Den Haag, as it is more commonly known, or The Hague in English, and Gaaga in Russian, is a city in the Netherlands.

The full name means "court's hedge". Around 1300, Den Haag ("the hedge") was a small village, where the counts of Holland had their residence.

Around 1580, Holland became the centre of the Netherlands, and Den Haag its seat of parliament.

Its role as the residence of government and administration is still the main driving force in Den Haag, which has relatively little industry or trade. It is the third city in the country, with (in 1999) 440729 inhabitants.

Many of them are active or retired civil servants, making Den Haag a quiet town. It also explains the large presence of people with Indonesian roots, who came to Den Haag after Indonesian indepedence in 1949.

For tourists, a main attraction is the North Sea beach. Northwest of Den Haag, the Haagse Bos, a forest, separates Den Haag from the harbour town of Scheveningen. To the west, Den Haag has expanded to reach the sea at Kijkduin.

Den Haag co-hosts the North Sea Jazz Festival and has played a major role in popular music, mainly in the 60s and 70s, when it spawned bands such as Focus, Golden Earring, Shocking Blue. The famous satirist duo Kees van Kooten and Wim de Bie are from Den Haag.

They are partly responsible for a renewed interest in its local accent, which is mainly noted for the fact that diphthongs in standard Dutch become monophthongs, while (conformant with the rest of Holland) long monophthongs become diphthongs. E.g. mooie stad achter de duinen, in standard pronunciation mohye staht ahter duh duhynuh, becomes maowyih stoht ohrtuh dih dahnih.


(Some details obtained from their website, www.denhaag.nl.)

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