Dutch people

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The Dutch people are the dominant ethnic group of the Netherlands.[1] They share a common culture, speaking the Dutch language and being of German descent.

Dutch people, or descendants of Dutch people, are also found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Canada,[2] Australia,[3] South Africa,[4] New Zealand and the United States.[5]

The traditional art and culture of the Dutch encompasses various forms of traditional music, dances, architectural styles and clothing, some of which are globally recognizable. Internationally, Dutch painters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and van Gogh are held in high regard.

The Dutch were among the first to adopt Calvinism as their state's religion during the Reformation. Today, the dominant religion of the Dutch is still Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant), although in modern times the majority is no longer openly religious. Significant percentages of the Dutch are adherents of secular humanism, agnosticism, atheism or individual spirituality.

During the Middle Ages the Netherlands formed part of the slowly disintegrating Holy Roman Empire.[6] It was only in the 16th century that a Dutch state, the Dutch Republic, became de facto independent.[7] The high degree of urbanization characteristic of Dutch society was attained at a relatively early age.[8] During the Republic the first series of large scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.

The absence of most natural riches in the region traditionally inhabited by the Dutch, led to a trade-oriented, and trade-dependent, society. Positioned among some of the most important rivers of Western Europe and near the sea, Dutch cities dominated European and even world trade for several centuries;[citation needed] lending the Dutch themselves a reputation for being excellent merchants, and, at times, even being synonomous with the word itself.[9]


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Stats
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named autogenerated7
  3. 2001 Australian statistics (English)
  4. Based on figures given by Professor JA Heese in his book Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner (The Origins of Afrikaners), who claims the modern Afrikaners (who total around 4.5 million) have 35% Dutch heritage. How 'Pure' was the Average Afrikaner?
  5. According to Factfinder.census.gov
  6. Historian J. Huizinga, speaking on the 13th/14th century onwards; "The power of the Holy Roman Emperor had become almost imaginary [...]. (J.Huizinga 1936:1-2)
  7. The actual independence was accepted by in the 1648 treaty of Munster, in practice the Dutch Republic had been independent since the last decade of the 16th century)
  8. D.J. Noordam, "Demografische ontwikkelingen in West-Europa van de vijftiende tot het einde van de achttiende eeuw", in H.A. Diederiks e.a., Van agrarische samenleving naar verzorgingsstaat (Leiden 1993), 35-64, esp. 40
  9. The European Mind; the Critical Years; 1680-1715 by P. Hazard; Fordham University Press 1990. ISBN:0823212742]