Limburg (Netherlands)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Dutch province. For other uses, see Limburg.
Limburg
Province of the Netherlands
Flag of Limburg
Flag
Coat of arms of Limburg
Coat of arms
Anthem: "Limburg mijn Vaderland"
"Limburg My Fatherland"
Location of Limburg in the Netherlands
Location of Limburg in the Netherlands
Coordinates: 51°13′N 5°56′E / 51.217°N 5.933°E / 51.217; 5.933Coordinates: 51°13′N 5°56′E / 51.217°N 5.933°E / 51.217; 5.933
Country Netherlands
Inclusion 1839
Capital Maastricht
Government
 • Governor[1] Theo Bovens
Area
 • Land 2,153 km2 (831 sq mi)
 • Water 56 km2 (22 sq mi)
Area rank 9th nationally
Population (2006)
 • Land 1,131,938
 • Rank 6th nationally
 • Density 530/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Density rank 4th nationally
ISO 3166 code NL-LI
Religion (2003) Roman Catholic 78%
Protestant 2%
Others 5%
Irreligion 15%
Website www.limburg.nl

Limburg (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈlɪm.bʏrx] ( ); Dutch and Limburgish: (Nederlands-)Limburg) is the southernmost of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands. It is in the southeastern part of the country and borders the provinces of Gelderland to the north and North Brabant to the north and the northwest. To the east it borders the German state of Northrhine-Westphalia, to the west the Flemish province of Belgian Limburg, and to the south the French-speaking Belgian province of Liège.

Limburg's major cities are the provincial capital Maastricht in the south, Roermond in the middle, and Venlo in the north, all upon the Meuse river. In South Limburg, there are also urban agglomerations at Sittard-Geleen and Parkstad Limburg, which includes the city of Heerlen.

Limburg has a highly distinctive character. The social and economic trends that affected the province in recent decades 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.

Name[edit]

Limburg's name derives from the fortified castle town known as Limbourg, situated on the river Vesdre near the High Fens, now in the Belgian province of Liège. It was the seat of the medieval Duchy of Limburg which extended into the Meuse region north of the city of Liège. Most of present-day Limburg was not part of this polity but was divided among several states, including the Duchy of Brabant, the Duchy of Jülich, and the Duchy of Guelders. Much of the southern part of Dutch Limburg — the lands of Valkenburg, Dalhem, and Herzogenrath, known collectively as the lands of Overmaas — was united into one province with the old Duchy within the so-called Seventeen Provinces. This particular area was therefore sometimes referred to as Limburg.

Square near the Munster church in the Middle Limburgian town of Roermond
View of a typical street in a hilly South-Limburgian village or hamlet; here at Walem in the municipality of Valkenburg aan de Geul
City view of Limburg's capital Maastricht with its Roman bridge on the Meuse river

History[edit]

For centuries, the strategic location of the current province made it a much-coveted region among Europe's major powers. Romans, Habsburg Spaniards, Prussians, Habsburg Austrians and French have all ruled Limburg.

The first inhabitants of whom traces have been found were Neanderthals who camped in South Limburg. In Neolithic times flint was mined in underground mines, including one at Rijckholt that is open to visitors. In Roman times Limburg was thoroughly Romanized and many existing towns and cities were founded, including Mosa Trajectum (Maastricht) and Coriovallum (Heerlen). Bishop Servatius introduced Christianity in Roman Maastricht, where he died in 384. After the Romans had departed the Franks took charge, and the area flourished under their rule. Charlemagne had his palace in nearby Aachen. After the partition of the Frankish empire what is now Limburg belonged, like the rest of the Netherlands, to the Holy Roman Empire. Beginning in the early Middle Ages, Limburg's territory was usually divided between the Duchy of Brabant, Duchy of Gelderland, Duchy of Jülich, the Principality of Liège and the prince-bishop of Cologne. These dukes and bishops were nominal subordinates of the Emperor of the Roman Empire, but in practice acted as independent sovereigns who were often at war with each other. These conflicts were often fought in Limburg, contributing to its fragmentation.

Map showing the medieval "lands of Overmaas" and the Duchy of Limburg, both in the Middle Ages possessed by the Dukes of Brabant. Together these two county's formed one province in the Seventeen Provinces. (The dark lines are the modern borders).

The New time Limburg was largely divided between Spain (and its successor, Austria), Prussia, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, the Principality of Liège and many independent small Fiefs. In 1673, Louis XIV personally commanded the siege of Maastricht by French troops. During the siege, one of his brigadiers, Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, perished. He subsequently became known as a major character in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père (1802–1870).

Limburg was also the scene of many a bloody battle during the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), in which the Dutch Republic threw off Habsburg Spanish rule. At the Battle of Mookerheyde (14 April 1574), two brothers of Prince William of Orange-Nassau and thousands of "Dutch" mercenaries lost their lives. Most Limburgians fought on the Spanish side, being Catholics and hating the Calvinist Hollanders.

Following the Napoleonic Era, the great powers (England, Prussia, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire and France) united the region with the new Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. A new province was formed which was to receive the name "Maastricht" after its capital. The first king, William I, who did not want the name Limburg to be lost, insisted that the name be changed to "Province of Limburg". As such, the name of the new province derived from the old Duchy of Limburg that had existed until 1648 within the triangle of Maastricht, Liège, and Aachen.

Map showing the two contemporary provinces called "Limburg" as well as the medieval Duchy they are both named after. (The small overlap is Teuven and Remersdaal, two villages in the eastern part of Voeren, a municipality in Belgian Limburg since 1977).

When the Catholic and French-speaking Belgians split away from the mainly Calvinist northern Netherlands in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, the Province of Limburg was at first almost entirely under Belgian rule. However, by the 1839 Treaty of London, the province was divided in two, with the eastern part going to the Netherlands and the western part to Belgium, a division that remains today. With the Treaty of London, what is now the Belgian Province of Luxembourg was handed over to Belgium and removed from the German Confederation. To appease Prussia, which had also lost access to the Meuse after the Congress of Vienna, the Dutch province of Limburg (but not the cities of Maastricht and Venlo because without them Limburg's population equalled that of the Province of Luxembourg, 150,000 [1]), was joined to the German Confederation between September 5, 1839 and August 23, 1866 as Duchy of Limburg. On 11 May 1867, the Duchy, which from 1839 on had been de jure a separate polity in personal union with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was reincorporated into the latter with the Treaty of London, though the term "Duchy of Limburg" remained in some official use until February 1907. Another idiosyncrasy survives today: the head of the province, referred to as the "King's Commissioner" in other provinces, is addressed as "Governor" in Limburg.

The Second World War cost the lives of many civilians in Limburg, and a large number of towns and villages were destroyed by bombings and artillery battles. Various cemeteries, too, bear witness to this dark chapter in Limburg's history. Almost 8,500 American soldiers, who perished during the liberation of the Netherlands, lie buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten. Other big war cemeteries are to be found at Overloon (British soldiers) and the Ysselsteyn German war cemetery was constructed in the Municipality of Venray for the 31,000 German soldiers who lost their lives.

According to the research of Herman van Rens, the residents of Limburg were especially active in hiding local and refugees Jews during the Holocaust, to the extent that the Jewish population even increased during the war. Jews in hiding were three times as likely to survive in Limburg as in Amsterdam.[2]

In December 1991, the European Community (now European Union) held a summit in Maastricht. At that summit, the "Treaty on European Union" or so-called Maastricht treaty was signed by the European Community member states. With that treaty, the European Union came into existence.

Anthem[edit]

In 't Bronsgroen Eikenhout is the official anthem of both Belgian and Dutch Limburg.

Language[edit]

Main article: Limburgish language

Limburg has its own language, called Limburgish (Dutch: Limburgs). This has been an official regional language since 1997, and as such receives moderate protection under Chapter 2 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It is not recognised by the Dutch, German and Belgian governments as an official language. Limburgish is spoken by an estimated 1.6 million people in both Belgian and Dutch Limburg and Germany.[citation needed] There are many different dialects of Limburgish; almost every town and village has its own. Dialects in the southeast (near Aachen) are closer to Ripuarian and sometimes classified as Southeast Limburgish. Even within the cities of Venlo and Maastricht, very different dialects separated by major isoglosses continue to exist.

Politics[edit]

The provincial council (Provinciale Staten) has 63 seats, and is headed by a King's Commissioner that is uniquely among Dutch provinces called the Governor. While the provincial council is elected by the inhabitants, the Governor is appointed by the King and the cabinet of the Netherlands. Since 2011 the Governor is Theo Bovens. The PVV is currently the largest party in the council.

The province's daily affairs are taken care of by the Gedeputeerde Staten, which are also headed by the Governor; its members (gedeputeerden) can be compared with ministers.

Municipalities[edit]

Towns in Limburg[edit]

From North to South: Gennep, Venray, Weert, Venlo, Roermond, Sittard, Geleen, Heerlen, Valkenburg, Kerkrade, Vaals, Maastricht.

Gennep
Venray
Venlo
Weert
Sittard
Geleen
Valkenburg
Heerlen
Kerkrade
Vaals

Geography[edit]

Unlike the rest of the country the southern part of Limburg is quite hilly. The highest mountain in the continental Netherlands, the Vaalserberg, is situated at Vaals, where three countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Germany) border each other at the so-called "Three-country-point".

Limburg's main river is the Meuse, which passes through the province's entire length from south to north.

Limburg's surface is largely formed by deposits from the Meuse, consisting of river clay, fertile loessial soil and large deposits of pebblestone, currently being quarried for the construction industry. In the north of the province, further away from the riverbed, the soil primarily consists of sand and peat.

Limburg makes up one region of the International Organization for Standardization world region code system, having the code ISO 3166-2:NL-LI.

A panorama of the Heuvelland between Schin op Geul and Valkenburg aan de Geul

Economy[edit]

Apples, with cherries, pears and prunes, major produce of Limburgian fruit growing business
Blooming fruit trees, a touristic attraction in the Southern part of Limburg

In the past peat and coal were mined in Limburg. In 1965–75 the coal mines were finally closed. As a result 60,000 people lost their jobs in the two coal mining areas, Heerlen-Kerkrade-Brunssum and Sittard-Geleen. A difficult period of economic readjustment started. The Dutch government partly eased the pain by moving several government offices (including Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP and CBS Statistics Netherlands) to Heerlen.

The state-owned corporation that once mined in Limburg, DSM, is now a major chemical company, still operating in Limburg. In 2002 DSM sold its petrochemical division (naphtha crackers and polyolefin plants) to SABIC of Saudi Arabia. In 2010 the Agro and Melamine business groups were sold to Orascom Construction Industries (OCI). Sabic and OCI are located on the Chemelot campus in Sittard-Geleen, which is bounded by the Chemelot Industrial Park, one of Western Europe's biggest industrial sites. At this moment 6500 people work at Chemelot (about 4500 employed by DSM and about 2000 by SABIC and other companies), of which 1000 are active at the Campus. The innovation and licensing division Stamicarbon of DSM was sold in 2009 to Maire Tecnimont, the parent company of an engineering, main contracting and licensing group that operates worldwide in the oil, gas & petrochemicals, power, infrastructure and civil engineering sectors. Stamicarbon is based in Sittard-Geleen.

Other industries include a car factory (in Born), Océ copiers and printers manufacturers in Venlo and a paper factory in Maastricht. There are four beer breweries.

Southern Limburg has long been one of the country's two main fruit growing areas, but over the last four decades, many fruit growing areas have been replaced by water as a result of gravel quarrying near the Meuse.

Tourism is an essential sector of the economy, especially in the hilly southern part of the province. The town of Valkenburg is the main centre.

In 2005, the two provincial newspapers, De Limburger and Limburgs Dagblad, merged.

Culture[edit]

Architecturally high-quality castles in Limburg
Architecturally high-quality buildings of religious origin, like former monasteries
Typical half-timbered houses
Folklore
Bicycle-racing

Essential elements in Limburgian culture are

  • Music (most places have their own wind band);
  • Religion (predominantly Roman Catholic);
  • Folklore (in especially the southern part of the province);
  • Carnival;
  • Sports, of which especially bicycle racing and soccer are most popular;
  • Art (architecture, among others).

Music[edit]

Choral singing is popular in Limburg. One of its best-known choruses is the Mastreechter Staar (Maastricht Star), which performs nationally and internationally.

Every four years the World Music Contest, a competition for professional, amateur and military band sometimes called the Olympic Games of brass band music is held in Kerkrade. In 2013 and 2009 the winner in the World Concert Division was the Koninklijke Harmonie Sainte Cécile, from Eijsden (Limburg)[3]

Also held in Kerkrade (situated on the German border) is the Schlagerfestival, a nationally broadcast event presenting singers of German-language pop music called Schlagers.

Since 1969 yearly on the Pentecost weekend an international pop music festival called Pinkpop Festival takes place in the southern part of Limburg; initially at Geleen, since 1988 at Schaesberg.

More nationally or internationally known musicians from this province are mentioned hereunder in section "Famous Limburgians".

The Limburg Symphony Orchestra, that resided and rehearsed in Maastricht, and was the oldest symphony orchestra of the Netherlands (founded in 1883) following elimination of government grants merged with Het Brabants Orkest to form a single ensemble with the new name of the philharmonie zuidnederland, as of April 2013.[4]

Folklore[edit]

Many places in both Netherlands' and Belgian Limburg still have their own (by now folkloristic) citizen force. Yearly there's a festival, in which all 160 of them compete for the highest honours to be gained, in the "OLS" (Oud Limburgs Schuttersfeest), which is held in either a place in Belgian Limburg or in Netherlands' Limburg.

Sports[edit]

Football

In Limburg there are currently four professional Football clubs; Roda JC Kerkrade, VVV-Venlo, MVV Maastricht and Fortuna Sittard. They all compete in the second highest division.

Cycling

In 2012, for the sixth time, the UCI Road World Championships will be held in the hilly southern part of the province. The area also plays background to the Amstel Gold Race classic.

Handball

Team handball is the third most popular sport in Limburg. The women's team, HV Swift Roermond, has won the national championship in the highest division 19 times. The male teams, Sittardia (Sittard), Vlug en Lenig (Geleen) and BFC (Beek), which in 2008 merged as the Limburg Lions, have in total won the national championship 25 times.

Famous Limburgians[edit]

Politics, science, other

Entertainment, arts

Sports

(List of famous Belgian Limburgians: Famous Limburgians (Belgium))

Nature[edit]

In 2012, from April 5 till oktober 7 the ten yearly world horticulture expo "Floriade" was held in Venlo.

Nationally and internationally known are nature films and nature television series produced by filmdirector Maurice Nijsten and nature protector Jo Erkens.

At Eijsden the Meuse river enters this province as well as the country
Path in Southern Limburgian Ravensbos
River Gulp near Slenaken
Site at the Mooker heath in Northern Limburg
Oud-Lemiers near Vaals, as seen from the Schneeberg in Germany
Brunssummer heath in South Eastern Limburg

See also[edit]

Map of Limburg (2012)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Limburg is the only province in the Netherlands that calls the King's Commissioner a Governor.
  2. ^ Cnaan Lipshiz (May 19, 2014). "For Some Dutch Jews, Limburg Province Was Refuge in Storm of Holocaust". The Forward. 
  3. ^ Results WMC 2013
  4. ^ "Gefuseerd orkest verder als philharmonie zuidnederland". Trouw. 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2013-04-09. 

External links[edit]