The Netherlands is one of the most beautiful regions in all of Europe. Holland is often used to refer to the Netherlands, but the reality is that they are only a couple of provinces in the west of the country where the cities of Amsterdam , Rotterdam and The Hague are located. We tell you 12 curiosities of Holland and the Netherlands that will surprise you. You will surely learn something new about this European country, it is small but it has a lot of curious facts!
Curiosities Of The Holland And Netherlands
There are more bikes than people, one of the best-known curiosities of Holland
Surely you will not be surprised to learn that in the Netherlands there are more bicycles than inhabitants. There are more than 22 million bikes for just over 17 million people. That confirms that many Dutch people have more than one bike. On average, each citizen travels 2.5 kilometers on wheels every day , which adds up to more than 900 kilometers per year. Perhaps for this reason it is one of the countries with the fewest health problems in the world.
A third of the country is below sea level
The Netherlands is called that for a reason! It is a literal translation of Dutch Nederland, lowland. And it is the country with the lowest elevation in all of Europe (hence why it is so easy to get around by bike). In fact, the highest “mountain” is 323 meters high and practically a third of its territory is below sea level. Even the Schipol airport in Amsterdam is 3 meters below sea level. Fortunately, they have very good dredging systems to prevent flooding.
Amsterdam is built on wooden sticks, one of the most surprising curiosities of Holland
With so little (or no) elevation, the terrain on which the country’s capital sits is quite unstable. Its 165 canals make the land very swampy and buildings can be in danger.
For this reason, under the streets of Amsterdam there are millions of wooden poles about 12 meters high driven into the ground to provide stability. Of course, in new constructions more resistant materials such as steel or concrete are used.
The Dutch are the tallest in the world
The tallest men in the world live in the Netherlands. On average, men are 183cm tall, while women are 171cm tall. There are several theories that try to explain the reason: from the good quality of its health system, the diet rich in dairy or simply the genetics of the Dutch. Be that as it may, the reality is that the average height has increased by about 20 centimeters in the last 200 years.
It has the largest flower garden in the world
The Dutch national flower is tulips. The country produces more than 4 million bulbs every year and tulip farms occupy more than 10,000 hectares. Every spring, Keukenhof becomes the main tourist attraction in the Netherlands. It is the largest flower garden in the world, with more than 800 varieties of colorful tulips. A treat for the eyes!
Tulips are not Dutch, one of the most disappointing curiosities of Holland
We are sorry to break the magical union between Holland and tulips, but the truth is that these flowers are not native. They were imported from Turkey in the 17th century , but were soon found to grow very well on Dutch soil. Now the Netherlands is the largest exporter of these flowers and 75% of flower bulbs worldwide.
Pioneers in wind energy
Beyond the tulips, the windmills can also be considered an icon of the Netherlands. There are over 1,000 across the country! Throughout history they have been used to grind grain or drain water, although very few traditional mills remain in operation today. But the most modern windmills remain an essential part of the country, a pioneer in the use of wind power. More than half a million passengers travel each day on trains that run 100% on electricity generated through windmills.
First country to legalize same-sex marriage
April 1, 2001 was a great day. The Netherlands was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. It is still one of the most LGBTI-friendly countries , with many gay bars and even monuments in tribute to sexual freedom.
Many Dutch people are born at home
Almost a quarter of Dutch babies are born at home. It may seem somewhat old-fashioned, in fact the figure has been stable for decades. The reason is that social security covers births at home with midwives who assist women in the tranquility of their home.
An emergency siren sounds every month
If you are in the Netherlands on the first Monday of the month, don’t panic if you hear an emergency siren at 12 noon. It is a government protocol to verify that the systems work in the event of a real danger situation: floods, fires, toxic fumes or any type of risk to the population. It rings for about a minute and a half. Without a doubt, it is one of the curiosities of Holland that can scare you if you do not know it.
The ideal destination for licorice lovers
Do you like licorice candy? Then traveling to the Netherlands is a great idea! One of the funniest curiosities of Holland is that they are at the forefront of consuming licorice in the world. Every Dutchman eats on average about 2 kilos of liquorice sweets every year.
Discover the largest pub in Europe
We end our list of interesting facts about Holland with some good news for party lovers. The largest pub on the continent is located in Groningen and is called The Drie Gezusters. It has capacity for 3750 people , almost nothing! The perfect place to try delicious Dutch beers in good company. And it is that the Netherlands is the second largest exporter of beer behind Mexico.