Holland or the Netherlands?
Why is the country sometimes referred to as Holland and sometimes as the Netherlands? The official name of the country is the Netherlands, meaning ‘low lands’; a country where 60% of the people live below sea level.
Then why is this country so often referred to as Holland? The answer to this question lies in its history. Several centuries ago, the province of Holland (now the modern-day provinces of North and South Holland) was economically the strongest of all the Dutch provinces, and the one from which virtually all foreign trade originated.
Most of the Dutchmen that foreign traders dealt with were Hollanders, literally from Holland. Hence, when talking about the Netherlands, this became the accepted way of referring to the country and its people. Over the years both names have come to be accepted, although the official name, of course, remains the Netherlands.
Though it is generally accepted that the Netherlands is referred to as Holland in many different languages, some Dutch people, especially those not from North or South Holland, do not like the habit. This website used to use ‘Holland’ instead of ‘the Netherlands’ to make page and menu titles shorter, but we received emails from Dutch visitors who objected.
While it is of course no longer the case that the provinces of North and South Holland are the most advanced, it is true that most businesses are still located in these two provinces and Utrecht.The area as a whole, which includes Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, is commonly referred to as the Randstad (an idiomatic term for referring to the conurbation as a whole).
However, the rest of the Netherlands is just as well developed and many international businesses are based there. The infrastructure (road, rail, water and telephone) is excellent throughout the country.