Visit Holland - The Netherlands
Friesland or Frisia is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient, larger region of Frisia.
Friesland has 646,000 inhabitants (2010) and its capital is Leeuwarden (West Frisian: Ljouwert), with 91,817 inhabitants, in the centre of the province.
In 1996 the Friesland Provincial Council resolved that the official name of the province should follow the Fries spelling rather than the Dutch spelling, resulting in "Friesland" being replaced by "Fryslân". In 2004 the Dutch Government confirmed this resolution, putting in place a three-year scheme to oversee the name change and associated cultural programme.
The province of Friesland is occasionally referered to as "Frisia" by, amongst others, Hanno Brand, head of the history and literature department at the Fryske Akademy since 2009, however the English-language webpage of the Friesland Provincial Council refers to the province as "Fryslan".
Friesland is the largest Dutch province if one includes areas of water; in terms of land area only, it is the third largest province. Most of Friesland is on the mainland, but it also includes a number of West Friesian islands, including Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, which are connected to the mainland by ferry. The province's highest point is at 45 metres above sea level, on the island of Vlieland. There are four national parks: Schiermonnikoog, De Alde Feanen, Lauwersmeer (Groningen and Friesland) and Drents-Friese Wold (Drenthe and Friesland).
A proto-Frisian culture slowly began to emerge around 400-200 BC. The Roman occupation of Frisia began in 12 BC with the campaign of Nero Claudius Drusus in Germania. The early 8th century AD is known for the Frisian king Redbad and the missionary Saint Boniface.
At the start of the Middle Ages Frisia stretched from what is now the Belgian border to the river Weser in Germany. After incorporation into the Frankish empire, Friesland was divided into three parts. The westernmost part developed at the start of the 2nd millennium into the County of Holland.
Language and economy
Friesland is one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands to have its own language, West Frisian. This is also spoken in a small adjacent part of the province of Groningen, to the east. Closely related languages are spoken in nearby areas of Germany. They are East Frisian (Seeltersk, which is different from "East Frisian (Ostfriesisch) and is spoken in the Saterland, and a collection of Low German dialects of East Frisia) and North Frisian, spoken in North Friesland. These languages are also closely related to English.
Friesland is mainly an agricultural province. The black and white Frisian cattle and the black Frisian horse originated here. Tourism is another important source of income: the principal tourist destinations include the lakes in the southwest of the province and the islands in the Wadden Sea to the north. There are 195 windmills in the province of Friesland, out of a total of about 1200 in the entire country.
10 largest towns by population
Towns (Frisian name) Population
1 Leeuwarden (Ljouwert) 96,578
2 Drachten 44,598
3 Sneek (Snits) 33,401
4 Heerenveen (It Hearrenfean) 28,497
5 Harlingen (Harns) 15,729
6 Dokkum 13,145
7 Franeker (Frjentsjer) 12,995
8 Joure (De Jouwer) 12,902
9 Wolvega (Wolvegea) 12,738
10 Lemmer (De Lemmer) 10,220