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10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Netherlands

Posted on: June 30, 2016


10 Fun Facts About Holland

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a beautiful country that is known for its windmills, tulip fields, red light district, amazing architecture, cannabis and whatnot. But there are many things about the Netherlands that you probably didn’t know about. Here are 10 facts that may have some scratching their heads.

1. The Dutch East India Company – also known as “VOC” – was the richest company in the entire history of mankind

10 Things You Didn't Know About The Netherlands

At its peak, the VOC was worth 78 million guilders (Holland’s former currency). That is 7.4 trillion euros today, adjusted for inflation. Today’s companies are not even close. Alphabet, the parent company of Google is now worth about 494 billion euros and Apple about 488 billion euros. The VOC was also the first company in the world that traded shares.

2. Since 1945, more than 8,000 Dutch families have adopted a grave of fallen American WW2 soldiers who were buried in Limburg, a province in the south of the Netherlands

10 Things You Didn't Know About Holland
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Margraten_Netherlands_American_Cemetery_and_Memorial.jpg

The Dutch families maintain the graves and lay flowers regularly. The graves remain within families, transferring from generation to generation. There are so many applications that there is a waiting list to adopt a grave.

3. The oldest store in Amsterdam is a pharmacy located in the Red Light District. It has existed since 1696

Oldest store of Amsterdam
Source: Google Maps

This pharmacy on the left is the oldest store of Holland’s capital. It’s located on the Geldersekade – one of Amsterdam’s oldest canals – which was made in 1425.  It has always been very active on the Geldersekade, as befits a port neighborhood like the Red Light District. Its location on the open IJ river made Amsterdam a perfect water city. Almost all of the transportation of goods was shipped via the water of the canals, along which warehouses and merchants’ houses alternated. Fishermen, sail makers, sailors, ship owners, ship carpenters, wine merchants, brewers, glass merchants, shopkeepers, hawkers and prostitutes defined the character of this old town for centuries.

4. France and the Netherlands share a border. Not in Europe but on the island of St. Maarten

10 Fun Facts About Holland
Saint Martin is an island in Caribbean, roughly 300 km (190 mi) east of Puerto Rico.

5. The Dutch flag has a meaning

The Dutch Flag
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

Red stands for the people, white stands for the church and blue for the nobility. Although the three colours do not seem original, it is actually the oldest tricolour in the world. All other tricoloured flags are copies.

6. The first time a naked woman appeared on Dutch TV was on October 9, 1967

First Naked Woman on Dutch Television
Source: GeheugenvanNederland.nl

It was the 21-year-old Phil Bloom. She appeared completely naked in the VPRO program “Hoepla” as a protest against the dullness. Her appearance caused great commotion and even led to parliamentary questions. Earlier that year, Phil Bloom also posed naked in front of a statue in Amsterdam and published the picture as a postcard.

7. If someone in Amsterdam dies without family, friends or acquaintances a poet will write a poem for this person and read it at the funeral

10 Things You Didn't Know About The Netherlands Funeral
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

This is based on the idea that every human being is worth thinking about and deserves to be buried with specially chosen words. The initiative has been adopted by several cities at home and abroad. Here is the site of Foundation Lonely Funeral.

8. South Africa has many verbatim copies of Dutch cities: Utrecht, Amsterdam, Haarlem, The Hague, Gouda, etc.

Dutch cities in South Africa
Map of South Africa with the red dot pointing to Amsterdam. Source: Google Maps

Amsterdam is a small sheep holders village with 850 inhabitants, in Mpumalanga, South Africa. In addition to large sheep farms there are large plantations of eucalyptus, pine and wattle trees in the area.

9. The great-great-grandfather of the 8th US president, Martin van Buren, lived in village Buurmalsen in the Netherlands

Martin van Buren 8th president USA
Martin van Buren, 8th US President had Dutch roots and was the only president who learned English as a 2nd language.

The great-grandfather of Martin Van Buren, Cornelis Maessen, arrived in 1631 from the Dutch city Buurmalsen with a ship called “De Eenheid” (translated: “The Unit) in America. He did not have a penny in his pocket and wanted to try his luck in America. As a memento of the village where he came from he changed his name into Van Buren.

At the inauguration speech, Martin van Buren said: “Unlike all who have preceded me, the Revolution that gave us existence as one people was achieved at the time of my birth”. The 8th US President was also known as The Flying Dutchman.

10. The first goal against the Dutch national football team was actually an own goal, made by someone on the Dutch team

Netherlands national football team 1905

It was during the match against Belgium which was played in the 1905. Ironically, it was made by someone named Ben Stom, literally translated Am Stupid. Eventually, the Dutch won the game with  4-1.

Enjoy this article? Others who read this also read these 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Drugs in Holland and The Hooker Through the Ages

Hear more fun facts and interesting stories during our tours in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Make an online reservation here:

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