A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Conquering the Ocean: Almere

Called as the land below the sea, the Dutch has probably the most expertise on earth on managing water and keep the water from flooding the lands that are below the sea level. However, did you know that this expertise extended to claiming land from the ocean, and some neighbourhoods and towns that look just as normal with houses and trees now were not there a couple of decades ago? In this series, I will tell you about examples of Dutch land reclamation that dates back to as early as the 14th century and left me speechless when I first found out about.

Being a densely populated country, the Netherlands was (and of course still is) in need of land. The area where Almere is right now was constructed as a part of The Zuiderzee Works (Dutch: Zuiderzeewerken), a system of dams and dikes, land reclamation and water drainage work, started in 1918, the largest project of its own kind for the country in the 20th century, done as three parts.

Even though the initial plan for it was to be used for agriculture, because of the advantageous location, close to the heavily urbanised centre of the country and in particular to Amsterdam,  this area was planned to be a new urban area to answer the problems of overpopulation of the old land and the housing shortage. (Maybe didn’t solve them completely) Two towns were planned in the polders of  East and South Flevoland: Lelystad and Almere.

With the South Flevoland polder reclaimed from the sea in 1968, the first was built in Almere in 1976, which became a municipality in 1984. It grew quickly to be the 7th largest municipality in the Netherlands with 202,764 citizens in 2017, which is projected to be expanded to 350,000 by 2030.

Today, built 700 years later than Amsterdam, Almere is known for its modern architecture and is the answer for people working in Amsterdam but doesn’t (or can’t) live there with only 20 minutes of a train ride. What was an ocean back then is now a lake.

To me,  this is one of the best examples of how efficient the Dutch are in making use of what they have: land or sea. Crazy what mankind do, isn’t it? It is impossible to see this area only existed for 40 years now with its landscape of trees and dunes and modern neighbourhoods. If you don’t believe me, you should take an afternoon to see it.

What do you think about the Dutch land reclamation? Share in the comments!







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This entry was posted on August 12, 2019 by in Culture, Esra, Living in Holland, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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