Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used to informally refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries, but in the Netherlands and particularly in other regions of the country it could be found undesirable or even insulting.
From the 10th to the 16th century, Holland proper was a unified political region within the Holy Roman Empire as a county ruled by the Counts of Holland. By the 17th century, Holland had risen to become a maritime and economic power, dominating the other provinces of the newly independent Dutch Republic.
Today, the former County of Holland roughly consists of the two Dutch provinces of North Holland and South Holland, which together include the Netherlands' three largest cities: the capital city of Amsterdam; Rotterdam, home of Europe's largest port; and the seat of government of The Hague.
By Dean Hanley
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