Sunday, 26 October 2008
An Autumn Walk in My World in October
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The Netherlands is frequently associated with polders. This is illustrated by the English saying: God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland.
On this October day we went for a walk in the surroundings of our village. It was a walk in the polder, because we live in a polder, below sea level.
The Dutch have a long history of reclamation of marshes and fenland, resulting in some 3,000 polders nationwide. About half of all polder surface within northwest Europe is located within the Netherlands. The first embankments in Europe were constructed in Roman times. The first polders were constructed in the 11th century. Due to flooding disasters water boards called waterschap (below sealevel) or hoogheemraadschap (above sea level) were set up to maintain the integrity of the water defenses around polders, maintain the waterways inside a polder and control the various water levels inside and outside the polder. Water bodies hold separate elections, levy taxes and function independently from other government bodies. Their function is basically unchanged through this day. As such they are the oldest democratic institution in the country.
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