Holland, the popular name of a country officially described as 'Netherland,' or 'The Netherlands,' applies to a maritime kingdom bounded by the North Sea, Prussia, and Belgium. Its greatest length (N. to S.) is 195 miles, and its greatest breadth 110 miles. It contains 12,630 sq. m. - little more than one-tenth of the size of Great Britain and Ireland. Luxemburg (q.v.) was till 1890 connected with Holland.


Area in sq. m.

Pop in 1903.

North Brabant ........................................

... 1980


Guelderland ...........................................

... 1950


South Holland ........................................

... 1160


North Holland ........................................

... 1070


Zealand .................................................

... 690


Utrecht ...................................................

... 530


Friesland ................................................

... 1280


Overyssel ..............................................

... 1290


Groningen ..............................................

... 800


Drenthe ..................................................

... 1030


Limburg ................................................

... 850




Holland is the most densely peopled country in Europe after Saxony (725 per sq. in.), England (without Wales, 606), and Belgium (689). While the average for the whole country is 429 per sq. m., it rises to 1064 in South Holland and 971 in North Holland. Three-fifths of the population are Protestants, 1 3/4 million Roman Catholics, besides 104,000 Jews. In 1903 Amsterdam (the old capital) had 546,534 inhabitants; Rotterdam, 357,474; The Hague, seat of government, 229,839; Utrecht, 110,648; other four towns above 50,000, eight above 30,000, and eight more above 20,000.

Mainly a delta formed by the alluvium from the great rivers that flow through it into the North Sea, Holland ('Hollow-land') is not only flat; it is actually hollow - much of the area lies below the level of the water, salt or fresh. Along the canals the meadows are often 10 or 12 feet beneath the water-line; between land and sea at high tide there may be a difference of 25 feet or more. Of course all these lands have to be protected by embankments or dykes, the tops thereof, broad and flat, being used for carriage-roads and foot-paths. The Hollanders have covered the country with a network of canals, which are mostly navigable for small craft, help to irrigate the land, and in winter are splendid ice highways. Large windmills are posted at the main points to pump out the superfluous water. The most ancient canal is the Fossa Drusi in the east, made in the time of Augustus. Many canals, regulated by locks, connect the parallel rivers, and the Yssel forms a link between the Rhine and the canals and meres of Friesland. Thus it is possible to travel on water through the whole of Holland. The principal canals are the North Holland Canal, from Amsterdam to Den Helder (51 miles); the William's Canal, through North Brabant and Limburg (7l 1/2 miles); the North Sea Canal, from Amsterdam to Ymuiden, on the German Ocean ; and the canal from the Maas, near Rotterdam, to the Hoek van Holland, which now enables ocean-steamers to reach Rotterdam at all times. The cutting and maintaining of canals and dykes in Holland is one of the chief functions of the Waterstaat, a public department; another duty is the reclamation of land by the drainage of lakes, and the erection of 'polders' by pushing back the sea. These newly-reclaimed polder-lands always fetch high prices. The draining of Haarlem Lake will be eclipsed, should the scheme of laying dry the Zuider Zee (q.v.), which involves an estimated outlay of 16,000,000, be carried out. This would give Holland a new province of 1200 sq. m. - a tenth of the area of the kingdom. The maintenance of dykes by the Waterstaat forms another task of vital moment. The rivers, when swollen by heavy rains or falls of snow, are much more dangerous to the dykes than the sea ; and in times of peril a special dyke service is organised, and headquarters are kept informed night and day by a body of Waterstaat engineers. The most costly sea-dykes are round the western coast-line of Walcheren Island, and near Den Helder in North Holland. These dykes are veritable ramparts, formed by piles at the base, which support a superstructure of earth and stones. The annual cost of keeping one in repair frequently reaches 8000 to 10,000. Despite all precautions, disasters through inundations form but too familiar a feature in the history of Holland. Violent irruptions of the ocean created the Zuider Zee in the 13th century. In 1905 there were about 1S00 miles of railway, about half owned and worked by the state. The country roads, mostly paved with bricks, are broad and excellent. The old-fashioned way of navigating the canals in trekschuiten, or boats drawn by horses, or men and even women, along a towing-path, is disappearing. The climate of Holland is much like the climate of England, especially in its frequent and rapid changes; but, as a rule, the Dutch summer is hotter and the Dutch winter colder. Ague is prevalent in the low-lying regions of the west.

Cattle-rearing and dairy-farming have been the Dutch farmer's chief occupations from time immemorial. The staple agricultural products, are wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, beet-root, chicory, flax, and tobacco. The soil of Holland is not uniformly fertile. Large tracts of land, especially in the eastern provinces, are simply heath; and the waste lands cover 1,700,000 acres. The orchards of Boskoop should be mentioned, as also the culture of Dutch bulbs at and round Haarlem.

Minerals are scarce ; but clay for tiles, bricks, and pottery is found everywhere. Coal is worked in Limburg, and also a soft sandstone. There are manufactures of linen, woollen, cotton, and silk fabrics, paper, leather, glass, etc. Iron-founding, rolling and hammering of lead and copper, and cannon-founding are carried on in some places. The distilleries of gin (' Hollands') form an important branch of Dutch industry, as also the liqueur-factories. Amsterdam has had the largest diamond-cutting trade in the world. Sugar-refining, salt-making, soap-boiling, and the manufacture of cocoa are large interests. North Brabant is the principal centre of the Dutch margarine trade. The fisheries, though less important than formerly, in 1903 employed 21,467 men and boys, and about 6000 vessels, and are estimated to yield annually 3,000,000. The total imports increased from 81,600,000 in 1882 to 189,810,364 in 1903 ; the total exports from 62,282,000 to 162,579,775. The imports from Great Britain vary from 8,500,000 to 11,000,000 a year; the exports thither from 30,400,000 to 35,000,000. Much of this trade, however, consists of goods in transit from and to Germany. Holland of all European countries does the largest amount of foreign trade per head of population. The revenue of 1902 was 13,42S,534, and the expenditure 13,512,954. The East Indies revenue is nearly as large as that of the mother-country; but the East India colonies, once a burden, then long a source of profit, are now a burden again. The great bulk of the national debt - 95,032,537 - is held in Holland. The colonies of Holland (separately treated under their own heads) have an area of upwards of 720,000 sq. m. (more than three times the area of the German empire), with a pop. of about 36,000,000. They fall into two groups: (1) the East Indian possessions, including Java and Madura, Sumatra, the Moluccas, Celebes, Timor, parts of Borneo, and the western part of New Guinea ; and (2) the West Indies, of which the chief are Surinam and Curacao.

The government of Holland is a limited constitutional monarchy. The crown is the executive power; legislation is vested in the States-general of two chambers. There is no state religion, but the state gives financial support to the different churches. There are ancient universities at Ley-den, Utrecht, and Groningen, and since 1877 a new university at Amsterdam, supported by the municipality. The four universities have upwards of 3000 students. There are Latin schools in the leading municipalities, the Royal Military and Naval Academy (at Breda), that fbr engineers and the Indian civil service (at Delft), besides seminaries for the training of the Roman Catholic clergy, etc. The state pays 30 per cent. of the expenditure on the public schools, and the communes or parishes 70 per cent. There is no compulsory attendance in Holland, and nearly 10 per cent. of the population can neither read nor write.

The strength of the regular army in Europe is about 70,000 men (on the permanent peace footing 30,000), and of the colonial army about 37,000 men, some 13,000 thereof being Europeans. Dutch troops are not allowed to be sent to the Indies. The Dutch home army is composed of volunteers, and of a varying proportion of men drawn by lot for five years' service. There is also a local force, called Schutterij, drawn by lot from those between twenty-five and thirty-four years of age, to assist in keeping order in peace, and in case of war to act as a mobile corps, and do garrison duty. North and South Holland can be inundated at short notice. The royal navy in 1905 consisted of 2 battle-ships, 5 coast-defence ships, 8 unprotected cruisers, and 41 torpedo-vessels; besides, 9 additional vessels were in process of building, and 17 more were projected.

The ancient inhabitants of the country, the Batavians and the Frisians, became subjects or allies of the Romans in the 1st century a.d., and so remained till in the 4th century their territories were overrun by the Saxons and Salian Franks. At the end of the 8th century the Low Countries submitted to Charlemagne, and various feudal dukedoms, counties, and lordships were gradually established (the countship of Holland in the 11th century). In 1384 the earldom of Flanders passed to the Dukes of Burgundy, and Philip the Good (c. 1450) made the Low Countries as prosperous as any part of his Burgundian state. The Emperor Charles V. inherited the Burgundian dominions; and under his son, Philip II. of Spain, broke out the bitter quarrel between Holland and Spain, between Dutch Protestantism and persistence and Spanish tyranny and persecution, which ended in 1581 in the establishment of the Dutch Republic as an independent state under William the Silent (of Orange), though the war continued with intervals till 1648, and the Belgian provinces abode by their allegiance to the kings of Spain. In the 17th century Dutch commerce, especially at sea, Dutch science, Dutch classical scholarship, Dutch literature and Dutch art attained an eminence hardly afterwards equalled. The rivalry of Holland and England at sea led to the unfortunate wars of 1652-54 and 1664-67. The accession of William III. of Orange to the Stadholdership of the United Provinces (1672) proved the salvation of the republic from France; in 1678 Louis XIV. signed the peace of Nimeguen. Ten years later William was hailed as the saviour of English liberties, and became king of Great Britain and Ireland. On William's death, the United Provinces became a pure republic once more; the hereditary Stadholdership was re-established in 1747; and when after the French Revolution, French armies overran Holland, the Stadholder William V. fled to England, and the United Provinces became the Batavian Republic. In 1806 Louis Bonaparte was made king of Holland by Napoleon; and on the fall of Napoleon, the Northern or Dutch (and mainly Protestant) Provinces were united with the Southern or Belgian (and purely Catholic) Provinces into the ill-assorted kingdom of the Netherlands, under the princes of the Orange dynasty. Belgium seceded in 1830, and Holland fully recognised the independence of the Belgian kingdom in 1839.

See works on Holland and its people by Havard (1876-80), De Amicis (1882), Lane Poole (1882), and others ; and the historical works of Prescott, Motley, Thorold Rogers ('story of the Nations' series, 1888), besides the works of the great Dutch historians, Bilderdijk, Arend, Blok, etc.


Holland, Parts of. See Lincolnshire.