NL5: Rotterdam, main port of Holland

With Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague, Rotterdam is one of the main four cities in Holland. Rotterdam is famous for its modern architecture, its no-nonsense workforce and attitude and of course its harbor, which is one of the biggest in the world and the biggest in Europe. Container handling is one of its main areas of business. From Rotterdam port, many goods are transported to other countries in the hinterland, like Germany and France. Rotterdam is a half an hour ride with the train from Utrecht. Learn more about Rotterdam harbor.

NL4: Flowers in Holland

One of the cliches The Netherlands is famous for, are flowers, especially tulips. Tulips win awards and they are the name of a hotel chain originating in Holland. The cliche is true if you look at the importance the Dutch attach to flowers, in their homes and environment.

Flower shop Amsterdam

Flowers and bulbs are also an important trade in our country, amounting to 4.3 billion euros in 2012. On the left you see a market stall in Amsterdam that sells flowers. Many of these can be found in Dutch cities.

NL3: Cycling in The Netherlands

Cycling is big in The Netherlands. Not only dit Ellen van Dijk win a gold medal at the World Championship in Florence last week, we are good cyclists. Cycling is not only Bicylce path signseen as a sport, bicycles are considered a fun and friendly way of transportation. They are also used on a massive scale to travel from home to work or from home to campus. The main reason for this is that we live in a small and flat country with good cycling facilities. In Utrecht, for example, you will find many cycling paths, both in the city centre and in the outskirts. When you come to Utrecht, it could be a good idea to rent a bike and explore the city or the countryside by bike. It is safe, pleasurable and you will experience your surroundings in a different way.

NL2: The Dutch and their language(s)

Dutch is usually no easy language for foreigners. This might be a handicap for visitors, but especially the young Dutch speak their foreign languages pretty well. This means that most Utrecht citizens will be willing to help you in English, sometimes also German or French. This orientation towards speaking foreign languages has historical and geographical roots. The Dutch had a lot of colonies in the past, especially in what we call the Golden Age. At that time we sailed the seas, waged wars against the English, the Spanish and the French and had colonies and trade posts in South America, South Africa and South East Asia. We traded spices, gold and slaves. These historical facts, combined with the small size of our own country, made us susceptible to other cultures and languages. In this respect, The Netherlands can be compared to a country like Portugal. Our cultural heritage can still be recognized in our buildings, restaurants, museums and the languages that we speak. Some basic Dutch: Goedemorgen = good morning; hallo=hello; tot ziens= see you. Free Dutch language course.

NL1: Basic geography of The Netherlands

The Netherlands (also referred to as Holland) is a small country between the North Sea on the West and North and Belgium and Germany on the South and East. Its situation near the sea has determined its character as a nation of sailors and traders, but also its struggle with the water coming from both the sea and its big rivers. The Netherlands has a sea climate, which is temperate: cool summers and relatively warm winters. Thepopulation density Netherlands is a small country, and also one of the most densely populated ones in the world (16 million people live there, with about 450 citizens per square kilometer). The West and the middle are the most densely populated (with four main cities including Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht), whereas the South, East and North have a more rural and quiet character (see map on the right).