415 Dutch municipalities in 2012

On 1 January 2012, the number of municipalities in the Netherlands will be reduced from 418 to 415. Hollands Kroon is the only new municipality, including the former municipalities of Anna Paulowna, Niedorp, Wieringen and Wieringermeer. The reduction of municipalities is a long-running process. Three decades ago, there were 774 municipalities in the Netherlands.

62 new municipality names since 1995

Since 1995, 62 new municipality names were added and 6 municipalities were renamed, although they were not subject to redivisions; 3 municipalities in the province of Friesland got Frisian names and 3 other municipalities changed their names, i.e. St. Anthonis became Sint Anthonis in 1996, Heesch became Bernheze and Bergeyk became Bergeijk in 1998.

The other 56 new names were the result of municipal redivisions. In 14 cases, the new names were created on the basis of the names of the merging municipalities, e.g. Sittard-Geleen (since 2001).

In 12 cases, the municipalities involved were initially renamed after one of the redivision partners, but within two years adopted a another name, e.g. Den Ham and Vriezenveen merged into Vriezenveen in 2001 and Vriezenveen was renamed Twenterand in 2003.

Municipalities renamed since 1995

Municipalities renamed since 1995

New names municipalities often include regional references

Names of municipalities often include a reference to a feature typical of the landscape in which the municipality is situated, e.g. a castle, as in the municipalities of Cranendonck, Bronckhorst and Teylingen, or a natural phenomenon like a river (Berkelland and Dinkelland).

Other municipality names are linked to activities typical of the region, e.g. the municipality ‘De Ronde Venen’ refers to the history of peat reclamation in the area. The name ‘Hollands Kroon’ recalls the land reclamation achieved by human labour. ‘De Ronde Venen’ refers to the name of the district water board and was chosen on the basis of suggestions made by the population.

Hilde Keuning