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Holland vs. Netherland — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Published on March 2, 2024
Holland refers to two provinces (North Holland and South Holland) in the Netherlands, known for major cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Netherlands is the country's official name, encompassing 12 provinces, including Holland.
Holland vs. Netherland — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Holland and Netherland


Key Differences

The term "Holland" is often used colloquially to refer to the entire country of the Netherlands, but this is not accurate. Holland actually consists of only two of the twelve provinces in the Netherlands: North Holland and South Holland. These provinces are among the most developed and densely populated in the country, housing major cities and economic hubs such as Amsterdam (the capital city), Rotterdam, and The Hague.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, is the official name of the country located in Western Europe. It includes a broader area than just Holland, comprising 12 provinces each with its own local governments and unique characteristics. The Netherlands is known for its flat landscape, extensive canal systems, windmills, tulip fields, and cycling routes.
Historically, Holland was the most economically powerful region of the Netherlands during the Dutch Golden Age, which is why the name Holland became synonymous with the entire country. However, using "Holland" to refer to the whole country can be misleading and is often discouraged in official contexts.
The distinction is also important in understanding the cultural and geographical diversity of the Netherlands. While Holland has urban centers and significant cultural landmarks, other provinces like Zeeland, Limburg, and Groningen offer unique landscapes, traditions, and histories that contribute to the national identity.
Understanding the difference between Holland and the Netherlands is crucial for appreciating the country's regional diversity and avoiding common misconceptions about its geography and nomenclature.

Comparison Chart


Two provinces (North and South Holland)
The country encompassing 12 provinces

Major Cities

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague
Includes cities in Holland plus others like Utrecht, Maastricht, and Groningen


Part of the country
The entire country


Economic and cultural hub
National entity with diverse regions and cultures

Population Density

Among the highest in the country
Varies, generally lower outside Holland

Compare with Definitions


Holland is a region within the Netherlands, comprising two provinces.
Amsterdam, located in North Holland, is often mistakenly thought to be the capital of Holland, not just the Netherlands.


The Netherlands is a European country with 12 provinces.
Maastricht, a city in the province of Limburg, showcases the Netherlands' cultural diversity beyond Holland.


Known for its significant contribution to the Dutch economy.
Rotterdam in South Holland has one of the largest ports in the world.


Known for its comprehensive water management systems.
The Delta Works in Zeeland is a marvel of Dutch engineering to prevent floods.


Holland houses the Dutch government and parliament.
The Hague, in South Holland, serves as the seat of the Dutch government.


The Netherlands has a diverse landscape, from urban areas in Holland to the hilly regions of Limburg.
The Netherlands offers a variety of landscapes, including the flat terrain of Holland and the rolling hills of Limburg.


A constitutional monarchy in western Europe on the North Sea; achieved independence from Spain in 1579; half the country lies below sea level

Common Curiosities

Is Amsterdam the capital of Holland or the Netherlands?

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, located within the province of North Holland.

Can I visit Holland and the Netherlands during the same trip?

Yes, visiting Holland means you are already in the Netherlands, as Holland is part of the country.

Are Dutch and Hollanders the same?

All Hollanders are Dutch (citizens of the Netherlands), but not all Dutch people are Hollanders (only those from North or South Holland).

Is the language spoken in Holland different from the rest of the Netherlands?

Dutch is the official language throughout the Netherlands, including Holland, though regional dialects can vary.

Why is it important to distinguish between Holland and the Netherlands?

Using the correct terminology respects the country's regional diversity and acknowledges that the Netherlands is more than just Holland.

Is the government located in Holland?

Yes, the Dutch government and parliament are located in The Hague, South Holland.

Are there cultural differences within the Netherlands?

Yes, cultural differences exist between the provinces, reflecting the country's regional diversity beyond just Holland.

Why is the Netherlands often called Holland?

The name Holland is commonly used internationally due to the historical and economic prominence of the North and South Holland provinces.

Do people from other parts of the Netherlands mind being called Hollanders?

Some may not mind, but others prefer to be identified by their specific provincial or regional identity to highlight the Netherlands' diversity.

How does the geography of Holland compare to the rest of the Netherlands?

Holland is predominantly urban and flat, known for its significant cities and ports, while other parts of the Netherlands feature a mix of urban areas, countryside, forests, and hills.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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