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Holland is a region in the western part of the Netherlands. A maritime and economic power in the 17th century, Holland today consists of the Dutch provinces of North Holland and South Holland.

The name Holland first appeared in sources in 866 for the region around Haarlem, and by 1064 was being used for the name of the entire county. By this time, the inhabitants of Holland were referring to themselves as "Hollanders".[1] Holland is derived from the Middle Dutch term holtland ("wooded land"). This spelling variation remained in use until around the 14th century, at which time the name stabilised as Holland (alternative spellings at the time were Hollant and Hollandt). Popular, but incorrect, etymology holds that Holland is derived from hol land ("hollow land") and was inspired by the low-lying geography of Holland.

 

Holland is situated in the west of the Netherlands. A maritime water-oriented region, Holland lies on the North Sea at the mouths of the Rhine and the Meuse (Maas). It has numerous rivers and lakes and an extensive inland canal and waterway system. To the south is Zealand. The region is bordered on the east by the IJsselmeer and four different provinces of the Netherlands.

Holland is protected from the sea by a long line of coastal dunes. Most of the land area behind the dunes consists of polder landscape lying well below sea level. At present the lowest point in Holland is a polder near Rotterdam, which is about seven meters below sea level. Continuous drainage is necessary to keep Holland from flooding. In earlier centuries windmills were used for this task. The landscape was (and in places still is) dotted with windmills, which have become a symbol of Holland.

Holland is 7,494 square kilometres (land and water included), making it roughly 13% of the area of the Netherlands. Looking at land alone, it is 5,488 square kilometres in size. The combined population is 6.1 million.

The main cities in Holland are Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Amsterdam is formally the capital of the Netherlands and its most important city. The Port of Rotterdam is Europe's largest and most important harbour and port. The Hague is the seat of government of the Netherlands. These cities, combined with Utrecht and other smaller municipalities, effectively form a single city - a conurbation called Randstad.

The Randstad area is one of the most densely populated regions of Europe, but still relatively free of urban sprawl. There are strict zoning laws. Population pressures are enormous, property values are high, and new housing is constantly under development on the edges of the built-up areas. Surprisingly, much of the province still has a rural character. The remaining agricultural land and natural areas are highly valued and protected. Most of the arable land is used for intensive agriculture, including horticulture and greenhouse agri-businesses.

 

The language primarily spoken in Holland is Dutch. Hollanders often refer to the Dutch language as "Hollands".

The standard Dutch that is spoken in the Netherlands is mostly based on the Dutch spoken in Holland; however, there are many local variations in dialect throughout the Netherlands.

Despite the correspondence between standard Dutch and the Dutch spoken in Holland, there are local variations within Holland itself that differ from standard Dutch. The main cities each have their own traditional dialect. A small number of people, especially in the area north of Amsterdam, still speak what is considered to be an original, older dialect, called "Hollandic". The areas where people still speak with the Hollandic dialect are Volendam and Marken and the area around there, West Friesland and the Zaanstreek.

"Holland" is not in itself a province of the Netherlands. It is divided into two provinces of the Netherlands -- North Holland (Noord-Holland) and South Holland (Zuid-Holland). These provinces were created in 1840 largely because it was unacceptable for Holland to remain such an overwhelmingly large and powerful province in comparison to the other provinces. A few regions that were historically part of Holland have been ceded to other provinces.

  • Some cessions occurred as a result of reforms during the French occupation (1795-1813).
  • In 1950, the island of Urk went to the province of Overijssel and then in 1986 to the province of Flevoland.
  • In 1989 Woerden was transferred from South Holland to the province of Utrecht.
  • In 2002 Vianen was transferred from South Holland to the province of Utrecht.
  • The municipality of Eemnes has a co-operation with Laren and Blaricum. They are collectively referred to as the "BEL region".

Some territory was gained:

 

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