Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 40: The Netherlands

Week 40!?!

I really can't believe I made it to week 40 already!!  I have to say this is the longest I've ever stuck with something that was optional :)  I hope you are enjoying learning about these countries along with us.  Every week the kids and I are learning something new and I can't believe how much they are remembering!  I know we are making memories here :)

This week we decided on the Netherlands, actually I wanted to do Holland but guess what? Holland isn't even a COUNTRY!!!  See, I'm learning new things, things I probably should've leaned in school.  So since Holland is actually what they call an area of the Netherlands, here we are.  Let's learn a few fun facts-
  • The Netherlands actually have 2 capitals.  Amsterdam (52.37°N/ 4.89°E) is the official capital but the Hague was the first capital since 1584 and where the government is run.
  • The official languages are both Dutch and Frisian but over 80% of people speak English as well.

  • The name "Netherlands" means "low country" in Dutch.  That is because almost half of the country is below sea level and is only usable because of the 1,500 miles of dikes that keep the North Sea from flooding in.  The highest part of the country is only 1,000 ft above sea level.

  • Because of the dikes, the Dutch (as people in the Netherlands are called) built windmills to run pumps keeping the areas dry.  At one point there were 10,000 windmills in the Netherlands.  There are still over 1,000 in use today.

  • Holland is known for its tulips.  The Netherlands is the #1 producer and exporter of tulips and flower bulbs in the world. 

    • Bikes are a very popular way to travel in the Netherlands (probably because it's so flat!).  There are specially designated bike paths called "fietspaden" where only bikes are allowed.
    • There are over 1,000 museums full of Dutch painters like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Mondrian. 

      • Dutch people are some of the tallest in the world.  Men average 6ft and women almost 5ft 6 inches.
      • The Dutch were avid explorers.  They were the first to discover Australia and New Zealand.  New York was once also a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam.
      They explored the world and now so are we.  Luckily (or maybe not) we get to do it from the comfort of our own home- and we get to invite you along with us!!  C'mon let's go :)