5 Things You Didn’t Know about the Netherlands… Or is it Holland?

When I say Amsterdam, what thoughts or images come to mind? The smoke shops or red light districts? I think of tulips and bikes and wooden shoes! Here’s five things you didn’t know about the Netherlands.

1. The bikes rule the street. I’m not saying in contrast to heavy foot trafficked cities like Boston or New York. I’m talking incredibly, overwhelming the bikes rule the streets over pedestrians and cars. Especially if you’re in the heart of Amsterdam, watch out!

2. There once was “tulip mania” in The Netherlands. The selling of rare tulips became the first economic bubble in the 1600s. It got to the point where ten tulip bulbs were valued more than a house. Of course, the tulip market soon crashed, creating a cautionary tale of economic bubbles.

3. The wooden shoes are called klompen. Also dating back to the 1600s, the traditional wooden shoes were cheap and practical for Dutch farmers. Now, you have to go way out to the rural countryside to see people wearing these shoes, as most clogs are now mostly sold to tourists as souvenirs.

4. The Netherlands and Holland are not technically the same. The Netherlands is the name of the country. North and South Holland are two of the biggest and most populated provinces in the Netherlands, so many people, though not all, use “Holland” and “The Netherlands” interchangeably. The people of the country are called Dutch, close to the German Deutsch, because it was used as a name before Northern Europe split apart into the countries we know of today.

5. The Netherlands was the first country in world to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2001, The Netherlands paved the way for the world. In fact, they first decriminalized homosexuality in 1811, long before other seemingly progressive countries. Now, LGBT-friendly tours are readily available and there’s always a lively LGBT nightlife.

What more fun facts from around the world? Check out “How Social History Shaped Iceland“!

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