Many think of the Dutch as a passive peaceful country but let it be known that Dutch people have a mortal enemy; an adversary with whom they have battled for centuries. Whether it originated from sheer determination, ingenuity, necessity or foolishness, no other nation has waged war on water -and won- quite like the Dutch.
The war on water has been a tough one and not without causalities: the great flood of 1953 killed over 1,800 people and wiped out 2 entire villages. Dutch people however have amassed many a victory along the way: they hold the title for reclaiming the largest piece of land in the world – the “Flevopolder” (the word “polder” refers to low lying land reclaimed using a system of drainage dikes) and the largest artificial island.
Who does one of the richest countries in the world call when they want to make some fancy islands in the middle of the Persian Gulf? The Dutch of course! The Palm Islands project in Dubai was headed by the Dutch company Van Oord who, not surprisingly, specializes in land reclamation and has been in business since the early 1800s.
Astoundingly, 1/6th of the Netherlands (7000km2) is actually reclaimed land. Stranger yet, 60% of Dutch people now live beneath sea level -it turns out that even their enormous height doesn’t help in this case!
If evolution worked like sci-fi films would have you believe, modern-day Dutch would be born with fish-like gills and webbed feet. How handy!
Instilled in the very DNA of a Dutch person is the primal desire to battle the elements.
With a 2,000 history in reclaiming land from the sea, one can only agree that “God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland”.