Cheese, clogs and Windmills – The Essence of Netherlands

Netherlands is a small nation as compared to its neighbours like Germany, France or the United Kingdom. However, they have their own distinct culture, language and identity. We know that Netherlands is the largest producer and exporter of tulips and the famous Keukenhof tulip garden is visited by millions of tourists every year. Apart from tulips, three distinct factors contribute to the identity of Netherlands. They are Cheese, Clogs and of course Windmills.

Although large countries like the United States, Germany and France produce more cheese per year as compared to Netherlands, the Dutch are the second largest exporters of cheese in the world. They are also among the top producers of cheese in the World. This is no mean feat considering their size and population.  Gouda is the most important and well known type of cheese in the Netherlands. Almost 50% of the cheese produced here is Gouda. It is also exported on a large scale. Gouda is a semi hard cheese with a 48% milk fat content and a mild to piquant taste.

The Dutch have been wearing clogs or wooden shoes (Klompen) since medieval times. They are still used by farmers, fishermen, factory workers and other workers especially in rural Netherlands. They are an important part of Dutch life. They are preferred as they absorb perspiration and the foot can breathe.  Windmills are probably the most iconic symbol of the Netherlands throughout the world. There are around 1200 historic windmills still surviving in the Netherlands today. Some villages in the country are specifically known for their concentration of Windmills and tourists visit these villages even today.

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