Holland fact and figures
Land and population
Holland is quite small, the surface area is 41,528 square kilometres. The greatest distance from north to south is 300 kilometres, and from west to east 200 kilometres. Holland is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It has a population of sixteen and a half million and an average of 488 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Constitution and capital
Holland is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system, and its government consists of the Queen and ministers. For historical reasons the government and parliament are in The Hague, although Amsterdam is in fact the capital. The Netherlands has a coalition government. Queen Beatrix is the head of state.
Dutch is the national language of Holland. However, English is spoken by almost everyone. In addition, many Dutch people speak German and French. Dutch is the mother tongue of well over 21 million Dutch people and Flemish people (Dutch-speaking nationals of Belgium). In addition, some 60.000 people in Northwest France speak a Dutch dialect. On the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, all part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and in the former Dutch colony of Surinam, Dutch is used in government institutions and in schools. Because of the historical ties, many lawyers and historians in Indonesia speak Dutch. Dutch was the basis for Afrikaans, the language spoken in South Africa. Dutch has also influenced other languages, as shipping, agriculture and hydraulic engineering terms in various languages testify.
The people in the northern province of Friesland speak Fries, in addition to Dutch. The Dutch outside this province do not understand this language. For many Friesians, the use of their own language is essential for the way they function in society. The language is alive as never before and is being used extensively, recent research shows. More than 90 percent of the inhabitants of this province understand the Friesian language, nearly three-quarters speak it, 65 percent reads it and some 70 percent can write it.