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North Holland is one of the 12 provinces in the Netherlands and has about 2.5 million inhabitants, of which about one third lives in the capital of the country, Amsterdam. The capital of North Holland on the other hand is Haarlem. The province was founded in 1840 after the bigger province of Holland was split into a southern and northern part, the other part being of course South Holland. Like its souther counterpart, it has a well developed economy, especially in the southern areas of the provinces where the main cities are located and one of the two Dutch mainports, Schiphol international airport, provides numerous jobs throughout the country.
North Holland is in the northwestern part of the Netherlands and apart from the central southern areas is totally surrounded by water, either by the Northsea or by the IJssel Lake which used to be the Zuidersea, but now is a lake after the Afsluitdijk was created to prevent areas from flooding. Along the total coastline of the Northsea are good beaches and one of the highest dune areas of the country. One of the Wadden Islands, Texel is part of the province and can be reached by boat from Den Helder. North Holland is one of the lower parts of the country and has numerous (small) rivers, polders, lakes and wide panoramic views over the flat countryside, especially in the northern half.
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity. The centre of the action is in Amsterdam, but, if you prefer things a little less crowded, Utrecht is also a popular destination. Both cities have canals and it's just perfect to watch a boat parade with music while you are drinking a beer along the canal side terrace. There are also large outdoor concerts throughout the country, though the one in Amsterdam is the most popular. Several cities have night-markets which actually start the night prior to Koningsdag and last for about 24 hours.
Apart from the area around Amsterdam, the weather is a bit cooler in summer and slightly milder in winter compared to inland parts of the Netherlands. Along the coast in the northern parts and on the island of Texel temperatures rarely exceed 30 degrees Celcius. In winter on the other hand, freezing temperatures, especially during the day, are also not very common.
Most visitors of the Netherlands will arrive on the Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport, (external link: Schiphol), which has direct flights to almost every continent in the world. KLM is the national carrier, but numerous airlines use Schiphol as a hub and also some budget airlines like Easyjet provide cheap flights to neighbouring countries and beyond in Europe.
You can reach North Holland from neighbouring provinces on the highways A4 (from South Holland), A2 and A1 (from Utrecht), A7 (from Friesland) and from Flevoland along the Houtribdijk from Lelystad to Enkhuizen on the peninsula of North Holland.
Getting to North Holland by boat is relatively simple from the North East of England. With regular ferries to Rotterdam (South Holland) from Hull and a daily ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, getting to this part of the Netherlands is inexpensive and easy.
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