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Guide to The Hague - General Information


Located in Western Europe, bordered by Germany to the East, and Belgium to the South. 
· Total land area is 33 889 km˛
· One of the highest population densities in the world
· Lowest point at Prins Alexanderpolder, at -7m below sea level
· Highest point is Vaalserberg, at 321m above sea level.

Map of The Hague


A temperate maritime climate:
· winter daytime 0 - 10°c
· winter nighttime often below freezing
· summer daytime generally between 20 - 30°c. 
· summer nights tend to fall in the 10 - 20° range.
Rainfall throughout the year is evenly distributed, often as a light, persistent drizzle.
From March to May, the rain tends to fall in short, sharp bursts. The summer months can be quite humid, particularly in the warmest months of June to September. Sunshine is prevalent throughout May to August.


The Netherlands has a fascinating history and was once the dominant economic power of Europe. This tiny country had produced great thinkers, explorers, artists and scientists.

Origins of the nation
The Netherlands of today has it roots in the late 16th century. Through a long process of marriages and political manoeuvrings, the provinces that we know as the Netherlands became possessions of the Holy Roman Empire and eventually of Phillip II of Spain. These provinces enjoyed a degree of autonomy before the authoritarian and centralized rule of the new Catholic overlord. After a series of rebellions in the late 16th century, the 7 northern provinces succeeded in breaking away from Spanish rule and formed the “Republic of the Seven United Netherlands”. (Although called a Republic they were in fact ruled by the princes of the House of Orange, the ancestors of the present royal family of the Netherlands.)

The Golden Age
The Golden Age followed, a period during the 17th and early 18th centuries when The Netherlands dominated the world in trade, science and the arts. Well-built Dutch ships sailed the seas, bringing wealth from colonies in the East Indies and Africa and extending Dutch influence around the world. Trade produced a wealthy middle class of merchants who built the tall gabled houses now so typical of Dutch cities, and produced a society that was affluent and orderly at a time when much of Europe was desperately poor. The arts and sciences flourished; artists such as Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer left a legacy of great paintings while Dutch scientists were responsible for many inventions of the day including the microscope and the Mercator Projection – the style of map still familiar to school children and seamen alike.
The Dutch practiced a tolerance to other nationalities and religions that was unprecedented in Europe of the time. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in France found refuge in the Netherlands, working in the textile industry. Similarly the English pilgrims lived in Leiden for 12 years before setting out for America. Although the Netherlands was by this time a Protestant nation, Jews and Catholics were allowed to practice their own religions.
Dutch influence waned in the late 18th century and the Netherlands fell under control of the French under Napoleon until his eventual defeat.

World War II
During WWII the German army occupied The Netherlands. Despite initial protests from Dutch leaders and academics, the Jewish population was ruthlessly hunted down. The civilian population suffered much hardship during the war years. Evidence of the history of this time is all around – the bunkers in the dunes of the North Sea, the battlefields in the west and in the many individual tales of tragedy and heroism.
May 4th is commemorated each year with solemn wreath laying ceremonies and two minutes of silence at 8pm for all those killed in war. Please respect this, should you be here at the time. Every 5th year, Liberation Day, 5th May 1945 is also celebrated as an official holiday, usually accompanied by displays and local events – although recognition has become less in recent years. Here in The Hague area, Scheveningen prison, Clingendael Park, Bezuidenhout and even south Wassenaar have wartime stories to tell.

Introduction to The Hague
In the beginning of the 13th century, Count Floris IV of Holland bought a dune area around a pond. He built a house on the dune top and the pond still exists as the “Hofvijver” which means Court Pond, next to the Binnenhof. The house and its surrounding area were called Haga which means "land surrounded by hedges". In later centuries "Haga" became’s-Gravenhage, (graven is Dutch for "counts").
In 1256 Count Floris V built a palace in the area. This palace still stands today and is called Ridderzaal ("Knight's hall"). From that moment on the number of inhabitants started to grow and Haga became a village. Other buildings, walls and gates gradually surrounded the Ridderzaal.
In the 17th century, after the liberation from the Spanish catholic kings, these buildings were replaced by palaces of the new protestant leader, the Princes of Oranje. One of these is the Mauritshuis ("House of Maurits", now a museum) and some government buildings. The Binnenhof and Ridderzaal are still in use by the Dutch Government.

Den Haag remained a village until the days of Napoleon. In those days Napoleon made his brother Lodewijk the first King of the Netherlands. Holland had, until then, been a Republic, governed by the cities. Lodewijk finally gave Den Haag city rights.

Interesting Facts
• The Hague has traditionally been a city of storks, thus the stork on the coat of arms and as the logo of the municipality. In the Middle Ages they were domesticated to remove fish from the market and nested on the buildings around Binnenhof and in the area of the Groenmarkt and were seen as bringers of luck and prosperity.

• In 1456 the Thirty Knights of the Mighty Order of the Gulden Vlies (Golden Fleece) came to The Hague for their first meeting in the full armour, some on horseback and many on foot. The Knights had their meeting in the Hall of Knights, or Ridderzaal, and at the Grote Kerk (Big Church) where you can still see the remnants of their weaponry.

• The greenery in The Hague has always been protected. In the early Middle Ages by the Counts of Holland and from the 14th century onwards, by forest wardens and citizens alike. They were supported by the 1576 act of Redemption, a law banning the felling or selling of trees.

Would you like to know more?
• The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age by Simon Schama: a very readable book about the life and culture of the times.

• The Mauritshuis (Korte Vijverberg 8, The Hague) houses famous masterpieces from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Steen and Hals and others from the Dutch Golden Age.

• The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, her story of protecting Jews from the Nazi invaders. Visit her house in Haarlem (about 45 minutes drive from the Hague) and the church of St Bavo, and imagine the military trucks rumbling through the square.

• Arnhem Region – Operation Market Garden, The National War and Resistance Museum in Overloon, the Hartenstein Airborne Museum, and the Museum of the 1944 liberation in Groesbeek.
For the very studious, courses on Dutch History and Culture are available in English from some of the Universities. Details can be obtained from the Nuffic Institute (e-mail: nuffic @ nuffic.nl, website: www.nuffic.nl).

An ‘Understanding the Dutch’ course offered by Shell Learning is also available to interested expatriates.


The official language is Dutch. The Dutch are excellent linguists. English, German and French are widely understood and spoken.
Why do we call it “Dutch” in English? The word originates from the old Dutch word Duits -“from the people” and prior to the 19th century the people of The Netherlands (Nederland) referred to their language as Nederduits. Today however Duits refers to German and the language of the Netherlands is called Nederlands.
If you would like to have a list of Dutch teachers or Institutes, please contact Outpost The Hague on Tel: +31 (0)70 377 6530 or outpost@shell.com


Dutch culture has been shaped by the strict Calvinist principals of the past. However, Dutch society today is largely secular. Whatever your religion, you will be free to practice as you choose.

Places of Worship in The Hague area

Christian (English speaking):

The Church of St. James : A Christian community in the Anglican tradition
Main Sunday service at the British School, Jan van Hooflaan 3, Voorschoten.
Office Tel: 071 561 1528, website: www.stjames.nl

The Church of St John and St Philip, The Hague
(Anglican & Episcopal Church)
Ary v.d. Spuyweg 1, 2585 HA The Hague Tel: 070 3555359
website: www.stjohn-stphilip.org

English Speaking International Roman Catholic Parish of The Hague
Church of Our Saviour, Parish House: Ruychrocklaan 126, 2597 The Hague.
Tel: 070 3280816, e-mail: info@parish.nl, website: www.parish.nl
Church of Our Lord of Good Counsel,
Bezuidenhoutseweg 157, The Hague

The American Protestant Church of The Hague
Esther de Boer – van Rijklaan 20, 2597 The Hague
Tel: 070-324 4490, e-mail: info@americanprotestantchurch.org
Website: www.apch.nl

Trinity Baptist International Church
Gruttolaan 23, 2261 ET Leidschendam
Tel. 070 5178024, website: www.trinitychurch-nl.com
(1 block north of Leidsenhage Mall, behind Antoniushove Hospital)

Crossroads International Church
An international and interdenominational community
Meeting at The British School of the Netherlands - Junior School, Vlaskamp 19, The Hague
Church office Tel: 070 3222485, website: www.crossroadschurch.nl

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
(Mormon Church)
Brahmslaan 2, 2234 AM Leiden Tel: 071 572 0352

Russian Orthodox Church
1e Sweelinckstraat 54, 2517 Den Haag Tel: 070-3653497

Interdominational Pentecostal church
Green Park Hotel (Golden Tulip) Leidsenhage Shopping Complex, Leidschendam
Tel: 06-12929578
E-mail: shepherdplace@priest.com

International Church of Leiden (ICL)
A growing community of different nationalities living in the Leiden area; seeking to be a relevant 21st Century church. Sundays, meet at 11am, Leidse Instrumentmakers School, Einsteinweg 61, Bio Science Park, Leiden. Email: info@ichurchleiden.nl, website: www.ichurchleiden.nl.


Buddhist Group Den Haag
De RuimteWitte de Withstraat 25/27, 2518 CN Den Haag, Tel: 070-3488071


Brahma Rishi Mission
Loosduinseweg 717, 2571 AM Den Haag, Tel: 070 362 0961
E-mail: ncci701d@xs4all.nl


Al-Hikmah Mosque
Heeswijkplein 170-171
2531 HK Den Haag (close to Rijswijk office)
Tel: 070 - 3108197 / 3692449

Muslim Information Centre
Beeklaan 207-209, 2562 AE The Hague
Tel. 070 3614463 (in the afternoon)

Islamic Cultural Centre (Islamitisch Cultureel Centrum)
Scheldestraat 173 2510 TD The Hague
Tel: 070 3839304


Liberal Jewish Community
Prinsessegracht 26, 2514 AP, The Hague. Tel: 070 3656893
Ashkenazi Community, information Tel: 070 3473201
Synagogue: Cornelis Houtmanstraat 11, The Hague

For more information on places of worship, please contact Outpost The Hague.


The 750 year- old city of The Hague is the third largest city of The Netherlands. Home to Queen Beatrix, The Hague is known as the royal city. With the presence of the Houses of Parliament and the several Ministries, it is also known as the political and administrative capital of The Netherlands. Many international companies are based here. In recent years, The Hague has developed a reputation as an International City of Peace and Justice and is the fourth UN city in the world, thanks to the establishment of the International Court of Justice, the Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals and the International Court. A permanent peace flame symbolizes the peaceful character of the city.

The Hague is a multicultural city with almost a half million people.

The Hague is the place to be for people who love shopping. All the major department stores are located in the city centre. You can also saunter in the small shopping malls, streets, or at the historical squares. Many boutiques and clothing shops can be found here. The Hague is also known for its variety of antique shops and art galleries.

In town you will also find nice restaurants and grand cafés. The Dutch in general enjoy many types of cuisines such as Indonesian, French, Dutch, Italian and Arab. Chinese cuisine is also popular here.

There is always something going on in The Hague to suit everybody, young and old, from clubs to sports to city events. The many events create a pleasant festival atmosphere in The Hague. Parkpop for example, the largest free pop festival of Europe, or the Haagse Paardendagen, an event with horses which attracts many people every year. The real sports fanatics participate of course in the City-Pier-City Loop, the international half marathon of The Hague. For updated information on what’s on in the city check the local council website www.thehague.nl .

The Hague is also a city of museums. Many well -known museums are located in this city, with an international arts collection, like the Mauritshuis. This museum has many paintings of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Paulus Potter. The Panorama Mesdag is one of the largest panorama paintings of the world, which portraits Scheveningen as it was in 1881. The Gemeentemuseum owes its reputation to paintings of Piet Mondriaan, like the Victory Boogie Woogie, paintings by Picasso and the British painter Francis Bacon.

Scheveningen, the most famous beach resort in The Netherlands, is not very far from the city centre of The Hague. Other than the beach, there are fine restaurants and one can also enjoy walking on the Palace Promenade. The shops are open the whole year through. In the heart of Scheveningen is the modern Holland Casino, the beautiful Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel and the Fortis musical theatre.

Cultural Sensitivities - Do’s and Don’ts

· Do be punctual - whether it is an appointment at the dentist or an invitation to a friend’s house
· Do not drop in unannounced to visit your Dutch friends. Make an appointment to visit first. 
· Do shake hands when meeting someone new or when visiting someone in an official capacity – such as your doctor or dentist. It is also quite usual to shake hands again as you leave. On social occasions, three kisses instead of a handshake is normal.
· Do take notice of the Dutch style of dress. The Dutch will dress informally for most occasions, but this is done with a sense of style. Casual does not mean sloppy.
· Do offer coffee! Serve proper brewed coffee, not instant and not decaffeinated. Have plenty of milk (or better yet Dutch "koffiemelk") and sugar on hand too. 
· Do adapt to the dog loving culture. 

Size and Makeup of the Expatriate Community

Due to the number of large, multinational companies located in the Netherlands, there is a high proportion of expatriates and foreigners within the population in The Hague. This is reflected in part by the number of services geared toward the English speaking expatriate community. Organisations such as Access, Expatica and Roundabout all provide similar services.

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  Guide to The Hague  
  •General Information  
Do's and Don'ts
Expat Community
  The Move & Arrival  
  Relocation Information  
  Schools & Education  
  Health & Safety  
  Leisure activities  
  Where to turn  
  What's on  
  Images of The Hague  
  Useful Links/Websites  

The information given by Outpost is based upon the gathered personal experiences of expatriate families. Therefore, you will appreciate that Outpost cannot accept any liability for damages directly or indirectly resulting from the services rendered or information given.

Source of images : Global Outpost Services & the Outpost network and www.thehague.nl
Updated : February 13, 2007