20 things you did not know about the Netherlands

Brouwershaven, Netherlands Credit: crash71100, Flickr

From pioneering inventions like Bluetooth to its love affair with bicycles, the Netherlands can hold both historical and cultural curiosities that will surprise you.

Here are 20 fun facts about the Netherlands you probably never heard of.

  1. Don’t call them Holland:

Many people mistakenly refer to the Netherlands as Holland, but Holland actually refers to just two of its twelve provinces, North and South Holland. In January 2020, the Dutch government officially abandoned its nickname Holland, referring to itself as the Netherlands.

2.   Bluetooth invention:

One of the many technological inventions from the country, the Bluetooth, was invented by Dutch engineer Dr Jaap Haartsen in 1994 while working for Ericsson in Sweden.

3.   Meaning behind Rotterdam’s red lights:

The stunning 12km of LED lights along Rotterdam’s borders have a historical meaning behind them. It symbolises the city’s devastation during the Second World War, honouring its history and resilience.

4.  Dutch men are the tallest:

Confirming the popular rumours, Dutch men are, in fact, the tallest in the world, with an average height of 182.53cm, attributed to factors like diet and healthcare.

5.  Part of the country is below sea level:

About one-third of the Netherlands lies below sea level, with the lowest point being Zuidplaspolder at 6.7m below sea level.

6.  The country has more bikes than people:

There are more bicycles than people in the Netherlands, with over 22 million bikes, against 17.7 million people, making cycling a popular mode of transport.

7.  Pioneers of same-sex marriage:

The Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, marking a progressive milestone in Europe and the world.

8.  Cassette tape invention:

One more invention to the account: the cassette tape was invented by Dutch engineer Lou Ottens, revolutionising audio recording and playback.

9.  Tulips are NOT from the Netherlands:

Originally from Central Asia, the tulips became an iconic symbol after the country’s infamous Tulip Mania in the 17th century. Free tulips are distributed every January on National Tulip Day, the official start of the tulip season.

10.  Thanks to the Dutch for the gin:

Gin (jenever) was invented in the Netherlands in the 16th century and later gained popularity in Great Britain.

11.  Longest ice skating race in the world:

Friesland hosts the Elfstedentocht, the world’s longest ice skating race covering 200km through eleven cities when weather conditions allow.

12.  Be careful with coffee shops:

In the Netherlands, ‘coffee shops’ not only refer to a place for caffeine drinks. The name can also refer to establishments where cannabis can be legally purchased and consumed.

13.  Oldest national anthem:

The Dutch national anthem, “Wilhelmus,” is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 16th century.

14.  Largest flower exporter:

The Netherlands is the world’s leading exporter of flowers, with tulips being the most iconic, with an estimated production capacity of over 12 billion flowers annually.

15.  Biggest liquorice lovers:

Dutch people are the highest consumers of liquorice per capita globally, enjoying around 32 million kilos annually.

16.  Home births are still popular:

Despite a decline, home births are still popular in the Netherlands, with a significant proportion of births occurring at home.

17.  Creators of carrots’ orange colour:

Dutch growers cultivated orange carrots in honour of William of Orange, a patriotic tribute that became the norm.

18.  Biggest beer exporter:

The Netherlands is the European Union’s largest exporter of beer followed by Belgium and Germany. Mexico is the biggest exporter of beer in the world.

19.  One of the happiest countries in the world:

Ranked sixth in the 2020 World Happiness Report, the Netherlands is known for high levels of social trust and happiness.

20.  Philips innovations:

Dutch company Philips added a list of historical inventions for the country, such as cassette tape, CD, DVD, and Blu-ray, shaping modern media and electronics.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Written by

Talyta Franca

Talyta Franca, Class 2026, Northwestern University in Qatar.


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