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Flevoland is the youngest and therefore the 12th province of the Netherlands. It has around 385.000 inhabitans but it is rapidly expanding. As it is only a short ride from Amsterdam a lot of people moved to Almere, while working in Amsterdam. The province only excists as of 1986, before that parts of the province belonged to one of the other neighbouring provinces. Almost the entire surface of this province was once water, that belonged to the IJsselmeer.
As you can imagine from a province that was once water, this province is as flat as it can be. The province excists of three major parts: The Noord-Oostpolder, Southern Flevoland and Eastern Flevoland. The province also includes the former islands of Urk and Schokland. It neighbours are the provinces of Friesland, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht and North Holland. The Flevoland polders, are surrounded by several lakes, and to the North-West to the big IJsselmeer.
No historic towncenters or historic buildings are to be found in this province, apart from the former Islands of Urk and Schokland. Almere and Lelystad are doing their best to become attractive cities, but for travellers it is unlikely they will rank very high on the ´must-see´ lists.
In the middle ages the island of Schokland was bigger than it is nowadays, but the Zuiderzee kept eating pieces of the island, in the middle of the 19th century the situation was getting to dangerous and Schokland was evacuated in 1859 for safety reasons, but after that order the island almost didn´t get any smaller. Since 1942 it is embedded in the Noord-Oostpolder, and no longer an island. Of the three villages that excisted on the island only the village of Middelbuurt survived. Nowadays Schokland is a Unesco World heritage site, and the site also includes a museum.
The biggest event in Flevoland is the huge festival called A campingflight to Lowlands paradise, or simply Lowlands. This is an alternative music festival, with crossovers to other artforms. You will find a complete filmfestival, poets, modern dance spread out over 10 different venues. The Festival takes place near the Walibi entertainment park in Biddinghuizen, and is sheduled at the end of the holidayseason (August).
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.
Flevoland is gained from the sea and as a result most of its edges border open waters and smaller waterways between Flevoland and other provinces. Temperatures on average are slightly lower than average in summer and slightly higher in winter, though differences between coastal areas and more inland can be high, even during the same day. Check the Netherlands weather section for more info.
The nearest airport is the airport of Amsterdam Schiphol. Because of the good road connections Flevoland can be reached without much trouble, although traffic jams during rush hours can be particularly heavy between Amsterdam and Almere.
There is a train connection to the two big cities in Flevoland. Almere has a couple of stops, and also Lelystad has a station. There are plans to extent this line, and aso to plan a station in Dronten, and to have better connections to the north of the Netherlands. Check the Dutch Railways website for more information about schedules and prices.
The main road into, across and again out of Flevoland is the A6 highway which runs from Almere up to Friesland. The A27 highway penetrates Flevoland near Almere and originates from the south (Breda) via Utrecht.
Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.
From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.
The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.
It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.
The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).
Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.
Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.
If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.
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