The Netherlands (aka Holland) is the 30th most densely populated country or territory in the world and the densest country in Europe with a over 10 million people. So it’s understandable that the Dutch might think that their country is a little bit crowded.
However, the map above flips this idea on its head.
Instead of thinking of the Netherlands as a densely populated country, it looks at the Netherlands as if it were a relatively empty city.
The population of The Netherlands currently stands at 16.9 million people who live in an area of 41,526 sq km (16,033 sq mi), giving it a population density of 407.4 pop/sq km (1,055.16 pop/sq mi).
This is less than the population of the New York metropolitan area which has over 23 million people who all live in an area of 34,490 sq km (13,318 sq mi), giving it a density of 724 pop/sq km (1,876 pop/sq mi).
It should be noted that the map above is looking at Metropolitan areas and not just cities proper. If you looked at only city cores you’d find much higher density levels. For example, Manhattan has 27,672.6 people per sq km (71,671.8/sq mi).
So how do the 9 regions in the map above compare when it comes to density?
- Ruhrgebiet (Rhur): 1,646/sq km (4,260/sq mi)
- Randstad: 1,500/sq km (4,000/sq mi)
- London: 1,160.5/sq km (3,005.7 sq/mi)
- New York: 724/sq km (1,876/sq mi)
- Paris: 715.8/sq km (1,853.9/sq mi)
- Chicago: 509/sq km (1,318/sq mi)
- San Francisco: 411/sq km (1,065/sq mi)
- Netherlands: 407.4/sq km (1,055.16/sq mi)
- Los Angeles: 210.9/sq km (546.3/sq mi)
Therefore, when taken together, the Netherlands is less dense that 7 of the 8 metropolitan areas listed. However, it’s still denser than LA and almost as dense as the San Francisco Bay area. So Holland is a dense country and would not even be a particularly empty city.
Want to learn more about Holland and the Netherlands? The following books may be of interest:
- The UnDutchables: an observation of the netherlands, its culture and its inhabitants
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
- Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands
- The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America
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Charles Sublett says
You might want to correct the spelling of San Francisco in the enumerated list.
Brilliant Maps says
Good catch. Fixed now.
Peter Christian Wiesenthal says
What you mean? Frisco?
Marije Martens says
Please note though that the Randstad is the Netherlands’ largest metropolitan area and listed second on your list here, which might add to the perception of the country being overcrowded.
I don’t quite get the point of comparing of a country and (by definition) densely populated urban areas.
The only times when this makes sense are when the country is a single densely populated urban area (say, Hong Kong, Singapore, Gibraltar). You could get similarly “unbalanced” views by comparing Manhattan versus the whole New York State, or San Francisco versus the whole of California, and so forth.
Holland is a reference to a province. The country is called The Netherlands. When people say they’re from Holland, they’re from either the North or South Holland province from the country The Netherlands. They speak Dutch because in the moddle ages the country was divided by Frisian and France. Frisian was considered the old Dutch language. Dutch the new language. In 1830 more land was in the Kingdom of The Netherlands and it had states within the country called Dutch Republic/Batavian Republic/Kingdom of Holland later the provinces.
The regional, old Friesian language was never considered THE old Dutch language. It was (and remains to today) one of several, historically not easily distinguishable, language regions covering the Northern and Southern Netherlands, Lower Saxony up to Sachsen-Anhalt, plus Ost-Friesland in Germany
Ad de Groot says
Jo, the Dutch language is derived from Lower Franconian dialects. It doesn’t have its roots in Frisian. You’re right about the first part though.
Jo, the Dutch language is Germanic that’s why German and Dutch are so similar in a lot of ways.
Goran Miskovic says
The Netherlands is not “the densest country in Europe”. The most densest country in Europe, way above The Netherlands on the eighth place with 1,321 pop/km2 is Malta.
Brilliant Maps says
It’s the densest 10 million+ person country in Europe.
To me it seems irrelevant to judge whether or not a country is crowded based on a comparison with cities. Then you could easily extrapolate this and conclude that, as a city, Russia is a total vacuum. What determines the impact of population density is how the population relates do politics, infrastructure, economics and the environment. In a city these are organized based on the concentration of people. Nationally, these aspects are organized based on dispersion.
Marcelo H. Alvarez says
The Great Buenos Aires has a density of 5603,88pop/km². The population is 15 million people in 2681 km².
A challenge to draft such ´comparison maps´ for several selections of the >200 countries not included here!
Kees Blokland says
The title (Holland Is Not A Dense Country, But An Empty City) does not match the conclusion: “So Holland is a dense country and would not even be a particularly empty city”.
Does this take into account that of those 41526 square kilometers, about 7474 are covered by water? Making the area of the Netherlands where people can actually live about 34052 square kilometers…
Emir Mustafa Isler says
Shouldve put Hong Kong and Beijing/shanghai in there!
Dirk van der laan says
Funny piece, but the title is wrong. Cities like NY, LA en Paris have one citycentre. The randstad had many citycentrtes and the Netherlands as a whole has even more.
The term ‘metropolitan area’ is better suited and this only applies to the randstad. As mentioned in your article, it occupies second place in Europe. That’s pretty crowded.
Ad de Groot says
The Netherlands and Holland do not constitute the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. Holland is not a country, the Netherlands on the other hand is.
Wow.. the stupidity is mindblowing..! Reducing a country with a booming agriculture and industry to a city, and so inferring that it is not densily populated at all (and possibly could harbor twice as much people) is either really, really shortsighted or deviously misleading. Because who is going to feed all those people in ‘city Holland’, eh? Where is all their industry going to go? Because what the author so blithingly neglects to acknowledge is that any city, throughout history, is only viable and even possible if it has a far larger hinterland supporting it. London does not even have twice as much urban sprawl as the Randstad but it is the capital city of a country with four times the population of the Netherlands. The Netherlands has a population of 16 million and HALF of that lives in the Randstad. The USA has a population of loosely 350 million people. Only 15 percent of those live in New York. Beijing is a huge city because it has a huge country full of farmers and factories to feed and support it. Huge countries have huge cities. Just like huge animals have huge brains. Claiming that the Netherlands is an ’empty city’ because Beijing or New York could fit in it is like claiming that humans aren’t really an intelligent species because a human would rattle around in a T-Rex’ skull.
It’s all relative. Half the Netherlands poplation lives in the Randstad, which is an urban sprawl and takes up roughly half of the available landspace. Please come back to argue your case when half of the US’ and half of China’s population lives in a city.
Your comment was a joy to read and I agree 100%.
The only interesting part of the article were the images, with major cities from around the world pictured in The Netherlands, showing the relatively small size of the country.
Uh no, that is a very valid and apt comparison. Read the piece above again. The author’s point is that ‘Holland is not a dense country but an empty city’ because if you superimpose some of the great cities of countries with 300 times the landmass and a total population 20 times greater on it, they kinda dwarf the entire country. So, The Netherlands is not densily populated, but actually kinda empty, because bigger countries with less people per square mile have cities that are almost as big as the entire country of the Netherlands. Wow. That is *exactly* as dumb as saying that animals with far bigger bodies than humans are as intelligent as humans because their brains are as big as humans.
I don’t give a shit about the author’s ‘different perspective’ if he, in doing so, claims that a country with 470 people per km2 is ‘not densily populated’ but rather ‘an empty city’ in comparison with a country with 35 persons per km2.
Incidently, in case you do not know this, but an animal’s intelligence depends not on the amount of brainmatter but on the *ratio between brain matter relative to its size*, just as the population density of a country depends not on the amount of people living in its cities on the *ratio between people relative to the size of the country*.
Robert Vermaat says
No comments about Anne Frank?
Anne was never Dutch. She born in Germany but fled to The Netherlands because of Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. The Dutch authorities however refused to give her family the papers necessary to emigrate the the US. So instead Anne remained effetively stateless, despite writing in the Dutch language she never was Dutch.
That was until she died in Hitler’s death camps like so many, and until her diary was published by her surviving father. Then, she suddenly became Dutch.
“Holland” and “The Netherlands” are not the same thing.
Please stop referring to the Netherlands as Holland. Holland is part if the country, it’s not the country. I am Dutch but I’m definitely not from Holland.
Sean Fielding says
This functions mainly as a propaganda piece: if Holland (that’s what we trad Anglos call it, Orwellian name-changers, shifting historical borders and all) can be made to seem uncrowded, why should it not let in several million more useless, violent, low-IQ, parasitic Blacks and Browns?
Robert P Singleton says
Wow! That was racist. Especially when you consider the damage that the Dutch did after they invaded/resettled in South Africa, without the consent of the indigenous people. Of course, when have Europeans ever followed the pre-established immigration policies of places they colonized?
Yeah ok, i think this is the most stupid page you have. Just delete it as it is all nonsence and false.
Burton Lazars says
This is the most pointless thing ever. Please remove.
England has a population density of 430 per square km.
Please correct: „Ruhrgebiet (Rhur)“ -> „Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr)“
and this is the garbage google provides for you
Md. Golam Hossain says
population density are not same in every country and environment also. Explain something world standard for benefit everyone.