Western European nation hopes that emphasising its official name will be more inclusive of all of the country’s regions.
It might be commonly used across the English speaking world but using the term ‘Holland’ to refer to the country of 17 million people on the North Sea coast could be seen as excluding the state’s other regions.
The country’s officials would prefer that only the term ‘Netherlands’ is used instead so that all references to ‘Holland’ are dropped.
Confusingly, the term ‘Holland’ is used by many Dutch people themselves and is often seen emblazoned on flags during football matches for example.
From January, however, the Dutch government wants all of its embassies, official departments, companies, and universities, to refer only to the ‘Netherlands’.
The reason? Holland refers to just two of the 12 provinces that make up the kingdom. Granted they happen to be its most densely populated and economically important, including the capital city Amsterdam and home of its parliament, The Hague.
Despite Holland’s central importance to the Dutch state, a spokesperson for the government said: “It is a little strange to promote only a small part of the Netherlands abroad, that is, only Holland.”
The Dutch are not the only European nation likely to take issue with what term you use to describe them.
In the US, it is common to use the word ‘England’ describe the UK as a whole, but that is likely to irk many in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who despite their political union cling closely to their national identities. In Scotland, support for independence from the UK and a split with England, amounts to about half of the population, according to opinion polls.
In 2016, the Czech Republic changed its name to Czechia in order to make it easier to brand itself internationally.
George: “What is Holland?”— Seinfeld Quotes (@seinlanguage) December 28, 2019
Jerry: “What do you mean, ‘what is it?’ It’s a country right next to Belgium.”
George: “No, that’s the Netherlands.”
Jerry: “Holland *is* the Netherlands.”
George: “Then who are the Dutch?”