The United States has a very diverse culture. The only people that can truly say they are from here, are people that can trace their ancestry back to the Native Americans that were here long before the first settlers came to the new world. Everyone in the United States can trace their ancestry back to countries all over the world. Over the last few hundred years these cultures have blended together to become what is now thought of as U.S. culture.
During this assignment I found that my ancestors are from Groningen, Holland or the Netherlands. "Groningen is the capital city of the province of Groningen in the Netherlands". The city is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands. In 1594 the city joined the Spanish in the Eighty Years' War, or the Dutch war of Independence, but later switched sides to the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, also known as the Dutch Republic. Groningen is home to the second oldest university in the Netherlands. Groningen University was founded in 1614. In April of 1945, much of the city was destroyed during World War II. The battle lasted several days and came to be known as the Battle of Groningen. (Wikipedia)
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Recently the Swarthout family celebrated its 350th anniversary of its arrival in America. If your surname is Swartwout, Swarthout, Swartout, or Swartwood, you are probably descended from one Tomys Swartwout (1607-62) who brought his family to New Netherland in 1652. Tomys and his two brothers were born in Groningen, Holland. The three brothers were engaged in the tobacco business in Amsterdam in 1629, importing their product from Virginia and New Netherland, the island of Manhattan, but only Tomys settled in the New World, the other two remaining in Amsterdam. During this period moving your family all the way to the New World was a great risk. The family asked Tomys to move to help their business as times were growing tough. Reluctantly, Tomys came to the New World with his family in hope of helping his families tobacco business.
Today in the Netherlands, the largest subsistence strategy used is industrialism. "The economy, which is based on free enterprise, is highly industrialized and efficient". Petroleum refining, machinery, chemicals, and construction are just a few of the leading industries. Agriculture and horticulture are two other crucial subsistence strategies. "The Netherlands exports food and large numbers of cut flowers and bulbs". More than half of the worlds flower exports are grown in the Netherlands. Although agriculture and horticulture employ less than five percent of the labor force, these activities are crucial in producing meats, cheeses, and other dairy products that are sold to other countries. Information technology is another subsistence strategy that can't be ignored in the Netherlands. Recently a strong economic base has been developed around computing, telecommunications, and biotechnology. This also includes tourism and banking (CultureGrams).
With industrialism being the Netherlands strongest subsistence, many different technologies are relied upon. Factories for manufacturing, and all different types of machinery are used for processing raw materials and chemicals, such as petroleum. Technologies used for agriculture include tractors, plows, combines, and many other specialized machines. None of these subsistence strategies would work without transportation and communication. The Netherlands has one of the best transportation systems in Europe. "An efficient network of trains connects major and minor cities". Although most people own personal vehicles, the countries six million cars makes traffic a serious problem. Buses, streetcars, and subway systems are also utilized in the region (CultureGrams).
Division of labor is seen in all subsistence strategies. The division of labor is very much skewed towards gender. "Women constitute only 38 percent of the labor force and often only work part time". One main reason for this is the late entry of women into the work force because of the German occupation during World War II. Until recently women needed their husbands' permission to enter into employments contracts. Within the nuclear family, women are still seen to play the role of homemaker, while the man is seen as the provider and main source of income (Cultures).
"The Netherlands is a unitary state governed by a central body. The political system is a parliamentary democracy as well as a constitutional monarchy. The queen has little political influence; her role is largely symbolic. Political power lies in the hands of a cabinet of ministers headed by a prime minister. The cabinet is accountable to the parliament, whose members are elected at four-year intervals. The Dutch Parliament consists of the First Chamber and the Second Chamber, which together constitute the legislative body. The second Chamber initiates new legislation. Its members are directly elected by the people. The legal age to vote is 18. The members of the Second Chamber are elected by proportional representation, which leads to a great number of political parties that together compete for 150 seats. The first Chamber either ratifies or rejects the new legislation proposed by the Second Chamber. Its members are elected by the members of the Pro-vinciale Staten. Each of the twelve provinces has a local governing board (Provinciale Staten) whose chair is the commissioner to the queen, whos is appointed by the government for a life term. Its members are elected by the inhabitants of the province. Commissioners and mayors are handpicked by the government for life terms" (Culture).
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"The Dutch pride themselves on having an advanced free market economy that runs smoothly". In 1999, the labor force consisted of 7,097,000 persons; the unemployed numbered 292,000. The annual gross national product (GNP) amounted to 323 billion euros ($373 billion) in 1997. Two percent of the Dutch population is employed in the highly mechanized agricultural sector, 24 percent are employed in the industrial sector, and 74 percent work in the service industries. The Netherlands principal trading partner is Germany. There are five categories that Dutch exports cab be divided into: agricultural products, 15 percent; natural or enriched fuels, 6 percent; chemical products, 17 percent; industrial products, 12 percent; and machinery, 24 percent". Two-thirds of Dutch exports go to five nations: Germany, Belgium, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Those five trading partners account for 61 percent of Dutch imports(Cultures).
Catholics make up the largest congregation in the Netherlands at about 30 percent of the population. Reformed Protestants make up about 14 percent followed by Dutch reformed at 7 percent. The Muslim religion only makes up about 4 percent of the population. 40 percent of the population are not religious or connected to a denomination. Small rural communities in the Dutch Bible Belt, which runs along the towns of Zierikzee, Dordrecht, Utrecht, Zwolle, and Assen, still have religion playing a major role in the ordering of people's social and cultural lives (Culture). Traditionally, the northern and eastern parts of the country have been Protestant, while the south has been Catholic. The royal family belongs to the Dutch Reformed Church (World Mark).
Dutch people are free to choose their spouses and do so most often out of love. The Dutch people do practice endogamy though often marrying within the constraints of class, ethnicity, and religion. Monogamy is the only form of marriage allowed. "Same-sex couples can marry and have the same rights as heterosexual couples". The most common household unit is the nuclear family. This consists of the father, mother, and children. It is a growing trend to have single-parent families, couples without children, and single-person households. Extended family households are rare. The Dutch make a strong distinction between relatives by marriage and relatives by blood. "Consanquineal relatives are considered more important than are affinal relatives". Financial and emotional support are usually directed to the closest kin ( parents, children, and siblings) (Culture).
Soccer is the most popular sport in the Netherlands. In 1988 the Dutch won the European soccer championship. Tennis, field hockey, swimming, sailing, ice-skating, volleyball, badminton, and other sports are also enjoyed. In years when the ice is thick, a day-long ice-skating race takes place. The route encompasses Friesland's 11 main towns, many lakes, and parts of the sea. As many as 80,000 people participate (CultureGrams). Dutch food is wholesome and simply prepared. Seafood is widely eaten, especially herring, which are traditionally lifted by the tail and dropped head first into one's upturned mouth. The Dutch breakfast is generally a cold meal of sliced bread, meat, and cheese. In everyday life, the Dutch wear typical modern Western-style clothing for both formal and casual occasions. Traditional costumes including the wooden shoes can still be seen today near tourist attractions. Dutch mythology is strongly linked to the sea and characters associated with it, such as mermaids and pirates. Many popular Dutch tales, riddles, and rituals were suppressed over time but some survived as part of the country's Christian traditions. The Dutch Father Christmas (named, like the American Santa Clause, for Saint Nicholas) is called Sinterklaas and has a dark-faced assistant called Black Peter who is said to carry disobedient children to Spain in a sack. "Many of the rites of passage that young people undergo are religious rituals, such as baptism, first communion, confirmation, and marriage" (World Mark).