Het Bildt

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het Bildt (About this sound pronunciation ) is a municipality in the province of Friesland in the northern Netherlands; its capital is Sint Annaparochie. As of 1 November 2006 it had a population of 10,975. Het Bildt has 15.4 kilometers of coastline. Its soil is very fertile and agriculture is a major part of its economy; crops grown include onions, potatoes, and a variety of fruits (mainly apples).

Het Bildt was largely settled by Dutch inhabitants from South Holland; as a result, the language generally spoken there is "Bildts", a dialect that mixes Dutch (as spoken in South Holland) with West Frisian; Bildts is usually classified as a dialect of Dutch. All three languages - Bildts, Dutch, and Frisian - are spoken in the area. Only in Minnertsga (which did not become a part of the municipality of Het Bildt until 1984) is Frisian the predominant language. Signage in Het Bildt is generally bilingual, with names given in both Dutch and Bildts.

The name Het Bildt is formed out of the word "opbilden" which means the silting up of land. Het Bildt should not be confused with the county and town De Bilt from the Utrecht province.

Population centres

Number of inhabitants as of 1 January 2004:

Source: CBS

History

The region now called Het Bildt was formed out of a sea called the Middelsee (or Bordine) and was at one time subject to serious floods. The Middlesee once separated the western lands from the rest of the Frisian mainland. The western part was called Westergoa and the city of Franeker was in its center. The eastern part was called Eastergoa. The city Leeuwarden was located along Eastergoa's western coast. The Middelsee stretched all the way from the north to the west of Bolsward. Earlier it extended still further, all the way to the Zuiderzee (now het IJsselmeer) and Westergoa was an Island only accessible by boat. Around 1300 the sea began to become less accessible to boats. Eventually a dike was raised between the villages Beetgumermolen and Britsum to stop the continuous overflooding. As a result, the area south of this dike was no longer subject to the effects of tides and the parts that weren't already dry became solid land. Westergo and Oostergo were connected. The Swette has been kept as a small river between Leeuwarden and Sneek. After the dike was raised, the northern part of the Middelsee also gradually silted. In 1398 the dry fallen lands were given by the count Albrecht van Beieren to Arend van Egmond, Lord of IJsselstein. In 1498, even more land became dry. This trend, caused by the Waddenzee's tide, has continued to the present.

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