Before we start talking about this country we should know what we are talking about! It is absolutely necessary to be aware of the fact that Holland and the Netherlands are not two names for the same country, but rather that Holland is the former name for part of it. Holland these days constitutes two out of a total of twelve provinces that make this country. Much of the northern part was originally Frisian and came under the rule of the counts of Holland (who called their territory 'Holland and West-Frisia' after that) in the middle ages, while to the south Holland once had some territory in the present province of Noord-Brabant. More recently the province of Zuid-Holland exchanged some territory with the province of Utrecht. In this area are such cities as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Haarlem, as well as the national airport, Schiphol. As a tourist you're likely to visit it, but be aware that Holland is just two parts of this country, and there are many more different faces to The Netherlands as a whole.
But don't 'Hol' and 'Nether' mean the same? No, although it's often claimed that they do. 'Nether' means 'low', and although 'Hol' nowadays translates to 'hollow', the terms do have different meanings. 'Hol' originally referred to 'holt', an old word for 'wood'. The region around Dordrecht, Holland's oldest town, was known as Holtland, after its many forests.
But, this issue has never bothered me, because when you talk to people in any part of the Netherlands or even when they are overseas, they only talk about Holland to refer to the country as a whole (and even some Dutch people use it e.g. on football scarf’s, flags etc). And even though stamps of that country has “Nederland” printed on them, for the Dutch it is Holland, and I am quite willing to go along with them and with “Joke” who sent me this card that proclaims it is all about Holland. I think most Dutch refer to the Netherlands as 'Holland' simply because it's easier for them to pronounce it. I’ll leave the obvious question of why people from the Netherlands, or Holland if you please, are called “Dutch” for another day, when another Hollander sends me another card ;-))