Bristol News


Bristol Country Profile: The Netherlands

Some refer to it as simply, Holland. Some people only really know it for Amsterdam,

30 March 2016

but The Netherlands is a nation of 12 provinces of which Holland for example, is broken into two provinces, North Holland and South Holland. The official capitol of The Netherlands is in fact Amsterdam. The Hague is the administrative and governmental seat of the country and the capitol city of the South Holland province. The kingdom also includes three overseas territories:  Aruba, Curaçao, and Saint Martinin the Caribbean Sea. It is also one of the busiest countries in the world with almost 16.5 million people residing in the fairly little country.

The people are often called the Dutch, although some like to be referred to as Nederlanders. Famous for its laid back way of life and known for their liberal views, the Dutch live with a sense of samenleving (community/living together) and also have a great respect for an individual’s freedom to live life as they choose, much more so than many other countries.

For a complete explanation, please watch the following video: Holland vs. the Netherlands:

Dutch Around The World

Dutch agriculture has a strong focus on international exports. The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products worldwide, after the United States. The Netherlands has in recent history, supplied one quarter of all of the world’s exported tomatoes. Trade of one-third of the world’s exports of chilies, tomatoes and cucumbers goes through the country. The Netherlands also exports one-fifteenth of the world’s apples. Aside from that, a significant portion of Dutch agricultural exports consists of fresh-cut plants, flowers, and flower bulbs, with the Netherlands exporting two-thirds of the world’s total.

A Trip Around The Netherlands

If you are in Amsterdam in April, you can celebrate King’s Day. Once called Queen’s Day in honor of the Queen’s birthday, this holiday now celebrates the King’s birthday. Every year the royal entourage visits a town or municipality in The Netherlands as part of the celebrations. Throughout the festivities of Kings’ Day, many wear orange clothing. You may find yourself wondering why everyone is wearing orange on such occasions, because after all, the Dutch flag is red, white, and blue. Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, and it is worn to honor the House of Orange, which rules over The Netherlands. so once you’re settled in, buy an orange shirt so you won’t stand out in the crowd at national events.

There’s also canal cruising. You can cruise your way to such breathtaking art housed in museums like the Rembrandt House Museum or the Van Gogh Museum. Or if you want to delve into some history, you can visit The Anne Frank House Museum. There’s also an abundant amount of stunning architecture by way of castles, churches, and Renaissance era buildings scattered throughout the country.

You could get a drink at the Heineken Brewery or the Icebar, a bar made entirely of ice in Amsterdam. As Amsterdam is one of the most bike friendly cities of the world with about 30% of travel done by bicycle, you could go on any one of many biking tours throughout the region. If you want to escape to the countryside, you can take a deep breath of fresh air at Hoge Veluwe National Park. Covering nearly 13,800 acres, this national park is the largest nature reserve in the country. For the sleuth in you, you can get Sherlocked at Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam and participate in a real life interactive detective game alongside other expats and locals.

There are no shortages of tulips or windmills throughout The Netherlands. There are an estimated 1,000 windmills still standing. One windmill you should check out is the De Gooyer Windmill, which dates back to the 16th century. If you appreciate the delicate beauty of tulips, you might find yourself at Keukenhof, otherwise known as the Garden of Europe, near Lisse, the “bulb belt” of The Netherlands. This spectacular garden is home to more than seven million flowers.

If it’s the holidays, you can make your way to Geul Valley to visit Valkenburg Castle and take a stroll through the Christmas Market in the maze of old passageways called the Velvet Caves that lead to and from the castle.

If you seek some local attire with your famous Dutch cheese, you can visit the Clara Maria cheese farm and clog factory. This historic 150 year old farm has been transformed into a wooden shoe factory and cheese making room, full of nostalgic Dutch souvenirs. If you take a trip over to Holland, you’ll find the seat of Dutch government. The Hague, which is also home to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court.

If you want to stretch your expat legs, you can venture out into more of Europe and road trip to Germany, Switzerland, France, Denmark…the possibilities for sights to see are endless.

Let’s “Go Dutch”

Partaking in the local fare is a given for any expat. If you’ve never had a stroopwafels, it is a must try. The sweet, gooey treat is out of the world and goes great with a cup of tea or Koffie Verkeed. A version of our lattee, this comforting drink has a 50/50 ratio of espresso and warm milk.

In the Netherlands it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to dine on some Dutch herring. Not as appetizing to most as the stroopwafel, these were traditionally eaten by holding the fish by the tail and dunking it into your mouth with your head thrown back. If this scares you, the herring can also be eaten on a sandwich called broodje haring. One thing you may be brave enough to try is the fries, but be ready to eat them with mayonnaise or curry.

Perhaps some Rookworst sausage and Gouda is more to your liking. The Dutch are well known for their Gouda, and as a country, are quite fond of cheese in general. The Dutch eat cheese for breakfast, on sandwiches for lunch or as a snack served with mustard at the end of the day. It also tastes lovely with a glass of wine or beer, anytime of the day. and, who can forget the chocolate. The quality of creaminess of their dairy and chocolate is like no other.

Interesting Facts

  • CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray disks were invented in Eindhoven.
  • Tulips aren’t actually native to The Netherlands. They originally came from Turkey in the 16th century.
  • The Dutch eat the most licorice in the world. Some 32 million kilos of the black licorice are eaten each year.
  • The entire province of Flevoland is made from land reclaimed from Zuiderzee Bay in the North Sea.
  • The Dutch are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers after the Scandinavians with an average of 140 liters of coffee a year or 3.2 cups a day
  • Dutch carrot growers developed orange carrots in the 16th century through careful breeding of existing varieties.

Dutch Language

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch along with Frisian. The majority of Amsterdam’s residents speak English and are often fluent in one or two languages on top of that. You can usually get by effortlessly in Amsterdam without a knowing word of Dutch, but for those keen to try, learning a few words or phrases will always go a long way with the locals.   

Do you speak English? – Spreekt u Engels  (spraykt uw eng-erls)   

Would you help me please? – Kunt u mij helpen  (kuhnt uw may hel-pern)   

How much is that? – Hoeveel kost dat  (hoo-feyl kost dat)   

Hello – Hallo (hah-low)   

Hi – Hoi (hoy) / Hi (hay)   

Good morning – Goedemorgen  (khoo-der-mor-khern)   

Good afternoon – Goedemiddag (khoo-der-mi-dakh)   

Good evening – Goedenavond  (khoo-der-aa-font)   

See you later/Bye – Tot ziens  (toat seens) / Dag! (dakh) Hoi! (hoai)   

Please – Alsjeblieft  (als-yer-bleeft)   

Thanks – Bedankt (ber-dahnkt)

Bristol’s Amsterdam Connection

Bristol recently opened its new Sales and Relationship Management Center in Amsterdam. The choice to expand to Amsterdam was easy. The Netherlands has an international workforce and is seen by many as the gateway to Europe. From our Amsterdam office, we will further our business development goals in support of international organizations and their global mobility programs.

Our Amsterdam office will be overseen by our Managing Director, Jan Koets. Jan joined Bristol on the 1st of March 2016 and will head up our business development efforts throughout Europe. Joining Jan, Bas van Ravensberg, will officially be joining the team as Director of Business Development effective July 2016. Jan and Bas have more than 15 years’ experience in global mobility and solid track records in providing industry-leading support and solutions related to global mobility programs. We are extremely excited about our new connection to The Netherlands and look forward to great success from Jan and Bas.

The Netherlands, having been listed in the top five in the EU for all quality of life indicators, would be an exciting and outright fun experience for anyone. With a carefree, to each their own attitude toward life, wherever you live in The Netherlands, one thing you can be sure of is that you will always be in the company of friendly neighbors and great cheese.   For more information, see: 


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