We are already looking forward to photographing The Netherlands in 2023. Here are 12 Fun Facts about this interesting country, interspersed with images of some of our favorite photo locations.

1.

Calling The Netherlands “Holland” is like calling Great Britain “England.” Holland is just one of 12 provinces in The Netherlands.

Evening in Amsterdam

Evening in Amsterdam

Beautiful windmills in the Beemster region

Beautiful windmills in the Beemster region

2.

Everybody speaks English fluently. 

So no need to politely ask “do you speak English?” which makes traveling in The Netherlands very easy. Around 93% of the population speak English as a second language. According to the EF English Proficiency Index, the Dutch rank highest above Denmark and Sweden.

Dutch people tend to have a charming accent when speaking English. We rented bikes in Amsterdam and when we asked if they had mountain bikes, the owner of the bike shop told us that they only had (what sounded like) “shitty” (meaning city) bikes. 

Magical Amsterdam at the Blue Hour

Magical Amsterdam at the Blue Hour

3.

The Dutch are the most physically active Europeans.

A country with more bicycles than people – no wonder they’re in such good shape.

There are more bicycles in The Netherlands than people and not too many overweight ones (people, that is). However, theft is very high, particularly in Amsterdam. Over 100,000 bikes are reported stolen each year in the Netherlands.

Masssluis habor

Maassluis Habor

A quick billboard somewhere in The Netherlands

A quirky billboard somewhere in The Netherlands

4.

Over centuries, the Dutch have progressed from being Europe’s shortest to the world’s tallest people.

Dutch men are now 182.53 cm tall on average. Gaining land from the sea for agriculture and the consequent production and consumption of milk and cheese might have something to do with this.

Water-pumping windmills keep the Northsea at bay.

Water-pumping windmills keep the North Sea at bay. This windmill in Haarlem is a museum we visit on our photo tours.

5.

One-third of the country is below sea level.

The ingenuity with which the Dutch have claimed land from the ocean is astounding. In order to push back the North Sea, the Dutch have constructed dikes and created polders (the term for land reclaimed from water) for centuries. Once dikes were built, windmills were used to pump excess water off the fertile soil and keep it dry. Today, most windmills with some exceptions have been replaced with electricity- and diesel-driven pumps.

The beautiful windmills at Kinderdijk in The Netherlands – we call them gentle giants

The beautiful windmills at Kinderdijk in The Netherlands – we call them Gentle Giants.

6.

There are over 1,000 windmills in the Netherlands. 

Some windmills, like the 19 at the Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site, are used to this day to drain water from the land. Others grind grain for truly “stone-ground” flour. On our Photo Tour in The Netherlands in 2023, we not only get to photograph the impressive windmills at Kinderdijk but we’ll also get a chance to see the inner workings of a historic mill in Haarlem.

A medieval portal in Delft

A medieval portal in Delft

7.

The Dutch have the healthiest diet in the world.

In the Oxfam Food Index of 125 countries, the Dutch rank number one for having the most nutritious, plentiful, healthy, and affordable food. Snacks to this day tend to be dried fruit and nuts and potato chips are something to only munch on in the evening, not served with sandwiches. The famous Bitterballen don’t quite fall into the health food category but they are quite tasty. Plus, French (or rather Dutch) Fries with mayonnaise anyone?

Striking modern architecture somewhere in The Netherlands

Striking modern architecture

Tulip fields and bicyclists in the Beemster region

Tulip fields in the Beemster region

8.

The Netherlands ranks as the world’s sixth happiest country. 

The 2020 World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries according to life expectancy, freedom, trust, corruption, and social support. An overall healthy diet might play into this as well.

The magnificent Keukenhof Flower Exhibit

A river of blue at the magnificent Keukenhof Flower Exhibit

pink tulip in a field of green

More floral glory at Keukenhof

9.

Almost 80% of the world’s flower bulbs (mostly tulips) come from the Netherlands.

And we get to visit them in full bloom during the wonderful Keukenhof Flower Exhibit,  the largest of its kind in Europe. Imagine of-the-top colorful carpets of tulips, irises, and daffodils. This is a fun place to photograph not just for flower lovers but for landscape photographers as well.

licorice in The Netherlands

10.

The Dutch eat more licorice than any other nation in the world. 

That’s nice unless, like me, you can’t stand the stuff. It comes in all kinds of shapes and colors and, in my humble opinion, looks better than it tastes.

11.

The Dutch were here first.

Have you ever wondered why you see so many Dutch-sounding names in New York? And why a hospital in a popular TV series is called “New Amsterdam?” In 1609, a Dutch ship entered New York Bay and sailed up the Hudson River, named in honor of the ship’s captain, Henry Hudson.  The colony was named Nieuw-Nederland (New Netherland). In 1625 Dutch settlers founded New Amsterdam as the capital of Nieuw-Nederland.

The gorgeously illuminated Koppelpoort in Amersfoort

The gorgeously illuminated Koppelpoort in Amersfoort

The Cube Houses in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

The famous Cube Houses in Rotterdam

12.

Spring is the best time for photographing The Netherlands with its many wonderful and diverse photo ops.

Colorful tulip fields, canals, windmills, medieval and modern architecture, and the fantastic Keukenhof Flower Exhibit – versatility and many WOW moments await anybody photographing The Netherlands in the spring.

Keukenhof Flower Exhibit in The Netherlands

We visit the Keukenhof Flower Exhibit early in the morning and late in the day to avoid crowds.

The Photo Tour we had planned for this spring, unfortunately, had to be canceled due to the onset of the Omicron virus. However, we had a chance to visit and photograph on our own and to continue our research for our 2023 Tulips, Canals, and Windmills Photo Tour which we’re very excited about.

If this sounds intriguing to you, come join us in The Netherlands in 2023. Contact us anytime with questions. We’d love to talk to you.

Jim + Magrit