Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, and scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of an organization for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation. She actively opposes forced marriage, honor violence, and child marriage. A former Muslim, she now identifies as an atheist and is a vocal critic of Islam. She is a recipient of the Lantos Human Rights Prize.
Known as the Dutch Donald Trump for his Islamophobic and anti-immigrant comments, Geert Wilders is the current Party for Freedom leader and a Member of the House of Representatives. While he initially studied law and worked in health insurance, he later entered politics as a speech writer.
William the Silent played an important role in the Dutch Revolt where he led a group of fighters against the Spanish Habsburgs. The revolt resulted in the Eighty Years' War, which in turn paved the way for the independence of the United Provinces. Thanks to his efforts during the Dutch Revolt, William is referred to as Father of the Fatherland.
Dutch politician and VVD party leader Mark Rutte has been serving his nation as its prime minister since 2010. While he initially aspired to be a pianist, he later studied history and then worked for Unilever, before stepping into politics. He is known as Teflon Mark for recovering from controversies unscathed.
Michiel de Ruyter was a Dutch admiral best remembered for his achievements during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. An important member of the Dutch Navy during his time, De Ruyter is widely considered one of the most talented admirals of all time. Regarded as a Dutch folk hero, Michiel de Ruyter's life and career inspired the 2015 Dutch film, Michiel de Ruyter.
Peter Stuyvesant was the last Dutch director-general of the New Netherland colony. After his right leg had to be amputated post an expedition, he wore a wooden leg. Though he tried his best to prevent the British occupation of the New Amsterdam (later New York), he was eventually forced to surrender.
Jan van Riebeeck was a Dutch colonial administrator and navigator. He is credited with founding the Dutch Cape Colony and Cape Town. Jan van Riebeeck is of historical and cultural importance to South Africa as many South Africans consider him the founding father of their country. Several South African villages and towns have streets named after Van Riebeeck.
Henry VI of the Hohenstaufen dynasty was the Holy Roman Emperor in the 12th century. He was also the king of Germany and of Sicily, the latter through his marriage to Constance I. He failed in his attempt to make the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor a hereditary monarchy.
Frans Timmermans, a seasoned Dutch politician and diplomat, serves as First Vice President of the European Commission, as Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal and as the European Commissioner for Climate Action. He earlier served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and as the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet.
12 Pim Fortuyn
A Dutch sociology professor, Pim Fortuyn was also a prominent politician, who founded the Pim Fortuyn List party. Known for his Islamophobic and anti-immigration comments, he was also openly gay. He was assassinated by a Dutch animal rights activist, who confessed to shooting him for targeting weaker communities in his political campaigns.
John William Friso, the Prince of Orange, succeeded William III of Orange as the stadtholder of the provinces of Friesland and Groningen in the Dutch Republic and remained so until his death. Friso along with his wife, Marie Louise, is noted as the most recent common ancestors of all the currently reigning European monarchs.
After studying subjects such as literature and theology, Abraham Kuyper became a pastor and founded the Calvinist paper De Standaard. He later established the Anti-Revolutionary Party and also served the Netherlands as prime minister. He was also the founder of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.
15 Wim Kok
Wim Kok was a Dutch politician whose career reached its peak in 1994 when he was elected as the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. He served as the Prime Minister until 2002 and his cabinets brought about major social reforms, including the legalization of euthanasia and same-sex marriage. Kok is counted among the best prime ministers post World War II.
Jan Peter Balkenende is a Dutch politician known for serving as the Prime Minister from 2002 to 2010. His eight-year tenure made him the fourth longest-serving PM after World War II. His premiership witnessed major reforms to the immigration laws and education system. His premiership also played a key role in reducing the deficit after the financial crisis of 2008.
17 Sigrid Kaag
Though a pianist’s daughter, Sigrid Kaag grew up studying Middle East studies and international relations. Initially a Dutch diplomat to places such as Beirut and Vienna, she later worked for the UN and then joined Democrats 66. She now leads her country as its First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
Hugo de Jonge is a Dutch politician and the current Minister for Housing and Spatial Planning. From 2017 to 2022, he not only served as the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, but also served as the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands. De Jonge has also been playing an important role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands.
20 Ruud Lubbers
Dutch politician Ruud Lubbers scripted history as the longest-serving prime minister of his country, having held the office for over a decade. He had also been the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A bright student of economics, he had initially aspired to be academician but took up construction management and eventually, politics.
After graduating in agricultural economics, Jeroen Dijsselbloem began his career as an Agriculture & Environment policy officer at the European Parliament. The Labour Party politician later helmed the Dutch ministry of finance and is now the chairman of the Dutch Safety Board. He has also headed the Eurogroup as its president.
Maurice, Prince of Orange is remembered for transforming the Dutch army with his modern military strategy and engineering. The second son of William I the Silent, he was part of the Eighty Years’ War with Spain. He passed away shortly before the siege of Breda was completed.
Ahmed Aboutaleb not only became the first Muslim mayor of Rotterdam but was also the first Muslim mayor of an European city with a non-Muslim majority. Born in Morocco, he moved to the Netherlands at 15. The Labour Party politician was initially a journalist and is also a qualified electrical engineer.
28 Rob Jetten
31 Jesse Klaver
Ancilla van de Leest is a Dutch former fetish model, presenter, producer, and activist. She appeared in the Dutch edition of the famous Playboy magazine on a couple of occasions before establishing herself as a popular fetish model, specializing in corsets, latex clothes, stockings, and high heels. She then quit her modeling career and became a politician.
Dries van Agt was once the prime minister of the Netherlands. He has also been the EU ambassador to the US and Japan. He began his career as a criminal defense lawyer and then joined politics, initially as part of the Catholic People's Party and later as a Christian Democratic Appeal leader.
Sylvana Simons is a politician and former TV presenter. She is credited with founding a political party named BIJ1, which is widely regarded as an egalitarian anti-racist party. Since 2021, she has been serving as a member of the House of Representatives; Sylvana Simons is the first black leader to be elected to the House of Representatives in Dutch history.
41 Khadija Arib
Pier Gerlofs Donia was a Frisian rebel leader and pirate, whose life is shrouded in mystery. He was said to be a big, strong man with a dark complexion. He led an armed band, known as the Arumer Zwarte Hoop, against the Hollanders and Burgundians at sea and targeted ships that traveled the Zuiderzee. He died in 1520.
Former EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Frits Bolkestein also led the Dutch political party People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD. His job at the Shell Group took him to places such as Honduras, France, and Indonesia. He has also penned countless books, mostly related to politics.