The Kingdom of the Netherlands consist of 4 countries: the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, and the 'Dutch Caribbean': Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. Although the country is often referred to as 'Holland', it’s official name is 'The Netherlands'. Strictly speaking, Holland is only the central-western region of the country. The name 'Netherlands' literally means 'Low countries' or 'Lowlands'.
The Dutch have a taste for the exotic and foreign cultures. Historically ties with other parts of the world have brought foreigners to settle in Holland. Most of these settlers brought their own ideas and cultures, making the Dutch generally open-minded and tolerant. The Netherlands is also a nation of enthusiastic travellers, many Dutchmen go abroad at least twice a year.
Though Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands, many Dutchmen have a basic command of English and like to use it. When confronted with a foreigner they will often switch to communicating in English.
Another characteristic trait of Dutch communication is their openness and direct manner. Dutchmen highly value honesty and sincerity. They will often speak their minds. Even on topics that would fall into the category of “better left unsaid” in other cultures.
The Dutch do not have an elaborate cooking tradition. They will often only eat one hot meal a day, at dinner. Breakfast and lunch usually consist of bread topped with wide variety of cold cuts, cheeses and sweet toppings. A traditional Dutch dinner will often consist of boiled or mashed potatoes, vegetables and meat or fish.
However, the Dutch kitchen is by no means restricted to traditional Dutch cooking. You will find a large variety of products in the supermarkets, and many restaurants offer a wide range of international dishes.
The average temperatures in the Netherlands range from 1 °C in winter to 18 °C in summer. The Netherlands does not have very extreme weather conditions, but the climate is rather changeable and damp, even during the summer. Winters can get very cold, though long periods of frost are rare.
Historically the Netherlands has always been the home of a wide variety of religions, though Dutchmen have always been predominantly Christian. The largest congregation in the Netherlands is Catholic (23%), followed by Protestant (16%), and Muslim (6%).
The Netherlands is one of the most secularised countries in Europe. Only 20% of all Dutchmen regularly attend religious services and nearly 40% are not religious or connected to any denomination.