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This article is about Friesland province in the Netherlands. For other uses, see Friesland (disambiguation).
Province of Friesland
Provincie Fryslân
Provinsje Fryslân
Flag of Friesland Coat of Arms of Friesland
Flag Coat of Arms
Location of Friesland
Capital Leeuwarden
Queen's Commissioner drs. E.H.T.M. (Ed) Nijpels
Religion (1999) Protestant 39%
Roman Catholic 8%
 • Land
 • Water
3,349 km² (3rd)
2,392 km²
Population (2006)
 • Total
 • Density

642,230 (8th)
192/km² (11th)
Anthem De âlde Friezen
Official website
Map of the Netherlands, with red dots marking the capitals of the provinces and black dots marking other notable cities
Map of the Netherlands, with red dots marking the capitals of the provinces and black dots marking other notable cities

Friesland (pronunciation (help·info)) is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the bigger region known as Frisia. Its name in the Frisian language is Fryslân, which has also been its official name since 1997, and is therefore also used in official Dutch language publications. Friesland has 643,000 inhabitants (2005) and its capital is Leeuwarden (Ljouwert), with 91,817 inhabitants, in the center of the province.


[edit] Distinguishing features

Friesland distinguishes itself from the other eleven Dutch provinces through having its own language, which is also spoken in a minor part of the province of Groningen, to the east. Closely related languages, East Frisian ("Seeltersk", which is different from "East Frisian (Ostfriesisch)", a collection of Low German dialects of East Frisia) and North Frisian, are spoken in the Saterland and in North Friesland areas in Germany, respectively.

The English language is also closely related to Frisian. There is a saying about it: "As milk is to cheese, are English and Fries."

Another version of this saying reads (in Frisian): "Bûter, brea, en griene tsiis; wa't dat net sizze kin, is gjin oprjochte Fries", which in English reads: "Butter, bread, and green cheese, whoever can't say that is no sincere Fries" (According to legend, the 16th century Frisian freedom fighter Pier Gerlofs Donia forced his captives to repeat this shibboleth to distinguish Frisians from Dutch and Low Germans). The saying plays on the sound differences between the Dutch and Frisian words for "butter, bread, and green cheese", which in Frisian are pronounced almost identically to their English counterparts (showing the original closeness between the two languages), while in Dutch ("Boter, brood, en groene kaas"), these words sound quite different.

Friesland is mainly an agricultural province. The famous black and white Frisian cattle and the well known black Frisian horse originated here. Tourism, mainly on the lakes in the south west of the province, and on the islands in the Wadden Sea in the north, is an important source of income, too. Technology companies such as Asset Control have also set up base in Friesland.

The province is famous for its speed skaters, with mass participation in cross-country skating when weather conditions permit. In winters that are cold enough to allow the freshwater canals to freeze hard, the province is the focus of the Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour), a 200 kilometers ice skating tour. In the warmer months, many Frisians practice wadlopen, the traditional art of wading across designated sections of the Wadden Sea at low tide. Another Frisian practice is fierljeppen, a sport with some similarities to pole vaulting. A jump consists of an intense sprint to the pole (polsstok), jumping and grabbing it, then climbing to the top while trying to control the pole's forward and lateral movements over a body of water and finishing with a graceful landing on a sand bed opposite to the starting point. Because of all the diverse skills required in fierljeppen, fierljeppers are considered to be very complete athletes with superbly developed strength and coordination

Another interesting feature are the many windmills. There are 195 windmills in the province of Friesland, from a total of about 1200 in the entire country.

Friesland was the first to acknowledge the independence of the United States of America from the Kingdom of Great Britain (on February 26, 1782).[1]

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[edit] Major towns

[edit] Municipalities

Frisian cattle
Frisian cattle

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