ZEELAND, the most southerly North sea maritime province of the Netherlands, consists mainly of six deltaic islands between the Grevelingen (the southern sea-exit of the Waal-Maas) and De Hont or Western Schelde sea-channel, together with a strip of the Flanders mainland lying south of De Hont. Belgium borders it on the south; the Dutch provinces of North Brabant, east, and South Holland, north, are its other neighbours. It is 707 sq.m. in area, and of the other ten Dutch provinces only Utrecht is smaller. Very little of its entire surface is above sea level. Formed of the accumulated alluvium from the great rivers and with little natural protection against" the encroaching waves, its life has been marked by inundation catastrophes and by the long, slow winning back of territory in the lee of successive ranks of many miles of artificial dikes. (See HOLLAND: Dikes.) Above a gateway of the old mint of the counts of Holland in Middelburg a sculptured lion of Zeeland rises through stone waves and his "Luctor et emergo" is one of the most apposite of the provincial mottoes. Its pop. (1930), 247,606, is, with the exception of Drente and Zuidholland, the lowest of any province in Holland. However, its fertile soil favours the cultivation of cereals, wheat, rye and barley and of root crops. Its famous black and white cat de and dairy produce are important exports.
The constituent islands are Walcheren to the south-west with North Beveland and South Beveland in close proximity to the east. North of the fairly wide waterway Ouster Schelde, which at the eastern end has the significant name of Verdronken (Drowned) Land, are Schouwen-en-Duiveland (westward), and the smaller Tholen and still smaller St. Philipsland. All the islands preserve archaic customs and costumes. Walcheren, though not the largest island, is the most densely populated and nearest to England with which Flushing (Vlissingen), its largest town, has regular passenger and mail boat services via Harwich and Queen borough. Flushing (pop. 21,716) is not only a sea and canal port, bift also a gay resort. It is the railhead for the line which in 1866 first crossed the great railway dam between Walcheren and South Beveland and now runs to Roosendaal (North Brabant) the great railway junction for Belgium, Germany and north Holland. The ship canal from Flushing divides Walcheren into two unequal parts and passes Middelburg en route for Veere, while steam trams connect Flushing and Middelburg with Dom burg. Domburg is a small seaside resort built over and round a much older settlement with civic rights dating back to the 13th century; in addition, numerous Roman antiquities found locally suggest a still earlier origin. South-west of Domburg is the famous Westkapelle dike. Middelburg, the capital of the province, is but
little smaller than Flushing. It is and has long been the real focus of Dutch life in Zeeland and has many interesting buildings.
The small industries of Walcheren include ship-building, dis tilling, brewing and spinning, but it deservedly ranks as the flower garden of Zeeland; in latter days it is cultivating a great variety of products from hemp to the opium poppy and its orchards are important. South Beveland and its small neighbour North Beveland are even more important for fruit which, in their case, is largely exported as jam. South Beveland has suffered much from inundations, particularly in the south-west ; here, during the 16th century, the island of Borsselen was submerged but has been gradually recovered. North Beveland, destitute of ship canal or railway has no large settlements ; it is intensively culti vated and shares with Schouwen and South Beveland an im portant oyster-breeding industry, Yerseke on the north-east coast of South Beveland being particularly famed. Goes (pop. [193o] 9,124) is the largest town of North Beveland, Schouwen contains the greatest amount of elevated land in Zeeland and the well wooded tract along the western seaboard introduces a less usual scenic feature. The former natural seaway between Schouwen and Duiveland has been closed by the damming of the Dykwater but a canal still follows its line. On this is the old port of Zierik zee which has probably retained more of its mediaeval features than any other Zeeland town; the Gothic church is represented by a mutilated tower and many of the small Dutch houses of minute coloured bricks, and the old town gates belong to the period of the Spanish assault on Zierikzee in 1576.
In the north of Schouwen is Brouwershaven, established as a port by the brewers and wine merchants of Middelburg. Here the English supporters (under Jacquelin of Bavaria) were defeated by the troops of Philip of Burgundy. St. Philipsland is rather inaccessible and has little of interest ; Tholen, only little easier of approach, has on its east coast a small ancient circular town of the same name, noted for oysters and onions. In the still smaller village of St. Martinsdyk little remains of its once mighty 14th-century castle—the home of the Borsseles—but the village church contains a tomb of Floris van Borssele. Stavenisse on the west coast is modern and ugly. The strip of Zeeland–Flanders gives the Dutch command of both banks of the Lower Schelde. Here the busiest town is Terneuzen at the sea-end of the canal (1825-27), running .due south to Ghent ; south-east of it lies Axel, formerly fortified but now noted only for the peculiar cos tumes of its peasant women. (W. E. WH.),