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What the Dutch? The Difference between Holland and the Netherlands

Here in the Netherlands, we’re often bombarded by outsiders with questions like “Is there a difference between Holland and the Netherlands?” or “Is Holland even a country?” and comments like, “I don’t see Holland on my Google Map!”

We appreciate your curiosity about our country, and we’re glad that we are here to help answer why the country of Holland doesn’t appear on your Google Maps.

The answer is quite simple: “Holland” has long been accepted as a nickname for the country of the Netherlands.

And like any good nickname, there’s always a fun bit of history on how it came about: Long ago, there was an actual country called Holland, but over the centuries, Holland was split and renamed several times—once being referred to as The Dutch Republic, The United States of Belgium and the Kingdom of Holland, until the name finally settled on the Netherlands.

Today, the Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces, two of which are called North and South Holland. We sometimes like to say that this is similar to how the United States is divided into 50 states including North and South Dakota.

In the Netherlands, North and South Holland are home to the country’s capital Amsterdam, its seat of government, The Hague, and Europe’s most important port, The Port of Rotterdam.

Chances are if you’ve been to the Netherlands, you’ve visited these Holland provinces, so we understand why it can be unclear. Don’t worry though; if you happen to confuse Holland and the Netherlands when speaking, we Dutch will most-likely shake it off—just don’t confuse us with the Danish!

10 June 2015

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