Art & culture

The Netherlands has had many well-known painters. The 17th century, when the Dutch republic was prosperous, was the age of the "Dutch Masters", such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Famous Dutch painters of the 19th and 20th century were Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan. M. C. Escher is a well-known graphics artist. Willem de Kooning was born and trained in Rotterdam, although he is considered to have reached acclaim as an American artist.

The Netherlands is the country of philosophers Erasmus of Rotterdam and Spinoza. All of Descartes' major work was done in the Netherlands. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) discovered Saturn's moon Titan and invented the pendulum clock. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe single-celled organisms with a microscope.


Replicas of Dutch buildings can be found in Huis ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan. A similar Holland Village is being built in Shenyang, China.


Windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, cheese and Delftware pottery are among the items associated with the Netherlands by tourists.

Multicultural society

People have been migrating to the Netherlands for centuries, from French Protestants (Huguenots) in the seventeenth century to twentieth-century immigrants from former Dutch colonies Indonesia and Suriname, and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. In the 1960s and 1970s a labour shortage attracted many migrant workers from southern Europe, Turkey and Morocco. The total Dutch population is close to 16.5 million, 19% of whom are immigrants and/or belong to ethnic minorities. People with a foreign ethnic background tend to live in the larger cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. Here, they make up approximately 30% of the inhabitants.

Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution says: ‘All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.’

Festivals and food from many cultures

The multi-ethnic make-up of the Dutch population also means festivals and special events from different cultures. Restaurants specializing in hundreds of cuisines from every continent can be found in most urban areas.

In Rotterdam, the annual Summer Carnival revolves around a huge street parade through the city centre, with hosts of marching bands and glittering dancers.

Pasar Malam Besar, the largest European-Indonesian (indo) festival in the world, has been held annually in the Netherlands since 1959.

Chinese New Year is celebrated in many Dutch cities with parades, dragon and lion dances, music played on traditional Chinese instruments, acrobatics and even kung fu.