4 juin 2016

What surprised me in The Netherlands

Some figures

The Netherlands joined European Union in 1957 and the national currency is Euro since 1999. The capital of the country is Amsterdam which is the highest city with 41 530km3. According to CIA, the population was 16 947 904 in 2015. The majority of the population is young, (Population pyramid) with a medium age of 42.3 years. The migrants are really present in the country; they represent 10% of the population according to OECD.


The country has a constitutional monarchy, the chief of state is the king Willem-Alexander since 2013, and the monarchy is hereditary. The king is helped by the prime minister who is Mark Rutt. The seat of the government is in The Hague. In The Netherlands, there are 12 provinces.


The country is the sixth-largest economy in European Union with a key role in transportation thanks to the port located in The Hague, one of the highest in the world. The gross national saving was 28.7% in 2014, the GDP is principally made by services (74.8%), industry (22.3%) and agriculture (2.8%). According to CIA, the unemployment rate was 7.4% in 2014.

Culture Identity

Holland owns its particular culture identity, orange is the national colour. First of all, bike is used by everyone; everywhere, there are roads only for cyclists. It is really useful and healthy for yourself and environment. Dutch are used to biking owing to high price of the public transport, so here biking is a religion.


 Not only are they a passion for biking but also for tulip and gouda. You could see tulip everywhere, it is the same for gouda, you could taste it in many shops and there are places only to buy and to try cheese and specially gouda.

Weed is also a symbol of the country, unfortunately for many people Amsterdam means weed. The business of weed is huge and you could see in Amsterdam a hard competition between all the coffee shops.

In accordance with weed, the red light district is a very touristic place in Amsterdam. Prostitution is legal in the country and you could see prostitutes tempt people behind their vitrine. According to a study, tourists represent around 80% of the customers in the red light district.

For weed and the red light district, it is more an excess creating by tourists and the desire of making business profitable. As a matter of fact, in Almere there is nothing linked to the red light district and there are a few coffee shops.

Their culture identity is also marked in professional field. Dutch people are direct in business, more a person would be polite and sweet in business more it would be seen as a trap. Furthermore, in business no decisions are take unless all involved agree. Also, before the end of a meeting, they have to ask everyone if they have something to add. 


Contrary to France, it is scarce to see Dutch people shaking hands or even giving each other a kiss on the cheek. Concerning the official language is Dutch.

The principal religions are Roman catholic with a data of 28%, 19% for protestant and 5% Islam.

Holland is one of the only countries which live in agreement with water. In fact, there is a floating flower market in Amsterdam but also many cities build on the water. A quarter of the territory is under the water, hence the water is omnipresent in the country, during several decades they fight against water but now they live with in harmony. Indeed, many Dutch people live in a barge or rarest in a floating house

I was really perplexed about the rules in the country. As everyone knows, it is legal to smoke weed in The Netherlands and the prostitution is also legal. Nevertheless, it is totally forbidden to drink a hot drink in the subway or to eat in a train, they are really strict about these rules, and they confiscate your meals if you do no respect the rules. They are so strict about some rules which are considered as futile in other countries and really tolerant about things which are taboo in Europe such as drugs and prostitution.​

I have been impressed how the country is small. In one hour and a half you could go to the opposite of the country and the city the further is Maastricht, it takes 3 hours. Additionally, I have been shocked by the price of the public transport. Indeed, to go to Delft (1h30 of public transport) is around 35 Euros a return ticket. Even from Almere to Amsterdam is 6 Euros one way, whereas it is only half an hour.


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