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13 Things You Didn't Know About The Kingdom Of The Netherlands

In honor of Kingdom Day, or Koninkrijkdag, as we Dutchies say, on Dec. 15, we offer a few facts about the Kingdom you might not know.

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1. What’s in a name?

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First of all, let’s straighten out something: Our name. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is not the same as the Netherlands. Sure, the Netherlands is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the Kingdom consists of four countries: Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten. Think of a four-layered cake. Each layer represents a country in the Kingdom while the entire cake is the Kingdom. Which would you rather have? An entire cake or just one layer?

2. Our neighbors

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Take a look at any world map, and you’ll see that the Kingdom shares a land border with three countries: Germany, Belgium, and France. Seriously, go look. We’ll wait. (Cue the elevator music.) What’s that? you ask. France? It’s on the other side of Belgium, you say? Of course it is, but we’re talking about the Kingdom, not just the Netherlands, remember? The Kingdom shares a land border with France on the island nation of Sint Maarten.

3. With or without the s?

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We know it’s confusing. You’ve heard us say Nederland as well as Nederlands. Which is it? Our native word for the largest country in the Kingdom is “Nederland,” which translates to the Netherlands; the language we speak is “Nederlands,” which translates to Dutch; and name of the Kingdom is “Koninkrijk der Nederlanden,” which translates to Kingdom of the Netherlands. That can be a little confusing, but no more than “to,” “too” and “two,” no?

4. Euro, guilder or florin?

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You might think we all use the same money since all four countries are part of one kingdom. Not quite. Aruba uses the florin and the US dollar; Curaçao and Sint Maarten use the Netherlands Antillean guilder and the US dollar; and the Netherlands uses the euro (though Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba use only the US dollar). Our money might be different, but we are still one happy Dutch family.

5. We feel Pluto's pain

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Well, the people of Vaals do. For centuries, they could claim to live in the shadow of the highest point in the Netherlands: Vaalserberg, which stands at just 322.7 meters, or 1,059 feet. Kinda how Pluto was long considered the ninth planet of our solar system.

But then we changed the Constitution on Oct. 10, 2010, and Saba became a special municipality of the Netherlands. That meant Saba’s Mount Scenery, all 887 meters, or 2,910 feet, took the place of Vaalserberg as the highest point in the Netherlands. Kinda how astronomers changed the definition of planets, making Pluto a planet no more. Don’t worry, Pluto. You’ll always hold a special place in our hearts.

6. We like color

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This might come as a surprise, but orange isn’t the only color in the Kingdom’s palette. No, we Dutch love color as much as anyone else, and celebrate annual festivals throughout the Kingdom with enough color to make a box of crayons look bland.

7. Play ball!

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Americans love baseball. In fact, more Americans attend Major League Baseball games than US professional football, basketball and hockey games combined. But Curaçao is a richer source of professional ball players than America herself, or any other nation for that matter. At least on a per-capita basis, that is. Seven players from Curaçao were on Major League teams in 2014, including the New York Yankees's new shortstop Didi Gregorius, but the small island nation has a population of just about 150,000. Scale those numbers up, and Curaçao would have 46 players per million residents. By comparison, America has a rate of just two players per million residents.

8. We're big-time farmers

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While the Netherlands is a small country in terms of geographic size, we are major players in terms of international trade, especially when it comes to agriculture. In fact, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest agricultural exporter, behind only the United States. We may not have much land to farm, but we use it well.

9. We're all vulnerable to sea rise

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You probably knew this given how great we Dutch are at water management. After all, we have been fighting to keep the North Sea out of the Netherlands for 800 years. But we’re talking about the Kingdom of the Netherlands here, and the Caribbean countries in Kingdom face the same challenges as Small Island Developing States when it comes to sea rise. The entire Kingdom has great interest in healthy oceans and keeping our feet dry.

10. We keep marine biologists busy

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We may not be able to find Nemo, but Curaçao keeps marine biologists busy by helping discover dozens of fish species that live in the coral reefs off the Caribbean island nation. Curaçao participates in the Deep Reef Observation Project, an effort by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to study coral reefs up to 1,000 feet deep. That’s too deep for scuba divers, but not too deep for the Curasub, a five-person submarine often used by the nation’s tourism industry.

11. Aruba is renewable

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Natural resources can be scarce on an island nation, but Aruba has plenty of two: the sun and wind. And the nation is employing both in the name of renewable energy. By this time next year, 60 percent of Aruba’s energy will come from the sun and wind. By 2020, Aruba plans to be 100 percent renewable. That should give us all something to be happy about.

12. A diverse kingdom

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We Dutch are a tolerant and diverse bunch. Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital, is home to more than 170 nationalities, ranking it among the most diverse cities in the world. This diversity carries over to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom, where nearly one-fourth of Curaçao’s 150,000 residents are foreign born; 77 percent of Sint Maarten’s nearly 34,000 residents are foreign born; and 1 out of every 3 Arubans arrived in the country of 105,000 during their lifetime.

13. New Year's Day dive

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It may not be as thrilling as diving hundreds of feet into a small pool, but little compares to the Dutch tradition of Nieuwjaarsduik, or the New Year’s Day dive. At noon on Jan. 1, just 12 hours after the new year begins, we Dutch gather to dive into the North Sea then warm up with a bowl of snert, or pea soup. The tradition has since spread from the Netherlands to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom, where the water is without a doubt much warmer.