458 Dutch municipalities in 2006

Last year, thirteen Dutch municipalities were abolished and merged into four new ones. Two newly-formed municipalities are situated in the province of South Holland, one in the province of Utrecht and one in the province of North Holland. On balance, nine municipalities were struck off the list of Dutch municipalities. The register officially incorporates 458 entries on 1 January 2006.

Newly-formed municipalities, new names

In 2006, the name of one newly-formed municipality refers to the region where it is situated; in the Utrecht Heuvelrug region, a new municipality of the same name was created with approximately 50 thousand inhabitants. This municipality came into being, when the municipalities of Maarn, Doorn, Leersum, Amerongen and Driebergen-Rijsenburg were merged. The municipality of Teylingen in the province of South Holland is a merger of the municipalities of Warmond, Voorhout and Sassenheim. Each of these former municipalities has historical ties with Teylingen, although the origin of the name remains a mystery.

Many changes implemented in West Netherlands

In the western part of the country in particular, the number of municipalities was reduced dramatically during the last decades. In both North and South Holland nearly half of municipalities have ceased to exist over the course of the last forty years. The same applies to the province of Utrecht. In the province of Zeeland only one sixth of municipalities survived.

Municipalities in the western provinces
Municipalities in the western provinces

South Holland still has largest number of municipalities

In 2006, South Holland is still the province holding the largest number of municipalities (82), despite numerous municipal redivisions and the transition of the municipalities of Oudewater (in 1970), Woerden (in 1989) and Vianen (in 2002) from South Holland to Utrecht.

Small municipalities further in decline

Last year, there were seventy municipalities in the Netherlands whose population did not exceed ten thousand. 
As from 1 January 2006, the number of small municipalities is declining further as Venhuizen, Maarn, Amerongen and Leersum are abolished. Due to abolishment of Valkenburg and Warmond in South Holland, only nine municipalities in this province remain to have fewer than five thousand residents.

Small municipalities further in decline
Small municipalities further in decline

The number of small municipalities is gradually falling. In 1966, there were twelve municipalities having fewer than 500 inhabitants. In 2006, such small-sized municipalities have disappeared altogether. Strict requirements regarding municipal tasks particularly affect small municipalities whose future hangs in the balance. Some have already taken steps towards a merger on a voluntary basis. Next year, the number of municipalities in the Netherlands is anticipated to drop under 450, as new redivisions in the provinces of North and South Holland and Limburg will be effectuated.

Duncan Beeckman