Dutch Alternative Names Netherlands culture, Hollandic culture. The Dutch use Nederlandse cultuur and Hollandse cultuur to describe their culture. The English word "Dutch" derives from the German deutsch "German". The Dutch distinguish between two major cultural subdivisions in their nation. The most important distinction is between the Randstad Rim City and non-Randstad cultures. Randstad culture is distinctly urban, located in the provinces of North Holland, South Holland, and Utrecht.
The non-Randstad culture corresponds to the historical divide between the predominantly Protestant north and the Catholic south, separated by the Rhine River. Significant local variations of Dutch culture include the Friesian culture in the extreme north and the Brabant and Limburg cultures in the south. The southern culture was subject to discriminatory policies until the nineteenth century.
The Friesians prize their language and descent from the ancient Friesian people, while the Limburgers and Brabantines emphasize their southern culture and Catholic heritage. The Netherlands has for centuries provided a safe haven for ethnic minorities fleeing from discrimination and persecution, with each minority influencing Dutch culture in its own way. Many Jews from Spain and Portugal and Protestant merchants from the Spanish-ruled southern Netherlands sought refuge in the Dutch Republic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The twentieth century was characterized by the influx of guest workers from the Mediterranean, migrants from the former Dutch colonies, and refugees from war-torn countries. The Netherlands does not have a strong uniform national culture. Most Dutch people reject the notion and consider it to be tainted with an unacceptable form of nationalism. Instead, they emphasize the country's cultural diversity, tolerance of difference, and receptiveness to foreign influences.
Nevertheless, the Randstad culture has been hegemonic in the Netherlands because of the concentration of political, economic, and cultural power in that densely populated region. The Netherlands is situated in northwestern Europe and borders on Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North sea to the west and north. The name "Netherlands" means "Low Lands" in reference to the nation's topography as an alluvial plain.
Differences in altitude are minimal. Almost one-quarter of the landmass is below sea level, protected from the encroaching sea by dikes and dunes. The Netherlands is also a relatively small country 13, square miles [34, square kilometers] without surface water. The Netherlands is divided in twelve provinces. Amsterdam , inhabitants is the capital, but the government meets in The Hague , inhabitants.
Utrecht , inhabitants is the transportation hub, while the port city of Rotterdam , inhabitants constitutes the economic heartland. These four cities together with a string of interconnected towns, form the Randstad, which has a population of 6,, The Netherlands had a population of 15,, in It is the most densely populated country in Europe 1, inhabitants per square mile [ per square kilometer] in There are 2,, foreign residents. The majority, approximately ,, originate from the European Union, including , Germans.
Other sizable groups are Surinamese , , Turks , , Moroccans , , and Antilleans 99, The average life expectancy in was The official language of the Netherlands is Standard Dutch. This language is used in all official matters, by the media, and at schools and universities.
Dutch closely resembles German in both syntax and spelling. It freely borrows words and technical terms from French and especially English. Dutch is also the official language in Flandres, Belgium, where it is called Flemish. Creole languages are increasingly replacing Dutch in Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles as decolonization progresses.
Afrikaans, which is widely spoken in South Africa, is related to Dutch. Friesian is the second official language of the Netherlands; it is spoken by a half million Friesians.
In addition, there are about twenty-five major dialects of Dutch. The display of the national flag and the singing of the national anthem are important expressions of identity for a decreasing number of citizens. The flag consists of three horizontal strips in the colors red, white, and blue. The national anthem is the Wilhelmus. It was a rebel song during the independence war against Spain and was adopted as the national anthem in The complex relationship of the Dutch people with the sea is notable.
The sea has historically been both adversary and ally. The Dutch used to repel foreign invaders by deliberately piercing river dikes. However, if not for the extensive waterworks, 65 percent of the Netherlands would be flooded permanently. The Dutch take great pride in their struggle against the sea and reclaiming of land, which they view as mastery over nature.
Another source of national pride that sets aside regional and religious differences is sports, especially soccer and speed skating. Whenever the national team engages in international competitions, orangemania reigns. People dress in orange in reference to the name of the royal family , raise national and orange flags, and decorate houses and streets as a patriotic feeling of athletic superiority floods the nation.
The Elfstedentocht "Eleven-City Tour" also raises national awareness. This speed-skating event in Friesland occurs only occasionally as it takes a prolonged period of frost to harden the miles of lakes and canals that connect the eleven Friesian towns.
The clearest example of national symbolism is the Dutch royal family. The queen is regarded as the embodiment of the Dutch nation and a symbol of hope and unity in times of war, adversity, and natural disaster.
Her popularity is manifested annually at the celebration of Queensday on 30 April. The capital, Amsterdam, in particular, is transformed into a gigantic flea market and open-air festival. The — occupation by Nazi Germany provides a continued source of national identity. There are more than eight hundred World War II monuments and memorials, and the Dutch people still use the war years as the most important historical point of reference. The conflation of Jewish and non-Jewish Dutch suffering is a striking characteristic of national remembrance.
The Dutch pride themselves on their fierce resistance to the Nazi regime and their sheltering of 25, Jewish and , non-Jewish Dutch, but there also was extensive collaboration with the Nazis. More than a hundred thousand Jews were deported to concentration camps.
Anne Frank symbolizes this deeply ambiguous self-perception of the Dutch as victims, resisters, collaborators, and passive bystanders. The Frank family was harbored for two years by Dutch resisters before finally being betrayed by Dutch collaborators. History and Ethnic Relations Emergence of the Nation.
Dutch national identity emerged during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially in the struggle for independence from Catholic Spain during the Eighty Year War — The Netherlands was temporarily unified with Belgium after the Congress of Vienna. The Catholic Belgian elite sought its freedom from the Protestant Dutch, and Belgium became independent in Dutch national identity emerged from the struggle for political sovereignty and religious freedom from the Catholic Habsburgs Philip II.
The Dutch merchant class formed an alliance with the House of Orange; the merchants supplied the funds to wage war, while the House of Orange provided political stability and military protection. Politics became more dependent on consensus and negotiation than on authoritarian rule as power rested in the hands of provincial viceroys. The rapid expansion of the Dutch merchant fleet enabled the establishment of a worldwide network of trade relations that created naval dominance and increasing wealth for the merchant class.
Handicapped by a small population , inhabitants in and besieged by growing English and French might, the Dutch Republic began to decline. Paradoxically, at that time, the conspicuous consumption of the wealthy merchant class A woman selling cheese at the market in Alkmaar.
The Netherlands has an advanced free market economy. Stately canal houses were constructed in Amsterdam, and great works of art were commissioned. The Netherlands was one of the poorest nations in northwestern Europe by In , at the end of the French occupation — , William I of the House of Orange-Nassau accepted the throne and became the first Dutch king.
The Dutch nobility never had a position of prominence and influence in Dutch society. Only after constitutional reforms in did the nation begin its ascent to industrialization. Rural—urban migration and especially the establishment of male suffrage in undermined traditional ways of life in the eyes of some politicians. The Anti-Revolutionary Party was founded in to reverse that trend.
That party advocated autonomy for different political and religious communities. Its initiative resulted in the early twentieth century in a process of vertical segmentation or pluralism known as pillarization. Pillarization meant that each substantial subsection of the Dutch population was able to participate in social institutions and organizations labor unions, schools, universities, political parties, social clubs, churches, newspapers, and radio stations that catered to its specific needs.
The four main pillars where Catholic, Protestant, socialist, and conservative. Intensive cooperation and negotiation between the pillars took place among national politicians.
Secularization and emancipation in the late s resulted in depillarization because of a greater vertical social mobility, growing intermarriage, and a declining identification with each of the four pillars. A strong self-conscious national identity did not develop in the Netherlands because of these centrifugal historical processes, and this denial of a national identity became a hallmark of Dutch culture.
Religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity are considered the essence of Dutch culture. The persistence of sizable religious and regional minorities and the decentralization of administrative power have allowed cultural diversity to survive. In the absence of a countrywide shared identity, the hegemonic Randstad culture has provided most of the markers of national identity. There is not much debate about racism or ethnic discrimination among the Dutch people, probably because of their self-ascribed tolerance.
Nevertheless, the socioeconomic position of most non-European minorities is far worse than that of the indigenous population. The status of immigrant groups after World War II depended mainly on the moment and condition of their entry.
Dutch-speaking Indonesians arrived at the height of the postwar economic upswing after Indonesia's independence in The Indonesians had ample time to secure a stable position in Dutch society.