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Provinces of Netherlands

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Provinces of Netherlands

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A Dutch province represents the administrative layer in between the national government and the local municipalities, having the responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance. The government of each province consists of three major parts: the Provinciale Staten which is the provincial parliament elected every four years; the Gedeputeerde Staten, a college elected from among the members of the Provinciale Staten and charged with most executive tasks; and the Commissaris van de Koning, who is appointed by the Crown and presides over the Gedeputeerde Staten.

List of provinces

The modern Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces (provincies in Dutch) and three overseas public bodies (openbare lichamen) that are not part of any province. The twelve provinces are listed below.

Flag Arms Province Capital Largest city King's Commissioner Area
Population Density
(per km²)
Drenthe Assen Assen Jacques Tichelaar 2,652 489,918 182
Flevoland Lelystad Almere Leen Verbeek 1,426 394,758 250
Friesland (West Frisian: Fryslân) Leeuwarden Leeuwarden John Jorritsma 3,361 646,305 191
Gelderland Arnhem Nijmegen Clemens Cornielje 4,995 1,999,135 394
Groningen (Gronings: Grönnen; West Frisian: Grinslân) Groningen Groningen Max van den Berg 2,344 574,042 246
Limburg Maastricht Maastricht Theo Bovens (called governor in Limburg) 2,167 1,131,938 527
North Brabant (Noord-Brabant) 's-Hertogenbosch[A] Eindhoven Wim van de Donk 4,938 2,415,946 487
North Holland (Noord-Holland)[1] Haarlem[B] Amsterdam[C] Johan Remkes 2,660 2,724,300 1,020
Overijssel Zwolle Enschede Ank Bijleveld 3,337 1,113,529 331
South Holland (Zuid-Holland) The Hague[D] Rotterdam Jan Franssen 2,860 3,528,324 1,207
Utrecht Utrecht Utrecht Roel Robbertsen 1,356 1,180,039 855
Zeeland Middelburg Middelburg Han Polman 1,792 380,186 211
  1. ^ Also, though not officially, abbreviated as Den Bosch.
  2. ^ Even though the country's capital Amsterdam lies in North Holland, Haarlem is the capital city of the province.
  3. ^ Amsterdam is the constitutional national capital of the Netherlands.[2]
  4. ^ Dutch: Den Haag, officially also: 's-Gravenhage. The Dutch parliament and the Dutch government have been situated in The Hague since 1588, along with the Supreme Court and the Council of State.[3]

Public bodies

Main article: Caribbean Netherlands

The three public bodies of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba became parts of the Netherlands proper on October 10, 2010, but are not part of any province.[4]

Flag Arms Special municipality Capital Area
Population[6] Density
(per km²)
Bonaire (Papiamento: Boneiru) Kralendijk 294 15,414 52
Sint Eustatius Oranjestad 21 3,300 157
Saba The Bottom 13 2,000 154


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 formed the Republic of the Seven United Provinces in the 17th century, 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 Brabant, Limburg and Flanders, which were considered to be "conquered lands" and were governed directly by the Staten-Generaal, the parliament, hence their name Generality Lands. They were called Staats-Brabant, Staats-Limburg and Staats-Vlaanderen, meaning "state-owned". 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 January 1, 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, 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 original single 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 member was to be Flevoland, a province consisting almost entirely of reclaimed land, established on January 1, 1986.

French Period

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:

Batavian Departments
English name Dutch name Capital Contained the territory of
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 The 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 The eastern part of Batavian Brabant, southern Gelderland
Department of the Scheldt and Meuse Departement van de Schelde en Maas Middelburg Zeeland, Holland south of the Meuse and the western part of Batavian Brabant

After only three years, following a coup d'etat, 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 corresponded for the most part to:

French Departments in the Netherlands
English name French name Dutch name Modern province(s)
Department of the Zuiderzee Département du Zuyderzée Departement van de Zuiderzee North Holland & 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 & Antwerp
Department of the Mouths of the Rhine Département des Bouches-du-Rhin Departement van de Monden van de Rijn Eastern North Brabant & 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 & Drenthe
Department of the Eastern Ems Département de l'Ems-Oriental Departement van de Ooster Eems (East-Frisia)

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.

See also


External links

  • Population and area figures
  • Basic data for each province, with links to official province sites
  • Provinces of the Netherlands at
  • Municipality data by province

Template:Netherlands topics

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