Provinces of Netherlands

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A regional government is being planned for Flevoland, Noord-Holland, and Utrecht. Money to cover the expenses of the transition is being figured in for 2017.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. This update assigns alternate ISO codes to the territories in the Caribbean.

Erratum: In "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries", the capital of Flevoland is given as Dronten. It is actually Lelystad. Apparently Dronten was the capital at an earlier period.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Netherlands, the draft standard showed twelve provinces with their codes. In brackets, it also listed an administrative area (Zuidelijke IJsselmeerpolders) and two municipalities (Dronten and Lelystad). These three were redundant, because in 1986 they had been merged into the new province of Flevoland, which was one of the twelve provinces shown. The final standard has dropped the administrative area and the municipalities. It now lists only the twelve provinces, as they were in the draft standard.

Country overview: 

ISO codeNL
LanguageDutch (nl)
Time zone+1~
CapitalsAmsterdam, The Hague


The Netherlands have been independent for the whole of the 20th century. They have extended their territory by reclaiming land from the sea. Technically, Amsterdam is the capital of the country, and The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch) is its seat of government. Almost all of the governmental functions are headquartered in The Hague. The inauguration of a new king or queen takes place in Amsterdam.

Other names of country: 

Holland and its cognates technically refer only to the provinces of North and South Holland, but they are popularly used for the whole country.

  1. Danish: Holland, Kongeriget Nederlandene (formal)
  2. Dutch: Nederland, Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (formal)
  3. English: Kingdom of the Netherlands (formal)
  4. Finnish: Alankomaat, Hollanti
  5. French: Hollande f, Pays-Bas mp
  6. German: Holland n, Niederlande fp
  7. Icelandic: Holland
  8. Italian: Olanda f, Paesi mp Bassi
  9. Norwegian: Nederland, Kongeriket Nederland (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Países Baixos, Holanda f, Reino m dos Países mp Baixos (formal)
  11. Russian: Королевство Нидерландов (formal), Нидерланды
  12. Spanish: Países Bajos, Holanda f (variant), Reino m de los Países mp Bajos (formal)
  13. Swedish: Nederländerna
  14. Turkish: Hollanda Krallığı (formal)

Origin of name: 

Descriptive: Land at low elevation

Spelling note: the diphthong 'ij' is treated as a single letter in Dutch. At the beginning of a proper name, both the I and J are capitalized. The letter y is sometimes substituted for ij.

Primary subdivisions: 

The Netherlands is divided into twelve provincies (provinces).

Zuid-HollandNL.ZHNL11ZH.NL333,552,4072,8771,111The Hague
12 provinces16,730,34833,93513,101
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by
    hyphens, these are the same as the province codes from ISO standard 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Conv: Conventional abbreviations used in the Netherlands.
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics. Note: by taking the first three
    characters of the NUTS codes, the provinces can be grouped into four regions: NL1
    Noord-Nederland, NL2 Oost-Nederland, NL3 West-Nederland, and NL4 Zuid-Nederland.
  • Population: 2012-01-01 virtual census.
  • Area: Land area.

Postal codes: 

Netherlands uses a system of postal codes consisting of four digits, one space, and two letters. The system made its debut in 1976. Unlike other European countries, Netherlands discourages the use of a country prefix. The borders of postal code areas do not match well with province borders.

Further subdivisions:

See the Municipalities of the Netherlands page.

The provinces are subdivided into gemeenten (municipalities or parishes; sing. gemeente). The number of municipalities has decreased from 1,014 in 1948 to 840 in 1976, 572 in 1997, and 418 in 2011.

Territorial extent: 

  1. Flevoland consists of three polders. Noord-Oost Polder is connected to the mainland; East and South Flevoland form an island in the IJsselmeer, except for some dikes which link them to shore.
  2. Friesland includes part of the Dutch mainland and the West Frisian Islands (Waddeneilanden) from Vlieland in the west to Schiermonnikoog in the east.
  3. Groningen includes a few small islands in the Frisian chain: Rottumerplaat, Rottumeroog, Zuiderstrand, and Simonszand.
  4. Noord-Holland includes the islands of Texel and Noorderhaaks, at the southwest end of the Frisian chain.
  5. Zeeland includes a mainland part, the islands of Schouwen Duiveland, Tholen, Noord-Beveland and Sint Philipsland, and the peninsula of Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland. Note that the many dikes and canals make it hard to define what is and is not an island.
  6. Zuid-Holland includes the islands of Goeree-Overflakkee, Voorne-Putten, Beijerland-Hoekse Waard, IJsselmonde, and Dordrecht (same comment as for Zeeland).
  7. Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Caribbean Netherlands are associated with the Netherlands. The Caribbean Netherlands comprises Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius, which are special municipalities of the Netherlands. The other three entities are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since ISO 3166 assigns them separate country codes, this site treats them as separate countries. However, as of Newsletter II-3, in addition to their country codes, ISO 3166-2 has assigned alternate codes to these entities as parts of Netherlands. They are the same as the country codes with NL- prefixed.

The UN LOCODE page  for Netherlands lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Drenthe: Germanic þrija: three, hantja: countries
  2. Friesland: Land of the Frisii, from ethnic name
  3. Groningen: Germanic Groningja, from groni: green
  4. Gelderland: Germanic gelwa: yellow, haru: mountain
  5. Limburg: Germanic lindo: linden, burg: fort.
  6. Noord-Brabant: Dutch Noord: north, Old High German bracha: new country, bant: region
  7. Noord-Holland: Dutch Noord: north + Old Dutch, either holt: woods or hol: hollow, land: land
  8. Overijssel: Dutch over: beyond, since the province was beyond the IJssel River from Utrecht
  9. Utrecht: corruption of Latin Trajectum: ford (ad Rhenum: on the Rhine)
  10. Zeeland: Dutch zee: sea (land in the sea)
  11. Zuid-Holland: Dutch Zuid: south + Holland

Change history: 

The Netherlands have repeatedly reclaimed land from the sea by building polders. There have been four major polders (and some smaller ones) in the 20th century. In 1932, the Wieringen-Friesland Barrage (dike) enclosed the Zuider Zee (South Sea), whereupon its name was changed to IJsselmeer (Yssel Lake).

  1. 1930: Wieringermeer Polder completed, adding 195 sq. km. to Noord-Holland.
  2. 1942: Noord-Oost Polder completed (504 sq. km.) as a municipality not belonging to any province.
  3. ~1954: Noord-Oost Polder annexed to Overijssel.
  4. 1957-06: East Flevoland completed.
  5. 1969: South Flevoland completed.
  6. 1986-01-01: Flevoland province formed from the municipalities of Dronten and Lelystad (East Flevoland), the administrative area of Zuidelijke IJsselmeerpolders (South Flevoland), and Noord-Oost Polder (taken from Overijssel). The ISO draft standard doesn't show this change. ISO and FIPS codes for the entities as they stood before the change were Dronten (DT, NL12), Lelystad (LE, NL14), Overijssel (OV, NL08), and Zuidelijke IJsselmeerpolders (ZI, NL13).
  7. 1993-11-01: Under the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union replaced the European Communities, of which the Netherlands was a member.
  8. 2002-01-01: Vianen municipality moved from Zuid-Holland province to Utrecht province. Also, Loosdrecht municipality moved from Utrecht province to Noord-Holland province, at the same time merging with two other municipalities to form Wijdemeren.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Friesland: Frise (French); Frisia (Italian, Spanish); Frísia (Portuguese); Fryslân (Frisian)
  2. Gelderland: Geldern (German); Gheldria (Portuguese); Guelders (obsolete); Gueldre (French)
  3. Groningen: Groninga (Italian, Portuguese); Groningue (French)
  4. Limburg: Limbourg (French); Limburgo (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)
  5. Noord-Brabant: Brabante del Norte (Spanish); Brabante do Norte (Portuguese); Brabante settentrionale (Italian); Brabant-septentrional (French); Nord-Brabant (German); North Brabant (variant)
  6. Noord-Holland: Holanda do Norte (Portuguese); Hollande-septentrionale (French); North Holland (variant)
  7. Utrecht: Utreque (Portuguese)
  8. Zeeland: Zelanda (Italian); Zélande (French); Zelândia (Portuguese)
  9. Zuid-Holland: Hollande-méridionale (French); South Holland (variant)

Population history:

Flevoland   2,369 20,000185,365281,000328,877395,525


Census data in 1910, 1930, 1947, and 1960; the others are official estimates or data from population registers. Figures for Flevoland dating from before its creation refer to the IJsselmeer polders.


  1. [1] The Dutch National Census 2001 . Statistics Netherlands (retrieved 2011-04-25).
  2. [2] Fifth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. Vol. II. New York: United Nations, 1991.
  3. [3] StatLine . Statistics Netherlands (retrieved 2014-01-31).
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