Education in Netherlands

Netherlands – education

Education in the Netherlands is characterized by separation between state and church, and there is equality in terms of state funding of public and private education. In 1991, 6.2% of GDP was spent on education, making the Netherlands one of the nations in the industrialized world that provides the most to the education sector.

There is compulsory schooling from 5 to 16 years. In addition, 16-year-olds leaving the education system have a one-year part-time compulsory schooling, which means that they have to attend classes one to two days a week.

Children should start school at the age of five, but most start at the age of four. The primary school, Basisschool, lasts eight years. 2/3 of all schools at this level is private, so-called bijzondere Scholen. Most private schools are Catholic or Protestant.

Following a 1993 reform, the superstructure consists of a common three-year foundation, Basic Education, and then three general upper secondary educations, the one-year MAVO, Secondary general continuing education, the two-year HAVO, Higher general continuing education, or the three-year VWO, Preparatory science education, which provides access to university studies. In addition, there is a one-year vocational preparatory secondary education, VBO, Voorbereidend beroepsonderwijs. Actual vocational education, MBO, Secondary vocational education, is offered as a three to four year school education or as a master’s degree; approximately 30% of young people apply for general upper secondary education, while approximately 70% choose vocational education (1992).

The Netherlands has a high level of education; in 1992 was approximately 1/2 million. in higher education. In the 1980’s, higher education was restructured and the number of institutions was reduced from more than 300 to less than 100. There are 14 universities (1996) and a large number of higher education institutions of a more vocational nature.

OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of the Netherlands

CAPITAL CITY: Amsterdam; Government City: The Hague

POPULATION: 17,100,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah: Netherlands)

AREA: 41,526 km²


RELIGION: 31% Roman Catholic, 13% Reformed, 7% Calvinist, 6% Muslim, 2% other and 41% non-religious

COIN: Euro


ENGLISH NAME: Netherlands

POPULATION COMPOSITION: 83% Dutch, 17% others (of which 9% are of non-Western descent; mainly Turks, Moroccans, Antilles, Surinamese and Indonesians

GDP PER residents: $ 23,535 (2007)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 76 years, women 81 years (2007)




Netherlands is a Kingdom of Northwestern Europe located between Germany, Belgium and the North Sea and with overseas territories in the Caribbean, Netherlands Antilles. Holland is actually an old name for the two provinces of Noordholland and Zuidholland between the North Sea and the IJsselmeer, but is used in everyday speech in large parts of the world about the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in Dutch Koninkrijk der Nederlanden or simply Nederland.

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as NL which stands for Netherlands.

The areas around the lower reaches of the Rhine, Maas and Schelde were called the Netherlands as early as the Middle Ages. The Republic of the United Netherlands, recognized by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, is largely the present European part of the Netherlands.

In the period 1954-75, Dutch Guiana, present-day Suriname, also formed an autonomous part of the Netherlands.

Netherlands – constitution and political system

The constitution dates from 1814 with a number of amendments, most recently in 1983. The Netherlands is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy. Legislative power lies with the monarch and the parliament, the General States (Staaten-Generaal), in union.

Parliament’s First Chamber has 75 members, who are elected by the 12 provincial councils for a four-year period by indirect election. The second chamber with 150 members is elected for a four-year period by direct proportional representation.

Both the government and the Second Chamber can table bills, while the First Chamber alone has the right to approve or reject them.

The executive power lies with the monarch, who appoints the prime minister, who then composes the government. Ministers may not be members of Parliament, but may attend meetings and take part in debates; they are collectively accountable to parliament.

A 28-member Council of State is formally appointed and chaired by the monarch as president, in effect by a vice president. The Raad van State can advise in all areas of law; the members sit for life and represent a wide range of community life incl. former politicians, business people, trade unionists, scientists, judges, etc.

The provinces have considerable autonomy. The 12 elected provincial councils, each of which appoints a governing council, are chaired by a commissioner appointed by the government.

Netherlands Antilles is an autonomous part of the kingdom.

Netherlands – management

Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces and approximately 600 municipalities, which are led by resp. provincial council and municipal council. These councils are elected by the citizens every four years, although the chairmen of each of the councils are appointed by the government. The tasks of the provincial councils are partly to administer the planning legislation, eg with regard to the expansion of the hospital and school system in the individual province, and partly to carry out financial supervision of the municipalities. The municipalities are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the local area’s public service, and they draw up regulations and permits or vice versa in accordance with the legislation, eg building regulations and building permits. The expenses of the provinces and municipalities are financed through state taxes. The provincial councils elect members to the Parliament’s First Chamber and thus influence the size of the budget appropriations

Outside the area of ​​responsibility of the provincial and municipal councils, the construction, operation and maintenance of canals, lock systems, water supply, sewerage and water drainage are sorted. These tasks are carried out by a total of 94 decentralized state bodies, the Waterschappen, and are financed by separate taxes.

Netherlands – economy

The Netherlands is a prosperous country with a small, open economy, in which both the value of imports and the value of exports account for over 50% of GDP. The country therefore has a great interest in close economic and political relations with the outside world. In 1951, the Netherlands co-founded the forerunner of the EU, the European Coal and Steel Community, and has been in economic union with Belgium and Luxembourg since 1960 through the Benelux Treaty, but has not participated in the monetary union in which the other two countries are linked..

On the other hand, the Netherlands has participated in all major European currency agreements since World War II and was, among other things, co-founded the European Monetary System, the EMS, in 1979. The exchange rate policy has been aimed at letting the guild follow the D-mark closely. This has been possible because the Netherlands has traditionally had a large surplus on the balance of payments, and because the Dutch central bank followed German monetary policy very closely. After the EMS crisis in 1993, the Netherlands thus succeeded as the only country in maintaining the narrow fluctuation band vis-à-vis the D-mark.

The Netherlands has a highly developed social welfare system and one of the world’s highest tax burdens. Public revenues and expenditures each amount to approximately 50% of GDP; on the expenditure side, transfer incomes in particular seize large resources.

From the mid-1970’s onwards, there were deficits in public budgets, and in the early 1980’s the Netherlands experienced a period of large and rising budget deficits, which meant a marked increase in public debt. Although fiscal policy has since been tightened regularly, public budgets have not been balanced. In most years since the 1990’s, the deficit has been just over 3% of GDP, with rising debt; it was corrected in 2000-01 but reached again in 2003 above the EU ceiling of 3%. The possibilities for implementing fiscal tightening and radically reforming the structure of society are largely hampered by the Dutch tradition of striving for broad political consensus; yet, in this situation, the government introduced tax increases and social austerity measures that sparked widespread protests.

Since the crisis in the 1970’s, the Netherlands has experienced a long period of economic progress, but from around 2000 a certain slowdown occurred, which has been replaced by some progress (2006). The workforce is approximately 7.5 million with just 2% in agriculture and less than 20% in industry (2005). Unemployment (6.5% in 2006) is more problematic than the figures suggest due to the special situation in the labor market. A high, but declining, proportion of all positions are filled by part-time employees, especially women, whose employment rate has risen sharply since the early 1980’s, while a large proportion of the population through early retirement, declaration of incapacity for work, participation in job offer schemes, etc. pulled out of the workforce. Taking these factors into account in a broader concept of unemployment, unemployment was much higher.

In 1999, the Netherlands joined EMU, and in 2002, the guilder was replaced by the euro.

The Netherlands’ most important trading partners are the EU countries Germany, Belgium, the UK and France, which together account for resp. 55 and 40% of exports and imports (2006). In 2006, Denmark’s exports to the Netherlands amounted to DKK 26.2 billion. DKK, while imports from there amounted to 31.8 billion. Among the most important Danish export goods were oil, gas, fish and machinery for industry; the import consisted of office machines, vehicles, fruits and vegetables as well as plastics.

Netherlands – social conditions

Like the other countries in Northern Europe, the Netherlands has a high standard of living, a relatively even income distribution and a well-developed social safety net.

Holland’s social system unusually combines the Nordic principles, which are based on tax financing and open access to benefits for all, with the “Bismarck” system, which is based on insurance for employees. In the so-called national insurance, there are a number of benefits, the most important of which are old-age and disability pensions, pensions for survivors and child allowances. In this way, a basic income insurance is provided that covers all citizens. The so-called employee insurance is a supplement to the basic insurance through benefits in the event of loss of income as a result of unemployment, illness, maternity and loss of ability to work. The benefits are in proportion to the salary and are financed through mandatory contributions to so-called business associations, which manages the schemes. Furthermore, there are supplementary schemes which, like the Danish Development Assistance Act, cover the gaps in the insurance benefits and supplement them so that a minimum level of income is ensured for all. This system is administered by the municipalities.

The various systems play together in that the employee benefits form the basis that only takes effect when a family loses their wage income, for example in the event of unemployment, illness or loss of ability to work. However, the benefits are limited in time and require prior employment and earnings. When they do not strike, the national insurance comes into force, and after that the municipal assistance system.

The retirement age in the Netherlands is 65 years. The pension does not presuppose business termination and is independent of prior business affiliation and nationality. Most employees are members of professional, often mandatory supplementary pension schemes. Some of these schemes are designed to allow earlier retirement from the labor market. Check youremailverifier for Netherlands social condition facts.

Netherlands – health conditions

Life expectancy in the Netherlands is one of the highest in the EU : 81.1 years for women and 75.7 years for men (2003). Infant mortality is at 5 per. 1000 live births (2003) among the lowest in the EU, regardless of the fact that approximately 1/3of all births take place in the home against almost 1% in Denmark. The morbidity and mortality pattern is very similar to the Danish one. Mortality from cardiovascular disease has been declining for many years. Cancer mortality has been fairly stable over the last few decades and is slightly above the EU average. For women, there has been a tripling of lung cancer mortality since 1973; for men, it has been declining slightly since 1980. In 2002, 32% of men and 25% of women over the age of 15 were smokers. The average alcohol consumption has been almost constant for 20 years and was 10 l alcohol per. person pr. year in 2000. Use of cannabis (hash) is still prohibited under Dutch criminal law, but in Amsterdam and other major cities, persons carrying smaller quantities, ie. up to approximately 30 g, do not be prosecuted. In some coffee shops, the sale of small quantities of cannabis is tolerated.

The Netherlands spends 5.8% of GDP on health care (2002); of which approximately half to the hospitals. A compulsory health insurance system with payments from employers and employees as well as subsidies from the state covers 60% of the population. The remaining 40%, corresponding to higher paid and self-employed people, can secure themselves through a private insurance system, which the vast majority do. A third system covers everyone for long-term stays in hospitals and institutions. Most hospitals are private and are most often run on a non-profit basis. There are 3.5 hospital beds per. 1000 residents (2002) with declining trend. Over 90% of GPs work under contracts with insurance systems. Prerequisite for admission and use of specialists is generally a referral from a general practitioner. Around 2004, there were per. 1000 residents 3.2 doctors.

Holland is unique in the EU by 1993 to have adopted a law on active euthanasia (euthanasia) in patients after it for several years has been a real possibility. This is a legally distinctive compromise, as euthanasia is still illegal under the Penal Code, as in Denmark, but according to the Dutch Equal Opportunity Act is not prosecuted when certain conditions are met.

Netherlands – legal system

Civil and Commercial Code of 1838 had as a model the French Code civil and the French Commercial Code of 1804-07. As part of a legal reform that has not yet been completed (1996), the most important parts of a new Civil Code have entered into force, namely Book 1 from 1970 on personal and family law, Book 2 from 1976 on company law and Books 3, 5 and 6, all from 1992, on the general part of property law, including property and bond law. Later, book 7, which deals with the individual contracts, purchases, agency, etc., book 4 on inheritance law and book 8 on means of transport and traffic, came into force. The books on private international law and intellectual property rights are still missing.

Extensive consumer protection has been introduced, just as in the introduction to book 6 on bond law there is a provision that states that the creditor and debtor must act in accordance with fair business practice; furthermore, a rule which follows from a law, custom or legal act shall not be applied if, in the circumstances, it would be unacceptable on the basis of reasonableness and fairness. This provision is unique in the world. It allows the courts to disregard a law in cases where it would manifestly lead to an unacceptable result. This is something that courts in all countries sometimes do, but reluctantly admit.

The Netherlands is famous for its liberal stance on controversial issues. Possession of small quantities of hashish is permitted, and the police even tolerate that traders, eg owners of coffee shops, sell hashish in small quantities if it only happens for the customer’s own consumption and not for minors. Furthermore, a person in possession of his full judgment may draw up a living will and therein request that his own physician provide euthanasia should he become hopelessly ill. Under similar conditions, he also in the will appoint a “helper” (hulpverlener), who on his behalf may allow a doctor outside euthanasia. However, the doctor can always refuse to do so, and it is required that someone other than the patient’s own doctor gives consent to the euthanasia.

Netherlands (Military)

The Armed Forces is (2006) at 53,130. The army (Koninklijke Landmacht; KLa) is 23,150, the navy (Koninklijke Marine; KM) 12,130, the air force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht; KLu) 11,050 and the gendarmerie (Koninklijke Marechaussee; KMar) 6800. The reserve is 54,400. Most of the equipment is modern, and some are made in the Netherlands. The defenses are still primarily built for deployment in the NATO framework at resp. the northern European plain and in the North Atlantic, but in recent years has built up a significant ability to participate in operations outside Europe.

The Netherlands has deployed a frigate and navy in the Netherlands Antilles off the coast of Venezuela.

The Netherlands was one of the founding members of NATO in 1949.

Holland – libraries and archives

The older university libraries have rich collections; largest and oldest is in Leiden from the end of the 1500’s. Koninklijke Bibliotheek i Haag, grdl. 1798, is the National Library. The public libraries are well developed, essentially for municipal funds, but are often run by associations; smaller municipalities are served by provincial library centers.

The National Archives of The Hague, Algemeen Rijksarchief, housed in modern buildings from 1979, contains central government archives. This includes the national archives in the individual provincial capitals, Groningen, Utrecht, etc. In addition, there are municipal archives. Certain central administrations have their own archives, e.g. the defense, the foreign service, and the Reformed Church.

Holland – mass media

Liberalism and tolerance have given the Netherlands a colorful and versatile media landscape. Already in the early 1600’s. began publishing newspapers, and Haarlems Dagblad (grdl. 1656 with the title Weecklycke Courante van Europa) is one of the oldest existing newspapers in Europe. 11 of Holland’s current 35 dailies are nationwide, and every major city has its own newspaper. The conservative De Telegraafhas since its founding in 1893 aimed at a wide audience and is with a circulation of 732,000 (2005) by far the largest Dutch daily newspaper. Other important newspapers are Algemeen Dagblad, grdl. 1946, with a circulation of 606,000, De Volkskrant, grdl. 1919, with a circulation of 295,000 and the financial magazine NRC Handelsblad, grdl. 1970, with a circulation of 249,000. In addition, a few free newspapers are published. Ownership is highly concentrated. The news agency Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANP) was founded in 1934.

When radio began broadcasting in the 1920’s, religious and political organizations were given responsibility for broadcasting, and in 1951 television was organized in the same way. Since then, the system has been reorganized several times, most recently in 2005. There are three state television channels as well as one digital and five radio channels. The content is produced by companies backed by political, religious and cultural interest groups, however, the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) produces news and sports broadcasts. There are approximately 370 local TV and radio stations, of which about 100 in addition to radio broadcast TV.

In addition, most homes can receive a lot of channels via cable or satellite; one of the most watched is the commercial RTL 4 (grdl. 1989 as RTL-Véronique), which initially broadcast from Luxembourg. Also in the TV area, the media concentration is large, eg RTL and SBS each run three channels in the country. With over 90% of all homes connected, the Netherlands is one of the countries in the world where cable TV is most widespread, and the Dutch are diligent users of news and internet.

Holland – visual art

Visual art before approximately 1580 is dealt with in the article on the Netherlands.

Baroque until 1850

After the formation of the Utrecht Union in 1579, a bourgeois culture developed in the Netherlands, which also left its mark on the art of painting. Under Prince Moritz of Oranje, mercantile and cultural life entered a heyday, the Netherlands became the world’s leading maritime nation in a few decades, and marine painting gained a prominent place in the visual arts. The pioneer was Hendrik Vroom (1566-1640), who depicted naval battles.

Among the most important naval painters of the 17th century were Simon de Vlieger and Willem van de Velde dy, who depicted naval vessels from both the merchant and military fleets. The more idyllic scenes from canals and rivers with fishing boats were especially taken care of by Jan van Goyen and Aelbert Cuyp.

The culture of the bourgeoisie was directly reflected in the genre and still life painting, which for the same reason enjoyed great favor and prosperity. The most respected portrayal of these civic circles was Jan Vermeer van Delft, but Pieter de Hooch and Gerard Terborch were also prominent representatives of the genre. Jan Steen made extensive use of the anecdote in his productions, and Adriaen Brouwer and Adriaen van Ostade became directly coarse-grained in their pub scenes and peasant depictions.

A special specialty in still life painting was the so-called monochrome piece, whose greatest masters were Pieter Claesz and Willem Claesz Heda.

Leiden artists Jan Davidsz de Heem and his son Cornelis de Heem specialized in vanitas still lifes with skulls, hourglasses, musical instruments, etc. Willem Kalf and Abraham van Beyeren (1620/21-90) painted the most exquisite show lifestyles (‘splendor still lifes’). while Ambrosius Bosschaert d.æ. (1573-1621) almost exclusively executed flower pictures. Jan Weenix and Melchior d’Hondecoeter grew respectively. hunting and bird pieces.

Also in the portrait painting, the structure of society in the first decades of the 17th century, most clearly reflected in Frans Hals’ pieces of art, group portraits of the then so widespread target, private civilian armaments.

Accurate personal characteristics and lively picturesque and material treatment were among Hals’ hallmarks in both group and individual portraits. In that direction he got a number of successors, including Thomas de Keyser, Bartholomeus van der Helst and not least Rembrandt.

The upsurge in the Netherlands continued under Prince Frederik Henrik, who gave official assignments to Rembrandt, the 17th century’s most important Dutch artist. With his artistic genius, he spanned in paintings, drawings and graphic magazines across several genres, from religious subjects to portraits and landscapes; the self-portraits are deep-drilling psychological revelations of the phases of human life.

His clairobscur style formed the school of artists such as Jan Lievens, Ferdinand Bol, Nicolaes Maes and Gerbrandt van den Eeckhout (1624-74). Influence from Italy came via Caravaggio, whose style was conveyed by the so-called Utrecht caravaggists, eg Gerrit van Honthorst, Hendrick Terbrugghen and Dirck van Baburen (see Utrecht School). The artists living in Rome, who went by the name of the bamboccio painters, spoke, among other things. the Dutch Pieter van Laer, Nicolaes Berchem, Jan Asselijn and Karel Dujardin.

In a class of its own among 18th-century landscape painters was Jacob van Ruisdael, who depicted the national topography in all its moods and seasons, but also painters such as Meindert Hobbema, Salomon van Ruysdael, Aert van der Neer and Adriaen van de Velde were original interpreters of nature and the glories of country life.

Paulus Potter was the most prolific animal painter of the period, and he gained many successors. City prospectuses were carried out by Gerrit Berckheyde and by Pieter Saenredam, who, like Emanuel de Witte, specialized in church interiors.

The next period up to the beginning of the 19th century was marked by less originality in the artistic expression that generally followed the European development over Rococo to neoclassicism. Jacob de Wit (1695-1754) painted both altarpieces and ceiling decorations in a decorative manner, and Cornelis Troost approached William Hogarth in his genre-like scenes.

In the 18th century, the flower painting was given a distinguished representative in Jan van Huysum. The early 1800’s, on the other hand, were dominated by interest in genre-influenced motifs and topographical depictions of the city. Johannes van Troostwijk (1782-1810) in particular was a pioneer as a naturalistic observer.

1850 to 2010

Around 1850, romantic landscape and genre pictures of Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-62) popular. However, it was Johannes Warnardus Bilders (1811-90) and Charles Rochussen (1814-94) who gained importance for the young generation in their experiments with e.g. depiction of movement. Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch marks the transition from romanticism to naturalism and impressionism. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about Dutch visual art from 1850-2016.

Holland – architecture

As a result of the country’s flourishing trade, Holland experienced a lively construction activity in the 17th century, especially in the central cities of Amsterdam and The Hague, where the builders often belonged to the wealthy and powerful bourgeoisie.

1600’s architecture is characterized by a growing simplicity, most clearly seen in the so-called Dutch classicism, a austere and simple, almost puritanical, Palladio- inspired style, with which the Protestant Netherlands symbolically marked the distance to Catholic Southern Europe after the secession from Spain.

One of the main monuments are Pieter Post and Jacob van Campens prince palace Mauritshuis in The Hague (1633-44), wherein the facade of jewelry characteristic kolossalpilastre. A slightly later example is van Campen’s town hall (1648-55) in Amsterdam, a large, simple stone building that today serves as a royal residence.

The same classifying trend is seen in church construction, van Campens Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem (1645-49), whose sober expression stands in stark contrast to the more lavish, Italian- inspired Baroque style that was favored in the southern, Catholic part of the Netherlands.

Among the period’s civic houses, Philip Vingboon’s classic gable houses (1662-65) along the Herengracht in Amsterdam can be highlighted.

In the second half of the 1600’s. the influence of the classicist, but pompous, French baroque architecture, introduced in the Netherlands by the French architect Daniel Marot, who designed Vilhelm III’s castle Het Loo (1685-87) as well as one of the 1700’s’ more distinctive buildings, the Royal Library (1734-38) in The Hague.

The French-inspired classicism was replaced in the late 1700’s. of an actual neoclassicism, which is represented by the church of Santa Rosalia in Rotterdam (1777-79).

Dutch architecture in the 1800’s. stands somewhat in the shadow of the buildings of previous centuries. The architectural development followed the rest of Northern Europe, early in the century one thus encounters the Greek-influenced classicism in, for example, the pavilion in Scheveningen (1826) and later in the courthouse in Leeuwarden (1846).

The resumption of the historical styles continued with the neo-Gothic, which made its entrance around 1840, when the Catholic Church in Harmelen (1838) was built in a medieval-inspired style.


Around 1850, classicism was replaced by the expressive architecture of a historical eclecticism. PJH Cuypers, preoccupied with the work of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, heralded with a constructive and rational view of architecture the transition to modernism that Hendrik Petrus Berlage marked with the stock exchange building in Amsterdam (1896-1903). Large, simple shapes reflect the function and construction with an honesty towards the use of materials and craftsmanship…. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about Dutch architecture 1850-2010.

Dutch architecture before approximately 1580 is dealt with in the article on the Netherlands.

Holland – crafts and design

At the end of the 16th century, an independent style emerged within Dutch handicrafts. A major export item in the Baroque and Rococo periods were cabinet cabinets and cabinet cabinets adorned with marquetry or carved decorations. Later cabinets were veneered and adorned with silver fittings or painted East Asian motifs.

In the 19th century, neo-Gothic and neo-rococo emerged, but were replaced by a free, curved Art Nouveau style in, for example, HP Berlage’s furniture. Gerrit Rietveld’s simple ornamental furniture for the De Stijl group marked a revolution in 20th century furniture art, which was later followed by Hendrick Wouda (1885-1946) and Mart Stam; In 1926, Stam designed one of the first tubular steel chairs. Since the 1950’s, Dutch graphic design in particular has gained international fame.

The pottery gained great European significance from the beginning of the 17th century, especially pottery with white tin glaze and blue decoration produced in Delft (see Delft faience).

In 1757, Holland’s first porcelain factory was established in Weesp, while the Rozenburg and Amstelhoek factories marked an important design renewal around the year 1900.

Glass production also began in the Baroque, and special expertise was gained in the manufacture of drinking glasses and the use of various glass engraving techniques. In recent times, glass production at the Leerdam factory has been a leader.

From the end of the 16th century, goldsmithing had centers in Delft, Utrecht and Amsterdam, with the Vianen family ‘s workshop in Delft as the leader.

The silversmith art of the 20th century is represented by Jan Eisenloeffel’s (1876-1957) corpus works. Textile art unfolded in Delft, Gouda and Amsterdam with woven wallpaper that was delivered to Christian IV’s Danish court from Frans Spiering’s (1551-1630) workshop in Delft.

Holland – literature

Holland – literature, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

When the development of a Dutch-language literature began in the late 1100’s, it happened in Flanders, see Belgium – literature. The Netherlands therefore joined the literary map relatively late. With the Dutch count’s court as the patron, however, appeared from the late 1200’s. a mainly didactic and historical literature, earliest through the work of the Flemish Jacob van Maerlant, around 1400 by his own Dutch poets.

In connection with the religious movement devotia moderna, an extensive religious literature appeared in Dutch; the most famous work of this circle, Imitatio Christi (Imitation of Christ) attributed to Thomas à Kempis, is, however, in Latin.

With the entry of the bourgeoisie into literature, especially organized through the so-called rederijkerskamers (‘rhetoric chambers ‘), literary life intensified. Most important was the drama, especially the allegorical morality as the well-known Elckerlijc (approximately 1470, Any). The literature of Holland and Flanders was until the mid-1500’s. a whole, a situation which first put an end to the secession from Spain and the division of the Netherlands.

Humanism gained an early foothold in the Netherlands, which with Erasmus of Rotterdam gained one of its greatest representatives, admittedly in Latin. Dutch poets received many impulses from the Italian Renaissance and from the French Plejade poets. At a time when the country was in the midst of its war of liberation against Spain, the Dutch golden age began.

Where painting through its everyday realism created something specifically Dutch, the literature was highly literary and oriented towards the entire Western European renaissance. Most important were the emblem poetry (Jacob Cats, PC Hooft), the lyrics (Hooft, Constantijn Huygens) and the drama, which after 1638 was performed at Amsterdam’s new theater. A large number of playwrights appeared. In his dramas, Hooft dealt with the burning political issues of the time disguised behind historical topics, and in GA Bredero’s comedies, people’s lives were brought on stage.

The Baroque has no prominent place in Dutch literature, but in the tragedy poet Joost van den Vondel it gained one of its most important European representatives.

From classicism to the Enlightenment

In 1669, the poetic society Nil Volentibus Arduum was founded. The intention was to introduce the French-Classicist tragedy into the Netherlands. Thus the golden age was over; 1700-t. is usually considered a period of decline. In the Enlightenment, English literature exerted a distinct influence. This was the case with Justus van Effen (1684-1735) and his moral weekly De Hollandsche Spectator (1731-35) as well as the female writers’ collective Betje Wolff (1738-1804) and Aagje Deken (1741-1804), whose letter novel in the manner of the British Samuel Richardson, Sara Burgerhart (1782), has retained its freshness to the present.


Willem Bilderdijk was a transitional figure to the Romantics. Poetically, he adhered to the rhetorical style of the 18th century, in which he pleaded for extreme irrationalism and emphasized emotion as the only path to real cognition. However, there was no romantic breakthrough. The romantic movements in England and France and especially the German encountered a massive wall of rejection. The Calvinist Dutchman was not receptive to the “swarming and mystique of romantic Catholicism.” A youthful Byron admirer like Nicolaas Beets (1814-1903) quickly renounced his “black time” and calmed down in loving-humorous Biedermeier sketches of Dutch daily life, the popular Camera obscura (1839, under the pseudonym Hildebrand).

Remaining from the Romantics became only an interest in the national past, where especially the golden age of the 17th century was considered a subject suitable for healing the disillusionment after the foreign rule of Napoleon and the period of artistic decline. Characteristic of much of the literature of the time was its strongly moralizing and religious tendency.

This condition lasted with one very significant exception until 1880. The exception was Eduard Douwes Dekker, who published the novel Max Havelaar (1860) under the pseudonym Multatuli. The book was a war paper turned against Dutch colonial policy and was based on Douwes Dekker’s personal conflict with the hierarchy of officials. Max Havelaar, with his complicated but effective structure, was a breakthrough; of greater impact, however, was Multatuli’s linguistic virtuosity, which with irony, sarcasm and closeness to the spoken language acted as a liberation and was a stylistic model well into the 1900’s. Multatuli was thus a precursor to the 1880’s’ final showdown with the “poet priests”.

For this 1880’s generation of lyricists, the Eighties, Shelley and Keats were the main sources of inspiration. All moralization was rejected, and the gospel now cultivated was that of beauty. The goal was “the most individual expression of the most individual emotion”. Significant poets were Willem Kloos, Albert Verwey (1865-1937) and Herman Gorter as well as the prose writer Frederik van Eeden.

Simultaneously with this aestheticism, the novel art was introduced, strangely enough sometimes by the same person, the “scientific” and analytical French naturalism that characterized the image well into the 1900’s, especially among the smaller spirits. The most important representatives were Lodewijk van Deyssel (1864-1952), who, however, quickly left naturalism for an extreme impressionism, “sensitivism”, Marcellus Emants (1848-1923) and Louis Couperus, who in his versatility embraced far beyond naturalistic personal and environmental depictions.

Symbolism and interwar period

The non-committal aestheticism of the 1880’s generation did not last long. Gorter found a place in socialism, van Eeden in a Christian collectivism, while others, Verwey and JH Leopold (1865-1925), sought out an actual symbolism.

In the time leading up to World War II, the Netherlands had many significant but mutually different poets. Martinus Nijhoff began as a decadent poet, but in his later poems turned everyday language into great poetry. JJ Slauerhoff’s “Weltschmerz” drove him constantly but in vain in search of happiness and love, while the bard Adriaan Roland Holst with great linguistic power interpreted his longing for the kingdom beyond time and place. In this way, Dutch literature nevertheless, but undeniably somewhat late, got its romantic period.

When the Netherlands (Nijhoff) was only to some extent influenced by the modernism of the interwar period, it was largely due to the influential writers CE du Perron and Menno ter Braak, editors of the magazine Forum 1932-35. Their criterion for good literature was that, with contempt for all pre-aestheticism, it allowed the author’s personality to be expressed unhindered. Essays and ego-documents were favorite genres, which, however, did not exclude that a great novelist like Simon Vestdijk was launched by Forum. Vestdijk and the poetically completely isolated lyricist Gerrit Achterberg also shaped the picture after World War II.

After 1945

After the war, the showdown with Forum came, especially with WF Hermans, who again put the novel form in the forefront. Other important prose writers were Harry Mulisch and Gerard Reve. In poetry, Lucebert and Gerrit Kouwenaar, the so-called fifties, inspired by the artist group Cobra, created a whole new poetic language.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, with roots dating back to the 1950’s, one can see a growing distrust of the traditional novel’s description of reality, for example in Frans Kellendonk (1951-90) and Margriet de Moor (b. 1942). However, the psychologically-realistic novel has far from played its role: an author like Maarten ‘t Hart has many readers, and a large-scale cycle of developmental and contemporary novels like AFTh. van der Heijdens (b. 1951) The Toothless Time (1983 ff.) comprises seven volumes. In the 1990’s, Mulisch and Cees Nooteboom in particular made Dutch literature known beyond the country’s borders.

Since the 1990’s, a number of authors with an immigrant or refugee background have also made a strong mark, such as Kader Abdolah, Abdelkader Benali (b. 1975) and Hafid Bouazza (b. 1970).

From the province of Friesland there is an extensive Frisian-language literature, see Frisian.

Holland – theater

Already in the 1300’s. there was a worldly drama, the so-called Abele play, followed by farces, sotternier. The theater flourished from the 1400’s. and was, like literature, organized in rederijkerskamers, where the citizens on outdoor stages related to political and religious clashes. With Amsterdam as its capital, the need arose for a permanent theater house; in 1638 Schouwburg was opened, from 1664 arranged as an actual baroque theater with scenery etc. Theater was increasingly subjected to market considerations; in 1874 a theater academy was established in Amsterdam to raise the artistic level. Against the dominant realism opposed in the early 1900-t. pioneering directors such as W. Royaards (1867-1929) and E. Verkade (1878-1961), inspired by resp. Max Reinhardt and Gordon Craig. In the 1920’s, several cities set up publicly run theaters, but a real cultural-political investment in the theater was not seen until after World War II. Expanded support resulted from the 1960’s and 1970’s in a flourishing of drama and theater, The Work Theater.

Holland – dance

Holland has preserved a treasure of folk dances, both group and couple dances, and the country has ballet traditions dating back to the 1600’s. However, it is the stage dance in the second half of the 1900’s that has placed Dutch dance internationally. With the Nederlands Dans Theater, founded in 1959 in The Hague, Europe got its first platform for ” modern dance ” with choreographers such as the Dutchman Hans van Manen (b. 1932), the American Glen Tetley and the Czech Jiří Kylián, who has led the company since 1975 and choreographed a series of works in a strong and musically sensitive style.

A classical company, Het Nationale Ballet, was founded in Amsterdam in 1961 by Sonia Gaskell (1904-1974) and through the 1970’s and 1980’s led by dancer and choreographer Rudi van Dantzig (1933-2012). Both he, van Manen, Tetley and Kylián have staged works for the Royal Ballet in Copenhagen.

The Netherlands has also become a center for modern and new dance in Europe thanks to choreographer educators such as Gertrud Leistikov (1885-1948), Lily Green (1885-1977) and Corry Hartong (1906-1991). Both companies and festivals have great influence internationally.

Holland – music

Dutch music had its golden age 1420-1520 (see French-Dutch tradition), but only a few composers, such as Jacob Obrecht and Clemens non Papa, were born in Dutch territory. As a result of the restrictive form of worship of the Reformed Church, church music has since shrunk. The secular music scene developed with the founding of civic music associations, the Collegia Musica, in most major cities. Around 1600, the organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, was one of Europe’s most important composers with a decisive influence on the development of organ music. In the first half of the 1700’s. Amsterdam was the center of European music printing.

1800’s Dutch composers were strongly influenced by German music. Mention may be made of Johannes Bernardus van Bree (1801-57), Johannes Verhulst (1816-91), Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921), who was influenced by Gustav Mahler and of French Impressionism, and Johan Wagenaar (1862-1941). The latter’s student Willem Pijper (1894-1947) was the leading figure in the country’s musical life in the interwar period. After World War II, Kees van Baaren and Henk Badings appeared. In the 1960’s, Utrecht was an important center for electronic music. Newer composers include Ton de Leeuw, Peter Schat, Louis Andriessen and Tristan Keuris (b. 1946).

The famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam was built in 1882, and in 1888 the internationally renowned Concertgebouw Orchestra was founded. Since the 1960’s, the Netherlands has had a strong tradition of historical performances of older music with harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and organist Ton Koopman (b. 1944) as foreground figures. The new music is promoted by the foundations Gaudeamus, which arranges concerts, and Donemus, which publishes and documents Dutch music, as well as at the annual Holland Festival.

In the 1970’s, the rock group Focus with guitarist Jan Akkerman (b. 1946) became internationally known. Also the pianist and singer Herman Brood (b. 1946) has held an important position in Dutch rock music since the 1970’s.

Holland – film

The Netherlands, like most small countries, has had a hard time coping with the fight against American cinema in particular. For many years, the documentary was the trademark of Dutch film, represented primarily by Joris Ivens and Bert Haanstra (1916-97). In 1956, public film support was introduced, and Holland got in Wim Verstappen (1937-2004) and especially Fons Rademaker two feature film directors of international class. Rademakers’ historical fresco Max Havelaar (1976) is considered the best Dutch film ever, and he received an Oscar for The aanslag (1968, The onslaught). With the establishment of the film school De Nederlandse Film Academie in 1958, the foundation was laid for a new generation of directors, which left its mark on Dutch film from the 1970’s. Here Paul Verhoeven made his breakthrough with the erotic comedy Turks Fruit (1972, Turkish Fruit), and also the self-taught humorist Jos Stelling (b. 1945) made his debut in the 1970’s. Marleen Gorris (b. 1948) won an Oscar for Antonia (1995), about a woman’s fate. Subsequently, Mike van Diem (b. 1959) repeated the feat of the psychological murder drama Character (1997).

With an annual production of less than ten feature films, Holland has had to relinquish several of its talents to Hollywood. This includes directors Paul Verhoeven (b. 1938), George Sluizer (1932-2014) and Jan De Bont as well as actors Rutger Hauer (1944-2019) and Jeroen Krabbe (b. 1944).

Netherlands Education