Another source of national pride that sets aside regional and religious differences is sports, especially soccer and speed skating.Whenever the national team engages in international competitions, orangemania reigns.The Netherlands is also a relatively small country (13,297 square miles [34,425 square kilometers]) without surface water. Amsterdam (730,000 inhabitants) is the capital, but the government meets in The Hague (440,000 inhabitants).Utrecht (235,000 inhabitants) is the transportation hub, while the port city of Rotterdam (590,000 inhabitants) constitutes the economic heartland.The flag consists of three horizontal strips in the colors red, white, and blue. It was a rebel song during the independence war against Spain and was adopted as the national anthem in 1932.The complex relationship of the Dutch people with the sea is notable.Friesian is the second official language of the Netherlands; it is spoken by a half million Friesians.
The average life expectancy in 1996 was 75.2 years for men and 80.7 years for women, while the infant mortality rate was 5.1 per 1,000. The official language of the Netherlands is Standard Dutch.The non-Randstad culture corresponds to the historical divide between the predominantly Protestant north and the Catholic south, separated by the Rhine River.Significant local variations of Dutch culture include the Friesian culture in the extreme north and the Brabant and Limburg cultures in the south.It freely borrows words and technical terms from French and especially English.Dutch is also the official language in Flandres, Belgium, where it is called Flemish.