About The Netherlands

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…

3 thoughts on “About The Netherlands”

  1. Wow, thank you for the kind words.
    It’s quite funny to see you actually made an entry about the Netherlands, even with a flag.

    You asked me to say something interesting about the Netherlands, but well, I can’t for now. Right now only dutchies are reading this blog, for the simple reason that you’re still here. It’s odd enough that we all talk in English. I can’t seriously write something ‘interesting’ about the Netherlands, when there’s a chance that only Dutch people will ever read it. (too shy I guess) As soon as a ‘real American’, or an other foreign student you meet in the US drops a comment (this is an invitation :)), I’ll start spamming as much ‘interesting things’ as you could probably want.

    About your fact 3, you can skip the ‘almost’. We really live under the sea level where I come from. Being one of the few representatives of ‘the western parts of the Netherlands’ in Eindhoven I have to be strickt on that one. ;-) Here’s a nice map: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v248/Hitancrias/netherlands.gif

    About the shoutbox, maybe it’s an idea to limit the size of the fill in box accordingly with the maximum space you want a shout to have. That way people will know automatically when their shout is too long.
    Also, the way the shoutbox works now, it’s easy to forget to write your name under your shout. (I did forget it, and I don’t seem to be the only one.) An extra ‘name field’ may be helpfull.

  2. Hey Chris, I didn’t tell my fellow students about my blog yet (me shy too!), but since it now actually starts filling up with information, I thinks it’s about time to do that.

    This blog is a bit “pre-fab” so the shoutbox is just a plugin which I myself can’t customize to such a great extend. I’ll have Steven look at the PHP code :D.

    Anyway, I too hope to welcome some of my fellow students on this blog soon!

  3. Hi, I’m a soon-to-be fellow student of Bart’s at CMU. Just want to drop a note to say I found the blog and it’s in my RSS reader now so I’ll try to read as new things come up.

    I don’t know much about the Netherlands, although I visited Amsterdam for New Year’s 2001. Looking forward to meeting you and all our other fellow students soon…

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