Travel tips you can trust
For at least a thousand years they have helped hold back the North Sea from flooding the country's land.
There have been many. The earliest known one occurred in 1287. The North Sea surged in, destroying villages, farmland, and untold lives. What was once dry land became what is known today as the Zuiderzee (South Sea).
More recent disasters happened in 1916 and 1953. Both encouraged massive dike building programs.
The country has more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) of dikes.
The largest is the 30-kilometer (19-mile) long Afsluitdijk ("Barrier Dike"). It's wide enough to easily accommodate a four-lane motorway (see photo above).
The creation of that dike transformed the Zuiderzee into a freshwater lake, from which land is still being reclaimed.
The Delta Works in the nation's southwest is the other massive dike-building project worth exploring.
Interesting facts & tidbits
Over a quarter of The Netherlands is below sea level, including the city of Amsterdam.
Over 50% of the population live below sea level.
"Netherland" aptly means "low land".
A popular local saying goes, "God created the world, the Dutch created The Netherlands".
Related web pages
Dike photo by Benthewikiman