Province of Zeeland

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province of the Netherlands Flag of the Netherlands.svg
coat of arms flag
Zeeland wapen.svg Flag of Zeeland.svg
Zeeland Zuid-Holland Baarle (zu Belgien) Noord-Brabant Groningen Bundesrepublik Deutschland Limburg Friesland Flevoland Drenthe Noord-Holland IJsselmeer Utrecht Overijssel Gelderland Frankreich Belgien NordseeMap: Province of Zeeland in the Netherlands
About this picture
Basic data
Capital Middelburg
Biggest town Terneuzen
ISO 3166-2 code NL-ZE
anthem Zeeuw's folk song
Royal Commissioner Han Polman ( D66 )
Ruling parties CDA , SGP , VVD and PvdA
Residents 385,379 ( 12th of 12 )
Country share 2.2% of the Dutch
Population density 216 inhabitants per km² ( 10th of 12 )
Religion (2015, CBS ) 16% - Roman Catholic
14% - Dutch Reformed
0 8% - Reformed
0 7% - Protestant
0 2% - Islam
0 8% - other
45% - none
surface 2,933.44 km²
- country 1,782.12 km² (8th of 12)
- Water 1,151.32 km²
Coordinates 51 ° 29 ′  N , 3 ° 49 ′  E Coordinates: 51 ° 29 ′  N , 3 ° 49 ′  E
Administrative structure
Municipalities 13
Map of Zeeland

Map of Zeeland

Zeeland ( German  Seeland , Zeeland Zeêland ) is a province in the southwestern Netherlands . The province consists of a number of islands , peninsulas and a piece of mainland on the border with Belgium , called Zeeuws Vlaanderen ("Zeeland Flanders"). On January 1, 2021, the province had 385,379 inhabitants.


Satellite image of Zeeland

The islands and peninsulas of Zeeland are:

The remaining part, which is neither an island nor a peninsula and whose only land access was through Belgium until 2003, is called Zeeuws Vlaanderen . Since mid-2003 there has been another land access with the Westerschelden Tunnel, this time connecting Zeeuws Vlaanderen directly with the rest of the Netherlands. The tunnel leads from Terneuzen to the area of ​​the municipality of Borsele .

The capital is Middelburg . Vlissingen is an important seaport , as is Terneuzen . Other cities are Hulst , Goes and Zierikzee .



The only evidence that Neanderthals already lived in what is now the Netherlands is the fragment of a skullcap called Krijn , which was recovered from the North Sea off Zeeland in 2001.

The first traces of settlement on Zeeland point to Celtic and Roman antiquity. In 52 BC BC Julius Caesar subjugated the Menapier , who are likely to have settled in what is now Zeeland. The Gallia Belgica was on the trade route from the Germania Inferior (especially: Cologne ) to the Britannia and was of a certain interest for this reason alone. However, it is unclear whether the first settlement from which the further settlement of Zeeland began, the Zeeuwsche Kastell Aardenburg .

The Nehalennia temple, which can be seen at Colijnsplaat , should indicate a cult that was of Celtic origin and was already an adaptation in the form found in the 2nd or 3rd century. Nehalennia herself was a regional deity who appeared mainly in frugal and maritime contexts and had no Roman counterpart. In thanks for successful sea trade trips, the found Nehalennia stones, some of which can be seen in the Museum Gravensteen in Zierikzee and in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden , may have been put up.

With the 4th century, not only the Roman Empire, but also Zeeland in the literal sense of the word increasingly went under. The sinking of the land open to the North Sea is likely to have dragged on until the middle of the 6th century. At the end of the 6th century, a smaller trading post is suspected again on Walcheren . There is some evidence that the new settlers were Frisians .

Franconian time

Between 688 and 695 the Dutch coastal areas were conquered by Pippin II , which began the Frankish era. The Christianization of Zeeland also took place at this time . In 690 the Irish monk Willibrord (658-739) went ashore near Zoutelande . The monk, who is still honored in many places today, was notorious for his tough crackdown on the so-called pagans: parts of a pagan sanctuary that Willibrord himself smashed are said to still be in the base of the altar of the church in the west chapel . In 695 Willibrord became Bishop of Utrecht . The cleric, who was canonized early and described by Alkuin in the Vita Sancta Willibrordi around 786 and by Theofried around 1104, died in 739 in the monastery he founded in Echternach (Luxembourg).

After Charlemagne (768–814) and Louis the Pious (814–840) increased incursions by the Normans along the great rivers, but above all along the Rhine , there were more incursions at the beginning of the 9th century in Zeeland. Impressive reports have been handed down for Zeeland and elsewhere about the impression that the bow sections of the Viking boats, carved after legendary sea monsters and dragons, made on the ordinary population.

The county of Zeeland in the 15th century
Historical map of Zeeland from 1580

In 841, Lothar, fresh from his office, even enfeoffed the Viking Heriold with Walcheren - perhaps in the hope of being able to avoid further attacks in this way by relocating to an internal Norman problem. The loan, which indicates that Normans had already settled in Zeeland at that time, does not seem to have achieved the desired success in any way. On the one hand, the rule of the Normans is unlikely to have found acceptance within the autochthonous population, on the other hand, the incursions of other Normans could not be prevented in this way - because from around 880 to 890 attacks of this kind arose across Zeeland against such attacks everywhere Refuge castles: Oostburg (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), Oost-Souburg near Vlissingen , Middelburg , Domburg and Burgh near Burgh-Haamstede emerged from such fortifications. Middelburg still shows the ring-shaped weir system in its floor plan. The reconstructed castle can be visited in Oost-Souburg. These ring wall castles were initially only used as a retreat in the event of attacks, but were not inhabited. The raids on Zeeland did not end until about a hundred years later, around 1000.

Middle Ages, Early Modern Times

The fight against water has been an integral part of the history of Zeeland since the Middle Ages . Land gain and loss alternated. Almost the entire province (except for the dunes ) is below sea ​​level . The landscape is a patchwork of polders and dikes . The many small islands have slowly grown together to form the larger (half) islands that exist today.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Zeeland held an important economic position within the Netherlands. Some cities such as Middelburg , Veere or Zierikzee were important trading cities. Many houses, churches and other witnesses of Zeeland's heyday can still be found in these cities. The Dutch East India Company , which had its headquarters in Middelburg, was liquidated in 1798. Due to its geographical location, Zeeland was a very suitable location for privateers . Piracy and trade were often carried out by the same shipowners. In addition to Amsterdam , Rotterdam , Hoorn and Groningen , Middelburg also had a chamber of the West Indian Company (WIC) , which among other things coordinated the piracy. In the 18th century, the economic and political importance of Zeeland declined more and more. On the one hand, many smaller rivers silted up, which severely hindered shipping. On the other hand, the French Revolution and Napoleon's campaigns at the beginning of the 19th century also had an impact on Zeeland. The continental blockade against England had a particularly devastating effect.


Flooded areas in the provinces of Zeeland and South Holland in 1953

With the expansion of the railway network in the Netherlands , Zuid-Beveland and Walcheren were connected to the mainland of the province of Noord-Brabant by means of dams in the 19th century . Middelburg , Vlissingen and Goes have been connected to the railway line to Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal since 1870 .

After the First World War , Belgium laid claims to Zeeland Flanders, as the Netherlands had remained neutral during the war, while Belgium suffered great destruction. However, these annexation plans were dropped under pressure from the British government.

During the Second World War , Zeeland was occupied by German troops and covered with fortifications from the Atlantic Wall . Allied troops liberated most of the province in October and November 1944 during the Battle of the Scheldt Estuary .

On the night of January 31st to February 1st, 1953, Zeeland was hit by the Dutch storm flood . 1835 people died in the greatest natural disaster of the post-war period in the Netherlands. To prevent such a catastrophe in the future, the Delta Works were built from 1960 onwards. A side effect of sealing off the North Sea from the small tributaries and estuaries was that the connections between the province and the rest of the Netherlands were significantly improved. In 1997 the major project was completed with the opening of the Maeslant storm surge barrier , which, however, does not belong to the province of Zeeland.

The economic and social structure of the islands of Zeeland has been greatly changed by the firm ties with the country. The formerly remote areas can now be reached from the Randstad within an hour. Tourism has risen sharply.


(in %)
Otherwise. j
Gains and losses
compared to 2015
 % p
Otherwise. j
Template: election chart / maintenance / notes
j 50PLUS 5.13% (+ 2.16%), SP 4.82% (−6.00%), D66 3.75% (−3.17%), PvdD 3.50% (+3.50 %), other 0.48% (−4.98%)
4th 7th 4th 
A total of 39 seats

The provincial parliament ( Dutch Provinciale Staten ) has its seat in the Provinciehuis in the provincial capital Middelburg . According to the population in the province, the parliament has 39 seats.

In the provincial election on March 20, 2019 , the parties obtained the following shares of the vote: CDA 16.27% (7 seats), SGP 12.06% (5 seats), FvD 11.80% (5 seats), VVD 10.28% ( 4 seats), PvdA 8.40% (4 seats), PVV 6.24% (2 seats), PVZ 6.21% (2 seats), GroenLinks 5.84% (2 seats), CU 5.22% ( 2 seats), 50PLUS 5.13% (2 seats), SP 4.82% (2 seats), D66 3.75% (1 seat), PvdD 3.50% (1 seat), remaining 0.48%. The turnout was 59.15%.

The next provincial election will take place on March 22, 2023.

At the head of the province is the king's commissioner . Since March 2013 this has been the left-wing liberal Han Polman . The college van Gedeputeerde Staten , i.e. the government, has been formed by a coalition of Christian Democrats , radical conservatives , right- wing liberals and social democrats since 2011 .


Since 2003 the province has 13 municipalities:

Map of Zeeland and municipalities (alphabetically numbered)
local community No. Population
(as of January 1, 2021)
(in km²)
Biggest places
Borsele 1 22,818 194.52 Heinkenszand , 's-Gravenpolder , ' s-Heerenhoek
Goes 2 38,594 101.92 Goes , Kloetinge , Wolphaartsdijk
Hulst 3 27,574 251.82 Hulst , Kloosterzande , Sint Jansteen
chapel 4th 12,878 49.63 Chapel , Wemeldinge , Biezelinge
Middelburg 5 48,977 53.04 Middelburg , Arnemuiden , Nieuw- en Sint Joosland
North Beveland 6th 7,572 121.51 Kamperland , Kortgene , Colijnsplaat
Reimerswaal 7th 22,897 242.42 Yerseke , Krabbendijke , Kruiningen
Schouwen-Duiveland 8th 34,054 488.21 Zierikzee , Burgh-Haamstede , Bruinisse
Sluis 9 23,161 307.16 Oostburg , Breskens , Aardenburg
Terneuzen 10 54,467 317.76 Terneuzen , Axel , Sas van Gent
Tholen 11 26,086 254.00 Tholen , Sint Maartensdijk , Sint-Annaland
Veere 12th 21,950 206.62 Koudekerke , Westkapelle , Oostkapelle
Vlissingen 13 44,351 344.84 Vlissingen , Oost-Souburg , Ritthem (only places in the municipality)

(No. = number on the card)

Tourist Attractions

Town hall in Middelburg

Much of the province's attractions are concentrated in the larger cities.

In Middelburg a visit to the abbey "Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe" and the Stadhuis (town hall) is worthwhile . The Miniatuur Walcheren adventure park , in which the most important sights of the Walcheren peninsula have been recreated on a 1:20 scale, is also worth a detour. The "Zeeuws Museum" (Museum of the Province of Zeeland) is also located in Middelburg.

The town of Veere has a centuries-old city backdrop. Many of the houses date from the 16th or 17th centuries when the Scottish wool trade was booming.

The city of Vlissingen , which lies at the mouth of the Westerschelde in the North Sea , is a sight for its location alone. From the boulevard you can watch the lively ship traffic to and from Antwerp and Vlissingen-Oost . In the “Arsenaal”, a modern adventure complex, there are various stations where the sea is brought closer. Part of this complex is the "Kraaiennest", a 65 meter high observation tower .

The old town of Goes has been a listed building since the 1970s. A large number of historic buildings and numerous shopping opportunities can be found in the city center.

The old town of Zierikzee has been a listed building since the 1960s. Almost 600 buildings are marked as worth preserving.

The largest technical attraction in Zeeland is the storm surge barrier of the Delta Works . Popularly one speaks of the "eighth wonder of the world ". On the artificially raised island “Neeltje Jans” there is a visitor information center, which over the years has been transformed into an amusement park .

In Hulst in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, the four kilometer long city walls including the city gates from the 16th and 18th centuries have been completely preserved.

Zeeland has been part of the Roman Empire since the Gallic War . Some buildings date from this time, such as the stele of the goddess Nehalennia , which was found by fishermen near the seaside resort of Domburg in 1647.

The Zeelandbrug bridge that connects Schouwen-Duiveland with Noord-Beveland is an architectural masterpiece . For a while this was the longest bridge in the Netherlands.


In 2011, the regional gross domestic product per inhabitant, expressed in purchasing power standards , was 123.77% of the EU-28 average .

In 2017, the unemployment rate was 2.9% and it was the lowest in the country.

In addition to agriculture and fruit growing, the main economic sectors in Zeeland are the chemical industry (in Vlissingen-Oost and Terneuzen ) as well as fishing and mussel and oyster farming .



The Zeeland Bridge

The only motorway in Zeeland is the A58 , which connects Vlissingen, Middelburg and Goes with Bergen op Zoom . In the course of the last few decades many structures have been created that connect the islands with each other and with the mainland. The Westerschelden tunnel connects Zeeuws-Vlaanderen with Zuid-Beveland. The Zeelandbrug , which was for some time the longest bridge in Europe, and the road over the Oosterschelde flood barrier connect Noord-Beveland with Schouwen-Duiveland. Other routes that have emerged through the Delta Works are the Oesterdam and the Philipsdam .


The railway line opened in 1870 from Vlissingen via Middelburg and Goes to Roosendaal is still the only railway line for passenger traffic in Zeeland today. Twice an hour there is a direct connection to Rotterdam , The Hague , Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam . At Lewedorp, a branch line, which is only used by freight traffic, branches off in the direction of Sloehaven (Vlissingen-Oost port area). In Zeeuws-Vlaanderen there is a freight train line from Terneuzen via Sas van Gent to Zelzate in Belgium . A museum railway connects Goes with Hoedekenskerke in the summer.

Line map of the train, bus and ferry connections in Zeeland


After the privatization of the Dutch bus company, Connexxion took over the lines in Noord- and Midden Zeeland, in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen the local public transport was handled by Veolia Transport . In 2014 Connexxion was awarded the sole contract for the concession, which now covers all sub-areas of the province, for a term of ten years and has been operating under the "Door Zeeland" brand since then. Individual trips are assigned to subcontractors.


After the abolition of car ferries, there are only ferries in Zeeland that can be used as pedestrians, cyclists or with a scooter (up to 50 cc). The only ferry that runs all year round is the Vlissingen – Breskens connection. The ferries, which only run in summer, are mainly used for tourism.

air traffic

The Midden-Zeeland airfield (EHMZ) is located near Arnemuiden . It has an approximately 1,000 meter long grass runway with the alignment 09/27 and is mainly used for sport aviation. Recently it has also been used for helicopter flights to the offshore wind farms off the coast of Zeeland .


Zeeland dialects are spoken in most of the province ; East Flemish can only be heard in the municipality of Hulst . Even if the dialects are no longer widely spoken everywhere, especially in Middelburg and Vlissingen, this language is still used by sixty percent of the population every day.



The archipelago and the later state of New Zealand was named after Zeeland . An expedition led by Hendrik Brouwer had found in 1643 that the coastal strip found by Tasman could not belong to a larger "southern country", and so the country was called Nova Zeelandia ( Latin , Dutch Nieuw Zeeland ).

  • New Zealand: When Abel Tasman was the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642 while searching for the “ Great Southern Country ” , he believed he had found another stretch of Staten Landt's coastline . When an expedition led by Hendrik Brouwer discovered a year later that the coastal strip visited by Tasman did not belong to Staten Landt, the country was named Nova Zeelandia (Latin) or Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch), after the Dutch province of Zeeland.
  • Location of the 2006 novel by Dutch writer Margriet de Moor Sturmflut about the sisters Amanda and Lidy in the 1953 storm surge that destroyed large parts of Zeeland. With the Delta Plan , South Holland began to secure the coast against the dangers of storm surges and floods.

Individual evidence

  1. Religieuze betrokkenheid; kerkelijke gezindte; regio. CBS , December 22, 2016, accessed November 19, 2018 (Dutch).
  2. Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand . In: StatLine . Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek , March 10, 2021 (Dutch).
  3. Zeeuws Archief (Zeeland Archives), exhibition Kapers en kaapvaart catalog at
  4. Anti-annexation movement. Retrieved May 25, 2020 (Dutch).
  5. Provinciale Staten 20 March 2019. In: Kiesraad , accessed May 3, 2019 (Dutch).
  6. Provinciale Staten 18 March 2015. In: Kiesraad , accessed May 3, 2019 (Dutch).
  7. Alles over de coalitievorming 2019. In: Provincie Zeeland, accessed July 12, 2019 (Dutch).
  8. Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek , accessed on April 3, 2018 (Dutch)
  9. Bodemgebruik; uitgebreide gebruiksvorm, per gemeente Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek , accessed on April 3, 2018 (Dutch)
  10. ↑ The three largest cores obv against gemeente
  11. Eurostat yearbook of the regions 2014 : ( Chapter 5: Economy ; PDF, 18 pages, approx. 2.0 MB) and ( Eurostat source data for Chapter 5: Economy ; XLS format, approx. 536 kB), ISBN 978-92 -79-11695-7 , ISSN  1830-9690 (English)
  12. Unemployment rate, by NUTS 2 regions. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .

Web links

Commons : Zeeland  - collection of images, videos and audio files