1. The Netherlands and Water

What would happen if the Netherlands were not protected by dikes and duines.
Animation: The Netherlands without dikes and duines
Water has always played a central part in Dutch history. On one hand it brought wealth to the Netherlands through trade and fishery; on the other hand it brought a number of losses through the many floods. To date water has remained important for the Netherlands. From a geographical point of view, the Netherlands are placed in a very favorable position; at the sea and in the delta (a triangular section of land at the mouth of a river) of four large rivers.

The Dutch surface area has almost doubled through centuries of “impoldering” (area drained and prepared for agriculture) lakes and parts of the sea. As a result of this impoldering almost 40 percent of the land lies below sea level. Areas include large parts of the highly populated and the economically important west, with cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. To keep these areas dry, superfluous water is continuously pumped out of the polders. Furthermore, the Netherlands is protected from floods through a combination of levees, dunes, dams and barriers.  After the last big flood of 1953, people decided to build the Delta Works; one of the largest built flood protection and water management projects in the world.