Tholen island is technically not an island, since it is connected to Zuid-Beveland by the Oosterscheldedam and to the province Noord-Brabant via three bridges. The city of Tholen has 6000 inhabitants and is the largest city on the 'island'. Agriculture and mussel fishery are both very important sources of income for the region.
The name Tholen derives from ‘tolle’, which means in Middel Dutch, ‘toll place’. The town of Tholen arose in the thirteenth century around the Eendracht tollhouse (a canalized branch of the river Scheldt), where ships navigating from the river Scheldt towards the Volkerak (or the other direction), had to pay a toll. Tholen experienced a reasonable flowering period thanks to the privileges gained from the population of Holland. Its golden age however ended abruptly in 1452, after a large fire devastated the whole city. Tholen was unable to regain its status and never again played the important role it had done so originally. Apart from the fire, the city was also seriously damaged by water. Tholen was inundated by the Germans in 1944, and during the North Sea floods of 1953 half of the city was covered by water. The most important buildings to survive the town fire of 1452 that can still be admired today include the town hall, the former Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady), the former hospital chapel and the De Hoop mill (The Hope).