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Zeeland (zee means sea in Dutch) is one of the 12 provinces in The Netherlands. It makes up the southwest of the Netherlands and is bordered by the provinces of South Holland to the north and North Brabant to the east. The southern border is shared with Belgium.
It is one of the smallest provinces and has less than 400,000 people, with Terneuzen being the largest city. Other major cities are Goes, the seaport of Vlissingen (Flushing) and the capital Middelburg.
Despite its size, Zeeland is one of the Netherland's favourite tourist areas, especially in summer when thousands of people, mainly from neighbouring countries like Belgium and Germany, come visiting the beaches.
But there is more to Zeeland than beaches. There are some beautiful old towns like Sluis and Hulst in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, which makes up the southern part of the province. Both towns are close to the Belgian border and are especially lively on Sundays when all shops are open, every single Sunday. Hulst has a defensive wall which is almost completely intact.
One of the most striking things in the history of Zeeland occurred in early February 1953, when, after severe northwestern storms, coastal areas were flooded and around 1800 people got killed. Nowadays, the huge Deltaworks, which prevents the sea from rising too much when storms occur, is the most important tourist attraction in Zeeland. The Neeltje Jans Expo displays history of the flooding and explains how the Deltaworks work.
Zeeland lies in the delta of a couple of big rivers. The Schelde, the Meuse (Maas) and the Rhine all flow into the Northsea at the coast of the Netherlands. Years ago Zeeland was mainly a collection of islands, but during the years most of them go connected to eachother forming larger pieces of land. Because a lot of the land was claimed from the sea, a lot of the land is below sea level, and is protected by dykes and dams.
One of the most striking things in the history of Zeeland occurred in early February 1953, when, after severe northwestern storms, coastal areas were flooded and around 1,800 people got killed. Nowadays, the huge Deltaworks, which prevents the sea from rising too much when storms occur, is the most important tourist attraction in Zeeland. The Neeltje Jans Expo displays history of the flooding and explains how the Deltaworks work.
In 2015, the Tour de France will start in the Netherlands. It is scheduled to start in Utrecht, Netherlands, on Saturday 4 July 2015, with a short time trial of about 14 kilometres. The second stage on Sunday 5 July, starts in Utrecht en ends in the province of Zeeland after 166 kilometres. It will be the sixth time the Tour de France starts in the Netherlands, after 1954 (Amsterdam), 1973 (Scheveningen), 1978 (Leiden), 1996 ('s-Hertogenbosch) and 2010 (Rotterdam). This is a record for a country that has no direct border with France.
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.
Zeeland is one of the milder provinces in The Netherlands regarding the weather. This mean it's usually a bit warmer in winter on average and a bit cooler in summer. Zeeland is one of the most sunny provinces of The Netherlands. Although of course in the summermonths of July and August temperatures are highest with average daytime temperatures of around 20 degrees, it's probably better to visit the province in spring when it's less crowded and temperatures are almost as high as in summer but there is less rain. Also, other months are good for a visit, and instead of laying on a beach you can make great walks along the coast as well during the cooler months. Temperatures of more than 30 degrees Celcius or below zero are relatively rare.
Although Zeeland used to contain several islands, nowadays, most islands are connected by bridges and tunnels. The last two ferries between Zeeuws-Vlaanderen south of the river Westerschelde and Walcheren and South Beveland north of the river, were suspended in March 2003, when the Westerscheldetunnel was completed. Nowadays, only a foot and bicycle passenger service operates on these routes.
The main transportation corridor lies between Vlissingen eastwards towards Goes and further on to the province of North Brabant. This corridor contains of the highway A58 and the only train line in Zeeland. By train, this is the main way of getting there and away and there are connections all the way to Amsterdam and Eindhoven. Other modes of travelling mainly are with public buses which run between almost every single village on an hourly basis.
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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