Why Holland Is Not the Netherlands – and Eight Other Dutch Dichotomies – Frank Jacobs. 

Diversity is not contingent on size. You can be a small country, and still be very heterogenous. Holland is a case in point. As these maps demonstrate, there are at least nine ways to slice the pint-sized polity into two distinct parts. In fact, as shown by one of them, the country is so diverse that the geographical term Holland doesn’t even apply to most of its territory. But let’s start at the beginning: carnival!

Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, Cologne and the south of the Netherlands are all famous for their carnival – an annual celebration of exuberance and excess prior to the penance and self-denial of Lent. What binds those far-flung parts of the world together is their catholic heritage. The Netherlands south of the Big Rivers – Meuse and Rhine, which can be seen slicing the country in two latitudinally on the maps – is generally catholic, the north is mostly protestant. Although neither confession is as strictly observed as a few generations ago, the difference in attitudes is still observable in some vestigial cultural differences – such as the celebration of carnival.


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