Population hits 400,000 on land reclaimed from the IJsselmeer

A residential area in Almere. Photo: Leuk2 via Wikimedia Commons

Exactly 100 years after officials decided to drain large parts of the Zuiderzee to create land, the area now known as the IJsselmeerpolders is home to 404,000 people.

The new land was originally meant to be devoted to agriculture but now houses 2.3% of the total Dutch population.  Most live in the new towns of Almere and Lelystad, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. Farming accounts for 73% of land use.

Parliament approved a proposal to drain parts of the Zuiderzee on 21 March 1918 and work began in 1920. The first polder – the Dutch word meaning reclaimed land – in the Wieringermeer was completed 10 years later.

Flevoland, the last section to be drained, was completed only in 1958. This area now forms the country’s 12th province. Plans to drain other sections of the sea were then dropped leaving the lake for recreational purposes.

In total, the Dutch reclaimed 1,500 km2 -nearly 5% of the total land area – from the former inland sea.

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