Probably the wisest friend I have (the fact that he would disagree says a lot) suggested that I should put some more “Dutch Flava” on this blog. Of course, he is totally right about that.
First of all, a Dutch flag. Chris, if you can somehow manage to send me a picture of you holding one, please do so! It will look waaaay cooler.
Second, an apology: I am terrible at Dutch history. I’m sorry! I just never cared about it! So Chris, if you could write something interesting in a comment, I’d be very grateful! Oh, and please correct any stupid mistakes I make below!
Anyway, I can tell you some interesting things about current events in The Netherlands, and some “you-should-really-know-this”-facts.
Fact 1: The Netherlands are a kingdom. However, the queen has no actual powers, it’s more like a symbolic function. The Netherlands are ruled by a board of ministers, controlled by a parliament. It’s not like in the US, with the governor-system: every vote counts to a total. By the way, we have a lot more political parties over here, and the board of ministers is formed by a combination of parties that has a majority of votes and finds itself capable of ruling the country together.
Currently, The Netherlands are ruled by a combination of VVD (center-rightwing), CDA (center, christian) and D66 (center, democrats). However, all D66 ministers just resigned over the issue of the immigration status of Ayaan Hirshi-Ali.
Fact 2: You should note that the Dutch political parties are overall a bit further to the left than in the US. Our liberal policy has cleared the way for things like abortion, gay marriage, legalized prostitution, and semi-legalized soft drugs. It is however not true that everyone in the Netherlands uses drugs (I for one, never got further than (a substantial amount of) alcohol), and the same holds for prostitution.
Fact 3: A big part of The Netherlands lays almost below sea-level. That’s why it’s called Nether-lands :D. Anyway, we have several very advanced systems and a dikes all around the coastline and rivers to keep the water out. As all technology, it fails sometimes, and cities can become flooded.
Fact 4: We’re a small country. 16 million inhabitants, that’s all. The biggest city is Amsterdam (750,000 inhabitants), our capital. Eindhoven, where I go to school, is very small for American standards (210,000 inhabitants).
Fact 5: We have our own language: Dutch. To most Americans, it sounds a bit like someone choking :). Most Dutch people speak English quite reasonably, and high-schools also teach German and French.
Hmm, I think I wrote down the most important facts for now. I’ll try to put some more “Dutch Flava” in my future posts.
PS: no, we don’t wear clogs as a fashion statement…
PPS: no, seriously, we don’t…