Holland is one of the most popular tourism destinations of every year. Every visitor has a different reason to go there, like history, culture or “legal opportunities”. In deed, Holland is a country where you can find anything and everything you want, with an astonishing nature and architecture. When a destionation is that much popular, it is inevitable to come across with a few ‘myths’ about the country here and there. For many people, prostitution, drugs and homosexuality are among the first things to think of when they hear the word “Holland”. Is the tourism potential of the country limited to these? Do the myths about Holland reflect the reality? Let’s take a look together…
There is one thing to mention, though. Since this article is originally written in Turkish, most comparisons include Turkey.
1. Drugs are very common in Holland. At this point, I’d like to share my notes from a seminar I attended in 2008, in Leiden, Holland. Only %3 of the population use soft drugs in Holland and even less, 0.3% use chemicals, according to my notes. I’d better quote the expert who gave the seminar: “We don’t have a huge drug problem. The thing that concerns us is alcohol consumption in Holland, which is 85% of the population”.
Now, let’s take a look at the statistics in Turkey. According to a 2012 report, the rate of life long use of any drugs among young adults in Turkey is 3%. Therefore, it is not really possible to talk about a “more common” drug problem in Holland, in comparison to Turkey.
I think the misconception comes from the legality issues. From my own observation again, I can tell you that not a lot of Dutch people visit coffee shops, where you can buy drugs. Young people may be an exception here. Moreover, I have personally observed Dutch people, quite uncomfortable due to the existence of drug&prostitution tourists, saying “F****** tourists…” from time to time.
Red Light District – Aktif Durumda Bir Oda
2. Prostitution in Holland is very common. Let’s take a look at the numbers. Estimations conclude that there were 25.000 prostitutes working in Holland in 1970’s. The data produced by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggest that the numbers did not change by 2000. On the other hand, Ankara Chamber of Commerce, in a 2004 report, state that there are 100.000 prostitutes working in Turkey, which could be read in a lot of newspapers back then.
So why is this myth popular? I think because of “Red Light District”… The area, which is quite successfully advertised, may be the source of this misconception itself.
3. Half of / most of / all of the Dutch population are gay. Most people tend to think that more gay people live in Holland than anywhere else. But I believe this is only because Holland is one of the few countries in the world that is legally against the discrimination of sexual orientations.
Although putting forth certain numbers is impossible, it is estimated that around 50.000 gay couples live in Holland, around 100.000 individuals, that is. But these are only the married couples and there is no set in stone data about the total numbers. On the Turkish side of the matter, the estimation is approximately 7.000.000 gay people. Yet again, those are only estimates to help you debunk this myth yourself.
4. All of the country is below the sea level. This issue is the topic of conversation for many people in different times. We tend to think that the whole land area of Holland is below the sea level, but the actual rate is 27-30%. Some sources say it is 33%. This is still quite something if you ask me. But if you ask yourself, “How come the sea does not devour Holland?”, I am going to remind you that technological advancements come out of need. For over a millenium, dikes of different sizes protect Holland from being flooded.
5. Nobody / Everybody wears clogs in Holland. For most people, clogs (klomps) can only be a souvenir after a Holland trip. In deed, they are one of the most commons items that can be found at those souvenir shops. However, the thing is, most people living the city life don’t wear these naturally. It wouldn’t be so stylish for the GM of Phillips to wear them for work. But I have personally seen that clogs are still a part of life in villages, among farmers. Briefly, clogs issue is not to be generalized.
6. Languages in Holland. It is Dutch only, right? Of course not. In Holland, apart from minority languages, Dutch, Flemish and Frisian are spoken and it is possible to come across with people saying that Flemish is a dialect, not a language, something Flemish people strongly reject. Wikipedia says it is a dialect, by the way.
7. Holland or the Netherlands? Since the administrative system is a bit different than the one in Turkey, this question is raised from time to time. Once I heard two youngsters talking about it, here I quote: “In Holland, if you say Holland, people will be mad! You have to say the Netherlands!”. Of course, upon hearing you say “Holland”, the king of the country deports you immediately, right?
Here’s the fact: Most Dutch people themselves call their country Holland. But the official name of the country is “Koninkrijk der Nederlanden”, that is, “Kingdom of the Netherlands”. This is how the country is named in official environments. In daily speech, I don’t think it would make a difference.
A word of advice, though, I have heard (never seen) that the people in northern Holland may prefer “The Netherlands” instead of “Holland”. But I still don’t think it would be a problem among most people.
Hollanda Başbakanı Görev Yerinden Ayrılıyor (2012)
8. Everyone rides a bike in Holland. True! Everyone rides a bike in Holland. In some cities, it is even possible to see more bicycle parks than car parks. It is not extraordinarily uncommon to see the Queen of Holland or the Prime Minister riding a bike.
9. “Let’s go Dutch” or “Let’s go German”? In Turkey, when everybody wants to pay from himself, you normally say the Turkish equivalent of “Let’s go German”. However in Europe (and may be America? I may need some comments here), to pay for yourself and yourself only, you must say “Let’s go Dutch”.
So, why do the Turkish people say “German” instead of “Dutch”? Frankly speaking, I don’t know. But I think it may be a concept that the first generation Turkish immigrants met in Germany. Especially when we consider that people almost ‘fight’ for paying the bill in Turkey.
Finally, we come to the end of our Holland Myths. We hope you have read this article just for fun, since you already have no stereotypical bias about Holland. Still, if you want to add something, please comment!!
Holland or Netherlands? / Hollanda mı Netherlands mı?
Holland Myths / Hollanda Efsaneleri