This beguiling country is - in equal measure - both provincial and cosmopolitan. The Netherlands is as renowned for the colourful images of its picture poscards dykes, windmills, clogs and flowers, as it is for its indulgent atmosphere and the tolerant attitudes that have made the country such a cultural mecca. Travel Netherlands and discover how colourful it is.
Often called Holland, the Netherlands is made up of twelve provinces and only two of these provinces are actually called Holland, North Holland and South Holland. And as everyone knows, Dutch refers to the language, the people, and anything to do with the Netherlands. A low lying flat country, one-fifth of its area and one-fifth of its population are below sea level. Even more incredibly, half of the country's land lies less than a meter about sea level. Through land reclamation, an impressive amount of land has been preserved with the use of dikes and polders. In fact, the eyes of the world are already turning to the Netherlands to see how it has been dealing with living below sea level, something that global warming is forcing people to take a hard look at. Much can be learned from the Dutch with their ingenious technologies of keeping sea water out of their lives.
Although the Netherlands intended to stay neutral during World War Two, it didn't work out that way. The Nazis invaded the country in on the tenth of May, 1940, and the country was completely overrun five days later, the exiled government having to flee to London.
The Netherlands is densely populated yet remains open and liberal, the complete opposite of large xenophobic nations which tend to look inward. Most Dutch citizens speak several languages, are well-traveled and well-educated. When people think of the Netherlands they tend to think of varying iconic images: tulips, wooden shoes, windmills, cheese, bicycles, and tall blonde people. And of course, let's not forget the highly liberal capital city of Amsterdam where you can go to marijuana bars and order your favorite blend. Or imagine sitting in a café alongside a canal full of boats and listening to classical music on a sunny afternoon while buskers stroll along the sidewalks juggling and playing the accordion. You can spend days just walking and taking in the atmosphere, the old lanes of Jordann, Vondelpark, and the merchant villas. If you're an art lover you won't be disappointed in the home of Van Gogh. The museums are full of art from the Golden Age. Many visitors find Queen's Day their favorite event of the year. It's like a giant street party but a yard sale at the same time, all with live music at every corner. Festival season is the summer when you can attend the Holland Festival, a fantastic Gay Pride Parade rivaling even that of New York's, and the Roots Music Festival is a crowd pleaser attracting big names from around the world.
There's a wealth of things to see and do outside of Amsterdam of course, such as visiting the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank Museum, or going on a bicycle trip. This is the easiest place in the world for a bike trip. All the towns and villages in the country are connected to each other by well-worn bike paths. And remember that the country is flat, making biking easier yet.
Visit the Hoge Veluwe National Park, Netherlands which is the country's oldest and lagest national park with a lot of things to do and see. The Kröller-Müller Museum in the park houses world-famous paintings of Vincent van Gogh, as well as impressive works from various famous artists.