Culture Netherlands The Hague region

Dutch culture


The Netherlands has an estimated population of 17 million people as of 2017. It is one of the most densely populated country in Europe. The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, spoken by almost all people in the Netherlands. The Dutch are keen on speaking foreign languages: about 89% of the total population have good knowledge of English, 70% of German, 29% of French and 5% of Spanish. So, there is always a way to communicate with them.

Communicating with them is one thing, but understanding them is quite another. The following five points will help you understand them.

  1. Everyone is equal
    The Netherlands is a democracy with a tolerant, open society. Everybody is considered equal and should be treated accordingly.
  2. Modesty and work-life balance
    Dutch people usually do not like to draw attention to themselves and are very modest. They typically downplay wealth, and frown upon those who show off their success. They would rather spend their money on frequent vacations abroad, comfortable houses and safe cars than luxury items. Quality of life is really important to the Dutch, therefore they are reluctant to work overtime and would rather reduce working hours instead of having an increase in salary.
  3. Directness
    The Dutch are pragmatic people. They are unbothered by rituals that other cultures usually have to deal with. The Dutch can be rather direct to the point of blunt in their manner of speech. This may come off as rude, but it is rarely intended that way. The Dutch will always tell you the honest truth.
  4. Consensus
    The Dutch love consensus. Everyone involved needs to be heard and in the end a compromise will be reached which everyone agrees with. Their famous polder model is proof of that. It is the Dutch consensus model in which employers, trade unions and the government work together to achieve consensus on terms of employment and wages.
  5. Time is essential
    Dutch live by their agendas. They are extremely time-conscious and organised. If you ever want to visit the cinema with a Dutch friend, you may be expected to plan this ‘appointment’ a month from today. And being too late for an appointment is a big no-no, as it is considered to be rude.

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