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Zuid-Holland, or South Holland in English, is one of the Netherlands' 12 provinces. The territory of South Holland is located on the western coast of the Netherlands, on the shores of the North Sea. The province is bordered by Noord-Holland to the north, Utrecht and Gelderland to the east, and Noord-Brabant and Zeeland to the south. The capital city of Zuid-Holland is The Hague, which also houses other national and international functions, as it is the seat of the Netherlands' government. The Hague is also the seat of the International Court of Justice of the United Nations. One of the notable attractions in The Hague is the district of Scheveningen, which is a beach resort offering a considerable number of outdoor activities to its visitors. Despite Hague being the capital city, the largest municipality within South Holland's borders is Rotterdam, Europe's largest seaport. Regarding local geography and nature, the province is mostly flat, consisting of polders reclaimed from the water. Several islands connected to the mainland by tunnels and bridges contribute to Zuid-Holland's territory as well. At the southern border of the destination lies De Biesbosch National Park, which is found both in Zuid-Holland Noord-Brabant. De Biesbosch is known as one of Europe's largest freshwater tidal areas, home to several endangered animal and plant species.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and the largest within Zuid-Holland's borders. With a history dating back to the 13th century, the city offers a variety of cultural sights and museums. In Rotterdam can be found, for instance, the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, housing a considerable collection of art ranging from medieval to contemporary works. There is also the Kunsthal Rotterdam showcasing a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year featuring modern art, photography, and design. However, the city is presumably best known for being Europe's largest seaport. Thus, the city also houses the Maritime Museum, which is the oldest and largest museum harbor in the Netherlands. The Maritime Museum of Rotterdam teaches about historical ships, maritime crafts, and shipbuilding in the place where the port of Rotterdam began.
Despite Rotterdam being the most extensive city, the function of the province's capital belongs to The Hague, located in the western part of the territory at South Holland's seashore. Apart from being the province's capital, The Hague is Netherlands' administrative center and also the state's seat of government. Additionally, the city houses several international institutions, such as the International Court of Justice of the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and Europol, among others. The Hague is also home to over 1,000 national monuments, allowing visitors to discover the city's past. Some notable historical and cultural sights include the Jewish Monument, the Scheveningen Fisherman's Wife Monument, and the Independence Monument, representing the foundation of the Netherlands. Other attractions include the Binnenhof, the heart of the country's democracy, and the Peace Palace, symbolizing the city's commitment to peace and justice.
Reportedly the most popular seaside resort in the Netherlands is Scheveningen, which is one of the Hague's districts. Scheveningen boasts a long sandy beach with a pier offering panoramic views of the North Sea. The district also features a considerable range of outdoor water activities, such as surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. Visitors can enjoy restaurants, cafes, and bars along the beach promenade, as well as visit attractions such as the SEA LIFE Scheveningen aquarium. The district is accessible by public transportation. Thus, it is often visited by both locals and tourists.
Zuid-Holland, or South Holland in English, is a province located in the western part of the Netherlands and is mostly flat, consisting of polders. The center and west coast are urbanized, while the eastern part is more agrarian and is included in the "Green Heart" region of Holland. The southern portion of the province comprises several islands in the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, although most of the islands are connected to the mainland through bridges, tunnels, and dams. South Holland is divided into four regions: Rijnmond, South, West, and East. Duin- en Bollenstreek is an area in the northwest of South Holland featuring coastal dunes and flower bulb cultivation. The southern part of the region consists of pastures that transition to more urban areas along the Old Rhine. South Holland also holds part of De Biesbosch, which is one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands and is among the last freshwater tide areas in Europe.
Concerning local production, the sandy soils of the coast are mainly used for horticulture, including flowering bulbs, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Inland areas consist mostly of peat and fertile alluvial clay used for agriculture, dairy farming, and cheese making. Regarding protected areas, the southernmost part of the already-mentioned De Biesbosch National Park, one of Europe's largest freshwater tidal areas is located in Zuid-Holland. Several different landscapes, such as rivers, creeks, lakes, and swamps, create habitats for various species, including beavers, sea eagles, spoonbills, kingfishers, and rare orchids, to name a few. Other protected areas within Zuid-Holland's borders include Delftse Hout, Ackerdijkse Plassen, a bird reserve north of Rotterdam, and Buytenpark and Westerpark. Additionally, to the northeast of Leiden is located the Kagerplassen area comprising several lakes used for boating, watersports, fishing, camping, and walking.
The North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean contribute to the temperate oceanic climate of the Zuid-Holland province, resulting in considerably cool summers and mild winters. Regarding the temperatures in South Holland's largest city, Rotterdam, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 23°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, with temperatures typically resting around 6°C. April tends to be the driest month in Rotterdam due to it receiving 40 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during December, receiving an average of about 84 mm.
The discovery of a skeleton nicknamed Trijntje in Hardinxveld-Giessendam has revealed that people lived in what is now South Holland as early as 5500 BC. About 2000 years later, people transitioned from hunting and fishing to agriculture and livestock and settled in permanent places, as evidenced by the Vlaardingen culture. During Roman times, South Holland was part of Germania Inferior and had several forts and a walled city, Forum Hadriani, near Voorburg. After the Romans left the territory, the area of South Holland was ruled by the Frisian Kingdom before being conquered by the Frankish king, Dagobert I, in 636. The Anglo-Saxon monk Willibrord arrived in the area in 690 and was granted permission to spread Roman Catholicism, leading to the gradual Christianization of the area. The County of Holland was created when Gerolf was granted lands by the king of East Francia in 843. The site remained largely agrarian during the late Middle Ages. However, it eventually became Europe's most urbanized area around 1500.
Holland emerged as a predominant province in the Netherlands, featuring significant trading cities such as Leiden, Delft, Gouda, and Dordrecht. The Hague then became the new political center, where the States of Holland and the States General were seated. During the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, the province prospered. South Holland was the birthplace and residence of scientists, philosophers, and painters such as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Christiaan Huygens, Baruch Spinoza, Pierre Bayle, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Jan Steen. However, the Netherlands was annexed to France in 1795. During that time, Louis Bonaparte was appointed King of Holland by his brother, Napoleon I. In 1806, Louis Bonaparte moved the Holland capital from the Hague to Amsterdam. Yet, all the political and judicial institutions remain in the city of Hague to this day. Another predominant city in South Holland is Rotterdam, which was the world's busiest port between 1962 to 2004 and even today is Europe's largest port.
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