Dutch term – Holland

One of the best-known Dutch terms is Holland. Unsurprisingly, it means “Holland.” But Holland can refer to different things:

  • Many people abroad use Holland when they mean the country of the Netherlands. For a long time, the Netherlands used it in international communication. Even the Dutch themselves use it when they cheer on the national soccer team: “Hup, Holland, Hup!” [Go, Holland, go!] Dutch immigrants are often identified as being from “Holland” in records in other countries, for example in census records or naturalization records.
  • Until 1840, Holland was one of the provinces of the Netherlands. It was then split up into two provinces: Noord-Holland [North Holland] and Zuid-Holland [South Holland].  This is why Dutch people from other Dutch provinces sometimes get upset when you say they’re from Holland. They will explain to you, sometimes quite bluntly, that their country is the Netherlands, and they’re not from Holland!
  • Between 1806 and 1813, the country was officially known as the Kingdom of Holland, ruled by king Lodewijk Napoleon, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. This was during the French occupation. The Kingdom of Holland included East Frisia, now in Germany, and did not include the current Dutch province of Limburg.
  • The county of Holland, ruled by the counts of Holland, existed from the medieval period until 1795.
  • Holland literally means “woodland” and is a topographical name in many different places. A street named “Holland” in Reusel-De Mierden, Noord-Brabant has caused many problems in online trees when genealogy software changed generic references to “Holland” to the street in Reusel.

Kingdom of Holland in 1806.
Credits: C.L. Brinkman (public domain)


This video does a great job explaining the difference between Holland and the Netherlands.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Thank you for your article regarding the difference between Holland and the Netherlands. My grandmother immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in 1909 as teenager. She passed away in 1980. I went to visit her just before she passed and I will never forget her words to me, in her lovely Dutch accent. She said,”my dear just remember this, we are not from the country of Holland. We are from the Netherlands. It was very important to her that I knew that. Your article made me reflect on my Dutch grandmother. I only wish that I had gleaned more information from her before she passed.

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