Dutch culture, with the Dutch Golden Age regarded as the zenith, have played an important role for centuries as a culturally liberal and tolerant centre. In the society of egalitarian, individualistic and modern, the people are modest, independent and self-reliant. They value ability over dependency. The Netherlands has a long history of social tolerance. Considering its drug policy and its legalisation of euthanasia, today this country is regarded as a liberal country. On 1 April 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation to legalise same-sex marriage.
The Netherlands has had many well-known painters, such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael and many others. Vincent van Gogh and Piet Mondriaan is the most famous Dutch painters in the 19th and 20th century. In the Dutch Golden Age, literature flourished as well, with Joost van den Vondel and P. C. Hooft as the two most famous writers.