Provinces of the Netherlands
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
A Dutch province represents the administrative layer in the Netherlands between the national government and the local municipalities, having the responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance.
The government of provinces
The government of each province consists of three major parts:
- the Provinciale Staten which is the provincial parliament elected every four years. The number of members depends on the number of inhabitants of the province, and varies in 2015 between 39 and 55. Being a member is a part-time job. The main task of Provinciale Staten is to check the work of Gedeputeerde Staten.
- the Gedeputeerde Staten, a college elected from among the members of the Provinciale Staten and charged with most executive tasks. Each province has between 3 and 7 deputees, each having their own task. The task of Gedeputeerde Staten is the overall management of the province.
- the Commissaris van de Koning, a single person who is appointed by the Crown and presides over the Gedeputeerde Staten as well as over the Provinciale Staten. The commissioner is appointed for 6 years, after which period reappointment for another 6 years is possible.
The members of the Provinciale Staten are elected every four years by direct voting. To a large extent, the same political parties are enlisted in these elections in the national elections. The chosen provincial councillors will elect the members of the national Senate (Eerste Kamer in Dutch), within 3 months after the elections.
At the same date as the provincial election, each four years, the elections for the Water boards take place.
List of elections
- Dutch provincial elections, 2007
- Dutch provincial elections, 2011
- Dutch provincial elections, 2015, on 18 March 2015
The core tasks
The provinces of the Netherlands have 7 core tasks
- Sustainable spatial development, including water management.
- Environment, energy and climate
- Vital countryside
- Regional accessibility and regional public transport
- Regional economy
- Cultural infrastructure and preservation
- Quality of public administration
The provinces of the Netherlands are financed to a large extent by the national government of The Netherlands. Besides that, provinces have income from a part of the road tax. Several provinces have made a large profit in the past from privatising utility companies, which were originally owned or partly owned by the provinces. An example is the Essent, which was originally owned by 6 provinces and more than 100 municipalities and was sold for around 9.3 billion euros.
List of provinces
The currently existing 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).
The twelve provinces are listed below.
|Province||Flag||Arms||Capital||Largest city||King's Commissioner||Area||Population||Population density|
|Drenthe||Assen||Assen||Jacques Tichelaar||2,680 km2 (1,030 sq mi)||489,077||182/km2 (470/sq mi)|
|Flevoland||Lelystad||Almere||Leen Verbeek||2,412 km2 (931 sq mi)||399,673||166/km2 (430/sq mi)|
|Fryslân[A]||Leeuwarden||Leeuwarden||John Jorritsma||5,749 km2 (2,220 sq mi)||646,354||112/km2 (290/sq mi)|
|Gelderland||Arnhem||Nijmegen||Clemens Cornielje||5,136 km2 (1,983 sq mi)||2,019,296||393/km2 (1,020/sq mi)|
|Groningen [B]||Groningen||Groningen||Max van den Berg||2,960 km2 (1,140 sq mi)||582,846||197/km2 (510/sq mi)|
|Limburg||Maastricht||Maastricht||Theo Bovens[C]||2,209 km2 (853 sq mi)||1,121,021||508/km2 (1,320/sq mi)|
|North Brabant||'s-Hertogenbosch[D]||Eindhoven||Wim van de Donk||5,082 km2 (1,962 sq mi)||2,479,045||488/km2 (1,260/sq mi)|
|North Holland||Haarlem[E]||Amsterdam[E]||Johan Remkes||4,091 km2 (1,580 sq mi)||2,739,032||670/km2 (1,700/sq mi)|
|Overijssel||Zwolle||Enschede||Ank Bijleveld||3,421 km2 (1,321 sq mi)||1,139,635||333/km2 (860/sq mi)|
|South Holland||The Hague[F]||Rotterdam||Jaap Smit||3,419 km2 (1,320 sq mi)||3,575,451||1,046/km2 (2,710/sq mi)|
|Utrecht||Utrecht||Utrecht||Willibrord van Beek||1,449 km2 (559 sq mi)||1,252,233||864/km2 (2,240/sq mi)|
|Zeeland||Middelburg||Middelburg||Han Polman||2,933 km2 (1,132 sq mi)||380,783||130/km2 (340/sq mi)|
- Friesland in Dutch; The official name Fryslân is in the West Frisian language
- Grönnen in Gronings; Grinslân in West Frisian
- The function is titled governor in Limburg
- Also Den Bosch in Dutch.
- Amsterdam is the national capital of the Netherlands. Haarlem is, however, the capital of the province in which both Amsterdam and Haarlem are situated.
- Den Haag or 's-Gravenhage in Dutch. The Dutch parliament and the Dutch government are located in The Hague along with the Supreme Court and the Council of State.
The province with most inhabitants is Zuid Holland. This province has in 2009 over 3.5 million inhabitants. With approximately 381,000 Zeeland has the smallest population. Gelderland, with 5,136 km2 is the largest province in terms of area. The smallest province of Utrecht, with 1,449 km2. In total about 13.000 people had a job working in a province 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 EU in Brussels.
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 from 1588 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.
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||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:
|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.
There is continuous discussion within The Netherlands about the future of the provinces. Before 2014, the national government was planning to join the provinces Flevoland, Noord-Holland and Utrecht in a single province (Noordvleugelprovincie). Due to a lot of protets, the plan was abandoned
- ISO 3166-2:NL
- Table of administrative divisions by country
- Ranked list of Dutch provinces
- Flags of provinces of the Netherlands
- Coats of arms of provinces of the Netherlands
- Provincial politics in the Netherlands
- (Dutch)Provinciale Staten
- (Dutch)IPO, core task of provinces
- "Regionale kerncijfers Nederland" [Regional key figures for the Netherlands]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- Daum, Andreas (2005). Berlin - Washington, 1800–2000 Capital Cities, Cultural Representation, and National Identities. Cambridge University Press. pp. 13, 38. ISBN 0521841178.
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)
- (Dutch)IPO: did you know...
- (Dutch)No joining of provinces
- Population and area figures
- Basic data for each province, with links to official province sites
- Provinces of the Netherlands at statoids.com
- Municipality data by province
- Historical boundaries of provinces of the Netherlands