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Modern music scene in Den Haag
City life concentrates around the Hofvijver and the Binnenhof, where the Parliament is located. The city has a limited student culture due to its lack of an actualuniversity, although the Royal Conservatory of The Hague is located there, as well as The Hague University, a vocational university and a branch of The Open University of the Netherlands. The city has many civil servants and diplomats (see below). In fact, the number and variety of foreign residents (especially the expatriates) makes the city quite culturally diverse, with many foreign pubs, shops and cultural events.
The Hague is the largest Dutch city on the North Sea and includes two distinct beach resorts. The main beach resort Scheveningen, in the northwestern part of the city, is a popular destination for tourists as well as for inhabitants. With 10 million visitors a year, it is the most popular beach town in the Benelux. Kijkduin, in the southwest, is The Hague’s other beach resort. It is significantly smaller and attracts mainly local residents.
The former Dutch colony of Netherlands East Indies (“Nederlands-Indië”, now Indonesia) has left its mark on The Hague. Since the 19th century high level civil servants from the Dutch East Indies often spent long term leave and vacation in The Hague. Many streets are named after places in the Netherlands East Indies (as well as other former Dutch colonies such as Suriname) and there is a sizable “Indo” (i.e. mixed Dutch-Indonesian) community. Since the loss of these Dutch possessions in December 1949, “Indo people” also known as “Indische people” often refer to The Hague as “the Widow of the Indies”.
The older parts of the town have many characteristically wide and long streets. Houses are generally low-rise (often not more than three floors). A large part of the southwestern city was planned by the progressive Dutch architect H.P. Berlage about 1910. This ‘Plan Berlage’ decided the spacious and homely streets for several decades. In World War II a large part of western The Hague was destroyed by the Germans. Afterwards, modernist architect W.M. Dudok planned its renewal, putting apartment blocks for the middle class in open, park-like settings.
The layout of the city is more spacious than other Dutch cities, and because of the incorporation of large and old nobility estates, the creation of various parks and the use of green zones around natural streams, it is a much more green city than any other in the Netherlands. That is, excepting some mediaeval close-knitted streets in the centre. There are only a few canals in The Hague, as most of these were drained in the late 19th century.
Some of the most prosperous and some of the poorest neighbourhoods of the Netherlands can be found in The Hague. The wealthier areas (Statenkwartier, Belgisch Park, Marlot, Benoordenhout and Archipelbuurt) are generally located in the northwest part of the city; however, the Vogelwijk and several very recently built quarters likeVroondaal are in the southwest, not far from the sea. Poorer areas like Transvaal, Moerwijk, and the Schilderswijk can be found in the southeastern areas, or near the coast in Scheveningen (Duindorp). This division is reflected in the local accent: The more affluent citizens are usually called “Hagenaars” and speak so-called “bekakt Haags” (“Bekakt” is Dutch for “stuck-up”). This contrasts with the “Hagenezen”, who speak “plat Haags” (“plat” meaning “flat” or “common”).