South Holland, Netherlands

The province of Zuid-Holland (South Holland) is located in the west of the Netherlands on the North Sea coast. The main town is 's-Gravenhage (The Hague). The province covers 3403 km². The number of inhabitants is 3,577,032 (31 December 2013), making Zuid-Holland the most populous province in the Netherlands.

In the north, the province borders on Noord-Holland, with which it formed the province of Holland until 1840. Further clockwise are the neighboring provinces: Utrecht and Gelderland to the east, Noord-Brabant to the south-east and finally Zeeland to the south. In the west, the province borders the North Sea.

South Holland is an important province in the Netherlands, not only because of the political institutions (government, parliament, royal family). It is the most densely populated area, home to many international organizations and has the highest number of industrial companies. The Hague as the provincial capital and Rotterdam as the largest city form the western part of the Randstad conurbation (the eastern parts are Utrecht in the province of the same name and Amsterdam in Noord-Holland).

Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Leiden and Schiedam have historical centres, while various small port and naval towns on the coast and inland have preserved their historical cores and have lovingly restored them. Zoetermeer, on the other hand, is a very young town, having only been built in the 1970s.

With the 19 closely spaced Kinderdijk windmills, a Unesco World Heritage Site is located south-east of Rotterdam.

The region was developed early on through canals, and many cities have grown as trading points. On the Rhine-Maas-Schelde-Delta in the south are some islands, of which only the largest Goeree-Overflakkee and the small Tiengemeten are evident as such. There have been several flood disasters in the history of Holland, which prompted the Dutch to protect their area intensively with dykes and hydraulic structures. Rotterdam is the lowest city in the Netherlands at 5 meters below sea level and pumps are constantly running to keep the water table low.

The coast and the sea were and are part of Holland, where fishing, oil drilling and local recreation take place. Old seaside resorts such as Scheveningen, Katwijk and Noordwijk still bear witness to the bathing culture.



The province of Zuid-Holland is divided into six regions, which, however, have no administrative tasks. These in turn are divided into cooperation bodies between the different communities. In Germany, that would correspond to the districts.

bulb region
"Bollen" means the flower bulbs, so the area is a prime growing area for tulips and other flower bulbs. A well-known example is the Keukenhof in Lisse. But the old seaside resorts on the coast (Katwijk and Noordwijk), the old university town and important museum town of Leiden and smaller towns such as Sassenheim and Hillegom also belong to the "bulb region".
Leiden · Lisse · Noordwijk · Katwijk

Groene Hart
The relatively sparsely populated "Green Heart" in the Dutch "Randstad" (metropolitan area of The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam) offers agriculture, nature and local recreation for the surrounding areas. Most places are small and tranquil. The region is also rich in lakes, rivers and canals.
Alphen aan den Rijn Gouda Boskoop

Due to the nature of the soil, this region was more used for cattle breeding (and also produces good cheese). The places along the big rivers (Merwede, Oude Maas, Lek and Noord) are not separated from each other but have joined together to form loose alliances.
Alblasserdam Gorinchem Zwijndrecht Dordrecht Leerdam

The large towns of Den Haag, Delft and Zoetermeer as well as six other surrounding, smaller communities are combined in this area.
The Hague Scheveningen Delft Zoetermeer

The "Rhine estuary" is actually the delta of the Rhine, Maas and Waal with connections to various canals and tributaries of the IJssel, including arms and clear tides. The main feature is shipping, the main town is Rotterdam, the region is often also called Rotterdam-Rijnmond.
Rotterdam Hook of Holland Schiedam Vlaardingen Maassluis

South Holland Islands
Some of the islands in the south of Zuid-Holland are no longer islands at all (e.g. Voorne and Putten), only Goeree-Overflakkee really stands out from the estuary delta. Water sports and old fishing and naval villages are the main attractions for tourists. The north of the region is strongly oriented towards the nearby port of Rotterdam.
Brielle · Spijkenisse · Hellevoetsluis · Overflakkee · Middelharnis



The Hague ('s-Gravenhage) is the capital of Zuid-Holland, seat of the Dutch government and also the King of the Netherlands lives and works here. The international, national and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based here are major employers. Many areas of the city have been preserved in their historical building structure, as well as a modern skyline and there is a lively cultural scene. With the incorporated bathing resort of Scheveningen, you also have a large seaside resort (beach, promenade, pier) on your doorstep.
Delft has a well-preserved historic city center with canals, churches, courtyards and old patrician houses, as well as the town hall, corn exchange and city scales. The city is also known for its ceramics (Delfts blauw), the painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) and as an old university city. TU Delft has around 16,000 students today. Many tourists visit Delft for a day trip.
Dordrecht is located on the island of the same name and has a well-preserved medieval town center with canals, warehouses and merchants' houses. Around the town the Merwede divides, Noord and Dordtse Kil join, there is an interesting river quay and the seaport. Moorings in the historic city center make the city a preferred destination for motor ships.
Gouda is located at the confluence of the Gouwe and Hollandse IJssel. The cheese of the same name is produced in the surrounding area and traded through the city. In the summer, the historical cheese market still takes place every Thursday. In addition, the city is also known for its tobacco pipes, candle makers and syrup waffles. Before Christmas there is the light festival "Gouda bij Kaarslicht".
Leiden is an old university city with more than 20,000 students and many important museums. The Oude Rijn and the Nieuwe Rijn, as well as several canals, made the city an important transport hub and commercial centre. Important employers today are educational institutions, medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological centres, printers and publishing houses as well as the headquarters of Ikea. The inner city of Leiden is beautifully old and the cultural scene is dynamically young.
Located along the Nieuwe Maas (the main estuary of the Rhine), Rotterdam has the largest seaport in Europe and is the leading industrial and commercial city of the Netherlands. The core of the city is modern, there are many innovative tall buildings, only a few old buildings have survived. The old bathing town of Hoek van Holland on the North Sea was able to retain some of its character. Although Rotterdam prides itself on being a working city, it has a number of significant cultural and leisure offerings, e.g. B. art galleries, architecture, ethnology and maritime museum as well as several festivals. Around 45,000 students study at the city's universities.

Alphen aan den Rijn


Getting here

Arrival is possible in a variety of ways. With Amsterdam Airport Schiphol internet wikipediacommons (IATA: AMS) near Amsterdam, a major international hub is located just a few kilometers north of the province. Located between the two cities, Rotterdam-The Hague Airport is the third busiest airport in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is also an important node in national and international rail traffic, the Thalys runs several times a day to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. But the other cities are also well integrated into the Dutch railway network. The rivers and canals are also often used for ferry and speedboat connections.

By road, South Holland can be reached via several motorways: from the north comes the A 4 from Amsterdam, from the west the A 12 from Utrecht and the A 15 from Nijmegen, from the south-east the A 2 from 's-Hertogenbosch and from the South the A16 from Antwerp. The estuary delta is crossed by national roads: the N 57 on the coast and the N 59 more inland.



The province can be traveled via the well-developed railway and road network. As in the rest of the Netherlands, there is an extensive and well-signposted system of cycle paths. The many canals and rivers are ideal for motor boats, the berths are usually well equipped and close to the city center.

Between The Hague, Rotterdam and Zoetermeer and Delft there is an inter-city light rail network called RandstadRail. This also uses railway tracks (comparable to the Kassel RegioTram), on which line E (Den Haag–Rotterdam) reaches a top speed of 100 km/h.



The historic city cores and parts show typical Dutch architecture and lifestyle.

There are over 200 museums in South Holland, starting with the Rijksmuseen, galleries of the famous Dutch painters, glass and ceramics museums, fire brigade and photo museums, local history, technology or cheese museums.

Many production sites allow tours or offer regular events, be it Delft blue or the cheese market.

Amusement parks like Duinrell or Drievliet.


What to do

Beach holidays on the coast, hikes in the dunes, cycling in the typical landscapes or boat trips on the canals, visits to the tulip fields in spring or the candlelit night before Christmas, visits to mills and modern hydraulic structures, world-famous Dutch painters in the museums, amusement parks for all Family, miniature cities and lookout towers... the list goes on.



In the big cities there are entertainment districts, in the seaside resorts bars can often be found along the beach promenades.



Zuid-Holland is a safe travel region where you can take the usual precautions, e.g. against pickpockets in large crowds.



The climate in Zuid-Holland is determined by the influence of the North Sea, but also by humans. The region is very densely populated, especially around Rotterdam and The Hague. Heavy industry in the Rijnmond area significantly increases cloud and rain formation. There are wide dunes along the coast and in the Groene Hart there are many polders and lakes, which are often well below sea level. All these different landscapes contribute to the fact that there are clear climate differences in this relatively small region.



Neighboring provinces are Noord-Holland to the north, Utrecht and Gelderland to the east, Noord-Brabant to the south-east and Zeeland to the south. In the west, the province borders the North Sea.

Important cities are The Hague (seat of government, International Court of Justice) and the seaport city of Rotterdam. The cities of Leiden, Delft, Dordrecht, Schiedam and Gouda have historic centres.

Southeast of Rotterdam are the mills of Kinderdijk, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rivers and canals include the Nieuwe Maas, the Nieuwe Waterweg, the Oude Maas, the Haringvliet and the Hollands Diep. Most of the population is concentrated in the metropolitan area of Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden. The rest of the province is comparatively sparsely populated, agricultural, and also very touristic in the course of the coastal dunes in the north: Katwijk and Noordwijk are popular and quite tranquil tourist resorts with a focus on bathing holidays on the beach.

There are many islands in the Rhine delta in the south of the province, which are connected by bridges and dams:
Goeree Overflakkee
Tie meters
Hoeksche Waard
Isle of Dordrecht



The County of Holland came into being at the beginning of the 10th century. Holland was the wealthiest and most influential of the seven provinces that broke from Spanish rule in 1581 to form the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, the forerunner of today's Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In order to limit the province of Holland's dominance in Dutch politics, it was divided into the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland when the constitution was changed in 1840.



The Provincial Parliament (Dutch Provinciale Staten) has its seat in the Provinciehuis in the provincial capital The Hague. According to the population of the province, the parliament consists of 55 seats.

In the provincial election on March 20, 2019, the parties obtained the following shares of the vote: FvD 17.43% (11 seats), VVD 15.66% (10 seats), GroenLinks 9.06% (5 seats), D66 8.53% ( 5 seats), PvdA 7.82% (4 seats), CDA 7.74% (4 seats), PVV 7.00% (4 seats), ChristenUnie 5.57% (3 seats), 50PLUS 4.45% ( 2 seats), PvdD 4.37% (2 seats), SP 4.12% (2 seats), SGP 3.90% (2 seats), DENK 2.73% (1 seat), other 1.63%. Voter turnout was 54.49%.

The next provincial election will take place on March 22, 2023.

At the head of the province is the king's commissioner. Since December 2013, this has been the Christian Democrat Jaap Smit. The college van Gedeputeerde Staten, i.e. the government, has been formed since 2011 by a coalition of right-wing liberals, left-liberals, Christian Democrats and socialists.