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The Netherlands which is also known as Holland is located in north-western Europe. The name “Netherlands” means lowland country and the name “Holland” which is derived from Houtland means wooded land. “Holland” was initially given to one of the feudal cores that then became a modern state. It is also still being used for two of its twelve provinces, Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. Its culturally unique citizens are known as Dutch. This beautiful country with three island territories in the Caribbean form a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The European portion of the Netherlands that has twelve provinces borders Germany to the east, the North Sea to the northwest and Belgium to the south. The five major cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven. Amsterdam is the capital of the country while The Hague acts as the seat of the government. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and also the world’s largest outside Asia.
The country is named as “Netherlands” because of its lowland and flat geography which has only half of its land exceeding one metre above the sea level. With large expanses of lakes, rivers and canals, around 2,500 square miles of the Netherlands consists of reclaimed land as a result of water management in the early times. At first, the land was drained by manpower and horsepower, but they were then replaced by windmill like the Kinderdijk-Elshout’s mill network, now known as a UNESCO World Heritage site. With a massive population of 17 million living in 41,500 square kilometres, this country is undeniably the most densely populated countries in the world. This explains why the Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of food and agricultural after the United States of America. The Netherlands may seem like a small country in size, not in impact.
Famous for its liberal social policies, attempts to hold back the sea, maritime trading traditions and leading technological communications, this country has a unique historical background that you need to know. Known as a geographically difficult area to live, the people in the ancient times of Netherlands had a very significant feature that was safety. Its inhabitants from the Celtic and German tribes were safe as the rivers, lakes, wetlands and woods were difficult to be invaded. However, in the 1st century BC, the ancient Roman Empire dominated the southern parts of the lowlands and created a vital military post in Nijmegen. Its wealth grew well for roughly three hundred years under the Roman direction. In the early middle ages, the barbaric Germanic tribes started to conquer the land; meanwhile, the Roman administration got weaker. The most influential among them, the Franks, invaded the lands in the 5th century and brought Christianity. When he died, the Low Countries territory was divided into several states which were ruled by dukes and counts. At that time itself, the Netherlands possessed a strong economic growth which made it one of the richest regions in Europe. In 1555, a long war began as a result of the new taxation, intolerance and oppressive methods of governance by the Spanish king and its governor. In 1581, the Union of Utrecht declared its independence from Spain. In 1648, the Spanish declared the sovereignty of the Republic. The Dutch Republic remained until 1794 under the power of the Austrian throne of Habsburg. Regardless of its hardship, the Dutch continued its extension on the seas, new routes and lands. In the mid-17th century, the Republic was the largest maritime power in Europe while Amsterdam was the most significant financial centre. At the beginning of the 18th century, the demise of the Dutch Republic began. Expansion of the liberal and republican ideas who ruled the Dutch Republic led to the formation of The Kingdom of the Netherlands. In the second half of the 19th century, the Netherlands became a liberal and modern state through slow but continuous economic growth. During World War I, the Netherlands remained unbiased. However, in World War II, it was invaded and occupied by the Germans in 1940. After two years of relative success, with only the Jewish population was prosecuted, the country began to suffer the increasing German terror. The Dutch fought against the attempts of Nazi Germany to include the Netherlands in the Third Reich during World War II. After the challenging years of reconstruction after the WWII, the Netherlands had a continuous and rapid economic growth in the half of the 20th century. Now, the Netherlands is one of the most advanced and richest countries in the world.
The official regions of Netherlands are North Netherlands (Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe), East Netherlands (Overijssel, Gelderland, Flevoland), West Netherlands (Utrecht, North Holland, South Holland, Zeeland) and South Netherlands (North Brabant, Limburg). If you wish to visit the Netherlands from Singapore, you must obtain a visa before entry. Tourists can apply for Short Stay Schengen visa which can be used to transit through or stay in Dutch territory or other Schengen states for a maximum stay of 90 days per 180 days period. However, if you intend to visit several Schengen countries, ensure that you apply at the consulate of the destination country to declare your travel purposes. If you have the same travel purposes for more than a country, you can submit your visa application to the country that you will stay the longest. However, if you plan to spend the same amount of time in each country, send your visa application to the country that you will visit first.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch which is spoken by almost all people in it. The regional languages spoken include English, Frisian, Papiamento, Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish. English is the most popular foreign language spoken by a majority of the population followed by German, French and Spanish. The Netherlands has four seasons that are winter (January to March), spring (April to June), summer (July-September) and autumn (October to December). The Netherlands is famous for its mouth-watering haring, stroopwafel, kroket, patat, poffertjes, bitterballen and kaas. Be sure to try them all when you are there.
To get there from Singapore, the only mode of transportation that ensures a fast and safe arrival is by plane. The average time for a non-stop flight to the Netherlands would take around 14 hours. Some flights could take up to 35 hours with stops and waiting time. Travellers can travel from Singapore Changi Airport, one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia. A direct flight from Changi Airport to Amsterdam costs roughly around SGD 1430. If you are on a tight budget, cheaper flights with stops are available.
Parallel to many other breath-taking cities that sit over water like Venice and Copenhagen, Amsterdam has an exciting canal system that you must try. The astounding waterways are not just instaworthy. Known as one of the favourite spots in Amsterdam, your trip to the Netherlands would be meaningless without visiting it. You can discover and sightsee the tranquilising routes with your loved ones by taking a boat tour or a water taxi. You can make your visit there more interesting by hopping around a range of locations along the routes. However, if you don’t favour taking it to the water, you can stroll along the banks while enjoying the calm atmosphere.
Your trip to the Netherlands would not be a good one without visiting the Garden of Europe which is also known as Keukenhof. Be sure to take a lot of scenic photos as this kind of attraction is hard to be found elsewhere. Packed with colouring blooming tulips and other gorgeous flowers, prepare yourself to be blown away by it. As you know, tulips are the signature flowers of the Netherlands and Garden of Europe is the largest public garden. It has over 70 acres of land so you would not get bored in exploring and strolling this enormous public garden.
Time travellers can get a glimpse of the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th centuries at Zaanse Schans. Located roughly 15 kilometres to the north of Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans is exhibited as an open-air museum which allows you to wander around a traditional Dutch village and discover how ancient craftsmen worked. This attraction includes a shipyard, pewter factory and wooden houses. Not only that, you would see the remaining five windmills out of 600. You would also enjoy watching interesting live demonstrations like clog making.
Located in Amsterdam, this hotel offers affordable price from SGD 154 per night for tourist who is on a tight budget. This two-star hotel obtains an impressive review of 8.8 out of 10. Located near attractions like the World Fashion Centre and Rembrandt Park, this hotel provides efficient facilities like parking, free Wi-Fi, elevator, laundry service and 24-hour front desk with multilingual staff.
Located in Haarlemmermeer, this four-star hotel offers a comfortable and relaxed stay for your trip. With a price starting from SGD 375.90 per night, this hotel is superb according to the reviews. The hotel services include 24-hour receptionist, concierge, laundry service, express check-out, a newspaper in lobby, luggage storage, multilingual staff, tours and wedding service. Not only that, hotel guests can enjoy themselves in the fitness centre, health club, sauna, spa, steam room and TV lounge. Public facilities include a coffee shop, coffee/tea in lobby, elevator, restaurant, free Wi-Fi and safety deposit box. This hotel also provides business facilities to hotel guests who are on business trips.