Do You Know The Difference Between Holland And The Netherlands?

Most people I talk too refer to Holland in the same way as they would to The Netherlands. They think Holland is the same as The Netherlands.Just to let you in on a little secret: this is wrong!

Groningen, Hoge en Lage der A

So what is the difference, you may ask?

Well, the difference is that The Netherlands (the kingdom as we know it nowadays) came into existence after Napoleon (1830). Between 1815 and 1830 The Kingdom of The Netherlands also included Belgium, but that is another story for another time ;) Nowadays The Netherlands consists out of twelve provinces: Groningen, Friesland, Drente, Overijssel, Flevoland, Gelderland, Utrecht, North-Holland, South-Holland, Zealand, North Brabant and Limburg.

So what is Holland then?

I am glad you asked … Two of the twelve provinces in The Netherlands have the name Holland, specifically North Holland and South Holland (see also a map of The Netherlands here). The major cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague) are located in these two provinces. So if you have ever been to The Netherlands, the chance is big that you have also been to Holland.

Why does everyone refer to The Netherlands as Holland then?

To answer that question we need to give you a little bit of a history lesson: When the Dutch went out into the world during the Dutch Golden Age (starting in the 17th century) to establish our trading routes, most ships came from the two provinces now called North Holland and South Holland. As you might have figured out, The Netherlands did not exist at that time yet, so when you would ask the sailor where they were from they would respond with the name of their city-state (province). Most of the time the sailor response would be that he was from Holland. Ever since Holland has been an synonym for the area that would later be called The Netherlands. Of course the supporters of some of the major Dutch soccer teams (also mostly from Holland) did not help making this clearer for foreigners ;)

So now that I all know this, can I still refer to The Netherlands as Holland?

Now since there are ten other provinces with each having their own proud history, I would not recommend saying Holland when you are actually trying to refer to The Netherlands. It is just not correct and can even be seen as offensive or insulting, unless of course the person you are talking too is from one of those two provinces ;)

Still confused, maybe the following video can explain it better:


If you have any question or comments about the difference between Holland and The Netherlands, make sure you leave a comment below :)


  1. says

    That is really very important And perfect article. I made such mistakes before job application. I used Holland. However, kindly answers were backed with Nederlands.
    Following yolu for more hints.
    Best regards.

  2. hans says

    GOOD GRIEF ! = ‘goede grutten !’
    iek bien een Amsterdammertje ( well , not REALLY one of these zillio(e)ns of knock-your-kneez-on silly posts to prevent parking on the curb & hinder ev’rybody else ) – though lesserer and lesserer after 44 years now here , landed at Hoek van HOLLAND after some years in England, UK, – OK ?! , where no one outside Downingstreet would call Holland The NETHERLANDS ; they might just as well refer to that region between Hull and Norwich where thousands of DUTCH had emigrated to to grow tulips ( & erect quite a few windmills … )
    while in the meanthyme i’ve probably been One-of-Two ‘Emsterdemmers'; helping out amongst our 2 1/2 million visitors to discern between Hollanders and the rest – Dutchies ? , Flaminganten ?
    Just Rielex & Take it EASY , it’s not Belfast here or Barcelona ….
    Grietinkz !

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  8. farjana says

    If all the conversation is true then why World Cup uses the name Netherlands? why don’t it would be only Holland.
    like Holland versus Argentina. please someone tell me details.

  9. Ray says

    If the word nether means low, then why not call it the lowlands as a lot of it is below sea level

  10. Kim says

    My Father is from Friesland, so when people say “Oh he’s from Holland” it’s not me being politically correct to tell them no he’s not. Correcting people who assume Holland is the entire country when your family ISN’T from either province isn’t being nitpicky it’s being honest. It’s like someone saying “oh you’re from Alberta” when actually I was born in Ontario, Alberta is a Canadian Province not the country.

  11. says

    I’m a bit confused as to the Football (Soccer) Team of The Netherlands and Holland are a part of the same national squad or are there 2 different Teams representing their own Regional entities ? Kindly help me sort out my confusion.

  12. says

    Just absurd – idiots stating “I will never offend the Dutch again by saying Holland… etc.” They don’t give a damn whether their country is referred to as Holland or Netherlands – even Dutch football fans chant: “Holland… Holland!” This is mere political correctness for the twee among us.

  13. Lisa says

    I am doing a project asking when Holland was changed to netherlands, and why. I have read many times that it wasn’t, but then what do I put for when did sailors stop calling themselves from Holland? So help me Nether ppl!!!! I dont know anything about you so plz help me!

  14. Paul says

    Being from the Netherlands, I find differentiating between these two terms (Holland and The Netherlands) to be tantamount to nitpicking. I would not hold any grudge against someone who ‘wrongfully’ refers to the Netherlands as Holland. While it may be true that Holland only refers to South and North Holland in a strictly geographical sense, it can be used to refer to Holland as a whole, too, because there are hardly any discernible cultural differences between the various provinces. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned Holland is an informal moniker for colloquial use whereas The Netherlands is more formal. No need to discern.

  15. Tara says

    Thanks so much for making it sound so simple – I printed this web page off for my Modern History students (when we discussed Schlieffen Plan 1905 vs 1914) because they were confused between Holland and Netherlands.

  16. Anneliese says

    Being from Rotterdam myself, attending college in The U.S. was very stressful. People called me a ‘Hollander’. It became something of an offense over time. I found myself constantly correcting them, saying, “It’s The Netherlands, or Nederland if you’d like to shorten it. Holland is the name of two provinces! Get your facts right. How did you get into this college?” I think I smacked a guy once for calling me a ‘Dutchie’ in a snide way. (Short temper, huh?) Thank you so much for expressing the difference. More people need to read this!

  17. Amber says

    Quite a long time ago someone asked why it is called THE Netherlands. I think this is because in the 16th century, we weren’t one country but seventeen small countries combined. There were more Netherlands.
    Nowadays, we are one country but we still have twelve different provinces which form the Netherlands.

  18. says

    i’m a football player and a support of Ajax Amsterdam and loves dutch people. From today i will never offend them beause i now know the difference between Netherland and Holland. Netherland is a country, holland being one of its 12 provinces and the people with their language called dutch in a country of Netherland.

  19. says

    I found the information in this website was quite racist… I recommend that you close down the site immediately or face the judgment of my unholy god Cthulhu.

  20. Caspar says

    I was born in Limburg, have been living in Gelderland for over 20 years, both are provinces in the Netherlands. And yes, I am offended if one refers to my country as Holland! None of my family and friends would EVER use that to refer to the country. If Dutch people do so, they are definately from North-Holland or South-Holland, or closeby.

    I always explain it to foreigners by stating that England is not the same as the UK. So please don’t use Holland to refer to the Netherlands ever again, it’s politically incorrect and ignorant. We also refer to black people and gay people nowadays, not to negros and homosexuals anymore, although this was considered normal for a long time. Times change.

  21. Let me clarify that for you says

    Netherlands (English) = Nederland (Dutch)
    Dutch (English) = Nederlands (Dutch)
    Germany (English) = Deutschland (German)
    German (English) = Deutsch (German)

    Holland is a region in the western part of the Netherlands, the latter being a country.
    Today, Holland is split into two provinces: North Holland and South Holland.
    Holland is in no way a separate country or a country within a country, it is merely a region in the Netherlands.

    From my experience I do know that people from other provinces may not like to be called ‘Hollanders’.

    I am Dutch, and also a real Hollander.

  22. Remi says

    To make it more confusing, the Dutch translation of the word ‘Dutch’ is ‘Nederlands’, but it’s spoken in many more countries than The Netherlands.

    The country ‘Dutchland’ doesn’t exist. ‘Deutschland’ exists and is German for Germany.

    Dutch is a language spoken (and an official language) in several countries : The Netherlands, Belgium (Flemish), South Africa (Afrikaans), Suriname, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Maarten, and Sint Eustatius.

    The Dutch are people from the Netherlands or their descendants.

  23. PL says

    In China and some asian countries still refer Netherlands as Holland. You can use google translate English to Chinese Simplified and click the speaker to pronounce it.

  24. halotrixzdj says

    To add to the confusion of it all, in the U.S.A., there’s a group of people called the Pennsylvania Dutch, who came to the States mainly before the Revolutionary War and after the War of 1812. In fact, the name Dutch is a misnomer. Those people are actually Pennsylvania Germans, but were named Dutch due to several theories. The most prominent of them all to me is that when the Germans refer to themselves, they use the German word “Deutsche” (pronounched Doytch), “Deutscher”, or “Deutscheman”, and Americans probably corrupted those words to Dutch, Dutcher, and Dutchman. “Deutsche” means Germans as an ethnic group, or a female German, “Deutscher” means male German, and “Deutscheman” means German-man (that last one doesn’t sound as good as Dutchman, but not every country has such a convenient ending). Also, the German language is named “Deutsch”.

    My sources, along with more theories and information:

    Another informative site:

  25. kimo says

    but i think that holland is the nickname of netherland
    and the difference between netherland and nederland is that netherland is with english language and nederland is with dutch language

  26. SJ says

    Good info, but I had to chuckle about the line which said The Netherlands went out into the world to “establish trade routes”….um, you mean slavery and colonialism? Not singling out the Dutch as they are only one of the many European countries (GB, France, Spain) which enslaved people all over the world, but it just stuck out for me.

  27. Jo says

    As I’m Dutch I find this all very amusing. Never realized that it was so confusing. But thank you for the history! Taught me some as well! This is how it’s used in Nederland:

    – Nederland (or “The Netherlands” in English) is the name we use when we speak of our country

    – Nederlands (or “Dutch” in English) is the language

    – Holland is not a name we often use. It’s mostly heard in songs, expressions, or in the context of football. But when used by somebody from the Netherlands, they will mean the country as a whole and not the two states.
    Even though that is technically wrong.

    The problem lies in our history. As is said before “Holland” refers to the two states and “Dutch” to our connection with Germany / Deutschland.

    Just use the first two and you’ll be fine (and very Dutch). And just to be clear we do not use the term The “Netherlands” or “Dutch” ourselves, that’s English, we say Nederland and Nederlands.

  28. says

    at first i thought Holland was The Netherlands in Dutch. Nice information. I found interesting fact about the naming though. Recently i received a pair of wooden shoes-slippers from Netherlands. The slippers have picture of windmills and tulips, with big letter,”HOLLAND”.
    I directly checked where the slippers were made. I read in the brochure sent with the slippers, and they’re made in Luttenberg. I thought Luttenberg must be in one of the two regions, North or South Holland.
    But i was wrong. Luttenberg is in Overijssel region and the slippers maker name the country Holland instead of Netherlands!!

  29. Joseph Kawele says

    I am so enlightened by your clear clarification between Holland and Netherlands. For all along I was thinking Holland was the first name and later Netherlands but just to learn it from your site today.

    Great for that distinction. I have been to Netherlands.

    Thank you.

  30. Argee says

    I think it’s a bit like England, Ireland & Scotland !!!

    It was pretty confusing for me (i’m from India) till one Irish friend explained it to me. Actually, I know that North Ireland, Wales & Scotland are now part of Great Britain and South Ireland is now the actual Ireland.

  31. Bart says

    @Matt is right almost nobody would be offended because nowadays we also use it as a synonym to the Netherlands.
    We just use Holland because it’s shorter and easier to pronounce:P.

    Btw I’m from Holland and live in the province gelderland.

  32. Moses says

    But if north and south holand are what are commonly called Holland (as a country), then what do the remaining 10 provinces called as country?

  33. says

    Thanks a lot,

    I hear that the major reason why it was refereed to as The Nethaland is becouse of the aggressiveness of Napoleone Bonaparte’s and the desire to advance. in so doing, it was eminent to put a buffer states so as to limit further penetration and annexation of other provinces and small states by napoleon in his attempt to controll Europe. is it true?

  34. pim says

    this is all crap i.m from the neherlands and holland is just a other name for the netherlands so all u say its crap and belgium is a own country is not with the nether lands

  35. says

    Hello there from ‘Holland’ xD

    ok, I’m actually from Limburg, but you can say Holland when referring to my country, I don’t care.

    Actually, when I’m in a country far away from the Netherlands, I usually say I’m from Holland, because they understand that right away.

  36. Jan says

    p.p.s. At least the dutch republic did existed so wether you agree it was one country or a union of 7 country’s ruling the rest, which is subject to interpretation, your statement “The Netherlands did not exist at that time yet” is incorrect.

  37. Jan says

    @Bell II

    That’s ridiculous. The capital of the Netherlands IS Amsterdam check the constitution for that one. The Hague is the seat of government and the capital of South-Holland.


    The republic of 7 united Netherlands was a loose union I agree, but you can’t say it where independent country’s. It where independent states, but there was a central goverment the states-general, and you forget that maybe the 7 including your own “Stad en Lande”(groningen) was autonomous, but for exemple Brabant en drenthe weren’t, and they were ruled from the Hague by the states-general, the states-general was made up of representatives of the independent states, but ruled the other states, which were called Generality Lands. You can’t really speak of independent nations, only of very self governing states, but that self government only concerned the 7 states, and the other states, the Generality Lands did not have self government.

    But at least just agree that in the 17th century it was one republic.

    For more information by the way
    About the dutch republic:
    About Holland as a part of the netherlands (map says it all)
    About the netherlands:

    p.s. I have no problem agreeing because for brabandians this is not that unknown, they always say over here, “don’t trust anything above the moerdijk” which means that you shouldn’t trust people north of the moerdijkbridge, which is Holland.

  38. jon says

    let me just tell you this, i am born in the netherlands, Rotterdam. and there is no WAY how i would ever be offenden if someone said the netherlands to me.

  39. Bell II says

    False, the real reason is thaT HOLLAND is the part that surrounds Amsterdam and the NETHERLANDS are the rest and that is also why it has two capitals, Holland:Amsterdam and Netherlands:The Hague

  40. says

    Hi Jan,

    Thanks for confirming that Holland is not the same as the Netherlands. However when you say that the Netherlands existed as one country in the 17th century I have to disagree with you. Yes, there was an economic and military union but not a country. And the Kingdom of the Netherlands did not exist until after Napoleon (more specifically, after the break-up with Belgium in 1830). In fact, it wasn’t until Napoleon’s brother became king of the Netherlands that the country existed as a country.

    Being myself from Groningen I understand why you find it offensive to be called hollandic. I have the same, and that is why I wrote that article :)

    Thanks again for your comments.

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