Although living in Melbourne Australia and spending several years in Munich I was born in Alkmaar, an historic town in The Netherlands.
When we use the name Holland instead of The Netherlands, it actually refers to the two Western provinces, North and South Holland. Centuries ago the North-West of the Netherlands was covered with trees. The name Holland comes from 'holt-land,' which means woodland.
The name Netherland comes from the dutch word 'neder' which means 'low', a reference to the low-lying nature of the land.
Part of Holland used to be under the sea but now the dikes hold the water back.
A famous Dutch story is about a boy who held his finger in in a hole in a dike and so stopped the land from being flooded! To find out more about the boy who saved The Netherlands click on the picture on the right.
Another famous story is about
The Woman of Stavoren
(het vrouwtje van Stavoren)
A rich female merchant living in the prospering Dutch seaport town of Stavoren sends out her shipmaster on a journey to obtain the most precious thing in the world for her. Since no man can live without grain, the shipmaster returns with a load of grain.
This is a bitter disappointment to the rich woman of Stavoren. She asks the shipmaster on which board the grain was loaded. When this turns out to be on larboard, the woman orders to throw the load into sea over starboard.
A beggar warns the woman she is not to waste this precious food; she might be poor and hungry one day herself! Hereupon the haughty woman takes a golden ring from her finger. She throws it into the sea and says, "Sooner will I recover this ring than I will become poor". Then the load of grain is thrown overboard. A few days later there is fish (cod or haddock) on the menu. To the utter amazement of the woman of Stavoren, her golden ring comes out of the fish when cut open. Soon the woman is reduced to poverty; she loses her fleet and her worldly possessions.
The seaport of Stavoren silts up and year after year empty grain grows out of the water.
There is also the well known story about "The Flying Dutchman".
Read the story here
And there is also the story about a dutch feast"sinterklaas or Sint Nicolaas".
Read the story here
The Netherlands is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world.
A comparison with Australia: