There are currently twelve provinces of the Netherlands (Dutch: provincies van Nederland), representing the administrative layer between the national government and the local municipalities, with responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance.
The most populous province is South Holland, with over 3.65 million inhabitants in 2009. With approximately 381,500 inhabitants, Zeeland has the smallest population. In terms of area, Friesland is the largest province with a total area of 5,749 km2 (2,220 sq mi). If water is excluded, Gelderland is the largest province in terms of area at 4,972 km2 (1,920 sq mi). Utrecht is the smallest at 1,385 km2 (535 sq mi). In total about 13,000 people were employed by the provincial administrations in 2009.
The provinces of the Netherlands are joined in the Association of Provinces of the Netherlands (IPO). This organisation promotes the common interests of the provinces in the national government of the Netherlands in The Hague and within the European Union in Brussels.
The government of each province consists of three major parts:
The members of the States-Provincial are elected every four years in direct elections. To a large extent, the same political parties are enlisted in these elections in the national elections. The chosen provincial legislators elect the members of the national Senate within three months after the provincial elections. The elections for the water boards take place on the same date as the provincial elections.
The provinces of the Netherlands have seven core tasks:
To a large extent, the provinces of the Netherlands are financed by the national government. Also, provinces have income from a part of the Vehicle Excise Duty. Several provinces have made a large profit in the past from privatising utility companies originally owned or partly owned by the provinces. Essent, which was originally owned by six provinces and more than a hundred municipalities, was sold for around 9.3 billion euros.
The country of the Netherlands, being the largest part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is divided into twelve provinces (provincies in Dutch) and three overseas special municipalities, the Caribbean Netherlands that are not part of any province. Previously these were part of public bodies (openbare lichamen).
|Province||Arms||Capital||Largest municipality||King's Commissioner||Total area||Land area||Population
|Density||Density excluding water||GRP in million euros (2016)||GRP per capita in euros (2016)|
|Drenthe||2,680||1,035||2,641||1,020||492,100||184/km2 (480/sq mi)||186/km2 (480/sq mi)||14,119||28,802|
|Flevoland||2,412||931||1,418||547||411,670||171/km2 (440/sq mi)||290/km2 (750/sq mi)||12,959||31,923|
|Friesland[B]||5,749||2,220||3,342||1,290||647,268||113/km2 (290/sq mi)||194/km2 (500/sq mi)||18,581||28,743|
|Gelderland||5,136||1,983||4,972||1,920||2,060,103||401/km2 (1,040/sq mi)||414/km2 (1,070/sq mi)||70,789||34,673|
|Groningen[C]||2,960||1,143||2,333||901||582,944||197/km2 (510/sq mi)||250/km2 (650/sq mi)||24,102||41,295|
|Limburg||2,209||853||2,151||830||1,117,198||509/km2 (1,320/sq mi)||519/km2 (1,340/sq mi)||39,329||35,213|
|North Brabant||5,082||1,962||4,916||1,898||2,528,286||498/km2 (1,290/sq mi)||514/km2 (1,330/sq mi)||107,888||43,058|
|North Holland||4,091||1,580||2,671||1,031||2,831,182||692/km2 (1,790/sq mi)||1,060/km2 (2,700/sq mi)||148,243||52,998|
|Overijssel||3,421||1,321||3,326||1,284||1,151,501||337/km2 (870/sq mi)||346/km2 (900/sq mi)||39,059||34,083|
|South Holland||3,418||1,320||2,815||1,087||3,681,044||1,077/km2 (2,790/sq mi)||1,307/km2 (3,390/sq mi)||150,675||41,437|
|Utrecht||1,449||560||1,385||535||1,295,484||894/km2 (2,320/sq mi)||935/km2 (2,420/sq mi)||61,452||48,045|
|Zeeland||2,933||1,133||1,787||690||382,304||130/km2 (340/sq mi)||214/km2 (550/sq mi)||12,242||32,097|
Nearly all Dutch provinces can trace their origin to a medieval county or duchy, as can the provinces of regions in Belgium. Their status changed when they came under a single ruler who centralised their administration, reducing their powers. There were 17 in total: from these unified Netherlands, seven northern provinces from 1588 formed the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, namely Holland, Zeeland, Gelderland, Utrecht, Friesland, Overijssel and Groningen.
The Republic's lands also included Drenthe (one of the 17, but without the autonomous status of the others), and parts of the Duchy of Brabant, Duchy of Limburg and County of Flanders, which were considered to be "conquered lands" and were governed directly by the States General, hence their name Generality Lands. They were called Staats-Brabant, Staats-Limburg and Staats-Vlaanderen, meaning "governed by the States General". Each of these "Netherlands" had a high degree of autonomy, cooperating with each other mainly on defense and foreign relations, but otherwise keeping to their own affairs.
On 1 January 1796, under the Batavian Republic, Drenthe and Staats-Brabant became the eighth and ninth provinces of the Netherlands. The latter, which had been known as Bataafs Brabant (English: Batavian Brabant), changed its name to Noord Brabant, North Brabant, in 1815 when it became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which also contained (then) South Brabant, a province now in Belgium. This new unified state featured the provinces in their modern form, as non-autonomous subdivisions of the national state, and again numbering 17, though they were not all the same as the 16th century ones. In 1839, following the separation of Belgium, the province of Limburg was divided between the two countries, each now having a province called Limburg. A year later, Holland, the largest and most populous of the Dutch provinces, was also split into two provinces, for a total of 11. The 12th province to be created was Flevoland, consisting almost entirely of reclaimed land, established on 1 January 1986.
During the Batavian Republic, the Netherlands was from 1798 to 1801 completely reorganised into eight new departments, most named after rivers, inspired by the French revolutionary example, in an attempt to do away with the old semi-autonomous status of the provinces. They are listed below, with their capitals and the territory of the former provinces that they mostly incorporated:
|English name||Dutch name||Capital||Territory contained|
|Department of the Ems||Departement van de Eems||Leeuwarden||Northern Friesland, Groningen|
|Department of the Old IJssel||Departement van de Oude IJssel||Zwolle||Southern Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Northern Gelderland|
|Department of the Rhine||Departement van de Rijn||Arnhem||Central Gelderland, Eastern Utrecht|
|Department of the Amstel||Departement van de Amstel||Amsterdam||Area around Amsterdam|
|Department of Texel||Departement van Texel||Alkmaar||Northern Holland minus Amsterdam, Northwestern Utrecht|
|Department of the Delft||Departement van de Delft||Delft||Southern Holland up to the Meuse, Southwestern Utrecht|
|Department of the Dommel||Departement van de Dommel||'s-Hertogenbosch||Eastern Batavian Brabant, Southern Gelderland|
|Department of the Scheldt and Meuse||Departement van de Schelde en Maas||Middelburg||Zeeland, Southern Holland under the Meuse and Western Batavian Brabant|
After only three years, following a coup d'état, the borders of the former provinces were restored, though not their autonomous status. They were now also called "departments" and Drenthe was added to Overijssel. In 1806 the Kingdom of Holland replaced the republic to further French interests. It was during this administration that Holland was first split in two, with the department of Amstelland to the north and that of Maasland to the south. East Frisia, then as now in Germany, was added to the kingdom as a department in 1807 and Drenthe split off again making a total of 11 departments.
When the Netherlands finally did become fully part of France in 1810, the departments of the kingdom and their borders were largely maintained, with some joined together. They were however nearly all renamed, again mainly after rivers, though the names differed from their Batavian counterparts. Following are their names and the modern day province they mostly correspond to:
|English name||French name||Dutch name||Modern territory|
|Department of the Zuiderzee||Département du Zuyderzée||Departement van de Zuiderzee||North Holland and Utrecht|
|Department of the Mouths of the Meuse||Département des Bouches-de-la-Meuse||Departement van de Monden van de Maas||South Holland|
|Department of the Mouths of the Scheldt||Département des Bouches-de-l'Escaut||Departement van de Monden van de Schelde||Zeeland|
|Department of the Two Nethes||Département des Deux-Nèthes||Departement van de Twee Nethen||Western North Brabant and Antwerp|
|Department of the Mouths of the Rhine||Département des Bouches-du-Rhin||Departement van de Monden van de Rijn||Eastern North Brabant and southern Gelderland|
|Department of the Upper IJssel||Département de l'Yssel-Supérieur||Departement van de Boven IJssel||Northern Gelderland|
|Department of the Mouths of the IJssel||Département des Bouches-de-l'Yssel||Departement van de Monden van de IJssel||Overijssel|
|Department of Frisia||Département de la Frise||Departement Friesland||Friesland|
|Department of the Western Ems||Département de l'Ems-Occidental||Departement van de Wester Eems||Groningen and Drenthe|
|Department of the Eastern Ems||Département de l'Ems-Oriental||Departement van de Ooster Eems||Eastern Friesland|
With the defeat and withdrawal of the French in 1813, the old provinces and their names were re-established, Holland was reunited and East-Frisia went its separate way. The 17 provinces of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands were for a significant part based on the former French departments and their borders, in particular in what would later become Belgium.
There is continuous discussion within the Netherlands about the future of the provinces. Before 2014, the national government was planning to merge the provinces Flevoland, North Holland and Utrecht into a single province (Noordvleugelprovincie). Due to significant protest the plan was abandoned.
Amsterdam is the statuary capital of the Netherlands, while the Dutch government resides in De Hague. (sic) (p. 13) The Netherlands' seat of government is The Hague but its capital is bustling Amsterdam, the national cultural center. (p. 38)
The coats of arms of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands are shown here.Drenthe
Drenthe (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdrɛntə] (listen); German: Drente) is a province of the Netherlands located in the northeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany (districts of Emsland and Bentheim, Lower Saxony) to the east. In January 2017, it had a population of 491,867 and a total area of 2,683 km2 (1,036 sq mi).
Drenthe has been populated for 150,000 years. The region has subsequently been part of the Episcopal principality of Utrecht, Habsburg Netherlands, Dutch Republic, Batavian Republic, Kingdom of Holland and Kingdom of the Netherlands. Drenthe is an official province since 1796. The capital and seat of the provincial government is Assen. The King's Commissioner of Drenthe is Jetta Klijnsma. The Labour Party (PvdA) is the largest party in the States-Provincial, followed by the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).
Drenthe is a sparsely populated rural area, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands. Except for some industry in Assen and Emmen, the land in Drenthe is mainly used for agriculture.Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic, or the United Provinces, was a confederal republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution of 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first Dutch nation state.Flags of provinces of the Netherlands
This list contains all twelve official flags of provinces of the Netherlands, including the pennons.Flevoland
Flevoland (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfleːvoːlɑnt] (listen)) is the twelfth and last province of the Netherlands, established on 1 January 1986, when the southern and eastern Flevopolders were merged into one provincial entity. It is located in the centre of the country, where the former Zuiderzee was. Almost all of the land belonging to Flevoland was reclaimed only in the 1950s and 1960s. The province has about 407,905 inhabitants (2016) and consists of 6 municipalities. Its capital is Lelystad and most populous city Almere.Friesland
Friesland (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈfrislɑnt] (listen); official, West Frisian: Fryslân [ˈfrislɔːn] (listen)), also historically known as Frisia, is a province of the Netherlands located in the northern part of the country. It is situated west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel, north of Flevoland, northeast of North Holland, and south of the Wadden Sea. In 2015, the province had a population of 646,092 and a total area of 5,100 km2 (2,000 sq mi).
The capital and seat of the provincial government is the city of Leeuwarden (West Frisian: Ljouwert), a city with 91,817 inhabitants. Since 2017, Arno Brok is the King's Commissioner in the province. A coalition of the Labour Party, the Christian Democratic Appeal, and the Frisian National Party forms the executive branch. The province is divided into 18 municipalities. The area of the province was once part of the ancient, larger region of Frisia. The official languages of Friesland are West Frisian and Dutch.Gelderland
Gelderland (, also US: , Dutch: [ˈɣɛldərlɑnt] (listen)), also known as Guelders () in English, is a province of the Netherlands, located in the central eastern part of the country. With a land area of nearly 5,000 km2, it is the largest province of the Netherlands and shares borders with six other provinces (Flevoland, Limburg, North Brabant, Overijssel, South Holland and Utrecht) and Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia).
The capital is Arnhem (pop. 156,000); however, Nijmegen (pop. 175,000) and Apeldoorn (pop. nearly 161,000) are both larger municipalities (2017 figures). Other major regional centres in Gelderland are Ede, Doetinchem, Zutphen, Harderwijk, Tiel, Wageningen, Zevenaar, and Winterswijk. Gelderland had a population of just over two million in 2018.Groningen (province)
Groningen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣroːnɪŋə(n)] (listen); Gronings: Grunn; West Frisian: Grinslân) is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. It borders on Friesland to the west, Drenthe to the south, the German state of Lower Saxony (districts of Leer and Emsland) to the east, and the Wadden Sea to the north. In 2014, it had a population of 582,640 and a total area of 2,960 km2 (1,140 sq mi).
The area was subsequently part of Frisia, the Frankish Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Dutch Republic, which is the precursor state of the Netherlands. In the 14th century, the city of Groningen became a member of the Hanseatic League.
The capital of the province and the seat of the provincial government is the city of Groningen. Since 2016, René Paas has been the King's Commissioner in the province. A coalition of the Labour Party, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, Democrats 66, and ChristianUnion forms the executive branch. The province is divided into 23 municipalities.
The land is mainly used for agriculture. There are sea ports in Delfzijl and Eemshaven. The Groningen gas field was discovered in 1959. The province is home to the University of Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Sciences.Limburg (Netherlands)
Limburg (, Dutch pronunciation: [ˈlɪmbʏrx] (listen); Dutch and Limburgish: (Nederlands-)Limburg; French: Limbourg, French pronunciation: [lɛ̃buʁ]) is the southernmost of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands. It is in the southeastern part of the country, stretched out from the north, where it touches the province of Gelderland, to the south, where it internationally borders Belgium. Its northern part has the North Brabant province to its west. Its long eastern boundary is the international border with the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Much of the west border runs along the River Maas, bordering the Flemish province of Limburg, and a small part of the Walloon province of Liège. On the south end, it has borders with the Flemish exclave of Voeren and its surrounding part of Liège, Wallonia. The Vaalserberg is on the extreme south-eastern point, marking the tripoint of Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
Limburg's major cities are the provincial capital Maastricht, as well as Heerlen, and Sittard-Geleen in the south, Venlo in the north and Roermond and Weert in the middle. More than half of the population, approximately 620,000 people, live in the south of Limburg, which corresponds to roughly one-third of the province's area proper. In South Limburg, most people live in the urban agglomerations of Maastricht, Parkstad and Sittard-Geleen.
Limburg has a highly distinctive character. The social and economic trends that have affected the province in recent decades have generated a process of change and renewal which has enabled Limburg to transform its peripheral location into a highly globalized regional nexus, linking the Netherlands to the Ruhr metro area and the southern part of the Benelux region. A less appreciated consequence of this international gateway location is rising international crime, often drug-related, especially in the southernmost part of the province.List of provinces of the Netherlands by Human Development Index
This is a list of Dutch provinces by Human Development Index as of 2017.List of provincial roads in the Netherlands
Provincial roads are roads maintained by one or more of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands.
There are main roads, which run in multiple provinces, and province specific provincial roads.North Holland
North Holland (Dutch: Noord-Holland [ˌnoːrt ˈɦɔlɑnt] (listen), West Frisian Dutch: Noard-Holland) is a province of the Netherlands located in the northwestern part of the country. It is situated on the North Sea, north of South Holland and Utrecht, and west of Friesland and Flevoland. In 2015, it had a population of 2,762,163 and a total area of 2,670 km2 (1,030 sq mi).
From the 9th to the 16th century, the area was an integral part of the County of Holland. During this period West Friesland was incorporated. In the 17th and 18th century, the area was part of the province of Holland and commonly known as the Noorderkwartier (English: "Northern Quarter"). In 1840, the province of Holland was split into the two provinces of North Holland and South Holland. In 1855, the Haarlemmermeer was drained and turned into land.
The capital and seat of the provincial government is Haarlem, and the province's largest city is the Netherlands' capital Amsterdam. The King's Commissioner of North Holland is Johan Remkes, serving since 2010. There are 51 municipalities and three (including parts of) water boards in the province.Overijssel
Overijssel ( OH-vər-EYE-səl, Dutch: [ˌoːvərˈɛisəl] (listen); Low German: Oaveriessel [ˌɒːvərˈiːsəl]; German: Oberyssel) is a province of the Netherlands located in the eastern part of the country. The province's name translates to "across the IJssel", from the perspective of the Episcopal principality of Utrecht by which it was held until 1528. The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede. The province had a population of 1,142,360 in 2015.Provincial politics in the Netherlands
The Politics of the Dutch provinces takes places within the framework of the politics of the Netherlands. The province is the second highest level of government, after the national government. The Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces.
In provincial politics there are three functions: the King's Commissioner, the States Provincial and the States Deputed. Together they share legislative power. The King's Commissioner chairs both the States Provincial and the States Deputed. The States Deputed and the King's Commissioner exercise the executive power of the provincial government. The relationship between the States Deputed and the States Provincial is officially dualistic, that is they have separated responsibilities.South Holland
South Holland (Dutch: Zuid-Holland [ˌzœyt ˈɦɔlɑnt] (listen)) is a province of the Netherlands with a population of just over 3.6 million as of 2015 and a population density of about 1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi), making it the country's most populous province and one of the world's most densely populated areas. Situated on the North Sea in the west of the Netherlands, South Holland covers an area of 3,403 km2 (1,314 sq mi), of which 585 km2 (226 sq mi) is water. It borders North Holland to the north, Utrecht and Gelderland to the east, and North Brabant and Zeeland to the south. The provincial capital is The Hague, while its largest city is Rotterdam.Utrecht (province)
Utrecht (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈytrɛxt] (listen)) is a province of the Netherlands. It is located in the centre of the country, bordering the Eemmeer in the north-east, the province of Gelderland in the east and south-east, the province of South Holland in the west and south-west and the province of North Holland in the north-west and north. With an area of approximately 1,400 square kilometres (540 sq mi), it is the smallest of the twelve Dutch provinces. Apart from its eponymous capital, major cities in the province are Amersfoort, Houten, Nieuwegein, Veenendaal, IJsselstein and Zeist.
In the International Organization for Standardization world region code system Utrecht makes up one region with code ISO 3166-2:NL-UT.Zeeland
Zeeland (; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈzeːlɑnt] (listen), Zeelandic: Zeêland [ˈzɪə̯lɑnt], historical English exonym Zealand) is the westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and peninsulas (hence its name, meaning "Sealand") and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. Its area is about 2,930 square kilometres (1,130 sq mi), of which almost 1,140 square kilometres (440 sq mi) is water, and it has a population of about 380,000.
Large parts of Zeeland are below sea level. The last great flooding of the area was in 1953. Tourism is an important economic activity. In the summer, its beaches make it a popular destination for tourists, especially German tourists. In some areas, the population can be two to four times higher during the high summer season. The coat of arms of Zeeland shows a lion half-emerged from water, and the text luctor et emergo (Latin for "I struggle and emerge"). The country of New Zealand was named after Zeeland after it was sighted by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.
Provinces of the Netherlands
Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands