For those of you who have never heard of this, one third of the Dutch Soil is below sea level. As an uncle of mine who’s pilot once told me, he found it very special everytime he landed at Schiphol due to Dutch official’s greeting “Welcome to Schiphol Amsterdam at 3 m below sea level’ when his plane approached this Dutch international airport.
The blue marked areas are below sea level. Underneath, you see more detailed map of The Netherlands. The Dutch big cities (‘s-Gravenhage below Amsterdam is Den Haag or The Hague) are actually built ‘under sea level’. I live in Arnhem, nearby German border (far right, in the middle), safely high and dry according to the map below :-).
Let me begin by explaining the country’s name itself, The Netherlands as Neder=low Land=Land, the Low Lands, Les Pays-Bas. This explains the spelling of it in plural form with The before).
The worst flood
The Dutchies had ever experienced took place in 1953 in the Zeeland Province (South of NL). The threat of such flood is still potent, that’s why Dutch Government installed this Delta Commission directly after 1953’s disaster. At 3 September 2008 a national Delta Commission presented its plan to protect NL from floods & dike breaks. Those who are really interested in this can look here
for detailed information. This ambitious plan will cost Dutch government starting from the year 2010 to 2050 € 1,3 billion till € 1,9 billion annually.
The Dutchies had begun in early years in their battle against flood. I found a report that North Sea Canal was built in 1865. Water Engineering is one of Dutch successful export product. Major Dutch Engineering and Dredging companies have built/are building mega projects all over the world such as the Islands Palm Jumeira and the World in Dubai (Ballast Ham Dredging), new dike lines in New Orleans, USA (Boskalis, Royal Haskoning & Arcadis).
Let’s hope that Delta Commission will succeed in its plan, otherwise there’s a risk that my children’s children will have to experience the big flood.