Holland Guide


Capital Amsterdam
The Hague (seat of government)
Area 41,848 sq.km (16,158 sq.mi.)
Population 16.6 million
Density 400.6 per sq.km. (1,037.7 per sq.mi.)
Land BoundariesTotal: 1027 km Border countries: Belgium (450 km), Germany (577km)
Monarch Queen Beatrix
Government TypeConstitutional Monarchy
Prime Minister
Mark Rutte
Telephone Code +31
Internet TLD
Language Dutch, Frisian
Time ZoneUTC +1

The land of the windmills, tulips, art and liberalism – this is Holland, a major cultural, economic and political hub in Europe. Holland is often referred to and interchangeably called Netherlands, even though officially Holland only makes up roughly about 15% of the entire Kingdom of the Netherlands. It first became an independent republic in 1572, following the Dutch revolt led by William of Orange. It became a country in 1805 upon the appointment of King William I as “King of Holland.” World War II and the Nazi occupation have left the country in near ruins and devastation, but it was able to rebuild itself. It became a member of the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), an economic union of the monarchies and is considered as the precursor of the European Union.

Today, Holland enjoys a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch and is a founding member of NATO and the European Community.

This low-lying country is divided by three large bodies of water: the Rijn, the Waal and the Meuse. The terrain is generally flat and portions of the land are just at or below sea level. Climate is moderate with warm summers and cool winters, but rainfall is prevalent the whole year round. 

The country is comprised of 12 provinces: Flevoland, North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht, Drenthe, Friesland, Groningen, West Frisian Islands, Gelderland, Overijssel, Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland. Each province has an elected Governor The population is predominantly Dutch nationals (or those with Dutch ancestry), but there is also a sizeable percentage of diverse ethnic groups in the country.  There are the Turkish, Indonesian, German, Moroccan, Surinamese and migrants from the dependent areas of Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.  Netherlands is the 27th most densely populated around the world, with Amsterdam in North Holland being the largest city. 

About a quarter of the population are Roman Catholics – a remnant of the Christian heritage of the country. Other religious groups include Dutch Reformed, Calvinist, Muslims and Protestants. Today, secularity is growing with about 41% of the population with no pronounced religion.

The Netherlands has always been an economic powerhouse in Europe, leading the way in shipping, trade, banking, manufacturing and exporting. It relies mainly on international trade. It has produced multinational giants such as Unilever, Heineken, Philips, ING and Shell. Amsterdam is the hub of trading in the country, with the Amsterdam Stock Exchange being the world’s oldest stock exchange market. Rotterdam on the other hand maintains the largest port in Europe. As the country is one of the founding member of the EU, it had to replace its former currency, the guilder, with the euro. 

Since the 19th century, the Netherlands has maintained a constitutional monarchy, and a parliamentary democracy system. The head of the state is the monarch and is given limited powers through the constitution. The head of the government is called the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The country is also known for its liberal policies and the atmosphere of tolerance – the seat of government and the home of the States-General lies at The Hague, and it is also where all the government ministries, foreign embassies and international organizations hold offices. International judicial bodies are in the Netherlands such as the International Criminal Court, the Eurojust and the International Court of Justice.

The country is recognized for its historical landmarks, natural attractions as well as cultural traditions and scientific breakthroughs. It has produced some of the greatest painters in the history of art such as Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer and great Dutch scientists such as Christiaan Huygens and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. The Netherlands has the most number of museums in the world and showcase diverse and varied fields of architecture, art, history and nature. It is also in the forefront of architecture and has six of its historical landmarks on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

The Dutch culture is also famous for other reasons. The Dutch people are proud of their cheeses with each province and region producing its own variety of high-quality cheeses. Millions of visitors also come to Holland for its windmills, tulip and flower festivals and its international music and arts festivals celebrated all year round.