|• Body||Municipal council|
|• Mayor||Jurrit Visser (PvdA)|
|• Total||673.99 km2 (260.23 sq mi)|
|• Land||86.16 km2 (33.27 sq mi)|
|• Water||587.83 km2 (226.96 sq mi)|
|Elevation||6 m (20 ft)|
|Population (August 2013)|
|• Density||56/km2 (150/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Waddenislanders are known for their resourcefulness in using anything and everything that washes ashore. With few trees to use for timber, most of the farms and barns are built with masts recovered from shipwrecks. The islands are surrounded by shipwrecks, and even today many containers wash ashore that are blown off the decks of cargo ships in the North Sea.
The main source of income on Terschelling is tourism. There is some agriculture, but a large part of the island has become a nature reserve.
Terschelling is well known for the yearly Oerol Festival during which theatre performances are played throughout the island, making use of its landscape and nature.
The island in its current shape was formed in the Middle Ages from a sandy area called De Schelling in the west and the original island Wexalia in the east. The name Wexalia, Wuxalia, or Wecsile is the medieval name of eastern Terschelling. However this name disappeared at the end of the Middle Ages. The last appearance of the name Wexalia is in a treaty between Folkerus Reijner Popma, then ruler of Terschelling, with king Edward IV of England in 1482.
The oldest traces of civilisation on Terschelling date from around 850, when a small wooden church was built on a hill near Seerip or Strip. This hill was later used as a burial ground and is known as the ”Striperkerkhof”.
Historically tensions existed between the inhabitants of West-Terschelling, with its strong orientation towards the sea, and the more agriculturally oriented inhabitants of East-Terschelling. In 1612 this led to the division of the island in independent political entities, West-Terschelling and East-Terschelling. Only after the French occupation at the start of the 19th century was Terschelling united as one entity again.
The Dutch navigator Willem Barentsz was born on Terschelling around 1550.
In 1666 West-Terschelling was ransacked by the English. The English fleet originally planned to attack the Dutch merchant fleet which was moored before the coast of Vlieland, the next island to the west. When the Dutch vessels retreated towards Terschelling, the English followed, destroyed 150 Dutch vessels, and landed in the harbour of West-Terschelling. The town was burnt to the ground by the English on this occasion which would become known as "Holmes's Bonfire" after the English admiral Holmes, the Great Fire of London in the very same year was considered by some to have been God's retribution. The next year, in 1667, the Dutch under command of De Ruyter executed a retaliatory expedition, and dealt the English navy a heavy blow at the Raid on the Medway (also known as the Battle of Chatham), in effect ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
Although Dutch is the national language of the Netherlands, on Terschelling both Dutch and Frisian are spoken. Frisian is said to be the closest living relative to Early English. Historically on the western side and on the eastern side of the island Frisian dialects dominated. Whereas a Dutch dialect called Midslands was the main language of Midsland and the surrounding area on the center of the island. The use of the three dialects is on the decline on Terschelling and all dialects are slowly being replaced by the standard Dutch language.
The island is known for being one of only two Wadden islands where cranberries grow, the other being the Island of Vlieland. In 1840, a barrel of cranberries, apparently packed by sailors as an antiscorbutic, washed ashore on the island's coast, and the islanders cultivated them for their own sailors.
The cranberries, finding the environment favourable, established themselves on the island. Nowadays, the cranberry fields cover 0.48 km2 (0.185 sq mi) or 48 ha (119 acres). The cranberries are mainly sold to tourists and used by the island's restaurants and bakeries, who compete continually with each other to make the tastiest cranberry delicacies.
Areas in Terschelling are the following: (Standard West Frisian names in brackets)
- Baaiduinen (Baaidunen)
- Formerum (Formearum)
- Hoorn (Hoarne)
- Kinnum (Kinum)
- Midsland (Midslân)
- Midsland aan Zee (Midslân oan See)
- Midsland-Noord (Midslân-Noard)
- Oosterend (Aasterein)
- Seerijp (Stryp)
- West aan Zee (West)
- West-Terschelling (seat) (West-Schylge)
- "College van B&W" [Board of mayor and aldermen] (in Dutch). Gemeente Terschelling. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
- "Postcodetool for 8881EB". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.