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Zeeland is one of the Netherlands' twelve provinces, located in the western part of the state. The province includes the Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen, a strip of the Flanders mainland found to the north of Belgium, and six former islands (Schouwen en Duiveland, Tholen, Noord-Beveland, Walcheren, Zuid-Beveland, and Sint Philipsland), all of which are now either connected to each other or to the Noord-Brabant province. Zeeland borders North Brabant to the east and South Holland to the north. The area also contributes to the Netherlands' state borders with Belgium to the south and west. Middelburg is the province's capital, yet the largest city is Terneuzen. Apart from being Zeeland's capital, Middelburg is home to over 1,100 historical buildings and Zeeuws Museum, which showcases the province's history. Concerning the local landscape, Zeeland consists of woods and dunes, with most of its territory lying below sea level and a considerable amount of its land being reclaimed from the water. Furthermore, the Delta Project was launched after the floods in 1953, connecting the islands and damming the sea channels. Now, people tend to visit Zeeland not only for its cultural and historical heritage but also for its diverse nature, which can be explored by bike, as Zeeland abounds a cycling network with bike cafes along the way.
Middelburg, the capital city of Zeeland, is located in the central part of the region. The town used to be second after Amsterdam in the number of historic buildings. Currently, there are over 1,100 listed historical buildings in Middelburg that can remind tourists of the city's history. During the peak of the Dutch East India Company, Middelburg was reportedly among the most prominent settlements in the Netherlands. Now, an Abbey is located in the city center, from which visitors can take a stroll to the tower called Lange Jan. The Abbey complex in the city center houses the Zeeuws Museum, showcasing the province's history through displays that range from Zeeland's traditional costumes to tapestries from the 16th century.
Middelburg isn't the only place in Zeeland with an abundance of cultural and historical heritage. A number of people consider the town of Domburg to be the best-known artists' village in Zeeland. Since 1870, an artistic colony has developed in Domburg, and to this day, the artistic tradition is kept alive in the town. Amid the historical sights scattered across the region, there are three medieval castles that tourists can visit. Kasteel Westhove was rated first out of the Netherlands' "top five" castles in 2022, as it dates back to the 13th century. Presently, the Terra Maris museum is located in the castle's former orangery. Another medieval construction is Slot Haamstede castle, which dates back to the 13th century as well. Notably, traces of Norman and Roman occupants have been found on the local island. Thus, the castle and its adjacent territory of dunes and woodlands are now preserved as a natural monument. Other castles within Zeeland's borders include Slot Moermond, Castle Ter Hooge, and Arendsslot, to name a few.
Another draw to the Zeeland province is its nature. In this area, Tourists can find a variety of landscapes, including woods and dunes, that are inhabited by animals such as deer, seals, and porpoises. One of the natural areas in Zeeland is Manteling van Walcheren, which is reportedly "the most varied" coastal area in the province. Manteling van Walcheren has been nominated as a Natura 2000 area, as it is one of a few European sites with woods in such close proximity to the coast. Thus, the area is home to various plants and animals. One option for exploring the Zeeland province and its nature is by taking a bike ride, as the area is among the best-rated cycling provinces in the Netherlands. Across the territory, a network of cycling routes extends with a number of bike cafes along the way.
The province of Zeeland is formed by a river delta found at the mouth of several rivers, namely the Scheldt, Rhine, and Meuse. The area consists of islands and peninsulas from the northern Schouwen-Duiveland, through Tholen, Noord-Beveland, and Walcheren, all the way to the southern Zuid-Beveland. To the south, Zeeland borders Belgium with a section of land called Zeelandic Flanders. Concerning the landscape, most of the region lies below sea level, as it has been reclaimed from the sea. The reclaimed land is formed by man-made hills, which are connected by dikes that were used to ensure the ground would stay dry. Eventually, the land grew into bigger islands forming the Zeeland province as we know it today. Additionally, the North Sea flood of 1953, which insulated a considerable amount of land, led to further changes and progress in infrastructure, dams, and tunnels.
Salt marshes, mudflats, polders, and dikes, as well as forests and dunes, contribute to Zeeland's nature. In the northern part of the territory, on Schouwen-Duiveland is located the "boulevard of birds," which is the nickname of the Plan Tureluur nature area. Another nature spot is the Manteling heathland area, with several woods and bushes that are inhabited by deer. Concerning aquatic species, the clean waters of Zeeland province are home to porpoises, cuttlefish, squid, and seals. Tourists can observe seals from the shores of the Oosterschelde, Westerschelde, and Grevelingen.
Regarding the temperatures in Zeeland's capital, Middelburg—found in the central part of the territory—the warmest month is August, with an average daily temperature of 23°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, as temperatures typically rest around 7°C on average. April tends to be the driest month in Middelburg on account of it generally receiving 41 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during December, as it receives an average of about 83 mm. Due to the month of May experiencing about 236 hours of sunshine, this particular month is considered to be the sunniest month in Zeeland.
Until 1299, Zeeland was divided between the counts of Holland and Flanders, which continued until the last of the Holland counts died. In the following centuries, counts of Hainaut, Bavaria, Burgundy, and Habsburg alternated in control over Zeeland’s territory. The province of Zeeland was formed in 1815, after the end of French occupation and the formation of the United Kingdom of Netherlands. For four years during the Second World War, Zeeland was occupied by German Nazi forces. The occupation lasted until 1944, when the province’s territory was damaged by the Battle of the Scheldt and the Walcheren Landings, eventually leading to the Inundation of Walcheren between British and Canadian forces and the occupying Nazis.
Concerning the land reclaimed from water, in terms of size, Zeeland is the second-largest in the Netherlands behind Flevoland. Historically, Zeeland’s territory consisted of a considerable number of islands that would usually get flooded during spring tides, with some of the land being reclaimed from the sea. However, in 1953, the province was damaged by water, with over 1,800 people losing their lives due to the flooding. Thus, the Dutch government implemented the “Delta Project,” which intended to dam the major sea channels and protect the land. Additionally, the project aimed to further connect the islands with the mainland and one another.
In today’s time, Zeeland has one of the smallest populations in the Netherlands. A considerable part of Zeeland’s marine clay soil supports cereals, potatoes, sugar beets, and other cash crops. Additionally, oyster culture and shrimp and mussel fisheries are also traditional in Zeeland.
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