Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ten Things You Don't Know about The Netherlands and the Dutch Until You Move Here (Part 1)

Photo: Suresh
The typical Dutch stereotype consists of cheese eating, clog wearing tall people talking a dialect of German with a backdrop of windmills sailing round on the flatlands. However, there is much more to this small country and the people who live in it than the rest of the world thinks. Here's the first part of a series on things you don't necessarily know about the Dutch and their country until you move here.

1. Coffee is an Obsession
There is a fair bit of cheese here and the Dutch do miss their Edam and Gouda cheese when they leave the shores of the Netherlands but what comes as more of a surprise when you come to live here is the national obsession with coffee. The Dutch drink a lot of coffee. I mean an awful lot of coffee. How's this for coffee drinking? After the Scandinavian countries, the Dutch are the world's biggest consumers of coffee. The average consumption is about 150 litres of the stuff per year - three cups a day.

Photo: John Nyberg
It's drunk for every occasion and is usually accompanied by a sweet treat if you are visiting.

2. Part-Timers Rule
Despite the government trying every way they can think off (aside from compulsory work laws) to incentivise women to work full-time, it has failed miserably. The Dutch have the most part-time workers in the whole of the EU. To quote the European Commissions statistics group (Eurostat),

"All regions in the Netherlands record a remarkably low average (ed: of working hours) compared with other regions. The highest value in the Netherlands was found in Flevoland with an average of 31.6 hours per week, which is still 2.4 hours less than in Martinique (France), the region with the lowest value of all regions in the EU, not counting the Netherlands. This supports the conclusion that the Netherlands is a special case regarding the average time spent at work."

And the best thing is that Dutch women are extremely happy with their working lives and the home-work balance. They simply have better things to do. Read the article on Slate for more explanation.

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