How the Dutch dug up their country from the sea (Flevoland & Lelystad as example)

Flevoland, a province in the center of Netherlands, was established in 1986. Lelystad is the capital of the country’s twelfth province, which is home to 400,000 inhabitants. Thanks to its massive earthworks people say about the Netherlands that the world was created by God, but Holland was created by the Dutch. They drained lakes and seas in order to create Flevoland, the largest artificial island in the world.

For more than 2,000 years, the Dutch have been striving to hold back as well as reclaim land. The Frisians, the first settlers in the Netherlands, started building terpen (dikes) to safeguard their land from the North Sea. In 1287, the terpens failed, causing a flood in the country and formation of the new bay Zuiderzee over the farmland.

The Dutch worked consistently for a few centuries to slowly push the water out of Zuiderzee and built dikes and created polders, pieces of reclaimed land. After building the dikes, the water was pumped out to keep the land dry.

A flood in 1916, gave the Dutch the impetus to close the Zuiderzee, the inland sea. The work was started in 1920 with the building of a dike that closed off the shallow bay in northeast Netherlands. Over the years, the bay was drained in stages in order to create Flevoland, the land of polders. Flevopolder, referred to as the land combined by two polders that were created in the 1950s and 1960s, is separated by a dike and is kept dry by operating diesel and electric pumps. If one part of the Flevopolder gets flooded, the other part will be protected by the dike.

The architects have left a stream of water between the new dry land and the old coastline to provide access to the sea. Unlike the other islands around the world, the Flevopolder has not been raised above the sea level.


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