|Provinces of the Netherlands|
Provincies van Nederland (Dutch)
|Populations||Minimum: Zeeland, 381,568|
Maximum: South Holland, 3,650,222
|Areas||Minimum (including water): Utrecht, 1,450 km2 (560 sq mi)|
Maximum (including water): Friesland, 5,700 km2 (2,200 sq mi)
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 cabinet of the Netherlands is the main executive body of the Netherlands. The current cabinet of the Netherlands is the Third Rutte cabinet, which has been in power since 26 October 2017. It is headed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his deputies Hugo de Jonge, Kajsa Ollongren and Carola Schouten.
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.
South Holland 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.
Zeeland 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 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.
Friesland, 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 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 Association of Provinces of the Netherlands is the association of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. The association looks after provincial interests and forms a platform for exchanging knowledge and experience among the twelve Dutch provinces. The IPO also stimulates and takes the initiative in reform programmes.
The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.
The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.
The government of each province consists of three major parts:
The States-Provincial is the provincial parliament and legislative assembly in each of the provinces of the Netherlands. It is elected for each province simultaneously once every four years and has the responsibility for matters of sub-national or regional importance. Each States-Provincial is directly elected by the voters within the relevant province, and the number of seats in each States-Provincial is proportional to its population.
The Provincial-Executive is the executive branch of government of a province of the Netherlands.
The King’s Commissioner is the head of a province in the Netherlands. The officeholder chairs of both the States-Provincial and the Provincial-Executive, but has a right to vote only in the latter. When the reigning monarch is a female, the office is Queen's Commissioner. As there are twelve provinces in the Netherlands, there are twelve King's Commissioners.
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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 Senate is the upper house of the States General, the legislature of the Netherlands. Its 75 members are elected on lists by the members of the twelve States-Provincial and three Caribbean electoral colleges for the Senate every four years, within three months of the provincial elections. All provinces and colleges have different electoral weight depending on their population.
Elections in the Netherlands are held for five territorial levels of government: the European Union, the state, the twelve Provinces, the 25 water boards and the 380 municipalities. Apart from elections, referenda are also held occasionally, a fairly recent phenomenon in Dutch politics. The most recent national election results and an overview of the resulting seat assignments and coalitions since World War II are shown at the bottom of this page.
The last three provincial elections were held in 2007, 2011 and in 2015.
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)|
|2,680||1,035||2,641||1,020||492,100||184/km2 (480/sq mi)||186/km2 (480/sq mi)||14,119||28,802|
|2,412||931||1,418||547||411,670||171/km2 (440/sq mi)||290/km2 (750/sq mi)||12,959||31,923|
|5,749||2,220||3,342||1,290||647,268||113/km2 (290/sq mi)||194/km2 (500/sq mi)||18,581||28,743|
|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|
|2,960||1,143||2,333||901||582,944||197/km2 (510/sq mi)||250/km2 (650/sq mi)||24,102||41,295|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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.
Limburg 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.
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.
Drenthe 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 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).
Overijssel 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.
North 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).
The Seventeen Provinces were the Imperial states of the Habsburg Netherlands in the 16th century. They roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e. what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and most of the French departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais (Artois). Also within this area were semi-independent fiefdoms, mainly ecclesiastical ones, such as Liège, Cambrai and Stavelot-Malmedy.
The country of Belgium is divided into three regions. Two of these regions, the Flemish Region or Flanders, and Walloon Region, or Wallonia, are each subdivided into five provinces. The third region, the Brussels-Capital Region, is not divided into provinces, as it was originally only a small part of a province itself.
The States General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both chambers meet at the Binnenhof in The Hague.
The Generality Lands, Lands of the Generality or Common Lands were about one fifth of the territories of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, that were directly governed by the States-General. Unlike the seven provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen, these territories had no States-Provincial and were not represented in the central government. From an economic point of view, they were exploited with heavy taxes and levies. As one author puts it: "Back in the Dutch lap, these so-called Generality countries were for a long time governed as a sort of internal colonies, in which Catholics were seen as second-class citizens."
The National Reserve Corps is a part of the Royal Netherlands Army. NATRES is a corps in the sense that it is a regiment which recruits nationally. The part-time reservist is, like all Dutch military personnel, a military volunteer.
The Estates or the States was the assembly of the representatives of the estates of the realm, the divisions of society in feudal times, called together for purposes of deliberation, legislation or taxation. A meeting of the estates that covered an entire kingdom was called an estates general.
Essent N.V., based in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, is an energy company. It is a public limited liability corporation. Essent is the largest energy company in the country. Belgium is their second home market. Essent provides customers with gas, electricity, heat and energy services. Essent has over 90 years of experience with generating, trading, transmitting and supplying electricity. Essent is part of Innogy SE.
The Dutch Maiden is a national personification of the Netherlands. She is typically depicted in a Roman garment and with a lion, the Leo Belgicus, by her side. In addition to the symbol of a national maiden, there were also symbolic provincial maidens and town maidens.
In the Netherlands, the term public body is the general denomination for administrative divisions within the Dutch state, such as the central government, a province, a municipality or a water board. These types of political entities are defined by the Dutch constitution.
Provincial elections were held in the Netherlands on 20 March 2019. Eligible voters elected the members of the Provincial States in the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. The elections were held on the same day as the 2019 Dutch water boards elections and, in the Caribbean Netherlands, island council elections.
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)