Country Snapshot: Netherlands

Marc Jarrett
Sometimes referred to as Holland which actually only constitutes a part of it, the Netherlands is one of my favorite countries. It has a cosmopolitan and international feel to it, and even old people there seem to radiate a youthful exuberance sorely lacking elsewhere.

Maybe it's something to do with all that biking. The bike-park outside Amsterdam Central Station just has to be seen to be believed.

As for their coffee, it is second to none – which is why I always make a point of visiting a coffee shop whenever I am there.

My only criticism would be the landscape, most of which is flat – making it spectacularly unspectacular.

The Dutch are a net-savvy lot who according to enjoy the highest internet penetration level anywhere in the world at an astonishing 87.8 percent of their 16.5 million-strong population.

Astute business people, the Dutch are also on the cutting edge on many of the emerging technologies in both the fixed line and mobile internet.

The Netherlands is world famous for its tolerant attitude towards both drugs and porn, making it a hedonistically heaven that draws millions to Amsterdam's red light district every year, with extreme niches such as scat and bestiality openly on display in shop windows – so perhaps Amsterdam should not be the first choice when deciding where to go for a family holiday!

Inevitably, thanks to this tolerance, the Netherlands became a magnet for 'extreme' webmasters, due to the historically liberal laws concerning the hosting of such material there. This, however, is due to be outlawed soon due to an EU ruling.

As for Dutch consumers, I am not sure what floats their boat, but what I do know is that despite relatively high levels of credit and debit card ownership, the Dutch love to pay for regular web porn using their phone or cell. A Dutch webmaster friend of mine recently pointed out to me that this is probably because the Dutch prefer the anonymity and convenience of this "buy now, pay later" way of purchasing premium web content.

Another fascinating trait of the Dutch are their linguistic abilities, with most seeming able to speak some level of German, English and of course their native Dutch. And unlike in neighboring Germany, U.S. and UK movies are shown with their original soundtracks and including subtitles, which undoubtedly helps.

Being half-British and half-German myself, I always make a point of speaking English when I am there since I always seem to get a warmer reception when so doing; and I put this down to football!