Holland and The Netherlands are not the same thing. Many outside of the Netherlands refer to the whole European country as "Holland" but in actuality Holland applies only to the provinces of North Holland and South Holland located on the western coast. I suspect part of the reason is due to unfamiliarity with the nation's history, geography, and political organization and the other part is that the word "Holland" seems to roll of the tongue better than "The Netherlands" (at least for English and French speakers) - though this wouldn't be an issue if we used "Nederland" (which does roll off nicely) but not pronouncing a country's name in it's own language is a rant for another time.
Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but I was able to figure out the distinction between Holland and The Netherlands pretty soon after our moving here. I love the complexity of the idea but I also know that the distinction isn't well known. A friend recently shared this video with me, so I am passing it along to you. It's a wonderful and quick explanation of the difference between "Holland" and "The Netherlands." So, watch, enjoy, and then go impress someone with your new-found knowledge.
Have you ever lived someplace where a common name for the town/city/region is not actually the name at all?
*I do call this series "I Heart Holland" - but the choice came from to my love of alliteration and an inflated sense of wittiness, and I noticed that many native Dutch will refer to the country as "Holland" when speaking to English speakers - because they know that we don't know any better. This may actually contribute to the confusion, but this little post will hopefully combat that. Remember: Knowledge is power.