Visit Holland - The Netherlands
North Holland is a province situated on the North Sea in the northwest of the Netherlands. The provincial capital is Haarlem and its largest city is Amsterdam.
North Holland is a broad peninsula for the most part, located between the North Sea, Markermeer and the IJsselmeer. More than half of the province consists of reclaimed polder land situated below sea level.
North Holland has four municipalities with 100,000 or more inhabitants. They are, in order of size, Amsterdam (in terms of population this is also the largest municipality in the Netherlands), Haarlem, Zaanstad, and Haarlemmermeer. Another seven municipalities have a population between 50,000 and 100,000 inhabitants (i.e. Hilversum, Amstelveen, Purmerend, Hoorn, Velsen, Alkmaar, and Heerhugowaard.) The island of Texel is also part of North Holland.
For most of its history, the modern-day province of North Holland was an integral part of Holland.
From the 9th century to the 16th century, Holland was a county ruled by the counts of Holland. During this period an area known as West Friesland (now part of North Holland) was conquered and integrated into Holland. For centuries afterwards Holland would be officially called "Holland and West Friesland". The people of West Friesland had (and still have) a strong sense of identity as a region within Holland (and later North Holland).
From the 16th century to 1795, Holland was the wealthiest and most important province in the United Provinces in the Dutch Republic. As the richest and most powerful province, Holland dominated the union. During this period a distinction was sometimes made between the "North Quarter" (Noorderkwartier) and the "South Quarter" (Zuiderkwartier), areas that roughly correspond to the two modern provinces.
The emergence of a new province (1795 to 1840)
The province of North Holland as it is today has its origins in the period of French rule from 1795 to 1813. This was a time of bewildering changes to the Dutch system of provinces. In 1795 the old order was swept away and the Batavian Republic was established. In the Constitution enacted on 23 April 1798, the old borders were radically changed. The republic was reorganised into eight departments (département) with roughly equal populations. Holland was split up into five departments named "Texel", "Amstel", "Delf", "Schelde en Maas", and "Rijn". The first three of these lay within the borders of the old Holland; the latter two were made up of parts of different provinces. In 1801 the old borders were restored when the department of Holland was created. This reorganisation had been short-lived, but it gave birth to the concept of breaking up Holland and making it a less powerful province.
In 1807, Holland was reorganised once again. This time the two departments were called "Amstelland" (corresponding to the modern province of North Holland) and "Maasland" (corresponding to the modern province of South Holland). This also did not last long. In 1810, all the Dutch provinces were integrated into the French Empire. Amstelland and Utrecht were amalgamated as the department of "Zuiderzee" (Zuyderzée in French) and Maasland was renamed "Monden van de Maas" (Bouches-de-la-Meuse in French).
After the defeat of the French in 1813, this organisation remained unchanged for a year or so. When the 1814 Constitution was introduced, the country was reorganised as provinces and regions (landschappen). Zuiderzee and Monden van de Maas were reunited as the province of "Holland". One of the ministers on the constitutional committee (van Maanen) suggested that the old name "Holland and West Friesland" be reintroduced to respect the feelings of the people of that region. This proposal was rejected.
However, the division was not totally reversed. When the province of Holland was re-established in 1814, it was given two governors, one for the former department of Amstelland (i.e. the area that is now North Holland) and one for the former department of Maasland (i.e. now South Holland). Even though the province had been reunited, the two areas were still being treated differently in some ways and the idea of dividing Holland remained alive. (During this reorganisation the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling were returned to Holland and parts of "Hollands Brabant" (including "Land of Altena") went to North Brabant. The borders with Utrecht and Gelderland were definitively set in 1820.)
When the constitutional amendments were introduced in 1840, it was decided to split Holland once again, this time into two provinces called "North Holland" and "South Holland". The need for this was not felt in South Holland or in West Friesland (which feared the dominance of Amsterdam). The impetus came largely from Amsterdam, which still resented the 1838 relocation of the court of appeal to The Hague in South Holland.
1840 to today
After the Haarlemmermeer was drained in 1855 and turned into arable land, it was made part of North Holland. In exchange, South Holland received the greater part of the municipality of Leimuiden in 1864.
In 1942, the islands Vlieland and Terschelling went back to the province of Friesland.
In 1950, the former island Urk was ceded to the province of Overijssel.
In February 2011, North Holland, together with the provinces of Utrecht and Flevoland, showed a desire to investigate the feasibility of a merger between the three provinces. This has been positively received by the Dutch cabinet, for the desire to create one Randstad province has already been mentioned in the coalition agreement. The province of South Holland, part of the Randstad urban area, visioned to be part of the Randstad province, and very much supportive of the idea of a merger into one province, is not named. With or without South Holland, if created, the new province would be the largest in the Netherlands in both area and population.
Regions in North Holland
North Holland has various regions that, for historical or other reasons, have their own identities. Some of these regions are unofficial, ill-defined and sometimes overlapping. Others are official and are part of regional groupings artificially created for various administrative purposes. These regions are not the same as the municipalities.
List of some of these unofficial and official regions in North Holland:
Amstelland (the area around the Amstel) (prov. North Holland)
Beemster (North Holland)
Bollenstreek (the flower areas found in both North Holland and South Holland)
Het Gooi (usually "Het Gooi" or "'t Gooi", North Holland)
Groene Hart (North Holland, South Holland and Utrecht)
Haarlemmermeer (North Holland)
Holland (North Holland and South Holland)
IJmond ("The Mouth of the IJ")
Kennemerland (North Holland)
Purmer (North Holland)
Kop van Noord-Holland
Noorderkwartier ("The North Quarter")
Noordvleugel ("The North Wing")
Randstad (North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht and Flevoland)
Schermer (North Holland)
De Streek (North Holland)
Texel (North Holland)
Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht and North Holland)
Vechtstreek ("The Vecht Area") (Utrecht and North Holland)
Waterland (now effectively the municipality of Waterland, North Holland)
West-Friesland (North Holland)
Wieringen (North Holland)
Wieringermeer (North Holland)
Wijdewormer (De Wormer, North Holland)
Zaanstreek ("The Zaan Area") (North Holland)
Flevoland is a province of the Netherlands. Located in the centre of the country, at the location of the former Zuiderzee, the province was established on January 1, 1986; the twelfth province of the country, with Lelystad as its capital. The province has approximately 394,758 inhabitants (2011) and consists of 6 municipalities.
After a flood in 1916, it was decided that the Zuiderzee, an inland sea within the Netherlands, would be enclosed and reclaimed: the Zuiderzee Works started. In 1932, the Afsluitdijk was completed, which closed off the sea completely. The Zuiderzee was subsequently called IJsselmeer (lake at the end of the river IJssel).
The first part of the new lake that was reclaimed was the Noordoostpolder (Northeast polder). This new land included the former islands of Urk and Schokland and it was included in the province of Overijssel. After this, other parts were reclaimed: the Southeastern part in 1957 and the Southwestern part in 1968. There was an important change in these post-war projects from the earlier Noordoostpolder reclamation: a narrow body of water was preserved along the old coast to stabilise the water table and to prevent coastal towns from losing their access to the sea. Thus Flevopolder became an artificial island joined to the mainland by bridges. The municipalities on the three parts voted to become a separate province, which happened in 1986.
Flevoland was named after Lacus Flevo, a name recorded in Roman sources for a large inland lake at the southern end of the later-formed Zuiderzee. Draining the Flevoland polders found many wrecks of aircraft that crashed into the IJsselmeer during World War II, and also fossils of Pleistocene mammals.
In February 2011, Flevoland, together with the provinces of Utrecht and North Holland, showed a desire to investigate the feasibility of a merger between the three provinces. This has been positively received by the Dutch cabinet, for the desire to create one Randstad province has already been mentioned in the coalition agreement. The province of South Holland, part of the Randstad urban area, visioned to be part of the Randstad province, and very much supportive of the idea of a merger into one province, is not named. With or without South Holland, if created, the new province would be the largest in the Netherlands in both area and population.
Flevolands, Zuiderzee Works
Eastern Flevoland (Oostelijk Flevoland or Oost-Flevoland) and Southern Flevoland (Zuidelijk Flevoland or Zuid-Flevoland), unlike the Noordoostpolder, have peripheral lakes between them and the mainland: the Veluwemeer and Gooimeer respectively, making them, together, the world's largest artificial island.
They are two separate polders that have a joint hydrological infrastructure, with a dividing dike in the middle, the Knardijk, that will keep one polder safe should the other be flooded. The two main drainage canals that traverse the dike can be closed by weirs in such an event. The pumping stations are the Wortman (diesel powered) at Lelystad-Haven, the Lovink near Harderwijk on the mainland and the Colijn (both electrically powered) along the northern dike beside the Ketelmeer.
A new element in the design of Eastern Flevoland is the larger city Lelystad (1966), named after Cornelis Lely, the man who had played a crucial role in designing and realising the Zuiderzee Works. Other more conventional settlements already existed by then; Dronten, the major local town, was founded in 1962, followed by two smaller satellite villages, Swifterbant and Biddinghuizen, in 1963. These three were incorporated in the new municipality of Dronten on January 1, 1972.
Southern Flevoland has only one pumping station, the diesel powered De Blocq van Kuffeler. Because of the hydrological union of the two Flevolands it simply joins the other three in maintaining the water-level of both polders. Almere relieves the housing shortage and increasing overcrowding on the old land. Its name is derived from the early medieval name for Lacus Flevo. Almere was to be divided into 3 major settlements initially; the first, Almere-Haven (1976) situated along the coast of the Gooimeer (one of the peripheral lakes), the second and largest was to fulfill the role of city centre as Almere-Stad (1980) and the third was Almere-Buiten (1984) to the northwest towards Lelystad. In 2003, the municipality made a new Structuurplan which started development of three new settlements: Overgooi in the southeast, Almere-Hout in the east, and Almere-Poort in the West. In time, Almere-Pampus could be developed in the northwest, with possibly a new bridge over the IJmeer towards Amsterdam.
The Oostvaardersplassen is a landscape of shallow pools, islets and swamps. Originally, this low part of the new polder was destined to become an industrial area. Spontaneous settlement of interesting flora & fauna turned the area into a nature park, of such importance that the new railway-line was diverted. The recent decline in agricultural land use will in time make it possible to expand natural land use, and connect the Oostvaardersplassen to the Veluwe.
The centre of the polder most closely resembles the pre-war polders in that it is almost exclusively agricultural. In contrast, the southeastern part is dominated by extensive forests. Here is also found the only other settlement of the polder, Zeewolde (1984), again a more conventional town acting as the local centre. Zeewolde became a municipality at the same time as Almere on January 1, 1984, which in the case of Zeewolde meant that the municipality existed before the town itself, with only farms in the surrounding land to be governed until the town started to grow.
Almere - far west of southern island
Dronten - far east of southern island
Lelystad - middle of northern edge of southern island
Noordoostpolder - most of north-eastern polder
Urk - small area on west of north-eastern polder
Zeewolde - southern part of southern island
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest. Utrecht makes up one region of the International Organization for Standardization world region code system, having the code ISO 3166-2:NL-UT. Important cities in the province are its capital (also called Utrecht), Amersfoort, Veenendaal, Houten, Nieuwegein and Zeist.
In the Middle Ages, most of the area of the current province was ruled by bishops of the Bishopric of Utrecht. The bishopric was founded in 722 by Willibrord. Many wars were fought between Utrecht and the neighbouring counties and duchies, Holland, Guelders and Brabant. In 1527, the bishop of Utrecht sold his worldly power over his territories to Emperor Charles V, who already owned most other Dutch provinces. However, the Habsburg rule did not last long, as Utrecht joined the revolt of the United Provinces against Charles's son Philip II of Spain in 1579. In World War II, Utrecht was held by German forces until the general capitulation of the Germans in the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. It was occupied by Canadian Allied forces on May 7, 1945. The towns of Oudewater, Woerden and Vianen were transferred from the province of South Holland to Utrecht in 1970, 1989 and 2002 respectively.
In February 2011, Utrecht, together with the provinces of North Holland and Flevoland, showed a desire to investigate the feasibility of a merger between the three provinces. This has been positively received by the Dutch cabinet, for the desire to create one Randstad province has already been mentioned in the coalition agreement. The province of South Holland, part of the Randstad urban area, visioned to be part of the Randstad province, and very much supportive of the idea of a merger into one province, is not named. With or without South Holland, if created, the new province would be the largest in the Netherlands in both area and population.
In the east of Utrecht lies the Utrecht Hill Ridge (Dutch: Utrechtse Heuvelrug), a chain of hills left as lateral moraine by tongues of glacial ice after the Saline glaciation that preceded the last ice age. Because of the scarcity of nutrients in the fast-draining sandy soil, the greatest part of a landscape that was formerly heath has been planted with pine plantations. The south of the province is a river landscape. The west consists mostly of meadows. In the north are big lakes formed by the digging of peat from bogs formed after the last ice age.
The Province of Utrecht consists of 26 municipalities.
De Ronde Venen
Wijk bij Duurstede
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