The official name of the small country on the North Sea in the national language is Nederland. Many other languages – incorrectly – often refer to the country as “Holland” – for example, in German or English or in the Romance languages (French: Hollande; Italian: Olanda). In fact, the name “Holland” only refers to two of the twelve Dutch provinces at this time – Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. Experts suspect that the name “Holland” probably goes back to the description holt land, which roughly means “woodland” or “forest land”. It is true that the Netherlands hardly had any timber resources within its own territory but imported large amounts from Great Britain and the countries along the Baltic Sea. Thanks to its favourable transport location on the sea and next to the river Rhine, the Netherlands was then able to sell the wood and ship it all over central Europe.
Holland was the original name of a county in the west of the country, which was ruled by the Count of Holland. Holland was then part of the “Republic of the United Netherlands” from the 16th until the 18th centuries and it developed into the most important region in the country, both politically and economically. This is why the name “Holland” represented the entire country – particularly abroad – and is still often used nowadays when people talk about the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Netherlands. The historical old city and the extensive network of canals in particular attract more than seven million tourists every year. The historical waterways were created in the 17th century when more and more people settled in Amsterdam because of its flourishing economy, making it necessary to extend the city in response. The newly created canals served several functions at the same time: firstly, they were used to drain water away from the urban areas, which had been marshland up to that time, and, secondly, the waterways ensured that goods could be transported and people had access to food supplies in the city. UNESCO announced that the canal system in Amsterdam was part of its World Cultural Heritage portfolio in 2010. Those looking to learn more about the historical background to the waterways should be sure to visit the Grachtenhuis (Museum of the Canals) on the Herengracht canal. By the way: With more than 1,200 bridges, Amsterdam has about three times more bridges than Venice and is therefore also described as the “Venice of the North”.
Another major historical place of interest is located about one-and-a-half hours south of Amsterdam: the windmills of Kinderdijk. They were built in 1740 to pump the water away and enable farmers to use the surrounding land for agriculture. The 19 windmills form part of an extensive water management system in the Netherlands that prevents flooding. Without this system, more than one quarter of the country’s surface area would be inundated and at least 60 percent of the Netherlands would be threatened by high water levels. Some of the windmills are open to visitors, while others are used as private homes. Visitors can explore the picturesque backdrop of the province in the Netherlands with the largest number of windmills by bicycle or from the water, on board a sightseeing boat.
Nijmegen also attracts many visitors every year because it is the oldest town in the Netherlands. The Romans established the settlement known as Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum on the grounds of the Valkhof Park, a small forest area at the edge of the centre of the town, in the year 104 BC. The town of Nijmegen grew from this over the centuries. It even formed part of the Lower German Limes, the border between the Teutons and the Romans, at certain times. The town’s history can be best discovered during a guided tour of the town or at the exhibitions in the “de Bastei Museum”. Those who prefer to discover the culinary side of Nijmegen should definitely visit the oldest pub in town: “in de Blaauwe Hand”. Hospitality in a warm and cosy atmosphere has been the order of the day here since 1542.
The national territory of the Netherlands stretches beyond the borders of Europe as far as Central America – to be more precise, the Caribbean. As part of the Lesser Antilles, the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba and their smaller islands are officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as “special communities” and together form the “Caribbean Netherlands”. Visitors there can look forward to Dutch flair as well as white sandy beaches, plenty of sunshine and the bright blue sea.
Geographically, Bonaire is one of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) and is located only about 30 kilometres off the coast of Venezuela. The other islands, Aruba and Curaçao, also belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands but are autonomous countries. There are two official languages on Bonaire – Dutch and Papiamentu, a Caribbean creole language. Bonaire is an absolute paradise for divers thanks to the many kinds of different and colourful reefs and various kinds of fish to marvel at underwater. While the north of the island tends to be hilly, the flat landscape in the south is mainly used to mine salt. The pink colour of the salt fields can be recognised from the air particularly well.
Sint Eustatius is an island of volcanic origin. The Quill, a dormant volcano that is also an attraction for visitors, is located in the south-east of the island and is 600 metres high. The tourist infrastructure on the island is not yet particularly well developed and Sint Eustatius is one of the real hidden gems in the Caribbean thanks to its unspoilt natural surroundings, its National Marine Park and the quiet, clean beaches. The official language on the island is Dutch, though locals often use English in their daily lives and it has also been taught as the first foreign language in schools since 2014. In comparison with the other islands, Papiamentu tends to play a more minor role on Sint Eustatius.
The island of Saba was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second journey in 1493 and he originally named the volcanic island Isla de San Cristobal (Island of Saint Christopher). Most of the island consists of the dormant volcano known as Mount Scenery, which, at 877 metres, is not only the highest point on Saba, but also in the entire Netherlands. The official language on the island may be Dutch, but most of the residents speak English in their daily lives as well. Some members of the population also speak Spanish or Papiamentu.
Logistics fans are not the only ones who get their money’s worth here: those looking for a truly unique experience that is rather different should not miss spending a night in the port crane in Harlingen. The crane, which was built in 1967, was used to unload wood cargo for almost 30 years and is still the dominant silhouette in the port of Harlingen. The crane was restored a few years ago. Its machine room was converted into an extravagant place for people to spend a night, the cage ladders were replaced by two lifts and even a “rain effect” shower was installed. There is also a terrace on the crane’s roof that offers a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside and the port site. The industrial crane still works as well. Guests can rotate it 360° during their stay and decide which view they want.
The port city of Rotterdam has a special strong appeal, particularly for globetrotters and city lovers, and thanks to its imposing skyline, it is also known as “Manhattan on the Maas”. It is true that the city’s architecture has been strongly shaped by American influences, because there have been shipping links between Rotterdam and New York since the 19th century. The most famous pier in Rotterdam is the centrally located Wilhelminakade. This is also where the cruise terminal, which has been completely renovated, is located – ships sailing on the former Holland-America route used to arrive and depart from here. The only original building that has survived from those days is the Hotel New York. It was originally used as the headquarters for the shipping links between the Netherlands and the USA but is now a hotel and a restaurant, providing a magnificent view of the buildings on the skyline, which have an average height of 150 metres.
Rotterdam is also home to the largest port in Europe. It handled almost 470 million tonnes of goods in 2021. The port site, which covers an area of more than twelve hectares, has about 130 landing stages for the ocean-going and inland waterway vessels and can best be explored from the water. Various water bus lines and water taxis take visitors alongside the cruise liners and container vessels in the Port of Rotterdam. The World Port Days, which are celebrated every year in September and offer many special attractions, are a particular highlight, too.
Thanks to its global connections, the Port of Rotterdam is also a central hub and an important business site for many international companies. The logistics specialist Rhenus also has its own terminals at the Port of Rotterdam and handles general cargo, bulk materials, mixed consignments, heavy-duty goods as well as project loads and containers there. Rhenus also offers trimodal transport services from Rotterdam and takes charge of any customs formalities that arise, if necessary.
The masculine form has generally been used in the text to make it easier for people to read. The corresponding references to persons, however, equally apply to all the sexes (m/f/o).
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