What Is the Difference Between Holland and The Netherlands?

Belgium Vs Holland

What Is the Difference Between Holland and The Netherlands?

What Is the Difference Between Holland and The Netherlands?

(Last Updated On: October 13, 2023)

The world is all about power and politics. Since the Middle Ages, Western Europe especially the geographical region of the Netherlands has been a major seat of power. Different dynasties conquered it and some even changed their name over time for the sake of preservation of their own name for the future generations and to show their dominance. Some dynasties called it Holland while other dynasties gave it other names.

Since the past few decades, it has been a matter of confusion whether to call the Netherlands Holland or as what it is. For disambiguation, we have made it easier to understand the difference between both terms. After going through what we have written, we are sure that you would be able to call this geographical region by its correct and factual name.


There are thousands of languages having millions of millions of words. Some words of these languages share the same pronunciation but different meanings. This leads to misconceptions. Similarly, a single territory can have different names because of linguistic variations. These more than two names of a single territory result in mislabeling of a geographical area, causing confusion. Same is the case here. We will make it simple for you to understand if Holland and the Netherlands is a single country or not. And if not, then what are the differences.


Holland is a geographical region on the Western Coast of the Netherlands. It previously held the status of a province. Oftentimes, people also refer to the whole country of the Netherlands as Holland informally. Sometimes, the Dutch people themselves also call the whole of the Netherlands “Holland”.

belgium vs holland vs netherlands
netherlands vs holland

This geographical region stretches over an area of about 7511 kilometers per square. From the 10th to 16th Century, Holland was a geographical region under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire. The Counts of Holland ruled the county of Holland until the 17th Century when it became one of the dominating provinces of the newly-established Dutch Republic.

The former county of Holland comprises the territory of the present-day South Holland and North Holland. As a county, it served as a remote area for the Holy Roman Empire, and as a province of the Dutch Republic, it became an economic power. Holland has a population of about 6 million. The predominant language of Holland is Dutch, which some Hollanders refer to as “Hollands” rather than the standard term “Nederlands”.

The Netherlands 

The Netherlands is a North-Western European country with several territories in the Caribbean. It is the largest constituent country of the “Kingdom of the Netherlands”. The European continent consists of twelve provinces. The Netherlands neighbors Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, the North Sea to the northwest, and United Kingdom through maritime borders.

The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam. Dutch is the official and national language of the country. The Netherlands is also included in the European Union. The country of the Netherlands has a population of about 17.5 million. It has covered a land area of about 41,865 kilometers square.

The Netherlands is known for its coastal lowlands, and geographical diversity. When you hear the name “the Netherlands”, you probably think of tulip fields, canals, not-so-busy cycling routes, and windmills.

The country’s capital “Amsterdam” is home to the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and the house where during World War II, the Jewish diarist Anne Frank, hid. Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam are the largest cities. Unlike the other major cities, the Hague serves as the seat of government.

History of the Netherlands 

During the Middle Ages, the Carolingian Dynasty took the area now known as “the Netherlands” under its control. Subsequently, the Netherlands became a constituent of the Colonial Empire of Spain also known as the Holy Roman Empire. The Catholic monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire opposed Protestantism which caused polarization between the Belgians and the Dutch. After cessation from the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands became a Republic in the late 16th Century.

In the 17th Century, the Netherlands were dominating the world in terms of trade, art, and culture especially because of the Dutch East India Company. In the 19th Century, due to political and religious uprisings, Belgians revolted and separated from the Dutch Republic. The remaining territory, including Holland, is now known as the Netherlands which is a constitutional monarchy.

Are the Netherlands and Holland the same country?

No, the Netherlands and Holland are not the same countries. Holland is misused as a name for the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a country while Holland is a name for a geographical region. Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland are two Northern provinces and Holland is the collective name of these two provinces. The geographical region of Holland is located at the Western coast of the Netherlands. Long story short, Holland is the term for the two Northern provinces of the Netherlands: The coastal North and south Holland.

explaind holland netherlands
difference holland netherlands

What is the difference between Holland and the Netherlands? 

Holland and the Netherlands are two completely different terms for two different regions that people misname. The Netherlands is the name for an entire country comprising twelve provinces while Holland is the collective name for two of these twelve provinces. People sometimes think that Holland and the Netherlands is a single country. It is not so. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy while Holland is a province.

Holland is an old English word meaning “woodland”. Originally this term was used to refer to the Northern region of the Netherlands. Some people sometimes call the whole country of the Netherlands when in reality it is the name for two provinces only. Holland previously served as a remote area under the Holy Roman Empire until the 17th Century when it became a county. After getting independence from the Spanish Empire which is also known as the Holy Roman Empire, Holland became a county. Since then, it served as a county of the Dutch Republic.

Language Difference

There is little to no difference between Holland and the Netherlands in terms of Language. Since Holland, itself is a geographical region of the Netherlands, both Holland and the Netherlands share the same language, Dutch. The Dutch language holds the official status in both provinces (Noord- and Zuid Holland) as well as in the Netherlands collectively. Dutch is a Germanic language. People also spoke the English language and Frisian, a language very similar to English but they are a minority.

Geographical Differences

There are very obvious geographical differences between both terms. As we have already mentioned:

The Netherlands is a North-Western European country with over twelve provinces. On the other hand, Holland is a geographical area that comes under the territory of the Netherlands. Holland is a collective name for two of the Netherlands’ twelve provinces. The geography of Holland consists of coastal lowlands whereas the Netherlands is a flat country in terms of geography.

Cultural Difference

There is almost no cultural difference between Holland and the Netherlands. Just like the same language, both of these geographical regions share the same cultural and traditional values. There is cultural diversity in the Netherlands in comparison to other countries but if you compare the Netherlands and Holland, you will know that their culture is pretty much just the same.

Why are people from the Netherlands called Dutch? 

All the people belonging from Holland are called Hollanders and people belonging from the Netherlands are called Dutch. Both “Hollander” and “Dutch” are demonyms for Holland and the Netherlands. People often interchange these terms by calling the Dutch “Hollanders” and the Hollanders “Dutch” and cause confusion.

Wrap Up

Since we have come this far, explaining both the terms, the Netherlands and Holland, and the difference between them, we think it will be easily understandable for you and you can now differentiate one of these terms from another. The Dutch government already made it clear that the factual and correct name of the country is “The Netherlands” instead of Holland. There are still many people who may not know the difference between the Netherlands and Holland so if anyone misuses these terms, you will be able to easily correct them.

netherlands capital
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