Holland: People and Manners

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Holland: People and Manners

Holland is the most densely populated country in Europe: 13 million people packed into a mere 13,000 square miles (about half the size of West Virginia). Furthermore, the population increases all the time (highest birth rate in Western Europe), while the death rate is the lowest. If U.S. were equally densely populated, it would have 2 billion people! Thus, the purpose of the Zuider Zee reclamation project is to increase the land area for this over-populated country. In spite of religious differences, the Dutch are a united people. 38% of the people Catholic, 44% Protestant. In spite of tolerant attitudes, the Dutch have little crime (less than 1 criminal for every 300,000 people). Educational standards highest in Europe: not one citizen is illiterate (vs. about 3% illiteracy in U.S.). Almost every Dutchman with education can speak English and French. Dutch language is a branch of German — related to "Low German", and thus to English. Dutch spoken, not only in Holland, but in half of Belgium — by Flemish population — and by 2 million South Africans. About 18 million people in the world speak Dutch.

Public health is advanced in Holland: the infant mortality rate is the lowest in Europe. Cleanliness is a national trait, which reduces contagious disease. Housewives always scrub the pavement in front of their houses (how many Americans sweep the street in front of their houses?). Garbage trucks are seen every morning in Dutch cities; refuse collection highly organized and efficient. Indeed, an organization, called the Kattenbakcentrale (Society for Cats' Toilets), provides fresh box with sand every day for cats, and takes away soiled sand — for any Amsterdam home that asks for it. Another Dutch trait: common sense and realism. The Dutch struggle against the sea leaves no time for idle daydreaming. Also, there is a penchant for hard work and perseverance. Old saying: "The Dutchman is happy when he can start a job and spend a lifetime completing it." Also, a love of nature: Dutch plant colorful flowers everywhere, which are beautifully set off against soft green countryside. The light in Holland is unique, and has intrigued painters for centuries. Clouds create a soft, dreamy atmosphere which tends to highlight greens and blues, as well as subtle shades between them. Dutch are precise and prompt. Dutchman are always on time for an appointment. Honest: Dutch customer usually returns money if too much change is given by the cashier.

Stoic endurance also apparent. Another revealing quotation: "In times of affliction, the Dutch have the best manners in the world, showing little if any emotion. If they have an accident, they console themselves with the thought that it might have been worse. If they fall and break a leg or arm, they congratulate themselves on not having broken their skull. If a storm destroys some of their ships, they take comfort in the thought that something was left. If a fire burns down their house, they are happy they were not burnt themselves." It's a good formula for happiness, especially in such difficult terrain.

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