Stereotypes and the culture of the Dutch
The Dutch are stoned all the time, they wear wooden shoes and all Dutch are tall, have blond hair and blue eyes. At least half the population is gay, tulips are everywhere, there is lots of freedom “everything is accepted”, Wind mills, the Dutch are greedy “going Dutch”, cheese, Amsterdam is heaven and every Dutch shed keeps at least a dozen bicycles. All of these are stereotypes of the Netherlands and the Dutch culture. Some are true and some are false. Yes, they are commonly tall but not all of them. Yes, soft drugs are legalized, but no, they are not stoned all the time, in fact the usage is twice as low as in the United States. This paper is about the way the Dutch people look, work, live, and experience everyday life despite the stereotypes that the world perceives about the Netherlands. Oxford Dictionary gives as definition to stereotype: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. In this thesis, the definition of culture will be used to mean: the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. The Netherlands became a country in 1581, where seven Northern provinces signed the Union of Utrecht treaty, under which they declared themselves the independent United Provinces of the Netherlands. The southern provinces, which are nowadays Belgium and Luxembourg, remained under Spanish Catholic domination. However, Spain still tried to regain control of the Northern provinces. After the Eighty Years’ War in 1648, Spain finally recognized the Netherlands’ independence. By then, the Netherlands had a ruler and not a king, named Willem van Oranje as a civilian administrator. This was unknown in that time-area and it was another important step in developing today’s Dutch political system. (Hintz 41) The Netherlands is a country with a unitary parliamentary representative democracy under a constitutional monarchy. This means it has a citizen chosen parliament which rules the country but has also a king and/or queen who have no influence in the government and is therefore more a formality than a real leader. The king of the Netherlands is currently Willem Alexander van Oranje, is married to Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, who is from Argentina. Mark Rutte is the current prime minister. The country has 16,819.595 citizens which makes is one of the most crowded countries of the world after Malta and Taiwan. The capital is Amsterdam and the official language is Dutch. (Bennett 274) (N.p. “Population and population dynamics; month, quarter and year.” Statistics Netherlands. 31 October 2013. Web. 18 October 2013.)
The geographic location of the Netherlands influenced the country greatly. It has been one of the decisive factors that shaped its development, its culture and the character of its people. The country is dominated by water where more than the half of the country is below sea level or just a meter above. For centuries the Dutch have fought the sea, losing land and winning land. A large percentage of the land was created by the Dutch itself. Therefore, there also a common phrase “The Lord created the land, except for Holland, which was created by the Dutch” (Seward 7).
There are several stereotypes of the Netherlands which are true or partly true. One of these stereotypes is that all the Dutch people are tall. This stereotype is indeed partly true. The Dutch people are the tallest people in the world. The average height for man is 1.86 meter (6 feet 1). The females are 1.72 meter (5 feet 7). In comparison, the Americans, who were fifty years ago the tallest people of the world, have now fallen in stature and are on average about 5 feet 9 inches (1.76 meter) . The University of Munich and Princeton University explained this differences in height due to early childhood care, a diet rich in dairy products and thus high in protein. In contrast, in the United States, there is more poverty, which...
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