The People

Reserve with Strangers, respect for Privacy



The people of the Netherlands are amongst the tallest in the world, with an average height of over 1.83 metres (6 ft) for adult males and 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in) for adult females. The ethnic origins of the citizens of the Netherlands are diverse. Statistically they are the largest people in the world. But dutch societ is increasingly becoming multicultural, so you will see many other physical types as well, especially in the larger cities. There are people of Indonesian,Surinamese and Caribbean descent because of Holland's colonial past in these regions. When the Dutch were forced out of Indonesia in 1948, many of the local people who had worked them emigrated to the Netherlands and became Dutch citizens.With a few exceptions, these groups have assimilated.   The vast majority of the population still remains Dutch. The were : 808% Dutch;2.4% German;2.4% Indonesian(Indo-European, Indo-Dutch, Moluccan); 2.2% Turks;2.0% Surinamese;1.9% Moroccan;1.5% Indian,0.8 Atillian and Aruban; and 6% Other.

People from Surinam have ancestors that came from Africa, India, Indonesia, China and/or Europe. Surinam was part of the Kingdom of theNetherlands untill it became independent in 1975. Just before then,many of its inhabitants took advantage of theirDutch citizenship and emigrated to the Netherlands.

 The Netherlands Antilles- these are the Carribean islands of Aruba, Bonaire,Curacao, Saba,St Maarten, and St. Eustatius- still belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. People from these Islands are therefore free to settle in Netherlands Dutch Citizenship also entitles them to regualr Dutch student grants.


Social Interaction

The first time you ride on a train you may notice one characteristic of Dutch people: their reservedness towards strangers. The seatswill fill up in a fashion that postpones proximity as long as possible, and unless they are aquainted, people seldom speak to each other. Our professor at ITC, Dr. Rolf  Deby during one of his lecture told the same about Dutch people's reservednes to strangers. He advised students not to think of this behaviour as simple unfriendliness, but if you see it as respect for the other person's privacy, perhaps combines with shyness, you will no doubt find living among the Dutch more enjoyable.

The Perfect way to open an animated conversation with a Dutch person is to complain aboutthe wather. The implication in your comments should be 'You people certainly must be made of strong stuff to have made something of this wet and windy place'. If you spend a winter in Netherlands, by about March you will also understand why Dutch people talk so much about the glorious sunshine of countries to the south.

With Dutch people, it is best to say what is in your mind. if you need something, say clearly what it is. Dutch people themselves tend to function very independently, and they speak directly.  You should not expect them to anticipate your needs, or to understand something that you are implying or hinting at. They are accustomed to literal speech.


Symbols of Status : not apparant


When you are meetng Dutch people, it is important to know that you can not make any assumptions about their status or wealth on the basis of thier outward appearance. The man arriving on an old bicycle and wearing tattered old shoes and a funny hat could be a man sweeps floors, but he could also be a professor. And the woman with high-heeled shoes and a smart suit could be a department head, but she could also work in a cafetaria clearing tables.

In general, you will not see much glamour or high fasion.People wear what they personally think looks good and feels comfortable. Only teengers pay much attention to fasion trends, although even they do not seem to be as subject to peer pressure as teenagers in many countries. Most people, especially in the academic community, wear casual clothes. the traditional suit and tie, or dignified dress, is required only in certain circles.

The daily life of most Dutch people startes at home with a light berakfast between 7 and 8 am.Travel to work or school takes perhaps a half an hour. Work or lessons begin around 9 am and are interrupted around at about 10.30 am with a cofee break and again between 12 and 1 for a quick, light lunch. many people eat sandwitches and fruit brought from home. Between 3 and 4pm again there is another break for tea. At the end of the day- between 5 and 6 - most people go straight home for dinner. The warm meal of the day, which is cooked immediately before it is served, is eaten between 6 and 7.30pm. Useually all members of the household eat together. Cofee is served at around 8 pm after the dishes have been washed. For people living  in families, an evening of television, homework, reading follows for most membersof the house hold.


Independent , separeate lives:

The independence that people in Netherlands value so hihly includes financial independence, even from family. This is made possible by the elaborate national system of socil welfare. There is no shame associated with claiming the benefits offered by the offered by the system; they are seen as every one's right. as long as eligilibility criteria are met. most people would in fact rather call on the state for help than call on family.