|— Municipality —|
|• Total||199.07 km2 (76.86 sq mi)|
|• Land||40.54 km2 (15.65 sq mi)|
|• Water||158.52 km2 (61.20 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2007)|
|• Density||23/km2 (60/sq mi)|
|Source: CBS, Statline.|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Schiermonnikoog ([ˌsxiːr.mɔ.nə.ˈkoʊ̯x] ( listen); West Frisian: Skiermûntseach) is an island, a municipality, and a national park in the northern Netherlands. Schiermonnikoog is one of the West Frisian Islands, and is part of the province of Friesland.
The island is 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) long and 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) wide and is the site of the Netherlands' first national park. The only village on the island is also called Schiermonnikoog. Just under 1,000 people permanently reside on the island, making the municipality the least densely populated in the Netherlands. Because the island is small and flat, only 200 islanders have taken out the special licence allowing them to keep their own car, with the result that the few streets are virtually car-free.
Up to 300,000 people visit the island every year, staying in the 5,500 beds available in holiday homes, apartments and hotels. Most visitors, however, are day trippers (about 4,000/day in July and August alone), with the result that after the last ferry leaves at 6.30pm, calm returns to Langestreek, the village high street.
The first known owners of Schiermonnikoog were the monks of Klaarkamp Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Rinsumageest, on the mainland. "Monnik" means "monk" and "schier" is an archaic word meaning "grey", referring to the colour of the monks' habits. "oog" translates as "island". The name Schiermonnikoog therefore translates as island of the grey monks.
The tidal current, prevailing wind and the sea cause the island to slowly "move" to the south and the east. In the year 1250, it lay roughly 2 km to the north of its present position, and it had a significantly different shape.
The oldest mention of Schiermonnikoog in writing dates from October 1440, in a document written by Philip the Good.
During the Reformation, the monasteries in the northern Netherlands were expropriated. In 1580, Schiermonnikoog became the property of the States of Friesland. Around 1640, the States sold the island to the wealthy Stachouwer family. For the next three centuries, Schiermonnikoog remained private property.
Around 1700, the population of Schiermonnikoog was divided among four villages or communities. The largest village was Westerburen, which had developed in the vicinity of the monks' buildings. In 1717 and 1720, storms flooded Westerburen, which had to be abandoned around 1725, prey to drifting sand and the advancing sea. In 1756 a new town, named Oosterburen, was built to the east. Nowadays this second village is named Schiermonnikoog, after the island. At about this time the residents revolted against Lady Catharina Maria Stachouwer, which forced the States of Friesland to send troops to protect her and restore law and order.
In August 1799, a small Royal Navy squadron under Captain Adam Mackenzie of HMS Pylades, attacked and captured the ex-British gun-brig Crash, moored between Schiermonnikoog and Groningen. The boats of the squadron then attacked a six gun Dutch schooner Vengeance and a battery on Schiermonnikoog. The British were able to burn the schooner and spike the guns of the battery.[Note 1]
In 1859, the Stachouwer family sold the island to John Eric Banck from The Hague. Amongst other works he started planting the sand dunes with marram grass to stabilize them. There is now a monument to him on the top of the dike that he built. In 1878 he sold the island to the German count, Hartwig Arthur van Bernstorff-Wehningen. When the count died in 1940, his son Bechtold Eugen Graf von Bernstorff inherited Schiermonnikoog. When World War II broke out and the German military occupied the island, he ensured that the islanders were largely left in peace. When von Bernstorff died in 1987, his family was allowed to bury him beside the Reformed Church in the village.
During World War II, the German Army heavily fortified the island as part of the Atlantic Wall defence line. The number of German troops came to equal the island’s own population of 600. Towards the end of the war, hundreds of SS troops along with members of the SD fled to the island, reinforcing the German contingent already there. After the war ended, the Germans on the island had not yet surrendered, and the Canadian forces, which were responsible for the sector, did not want to have to fight to force a surrender. Fortunately, the German commander agreed to surrender and the German soldiers were evacuated to Wilhelmshaven in Germany. On June 11, 1945, the island became the last part of Europe freed by the Allies.
After World War II, the Dutch government confiscated Schiermonnikoog as 'enemy property'. Schiermonnikoog became an independent municipality in 1949, as part of the Province of Friesland.
On 1 January 2006 the eastern border of the island was moved eastbound, further into the now former territory of the municipality of Eemsmond in the province of Groningen, for a compensation of about 30.000 euros. This was done to give the municipality of Schiermonnikoog the possibility to act in case of a calamity or disaster.
The main source of income on Schiermonnikoog is tourism. The island houses a campground, a ferry pier, a tidal harbour for small vessels and approximately 15 hotels and hundreds of vacation houses and apartments. The eastern part of the island forms an important nature reserve, with access very restricted during the breeding season of the many birds that nest there. The island as a whole is Schiermonnikoog National Park, one of the Dutch national parks.
The only public transport to Schiermonnikoog is a ferry from the lock and harbour complex of Lauwersoog. Even during the winter months there are more than two connections per day.
Tourists are not allowed to bring their cars with them on the ferry. Buses connect the village with the ferry. The most common form of transport is by bicycle; a network of cycle paths criss-crosses the island.
However the buses were probably the most important source of dangerous to health gases. But from the beginning of 2013 the Chinese electric buses BYD eBUS-12(range of about 250 km) would be the only buses on the island, at least in the 15 years period(BYD won contract, beating its European opponents)
- This exploit would earn those seamen who survived until 1847 the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "SCHIERMONNIKOOG 12 AUGT. 1799".
See also 
- Stenvert, R. et al. (2000). Monumenten in Nederland: Friesland, p. 265–267. Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers. ISBN 90-400-9476-4.
- van Dale groot woordenboek der nederlandse taal, twaalfde druk
- Van de Ven, G. (editor) (1996). Leefbaar laagland, p. 90. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Matrijs. ISBN 90-5345-031-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Schiermonnikoog|
- Website of Schiermonnikoog
- Tourism Office Website
- Wagenborg: Ferry Service to Schiermonnikoog and Ameland
- Circus Theater Dagen: Circus, Activities, Events in Schiermonnikoog, May 2008
- Barry Yeoman, Destination: Wadden Islands, Attaché magazine
- Dutch documentary soap opera about people living on Schiermonnikoog
- A travel account by a Yemeni who traveled to Schiermonnikoog, Yemen Observer newspaper
- Schiermonnikoog: An article
De Marne (GR)