Just to get things out of the way and clear, I suggest you watch this little video first.
We Dutchies have become very accustomed to calling our country Holland. It is easier and faster to pronounce than the Netherlands and even though some die-hard people who live outside of the provinces North and South Holland may sometimes object, when our national football team plays, we all chant “Holland! Holland!” and never “Nederland! Nederland!”.
Anyway, my home country is very small. It is about half the size of the state of Maine (or half the size of the British mainland) and barely visible on most world maps and globes I’ve seen. It is quite densely populated but we still manage to grow a lot of our own food. Our land provides us with enough vegetables that we can even export a great deal and recently our milk has come in even higher demand than it already was (especially since the 2008 Chinese milk scandal) so we need some meadows for our champion cow to stomp around in as well.
So, our cities are pretty crammed and our houses are not very big (especially compared to U.S. standards) and you can imagine we have very little space left for nature to just be… actually I’m not sure if we have any of that at all. We are a well organized people and we expect our flora and fauna to be the same. Trees may grow, but not mess with our side walks. Water may flow, but only where and how we instruct it to (doesn’t always work). We have hares, rabbits and other undergrond critters sign contracts making them promise to not mess up our dykes.
All though we don’t have any real wilderness, we do have rural areas. Our most urban areas are in North and South Holland, as explained in the video above, but even there we do have some open spots. This area, in the middle of our nation, is usually referred to as the Green Heart.
It is an area where the inhabitants of our biggest cities as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague can escape to, to breathe in some fresh air, ride a bike, sail a boat, sniff a tulip, spot a bird… You know, the stuff we Dutchies like to do…
The green heart is special. It feels like the countryside, all though you can always see some big city’s skyline on the horizon. You can see swans, geese and ducks flying by almost as often as planes on their way to Schiphol airport. At night, you can’t see the stars, because of the many greenhouses and big towns around.
The farmers in the green heart are often of the intellectual type, compared to the ones in the real countryside. They are the ones that experiment with new potato species and experimental cowfeeding machines. They often have some business on the side, and provide tours for tourists that rush through our country in one or two days.
The green heart is also mentioned in most political parties’ programs. On the one side there are the parties that want to conserve and protect the area and fight against further expansion of houses and businesses into the green heart. On the other side the green heart is seen as an area of opportunies, where modern towns could grow, sustainable energy programs can be set up and our airport can expand into.
The green heart is an extremely compact chunk of Dutchness.