Holland is a region in the western part of the Netherlands. A maritime and economic power in the 17th century, Holland today consists of the Dutch provinces of North Holland and South Holland.
The name Holland
The name Holland first appeared in sources in 866 for the region around Haarlem, and by 1064 was being used for the name of the entire county. By this time, the inhabitants of Holland were referring to themselves as "Hollanders".Holland is derived from the Middle Dutch term holtland ("wooded land"). This spelling variation remained in use until around the 14th century, at which time the name stabilised as Holland (alternative spellings at the time were Hollant and Hollandt). Popular, but incorrect etymology holds that Holland is derived from hol land ("hollow land") and was inspired by the low-lying geography of Holland.
Holland is a great holiday destination with plenty to offer everyone, good for grown-ups and entertaining for children. People looking for a cultural holiday and those into sports, nature or city lovers will find something to suit their needs in this eclectic Country.
Holland, the low-lying northwest region of the Netherlands comprises the provinces of North Holland and South Holland. Though the whole Country is commonly known as Holland, the official name is actually the Netherlands.
Situated on the North Sea, Holland is almost completely flat except for some small hills in the southeast, and considerable areas of land have been reclaimed from the sea. Rivers including the Scheldt, Maas and Rhine, together with many canals form an efficient system of inland waterways.
Holland is situated in the west of the Netherlands. A maritime water-oriented region, Holland lies on the North Sea at the mouths of the Rhine and the Meuse(Maas). It has numerous rivers and lakes and an extensive inland canal and waterway system. To the south is Zealand. The region is bordered on the east by the IJsselmeer and four different provinces of the Netherlands.
Holland is protected from the sea by a long line of coastal dunes. Most of the land area behind the dunes consists of polder landscape lying well below sea level. At present the lowest point in Holland is a polder near Rotterdam, which is about seven meters below sea level. Continuous drainage is necessary to keep Holland from flooding. In earlier centuries windmills were used for this task. The landscape was (and in places still is) dotted with windmills, which have become a symbol of Holland.
Holland is 7,494 square kilometres (land and water included), making it roughly 13% of the area of the Netherlands. Looking at land alone, it is 5,488 square kilometres in size. The combined population is 6.1 million.
The main cities in Holland are Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Amsterdam is formally the capital of the Netherlands and its most important city. The Port of Rotterdam is Europe's largest and most important harbour and port. The Hague is the seat of government of the Netherlands. These cities, combined with Utrecht and other smaller municipalities, effectively form a single city - a conurbation called Randtad.
The Randstad area is one of the most densely populated regions of Europe, but still relatively free of urban sprawl. There are strict zoning laws. Population pressures are enormous, property values are high, and new housing is constantly under development on the edges of the built-up areas. Surprisingly, much of the province still has a rural character. The remaining agricultural land and natural areas are highly valued and protected. Most of the arable land is used for intensive agriculture, including horticulture and greenhouse agri-businesses.
The Netherlands is a densely populated and geographically low-lying country and is popularly known for its windmills, clogs, dikes (construction built along the edge of a body of water to prevent it from flooding onto adjacent lowlands), bicycles and social tolerance. The countryside with cows grazing in the fields next to canals and windmills is a reminiscent image of the harmony captured by many Dutch artists, while the cities balance traditional architecture with modern tendencies. Amsterdam for example has gabled houses, priceless paintings, multilingual people, coffee shops selling cannabis and prostitutes behind picture windows, all accepted with complete tolerence. Although not large in size, Holland is full of interesting sites, therefore to make the most of your trip it would be advisable to prepare a journey plan selecting the areas you intend to see and the sites that most interest you. To help with your search we have put together selected destinations inclusive of general information and the most interesting sites across various categories.
Each of the provinces in the Netherlands has a history that deserves full attention on its own. However, to a certain extent at least, the history of Holland is the history of the Netherlands, and vice versa. See the article on "History of the Netherlands" for a more detailed history. The article here focuses on those points that are specific to Holland itself or that highlight the nature of the role played by Holland in the Netherlands as a whole.
The image of Holland at home and abroad
The predominance of Holland in the Netherlands has resulted in regionalism on the part of the other provinces. This is a reaction to the perceived threat that Holland poses to the identities and local cultures of the other provinces. The other provinces have a strong, and often negative, image of Holland and the Hollanders, to whom certain qualities are ascribed.
Hollanders themselves, however, have a weak self-image. They take Holland's cultural dominance for granted. To them, the concepts of "Holland" and the "Netherlands" coincide. Consequently they see themselves not primarily as "Hollanders", but simply as "Dutch" (Nederlanders). This phenomenon is called "hollandocentrism"
Holland tends to be associated with a particular image. The stereotypical image of Holland is an artificial amalgam of tulips, windmills, clogs, cheese and traditional dress (klederdracht). Like all stereotypes, this is far from the truth and reality of life in Holland. This can at least in part be explained by the active exploitation of these stereotypes in promotions of Holland and the Netherlands. In fact only in a few of the more traditional villages, such as Volendam and locations in the Zaan area, are the different costumes and wooden shoes still worn by some inhabitants.
Kingdom of Holland
The formation of the Batavian Republic, inspired by the French revolution, led to a more centralised government. Holland became a province of a unitary state. Its independence was further reduced by an administrative reform in 1798, in which its territory was divided into several departments called Amstel, Delf, Texel, and part of Schelde en Maas.
From 1806 to 1810 Napoleon styled his vassal state, governed by his brother Louis Napoleon and shortly by the son of Louis, Napoleon Louis Bonaparte, as the "Kingdom of Holland". This kingdom encompassed much of what would become the modern Netherlands. The name reflects how natural at the time it had become to equate Holland with the Netherlands as a whole.
During the period the Low Countries were annexed by the Franch Empire and actually incorporated into France (from 1810 to 1813), Holland was divided into the Údpartements Ú Zuyderze and Bouches-de-la-Meuse.