Zeelandic Flanders

Zeelandic Flanders (Dutch: Zeeuws-Vlaanderen [ˌzeːu̯sˈflaːndərə(n)] (listen),[1] Zeelandic: Zeêuws-Vlaonderen /ʑɪːws ˈvlɒ̃dr̩n/) is the southernmost region of the province of Zeeland in the south-western Netherlands. It lies south of the Western Scheldt that separates the region from the remainder of Zeeland and the Netherlands to the north. Zeelandic Flanders is bordered to the south by Belgium.


Location of Zeelandic Flanders in Zeeland, Netherlands
  Total875.80 km2 (338.15 sq mi)
  Land733.19 km2 (283.09 sq mi)
  Water142.61 km2 (55.06 sq mi)
Major roadsN58, N60, N61, N62 (Western Scheldt Tunnel)


Zeelandic Flanders is the north-eastern part of the large historical region of Flanders which today lies mostly in Belgium. It shares a land border with the Belgian provinces of East and West Flanders. It is a latitudinally oriented strip of land along the Western Scheldt, a North Sea estuary, and has no land access to the rest of the Netherlands. The area of Zeelandic Flanders is 876 km2 (338 sq mi) of which 733 km2 (283 sq mi) is land and 143 km2 (55 sq mi) is water.

The region is bordered by the Zwin nature reserve in the West and the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe in the East.

Since local government boundary reforms in 2003, Zeelandic Flanders has consisted of only three municipalities: Sluis in the west, Terneuzen in the centre and Hulst in the east.


Zeelandic Flanders is connected to Walcheren to the north by the Western Scheldt Tunnel, the tunnel goes underneath the Western Scheldt (estuary). The tunnel arrives 18Km east of Flushing on the Walcheren peninsula. Before the tunnel there used to be 2 ferries that connected Zeelandic Flanders to Walcheren, one ferry from Perkpolder to Kruiningen in South Beveland and the second one from Breskens to Flushing, this last ferry still exists nowadays but can only be used by pedestrians and cyclists (no more cars and trucks).

The Ghent–Terneuzen Canal passes through Zeelandic Flanders.

A railway line which is only for goods trains links Terneuzen to Gent-Dampoort railway station.


Except for some formerly insular areas, the region now called Zeelandic Flanders was not part of the historical County of Zeeland, but a part of the County of Flanders initially ruled by the House of Habsburg. The region was front line in the Eighty Years' War and was conquered by the Dutch Republic in 1604. As such, it was the only part of Flanders, which took part in the insurgency, to become part of the new republic.

Zeelandic Flanders was subsequently ruled directly by the Dutch States General (parliament) as one of the Generality Lands and called Flanders of the States (Staats-Vlaanderen). After occupation by the French in 1795, the area accrued to the département of Escaut. Before the formation of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, Zeelandic Flanders was territory of the Dutch province of North Brabant for a few years, but when the present province Zeeland was formed Zeelandic Flanders became a part of it, even after the 1830 Belgian Revolution that separated the remainder of Dutch Flanders from the Netherlands.

As of 2010, the population of Zeelandic Flanders was 106,522 with 145 per square kilometre (380/sq mi).

Disputes with Belgium

As Zeelandic Flanders was historically part of Flanders, demands/plans to annex it have been made by Belgium/Belgian politicians on multiple occasions.

A famous example would be Leopold II, who had made plans to invade the Netherlands before he became king. He planned to annex Limburg as well, and even had spies gain information of the Netherlands military. He decided to abolish his plans after contacting France, who did not support it.

Another famous occasion was shortly after World War I. Belgium once again claimed both Zeelandic Flanders and Limburg, this time as a reconciliation. Even though the Netherlands was neutral in the war, Belgium felt the neutrality was a sign of support for Germany and suspected the Netherlands of collaborating with them.


The native dialect of the western part of the region is Zeelandic Flemish, a variety of West Flemish. In the central regions, the Land-van-Axels and Land-van-Cadzands dialects of Zeelandic, itself a transition between West Flemish and Hollandic, are spoken. In the eastern part, East Flemish with some Brabantian influence is spoken. Because some smaller areas were isolated by water, and thus being small islands there are some dialects that differ slightly with the 'normal' dialect. This way, some villages have their own dialect, which people from the provinces above the 'big rivers' (the Waal and the Lek) cannot understand. The provinces above the big rivers include the provinces of North-Holland, South-Holland, Utrecht and Gelderland.

Notable people

See also


  1. Vlaanderen in isolation: [ˈvlaːndərə(n)].

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