Staphorst

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Staphorst (About this sound pronunciation ) is a municipality and a town in the eastern Netherlands.

Contents

History

The villages of Staphorst and its southern neighbour Rouveen came into existence as in the 13th century monks started to bring the bogs and swamps into culture. All the farms were built along the long road through the bog area. Thus a lengthy row of farms was built, becoming the 7 miles long village of Staphorst-Rouveen. This phenomenon is called in Dutch: lintbebouwing (ribbon urbanization). In many parts of the Netherlands this type of village is quite common, e.g. Vriezenveen, the villages along river dykes in the Netherlands, the so-called moor-colonies in the provinces Drenthe and Groningen, as well as the German regions opposite the border. A specialty for Staphorst is, that after a farmer's death, his land was often divided between his sons. The son, who didn't inherit his father's farm, built a farm-house for his own behind the other. Therefore, many pieces of farmland are very lengthy, yet narrow (e.g. 1500 x 40 metres). Originally, each piece of land was 125 metres wide. The farms are of the traditional Low Saxon type. They have green doors and window shutters. Most farms existing now were built between 1850 and 1910.

Religion

Staphorst is famous for people wearing traditional dress. Furthermore, it is one of the most religious towns of the Netherlands, with a lot of people attending Calvinist church. Staphorst grinds to a halt on Sundays.

A large proportion of the population holds fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and oppose technologies such as television. This is in contrast to the permissive, libertarian tendency in Dutch law. Nevertheless, Staphorst has a big industrial area with small, but modern enterprises; on days other than Sundays, tourists are welcome (see below).

In 1971, Staphorst became world news due to an outbreak of polio. Certain inhabitants did not wish their children to be vaccinated against polio on religious grounds. They found that vaccination was against Divine Providence, in particular the Heidelberg Catechism. Due to this (and probably also due to laxity of other inhabitants in getting vaccinated) 39 people (mostly children) became infected with polio. Of these, five died and a number of others became disabled. Most inhabitants are now vaccinated, however 20% remain unvaccinated. As a result, Staphorst and other similar areas in the Netherlands are classified as risk areas by the WHO[1] - the only such area in Europe.

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