If there is one structure for which the Netherlands is well-known, it is the windmill. Home to over 1,000 windmills from the 1850s – which is down from an estimated 10,000 – it is the historic windmill capital of the world.
Though windmills have a variety of uses, the majority in the Netherlands are used for pumping water, which is important considering that half of the country is 1 meter above sea level or less. And hence the name of the country – Netherlands, literally means ‘lower countries.’
Outside of windmills, to many people, the Netherlands is synonymous with tulips. This is due to the fact that the flower was both able to tolerate the climate in the country and produce an intense colour that no other European flower of the time could match. The tulip has been cultivated locally since the 1590s, and the Netherlands is still controlling 75% of the market.
Furthermore, the Dutch gave the world the orange carrots in the 16th century, with careful breeding of existing varieties, which at the time ranged from pale yellow to purple. Yes, you got it right – orange is the national colour, the colour of the Dutch Royal Family, which hails from the House of Orange.
Going further into plants, when talking about the Netherlands, there is no avoiding its cannabis-based subculture. The last decades’ drug policy of the country led to an explosion of ”coffee shops” as havens for regulated cannabis selling and usage.
Though the aforementioned coffee shops likely have little to do with actual coffee, the Dutch are partially responsible for your morning caffeine addiction and your afternoon cup of tea: in the early 1600s the Dutch were the first to commercially import coffee and tea into Europe.
And to go with the coffee or tea, in confectioner terms, many people like a good piece of liquorice, but few like it as much as the Dutch, who consume an average of 2 kilograms of Dutch salty-sweet liquorice per person annually.
And for those who prefer their sweets with alcohol, often more commonly associated with the UK, the spirit gin can actually be traced back to the Dutch “jenever.” Invented in the 16th century for medicinal purposes, the spirit became popular in Great Britain after William of Orange (King William III) occupied the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones with his wife Mary.
For those who wonder why the common name of the people and the language of the Netherlands is Dutch, we will dive into this topic in a separate article. But there is yet another term to define, and in particular the incorrect reference to the country as Holland. In reality, only two of its twelve provinces have the name Holland, specifically North Holland and South Holland, which were at the core of the country during the Batavian Republic and the Dutch Golden Age.
And the Dutch had their golden business times, as well. Not only was the Dutch East India Company (established in 1602) the first company in the world to be truly multinational, but it was also the first to issue stock, which was sold on the first modern stock exchange, in Amsterdam. Keeping with this tradition, the Dutch were also the first to develop fair trade certification in the 1980’s.
Today, doing business in the Netherlands is still an attractive prospect, and while the country ranked 28 out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2016, there are linguistic and regulatory hurdles to navigate.
And EVS Translations is here to help, producing certified Dutch translations in line with international standards, government regulations and corporate guidelines. → Click here to contact our Dutch language department.