Why Is The Netherlands Also Called Holland?

Visitors to The Netherlands are often puzzled why The Netherlands is also called Holland. Indeed, using two names to describe the same country is rather peculiar. So let’s clear up any confusion by explaining where the names Holland and The Netherlands come from.

Holland is only a part of the Netherlands, but it has always been the most important and influential. Therefore, The name Holland is often used to describe the entire Netherlands.

Linguists call the use of a part (Holland) to describe the whole (Netherlands) a metonymy. So let’s dive deeper into the history of these names to understand why The Netherlands is also called Holland.

History Of Holland And The Netherlands

The name Holland was used much earlier than The Netherlands. The name Holland is derived from the old Dutch word Holtland, which means woodland in English. Holtland changed to Holland, and the county of Holland was founded ± 1100. The county of Holland was an independent county ruled by the Counts of Holland, who resided in The Hague.

The county of Holland was located in the western coastal part of The Netherlands and is yellow on this map of The Netherlands.

The county of Holland remained independent until 1581 when it became part of the Republic of 7 United Netherlands.

The first use of the name The Netherlands was much later in the 15th century. The word “neder” means down or low in Dutch, and Nederland is the Dutch word for The Netherlands. Therefore, The Netherlands refers to its geographical location of The Netherlands as a low-lying country.

In the 16th century, the county of Holland allied with neighboring counties and provinces to form The Republic of 7 United Netherlands, a precursor of The Netherlands, and gain independence from Spain.

The county of Holland was the wealthiest and most powerful part of The Republic of The 7 United Netherlands. Therefore, the name Holland is often used to describe The Netherlands even though Holland is only a part of The Netherlands.

The fact that the alliance existed of seven independent counties explains why the country is called The Netherlands (plural, with an s) instead of The Netherland. Native English speakers may also wonder why it is The Netherlands instead of Netherlands. However, there is no linguistic explanation for using The in The Netherlands, and it seems to be a matter of historical habit.

The Republic of the 7 United Provinces (Republic of the 7 United Netherlands) ceased to exist in 1795 when France occupied it under Napoleon Bonaparte.

After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, In 1815, The Kingdom of The Netherlands was founded. As a result, the former county of Holland became a province of The Netherlands. In 1840, Holland was split into two provinces, North Holland and South Holland, to decrease its political influence.

I have prepared a graph showing how Holland and the Netherlands were used chronologically.

I have also prepared a table to illustrate how the names Holland and the Netherlands were used over time.

YearThe Netherlands or Holland?
1100 – 1581The county of Holland existed as an independent county
1581 – 1795The county of Holland became part of the Republic of 7 United Netherlands
1815 – 1840 The province of Holland became part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands
1840the province of Holland was split into North Holland and South Holland.
Both provinces remained part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

Do The Dutch Call It Holland Or The Netherlands?

You may wonder if the Dutch call their country Holland or The Netherlands.

Most Dutch call their country The Netherlands, even those living in North Holland or South Holland. On the other hand, most Dutch don’t care if foreigners use the name Holland to describe The Netherlands. Therefore, it is not offensive to call the Netherlands Holland.

I live in the province of South Holland but don’t use Holland to describe The Netherlands. However, I don’t care if The Netherlands is called Holland or if Holland is called The Netherlands. The names Holland and The Netherlands are completely interchangeable for me.

In 2019, the Dutch government decided to stop using Holland in official writings and communications to describe our country. The government tried to rebrand The Netherlands to redirect some of the tourists to Amsterdam and Holland to other regions of The Netherlands.

Is Amsterdam Located In Holland Or The Netherlands?

Amsterdam is located in the province of North Holland and, therefore, in Holland and The Netherlands.

The location of Amsterdam in Holland was the most important reason that Holland was such a rich and influential part of the Republic of The 7 Netherlands. Most merchants and traders lived in Amsterdam and became incredibly wealthy when Dutch merchant ships explored the globe in the 17th century.

The dominance of Amsterdam and Holland has always been a problem in The Netherlands. To decrease the prominence of Amsterdam, the Dutch government and the Dutch king reside in The Hague even though Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands.

Best Video About The Netherlands Or Holland

This Youtube video is the best (and funniest) Youtube video I could find to explain the difference between The Netherlands and Holland.

This Youtube video has already been watched more than 10 million times.


Pim has lived his entire life in The Netherlands in various parts of the country. Pim enjoys writing this blog because it is a wonderful excuse to revisit all the parts of the Netherland that he liked and rediscover all the activities that he enjoyed. He hopes that you will enjoy The Netherlands as much as he does.