Built-up areas are increasing in the Netherlands. In 2002 the number of people living in an urban environment rose further, and for the first time more of the population lived in an urban than in a rural environment.
Steady increase of inhabitants in urban environment
The percentage of inhabitants in urban areas is increasing steadily. From 39.9 percent in 1997, it had risen to 41.5 percent by the beginning of 2002. The percentage of the population living in rural areas decreased from 42.8 to 41.1 percent between 1997 and 2002.
Percentage of population in urban and rural environment
Substantial differences between provinces
The urbanisation of the Randstad region in the west of the Netherlands is reflected in the differences between the provinces. At the beginning of 2002 the percentage of people living in an urban environment was highest in South Holland and North Holland: 66 and 63 percent respectively. In Utrecht it was considerably lower: 48 percent. In Drenthe, Friesland and Zeeland, on the other hand, seven out of ten people live in a rural environment.
Flevoland growing fastest
Flevoland showed a spectacular increase in the number of inhabitants living in an urban environment. In the space of five years it has increased by half, mainly because of the expansion of the town of Almere. After Flevoland, the provinces of Drenthe, Gelderland, North Brabant and Limburg had the highest growth rates, varying from 10 to 13 percent. For the country as a whole the increase was 7 percent.
Increase in number of inhabitants by degree of urbanisation
The number of inhabitants in a rural environment fell by 1.7 percent in the space of five years. The decrease was largest in the provinces of South Holland and Limburg.
Distribution of urbanisation
Inhabitants of urban areas occupy only a very small part of the area of the Netherlands. Areas which do not fall into the category urban or rural are often on the edge of an urban area. When built-up areas are expanded further, they will be included in the category urban environment.
The Netherlands by degree of urbanisation, 2002
The location of built-up areas differs by region. In rural regions, ribbon development can be seen in the Green Heart (the area between Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht), the region between Rhine and Meuse in the east of the country, and the polders and peat moors near the Drenthe-Groningen border. The sandy areas in Gelderland and Overijssel have more dispersed development.
Niek van Leeuwen
Source: StatLine (Dutch only)