The word “Netherlands” means “Low Countries.” The flatness of the countryas well as the struggle against the ever threatening sea are strong metaphors in the definition of Dutch identity. Exemplary are the 17th century landscape paintings with a high sky to accentuate the flatness,and the major Dutch hydraulic works to protect the country against the seaby a network of dikes. Popular symbols such as the wooden shoes and the windmills to drain water also refer to a nation where people had to adapt themselves to life on marshy ground. Sailing and ice skating are sportswith a long tradition in a country with an abundance of lakes, rivers, canals and a long seashore. In the almost completely flat Netherlands, 40 percent of all traffic is done by bicycle. Nearly 85 percent of the population own at least one bicycle. Another famous Dutch symbol, the tulip, refers to the involvement in international trade and the incorporation of foreign elements. The flower was originally imported from Turkey but adapted itself so well to the Dutch soil that it induced an authentic tulip-boom.