Why is it so hard to get the name of a country right?

A new TV reality singing show starts tonight called The Voice. Now, I thought this competition sounded familiar, and it was because I had heard of the original show, The Voice of Holland. But wait…don’t they mean The Voice of the Netherlands?

Well yes, that should be correct, but it seems that the Dutch, in their acceptance of everything that is English (see blog post below titled Dutch: The Lost Culture), have widely adopted an erroneous name for their own country, with even the website of their national tourism agency being holland.com.

Holland is merely one region of the Netherlands, consisting of two of the country’s twelve provinces, so to refer to the whole country as Holland equates to referring to the UK as England (which some do). This can be hugely offensive to people in the other three constituent countries: Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, why the Dutch aren’t offended by this is something I can’t understand.

It is understandable as to how this error arose. Holland contains most of the Netherlands’ major cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden. Equally, England contains 21 out of 25 of the UK’s largest cities – the exceptions being Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.

Nevertheless, it is puzzling as to why the Dutch are effectively patronising their own country, and whereas the UK is keen to deter others from referring to it as England, the Dutch seem to be paradoxically encouraging people to call it Holland.