Holland or the Netherlands?

A few years ago, it was reported in the mass media that the country famous, among other things, for its windmills and tulips, had changed its name from ‘Holland‘ to ‘the Netherlands‘. The truth is, however, that only a rebranding took place and the country’s official nomenclature, the ‘Kingdom of the Netherlands‘ (Dutch: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, English: The Kingdom of the Netherlands), remained unchanged. Simply put, in October 2019, the government in The Hague decided to use only the term ‘the Netherlands‘ internationally from 1 January 2020. The name ‘the Netherlands‘ has been removed from official promotional and marketing materials and all offices, institutions, companies, tourism, educational and sports organisations have stopped using it. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also unveiled a new logo for the country. Instead of an orange tulip and the English word Holland, it now features the letters NL with a stylised tulip and the word Netherlands.

What was the reason for the Dutch authorities’ decision? It was primarily a matter of unifying the nomenclature. Until now, the terms ‘Holland‘ and ‘the Netherlands’ were used interchangeably, and the first of them was often used to refer to the entire country. Meanwhile, of the 12 provinces that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands, only two are called Holland. These are North Holland (Noord-Holland), where Amsterdam is located, and South Holland (Zuid-Holland) with The Hague and Rotterdam. Decision-makers were also keen to direct tourism to lesser-known areas of the Netherlands.

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