Welcome to the Great nation of Holland: wherethe tulips grow, the windmills turn, the breakfast is chocolatey, the people industrious, andthe sea tries to drown it all. Except, this country isn't Holland. It's time for: The Difference Between Holland, the Netherlands(and a whole lot more) The correct name for this tulip growing, windmillbuilding hagelslag eating, container ship moving, ocean conquering nation is the Netherlands. But confusion is understandable — the generalregion been renamed a lot over a thousand including as: The Dutch Republic, The UnitedStates of Belgium, and The Kingdom of Hollande .

But it's not just history that makes thiscountry's name confusing because the Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces: * Groningen* Drenthe * Overijssel* Gelderland * Limburg* Brabant * Zeeland (Which, by the way, is the Zeelandthat makes this Zeeland, new) * Friesland (With adorable little hearts onits flag) * Flevoland* Utrecht, and here's the confusion: * Noord (North) Holland and* Zuid (South) Holland .

These provinces make calling the Netherlands'Holland' like calling the United States 'Dakota'. Though unlike the Dakotas, which are mostlyempty, save for the occasional Jackalope, the two Hollands are the most populated provincesand have some of the biggest attractions like, Amsterdam and Keukenhof. Chances are if it's Dutch, and you've heardof it, it's in one of the Hollands. Even the government's travel website for thecountry is Holland.com — officially because it sounds friendlier, but unofficially it'sprobably what people are actually searching for. Confusion continues because: People who livein the Hollands are called Hollanders, but .

All citizens of the Netherlands are calledDutch as is their language. But in Dutch they say: Nederlands sprekendeNederlanders in Nederland which sounds like they'd rather we call them Netherlanders speakingNetherlandish. Meanwhile, next door in Germany, they're Deutschesprechen Deutsch in Deutschland. Which sounds like they'd rather be calledDutch. This linguistic confusion is why Americanscall the Pennsylvania Dutch Dutch even though they're Germans. To review: this country is the Netherlands,its people are Dutch, they speak Dutch. There is no country called Holland, but thereare provinces of North and South Holland. .

Got it? Great, because it's about to get more complicated. The Netherlands is part of a Kingdom withthe same name: The Kingdom of the Netherlands — which is headed by the Dutch Royal Family. The Kingdom of the Netherlands contains threemore countries and to find them we must sail from the icy North Sea to the Caribbean andAruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten. These are no territories, but self-governingcountries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and as such they have their own governments,and their own currencies. Geography geek side note here: .

While Aruba and Curaçao are islands, SintMaarten is just the Southern Half of a tiny island also named Saint Martin the other halfof which is occupied by France and also named Saint Martin. So despite being separated by Belgium on theEuropean map, The Kingdom of the Netherlands and the French Republic share a border onthe other side of the world on an island so nice they named it thrice. But why does the Kingdom of the Netherlandsreach to the Caribbean anyway? Because, Empire. In the 1600s the Dutch, always looking toexpand business, laid their hands on every .

Valuable port they could. For a time, America's East Coast was 'NewNetherland' with its capital city of New Amsterdam. There was New Zealand, as mentioned previously,and nearby, the king of the islands, New Holland. Though the empire is gone, these three Caribbeannations remain. And while four countries in one kingdom, isn'tunheard of, it doesn't stop there, because the country of the Netherlands, also extendsits borders to the Caribbean and three more islands: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba. These are not countries in a Kingdom, butare cities of the Country of the Netherlands and they look the part. .

Residents of these far-flung cities vote inelections for the Dutch government just as any Hollander would. Though, weirdly, they don't belong to anyprovince and they don't use the Dutch currency of Euros, they use Dollars instead. It's kind of like if Hawaii wasn't a state,but technically part of the District of Columbia, all the while using the Yen. These cities of the Country of the Netherlandsand these countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, are together are known as theDutch Caribbean. And their citizens are Dutch citizens. .

Which, because the Kingdom of the Netherlandsis a member of the European Union, means these Dutch Caribbeans are also Europeans. So in the end, there are 6 Caribbean islands,four countries, twelve provinces, two Hollands, two Netherlands and one kingdom, all Dutch.
Go eat some hagelslag: http://goo.gl/Cfsd6 Trust me. Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cgpgrey