The Hague (English name) is a city in the Netherlands and has a population of approximately 500,000. The government is seated here, which is truly absurd, because Amsterdam is the capital!. Most foreigners are amazed if they are being told of this fact. The Hague also hosts the International Court of Justice, The World Court and Europol.

The Hague is a great place for a holiday. With its many swinging and cultural events is it a pleasure to visit The Hague, Scheveningen and Kijkduin any time of the year. For jazz fans there is of course the North Sea Jazz Festival on 14,15 and 16 July every year. This year it celebrates its 25th anniversary. On 15 stages approximately 235 concerts and work shops by 150 acts will take place. And there is the coast, of course! So close to town, the wide beaches and the vast North Sea invite you to sunbathe. Some higlights are:

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DMan: Pornography and drugs are NOT legal! But drugs are gedoogd, a truly Dutch invention. It means that individuals are allowed to buy small amounts of soft drugs (less than 30 grams) for your own use from special places called coffee shops.

[Ed. Note, 2001-11-20: Extensively edited for spelling and grammar (noder is non-native speaker).]

Den Haag is also the site of the yearly THIMUN conference, which stands for The Hague International Model United Nations, MUN for short. Every January, 3000 students from various high schools flock into The Hague via Amsterdam airport under the pretense of an intelligent debate on world issues, but they all end up smoking immense amounts of pot instead.

Most of them stay in the Parliament Hotel, and for one week the whole place is filled with stoned students engaging in various sexual activities under the heavy influence of various not-so-illicit substances. Pornography, being legal there, is also viewed regularly. The trains out to Amsterdam are all filled with brainless expats getting antsy over the famed Amsterdam Red Light District. Really, it's a fun time for everybody, but don't expect any intelligent arguments out of the "delegates" the next morning.

When the raving pack of drugged nymphomaniacs finally go home, Den Haag once again becomes a peaceful little town, barring the occasional protest and riot that occurs outside the International Court of Justice and the various embassies, because after all, Den Haag is a focal point in international politics.

Incidentally, I was one of those sex-crazed drugged up psychos about a year and half ago. It was very fun! Especially Amsterdam!

There’s more to Den Haag than ministries, courts and tourist attractions only. There’s something intangible about the city, some kind of atmosphere which is extremely hard for outsiders to infiltrate. True Hagenezen, as inhabitants of Den Haag are called, are vulgar, perhaps even uncivilized. Their language is downright ugly, the local soccer club they all support (ADO Den Haag) molests people, they don’t easily get involved in friendships, their clothes are cheap and again, ugly. Still, they’re proud as peacocks of their so-called culture, and even more than their culture, of their favorite haunts. Hagenezen can be found in, amongst other neighbourhoods, the "Schilderswijk".

On the other side of the community are the wealthy people, who live in districts like ‘Statenkwartier’, ‘Belgisch Park’ and ‘Benoordenhout‘. Many of them are of Indonesian descent, merchants who moved to Den Haag when parts of Indonesia were still Dutch colonies. These people go drink tea in the ‘Frederik Hendriklaan’ and the ‘Laan van Meerdervoort’ on sundays, buy their clothes at ‘Meddens’ (an exclusive department store) and have at least one or more houses in Southern France and Spain.

A last group of residents consists of Turkish, Surinamese and Maroccan immigrants, living in districts like ‘Moerwijk’ and ‘Spoorwijk’, but also the 'Schilderswijk'.

The local council has been (unsuccessfully) trying to make Den Haag a college town, by offering Turkish students to come to Holland and study at the ‘Haagse Hogeschool’ (the city’s largest college) for little money, and by building student apartments all over the city. When this didn’t work out local council decided Den Haag had to be an architectonic example for the rest of Europe. Several millions were pulled out of the council’s pockets, for two new train stations had to be built, the coastal area had to be renewed, the tram system should be built underground, all streets in the poor districts should be repaved, and many more things citizens didn’t know about until they read in the newspapers all had been a giant financial disaster. The underground tram system, better known as the ‘tramtunnel’, even made it to the Dutch Lower House. One-and-a-half billion guilders (about 500 million USD) were given to Den Haag’s local counsil, who thankfully accepted it to fill up the cracks that had appeared in the walls of the tunnel. Note to the reader: up till now, trams still ride aboveground in Den Haag.

When a foreigner truly wants to know what life is like in Den Haag, he shouldn’t go to Madurodam, the Sea Life Centre or Panorama Mesdag. He should go have barbecue with the Turkish families in the ‘Zuiderpark’ on Saturday afternoon, go see a soccer match from ADO and stand between the ADO-supporters while drinking Heineken beer and eating frankfurters, or go see a performance of Anouk, Kane or Golden Earring in café/disco ‘de Tempel’. To really feel what it’s like to be a Hagenees though, one should know the folk song ‘Oh oh Den Haag’ by heart. This song will make even the toughest Hagenees burst out in tears.

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