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The Netherlands (often misnamed Holland, which is a part of the country) has a global presence far more significant than might be expected of a small country with a population of just 16 million. It is known around the world for a number of industries and products (food, with somewhat rubbery cheese like Gouda and Edam, clogs, windmills, dikes, tulips and bicycles) and its liberal social attitudes (Dutch rock 'n roll, at least since Focus, is nothing to write home about!).
The 17th century was a golden age for Dutch trade and exploration as they established colonies and trading posts around the globe. New York was of course originally New Amsterdam until the British forced Peter Stuyvesant to hand it over. This trading and shipping legacy is illustrated in our collection of airline posters for KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) and cruise line posters.
This colonial background also led to the settlement of large parts of what was to become South Africa. This eventually brought them once again into conflict with the British in the Boer War.
The electronics manufacturer Philips is the largest company in the Netherlands. It is based in Eindhoven which is consequently called the 'City of Light'. In the Second World War Eindhoven was obliterated by the Luftwaffe. The centre of town is now laid out in a grid pattern with major thoroughfares named after WWII generals (Montgomerylaan) and politicians (Kennedylaan).
German occupation of the country created a resentment that simmers to this day. The retreating troops reputedly stole the residents' bicycles to expedite their escape. At the 1988 European Football Championships (held in West Germany) the Netherlands met the hosts in the semi-final. This was an opportunity for supporters to unfurl a banner with the standing Dutch joke to all Germans: 'Can I have my (gran)dad's bike back?' The Netherlands won 2-1, going on to beat the Soviet Union in the final with Marco van Basten's wonder goal.
Another major Dutch export is drink - unusual beer posters feature in our collection ('Oranjeboom, Oranjeboom, it's a lager, not a tune'!) and Bols is of course more famous in England for its Advocaat than its Jenever. Snowball, anyone?