: Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Flevoland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Zeeland, Limburg and also Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland.
The spoken language in the whole country is called ‘Dutch’ and the people in the whole country are also called ‘Dutch’.
What is Holland?
Perhaps you already guessed it: the two provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland together are called Holland. The three largest cities in the Netherlands, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are located in Holland.
But why are these provinces so important that the name is confused with that of the entire country?
The main reason is that the Holland area was important in a number of events in history. First, the eighty-year war, in which the Netherlands defended itself against Spain and fought for independence. And secondly in the 17th and 18th centuries, in which the Netherlands traded a lot around the world and colonized many areas. The centre of these activities was in Holland, because there were the most major ports.
Nowadays the Holland area is still the most densely populated and is where most of the economic activities take place.
Another reason why the name Holland is often used is because it is easier to pronounce. Moreover, many people do not know the name ‘The Netherlands’. The name ‘Holland’ is used by Dutch people and organizations (incorrectly) for both convenience and promotional purposes.
In 2020 the Netherlands starts a rebranding. The Netherlands wants to get rid of the image of wooden shoes and mills, and wants to emphasize that the Netherlands is much more comprehensive than two provinces. Since Eurovision will be organized in Rotterdam in 2020, it is an excellent opportunity to make the country known as ‘the Netherlands’.
In my opinion this is a good choice. First, because it removes the confusion. And besides that I hope that tourism will spread across all 12 provinces of the Netherlands, because the country has many faces that you don’t get to know when you limit your visit to just Holland.
Do you have questions?
Do you want to know more about the history of the Netherlands?
Can I help you with your Netherlands (or Holland) itinerary?
I look forward to receive your message and will answer all your questions.