Posted on 05 January 2010 by joost
Netherlands is called that way for a reason. The country is very, very, very flat (i.e.; nether). In fact, about half of it is below sea level. And big parts of it used to be sea, but we drained the sea out. What you’re left with is polders. We would like to think of them as a typically .nl invention.
A polder is a Dutch piece of land that used to be sea. There is really no translation for it; a polder is a Dutch invention and very few other countries have a use for polders. A polder is surrounded by dijken and the soil is clay. As always, Wikipedia has an complete description about this phenomenon.
In the olden days, we used windmills to drain the sea out of the polder. These are the iconic devices all tourist love. They are so typically Dutch I can feel a new blog post coming up even. In the mean time, if you are visiting Netherlands and would like to see some bona fide windmills, go to Kinderdijk. This is a tiny village in
Noord Zuid-Holland (one of our provinces) and it has the most photogenic windmills on the planet. But really, windmills are everywhere in our country.
Back to polders. Well there really isn’t much to say about them. It’s just a flat piece of land almost always used to grow grain or potatoes. There is one notable exception. The polder called Haarlemmermeer (yes, Harlem Lake) was drained of sea to eventually fill up with airplanes. This polder is now home to our national airport Schiphol.