Holland And The Netherlands Are Not The Same Thing

“On a bright December morning long ago, two thinly clad children were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen canal in Holland. The sun had not yet appeared, but the gray sky was parted near the horizon, and its edges shone crimson with the coming day. Most of the good Hollanders were enjoying a placid morning nap.” —Mary Mapes Dodge, Hans Brinker

In A Nutshell

For centuries, it’s been very common for people all over the world to refer to the Netherlands—to the disdain of some of the Dutch—as “Holland.” It’s so common that some of you will be surprised to know that it’s wrong. The truth is Holland did exist hundreds of years ago. It was a beacon of knowledge and wealth in Europe, and it was so magnificent that it overshadows an entire nation to this day.

The Whole Bushel

Most of us have heard someone referring to the Netherlands as “Holland,” and some of us have even done it ourselves. But some Dutch might be offended if you call their country Holland: It’s much like calling the United States of America “Dakota” or Great Britain “England.”

The present-day Netherlands consists of 12 provinces: Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Flevoland, Gelderland, Utrecht, North Holland, South Holland, Zeeland (and now you know where New Zealand gets its name from), North Brabant, and Limburg. The Netherlands is one of the countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which also includes the six islands of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles (in the Caribbean Sea).

The Netherlands’ largest and most famous cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague) are located in North Holland and South Holland, making them the most well-known provinces of the country.

The fame of these provinces began in the Dutch Golden Age which roughly spanned the 17th century, when the Dutch ruled the world’s trade routes and excelled in the fields of science, military, and art. During this era, North Holland and South Holland were unified as simply “Holland.” It was the political, economic, and cultural center of the United Provinces of the Netherlands—then the world’s wealthiest nation—which preceded the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

This led to a widespread recognition of “Holland” all over the world, especially in Europe where it began to be used as a synonym for what we now know as the Netherlands. Thus, a single region overshadowed the entire Dutch Empire.

Over the centuries, Holland was split and renamed several times (Amstelland and Maasland are two examples), until it became what we now know as North Holland and South Holland in 1840.

The history and power of that Dutch province was such that viewing The Netherlands simply as Holland still persists to this day; some Dutch may even refer to their country as Holland when talking to a foreigner.

Holland is now used as a brand name for The Netherlands, mainly in business and tourism, a name that represents the greatness of a nation.

Show Me The Proof

World Atlas: Holland
Holland.com: Netherlands vs. Holland
Amsterdam.info: The Netherlands

  • lbatfish

    OMG! This one really IS awesome! 🙂

    • Zealand

      I know right!

  • inconspicuous detective

    ho man. this is by hadeskabir. good work dude. now we know why you’ve been gone all this time.

    • lbatfish

      I hope this doesn’t mean that he’s “sold out to the Man”! 🙂

      • I expect the first ‘Help! Hadeskabir is writing too many articles!’-comment before the next full moon 🙂

        • lbatfish

          Yes . . . such is the price of success, I suppose . . . .

          • Lisa 39

            Yay hadeskabir! Nice job, i learned something new :),

          • Whatisreal

            So it turns out most of us learned something new here today. I’d say that’s success, nice article Hadeskabir.

          • Lisa 39

            Also, this means that he has to read the comments and talk to us like the other writers! Yay!

          • Zealand

            Wait, that’s an obligation?

          • Lisa 39

            I don’t think so but i’ve noticed that the writers respond to comments, i’d want to know what people were saying if i was a writer.

          • Zealand

            Well, yeah I see your point

          • Lisa 39

            And by reading the comments you can find out if you’ve made any errors lol

          • Zealand

            Oh yeah like on yesterday’s list

          • Lisa 39

            It happens often and that’s ok, the writers do fix mistakes when comments point them out.

          • Zealand

            Yeah, by the way how are things with Nathaniel going?

          • Lisa 39

            That was the most fun i’ve ever had on valentines day, nathaniel is such a good sport 🙂

          • Zealand

            Yeah I nearby fell off my seat laughing. Besides, it would’ve been a whole different story if he was serious

          • Lisa 39

            I would have run away screaming and never come back if anyone had been serious, i’m still trying to recover from being married lol

          • Zealand

            LOL! By the way, on a totally unrelated note, have you ever been to the Faroe Islands?

          • Lisa 39

            No i haven’t, but if that’s it in your pic its beautiful!

          • Zealand

            Actually, you’re right but to be a bit more specific, my profile pic shows the Kallur Lighthouse which is located on Kalsoy Island, a green, mountainous island with four settlements on it which are scattered across the island, which is located about 20 miles away from Tórshavn (The capital of the Faroe Islands)

            In short my profile pic shows a lighthouse 20 miles away from Torshavn which is the capital of an island in the middle of the Northern Atlantic Ocean

          • Lisa 39

            Wow, that’s very beautiful, thank you for sharing that zealand, i love learning about different places especially from people who live there, maybe someday i’ll be lucky enough to visit 🙂

          • Zealand

            Thanks!

          • lonelydisco

            He’s Guest, now.

          • Faroe

            Wait, you live in Kalsoy? Interesting, I live in Torshavn…

          • Zealand

            No, I live in Torshavn, I just visit Kalsoy from time to time because my parents live there…

          • lbatfish

            No, the Disqus [Delete Comment] function doesn’t work properly (other than temporarily) — it just changes the name to “Guest”. The closest you can get to deleting is to use [Edit] to change the unwanted comment to almost-nothing, such as a period or [space], and then [Save]. Next, use the [Delete].

            The result (after a screen refresh) will be a blank-looking comment supposedly made by “Guest”.

            [Note: After that, you will have NO ability to edit it again, because it won’t be “yours” anymore.]

          • Zealand

            ???

          • Whatisreal

            Haha he wasn’t content with filling the comments section up, so now he’s luring us into reading his articles too. Well played xD

          • Lisa 39

            I hope he writes more, i miss chatting with him 🙁

          • Whatisreal

            He spends a couple of weeks away, writes an article and now has everyone, including you Lisa, eating out of his hand (: Hadeskabir has won today’s internet.

          • Lisa 39

            Wow, so because i miss chatting with him and i’m happy that he wrote a good informative article i’m eating out of his hand? I really didn’t expect that from you whatisreal, i guess you win the award today for being the internet butthead.

          • Whatisreal

            It was said in the most lighthearted of ways.. I think the lady doth protest too much..

          • Lisa 39

            It didn’t seem lighthearted to me and the lady doth always protest crappy treatment.

          • lbatfish

            Actually, “has everybody eating out of his hand” could be considered a compliment of sorts about the success of the article, especially when accompanied by “Hadeskabir has won today’s internet.”

            It wasn’t until after I saw your comment that I realized that it could also be viewed as a dis. But . . . not really a big one.

            BTW, I was the first one here to notice who’d authored the article, and prepped a troll-pic to maybe post in reply to any ugly comments that might have gotten made by his detractors. The text was the Portuguese translation of the phrase . . . well, never mind. But I’m happy that I never got a chance to use it on anybody. 🙂

          • Lisa 39

            Thank you lbatfish, i know, i took it wrong, i guess i’m the internet butt today lol o wait, ” ” was here today, i’m safe, i apologized 🙂 i’m glad that you didn’t have to use the troll pic but i can’t wait to see it!

          • Lisa 39

            I’m sorry if i took it wrong.

          • Zealand

            He’s slowly taking over Listverse, one upvote at a time

          • Zealand

            I know right! This article was extremely interesting, not to mention well-written, besides, as a Dutch New-Zealander I’m really happy with this article and it really taught me something new today…

          • Lisa 39

            I agree, the funny part is i didn’t look at who wrote it until i saw id’s comment, that made my day!

          • Zealand

            Yeah, for some reason I never really noticed who wrote this article until I saw the comments section XD

          • Lisa 39

            I don’t always check the authors name before i read the article or list, i will now tho lol

        • yeah

          I wondered where he went and then saw him getting his fix in the comments section on cracked…. 🙂

  • Hello Hades, as a non-Hollander Dutchman, I’m very content with this article. Spread the knowledge!

    • Jac

      Arjan what province are you from?
      I visit friends in Friesland all the time and people there ask me how do you like holland and I say if you’re asking about holland sure it’s great but this is Friesland a different province and they say good god you know the difference. But do they ask people that assuming it’s jut better to say holland instead of the Netherlands?

      • Ha, I’m from Friesland (Frisia), I live in the city of Leeuwarden. People here are accommodating towards foreigners, and I think they use “Hawl-unt” because it is regarded more commonly known (and also easier to pronounce for Dutch people) than “Ze Nezzerlunts”. Folks who have a strong sense of regional identity, will avoid the name Holland and refer to either The Netherlands or the name of the province or region you’re visiting.

        Many Dutchmen will refer to everything in Great Britain as ‘England’ and the United States are often abbreviated to ‘America’.

        • Jac

          Leeuwarden? Haha what a small world. I am in Europe studying for a year and I visit friends in Heerenveen all the time. I went to Leeuwarden for the Christmas sky radio? Donation thing for clean water. Really was awesome to experience.

          • Go figure! You mean the Serious Request event, that was huge, so many people came over. Feel free to tag yourself haha. I hope you’re enjoying your time in Europa.

          • Jac

            Tag myself? And yes so many people were there! I’ll be back in Friesland in March, I’m quite fond of the Netherlands.

        • Zealand

          Leeuwarden? I grew up there before moving to the Faroe Islands!

          • No way! When was that? We may have met?

          • Zealand

            Well, that happened about fourteen years ago back in 2000, I was like 12 at time…

          • I moved here in 1997, I was 21, never left again. The Faeröer looks like a beautiful but tough place. Do you remember the street you lived in Leeuwarden? You left just before de middelbare school haha.

          • Zealand

            Yeah, I remember arriving in Torshavn (the capital of the Faroe Islands) and I was completely surprised since it was a completely different world and since I had no idea how to speak Danish, I had a hard time adjusting there and although the Faroe Islands are extremely beautiful and somewhat tough it’s actually not that hard living here once you get used to it. By the way, I don’t exactly remember the street I lived on but I lived somewhere along the Het Vliet near Sint Bonifatiuskerk.

    • lonelydisco

      I didn’t know it was the wealthiest nation on Earth!

  • Nathaniel A.

    Not bad for your first bushel Hadeskabir. You have room for improvement, but then again who doesn’t?

  • Lee

    People would know this if they played games like Europa Universalis and Cursader Kings.=D

    • Zealand

      I’m more of a Cvilization 5 fan myself…

      • Check

        Damn, I haven’t played 5 yet, but I played the crap out of Civ4 and Civ2. Civ2 I flattened the whole planet with my engineers, and Civ4 I totally love the opening song “Baba Yetu”, so much so that I play it as a journal reflection for my students every year.

        • Zealand

          Yeah I used to play Civilization 4 like there was no tomorrow, and I especially loved the Baba Yetu song! Although Civilization 4 was really fun I my opinion Civilization 5 is better. Besides, you should try it already since the Gods and Kings DLC and the Brave New World DLC already came out, adding trade routes, tourism, great works of art, ideologies, religion, more maps, and civs to the game. Although civ 5 might seem confusing at first it’s actually really easy and not that hard to play.

          In short, you should probably buy it along with the two new DLC expansions, and if you liked Civlization 4 then you’ll definitely love Civilization 5

          • Check

            Wow, you’re making me want to go and buy it right now, but, alas, I cannot. Money is tight and the wife will not approve, lol!

          • Zealand

            You have my sympathy lol

  • Hillyard

    Hadeskabir, good to see you again. The difference between Holland and the Netherlands is something I actually never learned until I started living in Germany. I found myself being corrected a number of times, then told the difference. Good article.

  • Passin’ Through

    Congrats on joining the writer’s club.

    I actually knew this because I had to look it up many years ago. I couldn’t understand why the British soccer commentator kept saying Holland while the American kept saying The Netherlands. The same commentator pronounces the country Chile as “chilly” instead of the proper “chee-lay”.

  • UN

    Call me an ignorant im still calling country by its popular name Holland

  • Atlas

    This cleared things up for me, even though I knew they weren’t the same (I had a few teachers who made sure we learned that they were different), I didn’t know all of the details and specifics. Good work Hadeskabir, hope you write more soon!

  • Timothy53

    I am now better informed.

  • Check

    Great article, Hadeskabir! I learned something new today. This kind of mix up is almost the exact opposite of the problem that we here on Guam have with the US. Most people have no idea where Guam is so most automatically think the island is a foreign country. We are not, we are a territory of the USA. We ARE US citizens and a part of the US. This is annoying when it comes to having stuff shipped here from the mainland or to watch certain things on the internet. I often have to argue with people over the phone long distance or through e-mail. It’s frustrating let me tell you.

    • Zealand

      Yeah, I feel your pain, here in the Faroe Islands we have the same situation right now because nobody really recognizes us as Danish citizens even though we’ve been part of Denmark since 1814

  • JRHatt

    I assume Goldmember is the most accurate portrayal of the Dutch.

  • jihadbob

    Great Article hadeskabir, when will you be commenting again? Good to hear from you!

  • Swapnaja

    I used to do this mistake…
    But yes great history fact

  • David V

    An article about how wrong it is to refer to the United States of America as only “America”. Contrary to what some people may think, there are other countries on the three continents we refer as “America”.

    • Zealand

      This article is about the Netherlands, not America!

      • lbatfish

        I think he may have been making a suggestion (in the comments of an article about “misleading country names”) for a future KN article.

        If I’m right, I’d agree with him on the first part, because it would be kinda like using the name “Africa” to refer to only Egypt (or Nigeria or wherever). That’s why I usually refer to “the U.S.” and “U.S. citizens” instead of “America” and “Americans” in my own comments (with “Unitedstatians” being a bit too awkward to be a serious alternative). 🙂

        But I AM a little confused by the “three continents” part . . . .

        BTW, I hope you weren’t offended about a reply I made to you a few days ago regarding “Danish people counting”. It was just an expansion of an old joke where the question was raised “Doesn’t (name) count?”

        Just out of curiosity, does anyone recognize which comedy album I’m referring to? [Hint: The lead character was “Porgy Tirebiter”.] 🙂

        • Zealand

          Oh, I get it now, thanks for clearing that up for me! By the way, it would be pretty nice to have a list or a Knowledge Nuts article about misleading country names. And by the way, It’s ok, I wasn’t offended at all about your reply a few days ago, besides, I know a joke when see one 🙂

          • lbatfish

            It just didn’t look as funny when I re-read it today as it did when I first posted it. So in my comment up above, I was just making sure!

            Besides, it also let me slip in a cryptic Firesign Theatre reference, just to find out how many 60-ish stoners are out there in KN Comment-land. 🙂

    • Jac

      I think by 3 continents he means America north and south and Central America which some people count separate even though I just count north and south. It’s funny because other countries call themselves Canadians or Mexicans or Chileans or Ecuadorians so Americans is regulated to the US. however there are people in these examples also refer to themselves as Americans beause they live on South Amerian continet so it comes down to circumstance in the conversations. I almost always say US American or just US persons as a clarifier. But an article looking at the difference of uses American and who doesn’t would be cool. I’ve just found other north and South American countries tend to use their country name because no other country used america in it’s title.

    • Hillyard

      While you do have a point, when someone refers to America there is no doubt that they mean the USA. Canada, Mexico and all of the countries on the S. American continent are referred to by their names. Only US citizens are generally called Americans. Citizens of the other countries on the two American continents are called Canadians, Mexicans etc.

    • DarthPoot

      2 continents…

  • Sarah

    I know of some Scots, Welsh
    and Irish who would take offence to Great Britain and would much prefer the specific language of England,Ireland, Scotland and Wales to Great Britain.

    • Pawesl

      Agreed I have had plenty get put out being referred to as British. They want to be called English or Welsh. Its like an American getting upset you dont call them a New Yorker.

    • Dylan

      Same goes for Québec in Canada, by the way.

      • Sarah

        That may be true but I for one refuse to cater to the pure laine. They are a bunch of rascists and not worth pandering to. Especially in light of their recent efforts to infringe on the right of minorities within Quebec.

  • Alskiz

    This is all very well and good but could somebody please tell me why somebody from The Netherlands is called ‘Dutch”?

    • It’s derived from Deutsch, which means ‘German’ in German.

  • DarthPoot

    Now your writing? Great job! I was always curious about this one.