In common English, people have come to assume that the country the Netherlands is also known as Holland. The use of these two names interchangeably is especially more pronounced for people who are not from the Netherlands and, to a smaller extent, by the Dutch as well. However, most of the Dutch do not use the two interchangeably because they do not point to the same geographical region. In reality, Holland is just a small region with an area of around 2,119 square miles and a population of about 6.5 million people. On the other hand, the country of the Netherlands has an area of 16,040 square miles and a population of a little over 17 million people.
The name “Holland” was once used in the past (around 1064) as the name of present-day Haarlem. The word is derived from the Old Dutch word “holtant,” which means land of wood. Another common misconception of the name “Holland” is that it was derived from two Dutch words that mean “hollow land” in English. The reason why people assume that the name refers to the entire Dutch country is that the region that was called Holland was a prominent one during its time. Holland was responsible for plenty of economic and political interactions between the Netherlands and other nations. A similar confusion is commonly made when people refer to the United Kingdom as England.
However, it is crucial to note that the name “Holland” was once used to refer to the whole nation on an official capacity. The suggestion came from Napoleon Bonaparte and was easily implemented since his brother was in charge of Holland. However, the name was dropped after the French were routed in 1813. In both English and Dutch, anyone from Holland was described as a Hollander. However, in modern English, the word “Hollander” is no longer in common use. On the subject of languages, it is worth noting that Holland has its own dialect of the Dutch language known as Hollandic.
Before Holland became an influential region, it was actually a small area of the Holy Roman Empire. In fact, before the turn of the 12th century, the area was actually called Frisia while the people were known as Frisians. Over the years after that, the power and influence of the region grew through conquest and other forms of acquisition. For example, the 1287 flood of St. Lucia saw the region expand to the region that was known as West Friesland. In 1432, the region was part of the Burgundian Netherlands. By the 16th century, no urban center in Europe had more people than Holland.
After this, Holland (which became a province) boasted of having some of the largest cities and towns in the Dutch Republic. The Dutch Republic laid the groundwork for the establishment of present-day Netherlands. Some of the major cities that Holland had included The Hague, Rotterdam, and the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. For this reason, the area was mostly identified as Holland and not as part of a larger republic, which is where the misconceptions started. From there, it was ruled briefly by the French before the establishment of present-day Kingdom of the Netherlands.
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