Zeeland, also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands (hence its name, meaning "sea-land") and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about 2,930 km², of which almost 1,140 km² is water.
Large parts of Zeeland are below sea level. The last great flooding of the area was in 1953. Tourism is an important economic activity. In the summer, its beaches make it a popular destination for tourists, especially German tourists. In some areas, the population can be two to four times higher during the high summer season. The coat of arms of Zeeland shows a lion half-emerged from water, and the text "luctor et emergo" (Latin for "I struggle and I emerge"). The Pacific nation of New Zealand is named after Zeeland.
Nehalennia is a goddess of the ancient religion known around the province of Zeeland. Her worship dates back at least to the 2nd century BC, and flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. She was possibly a regional goddess, either Celtic or pre-Germanic – sources differ on the culture that first worshipped her. During the Roman Era, her main function appeared to be the protection of travelers, especially seagoing travelers crossing the North Sea. Most of what is known about her comes from the remains of over 160 carved stone offerings (votives) which have been dredged up from the Oosterschelde since 1970. Two more Nehalennia offering stones have also been found in Cologne, Germany.
Zeeland was a contested area between the counts of Holland and Flanders until 1299, when the last count of Holland died, the Counts of Hainaut gained control of the countship of Zeeland. Followed by the counts of Bavaria, Burgundy and Habsburg. After 1585 Zeeland followed, as one of the 7 independent provinces, the fate of the Northern part of The Netherlands.
In 1432 it became part of the Low Countries possessions of Philip the Good of Burgundy, the later Seventeen Provinces. Through marriage, the Seventeen Provinces became property of the Habsburgs in 1477. In the Eighty Years' War, Zeeland was on the side of the Union of Utrecht, and became one of the United Provinces. The area now called Zeeuws-Vlaanderen was not part of Zeeland, but a part of the countship of Flanders (still under Habsburg) that was conquered by the United Provinces, hence called Staats-Vlaanderen (see: Generality Lands). After the French occupation (see département Bouches-de-l'Escaut) and the formation of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, the present province Zeeland was formed. During the Second World War, Zeeland was occupied by German forces between June 1940 and November 1944. In 1944, Zeeland was devastated by the Battle of the Scheldt and the between British and Canadian forces, and the occupying Germans. The catastrophic North Sea Flood of 1953, which killed over 1,800 people in Zeeland, led to the construction of the protective Delta Works.
See also op Werelate
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