What is the difference between the Netherlands and Holland?

What is the difference between the Netherlands and Holland?

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Thought they were the same thing? Dutchessa sets the record straight by explaining the age-old confusion of incorrectly referring to the Netherlands as 'Holland'.

Is there a difference between Holland and the Netherlands? I thought they were the same thing.

This is how most of my students react when I ask this question.

The difference is that Holland is a region in Nederland, the Netherlands. This region consists of two provinces: Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. Three of the country's biggest cities are located in this area: Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague.

So how did it come about that the world knows the Netherlands as Holland? Before starting this small history lesson, you can watch this introductory video on the Netherlands below.

If you want to know the answer, continue reading after this.

Why is Holland confused with the Netherlands?

The regions in the north of what is the Netherlands today joined forces against the Spanish king and fought their way to independence. This is how the Republic of the joined Netherlands was born.

The Republic of the Netherlands bloomed in the 17th century and this period was commonly known as 'De Gouden Eeuw', or the Golden Age. During this era Dutch seafarers were 'exploring' the world. Most of these adventurous men came from either North or South Holland. So when asked where they were from the answer was 'Holland'. This is how the world first met people from the low countries.

The easy and politically (in)correct answer is that this is how the Dutch became famous and infamous around the globe – and everyone kept on calling the Netherlands 'Holland'.

There are many Dutch who today call their country 'Holland' as well, usually people from the North and South Holland provinces. People coming from other regions, especially from Noord-Brabant and Limburg, might even feel offended if you call the Netherlands 'Holland'.

Dutchessa / Expatica

Dutchessa is a team of Dutch language coaches who teach Dutch in a way that's interactive, enjoyable and effective. Interested in their hands-on approach? You can find more information on www.dutchessa.com or email info@dutchessa.com. Photo credit: hotukdeals.com (the Netherlands) / Updated by Expatica 2016.

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