Learn more about North Brabant
|Queen's Commissioner||J.R.H. (Hanja) Maij-Weggen|
|Religion (1999)|| Protestant 7%|
4.919 km² (2nd)
| Population (2005)|
North Brabant (Dutch: Noord-Brabant, (help·info)) is a province of the Netherlands, located in the south of the country, bordered by Belgium in the south, the Meuse River (Maas) in the north, Limburg in the east and Zeeland in the west.
Until the 17th century, the area that now makes up the province of North Brabant was mostly part of the duchy of Brabant, of which the southern part is in present-day Belgium. In the 14th and 15th century, the area went through a golden age, especially in the cities of Leuven (Louvain), Antwerp (both now in Belgium), Breda and 's-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc).
After the Union of Utrecht was signed in 1579, Brabant became a battlefield between the protestant Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and the catholic Spain, which occupied the southern Netherlands. With the Peace of Westphalia, the northern part of Brabant became part of the Netherlands as the territory of Staats-Brabant (State Brabant) under federal rule (the founding provinces of the Dutch Republic were self-governing).
Attempts to preach protestantism failed, and the area served mainly as a military buffer zone. In 1796, when the Netherlands became the Batavian Republic, Staats-Brabant became a province as Bataafs Brabant. This status ended with the reorganisation by the French, and the area was divided over several departments.
In 1815, Belgium and the Netherlands were united as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the province of North Brabant was established, in order to separate it from South Brabant, in present-day Belgium, which separated from the Kingdom in 1830. This boundary between the Netherlands and Belgium is special in that it does not form a contiguous line, but there are a handful of tiny enclaves (and enclaves inside enclaves) on both sides of the border, such as Baarle-Hertog. When the province was founded its territory was expanded with a part of the province of Holland and the former territory of Ravenstein which had belonged to the Duchy of Cleves, as well as several small, formerly autonomous entities.
From the end of the 19th century, the province grew more and more industrialised. Textile was produced in Tilburg and Helmond, while the town of Eindhoven grew out to a city thanks to the Philips and Van Doorne's Automobiel Fabriek companies.
The provincial council (Provinciale Staten) has 79 seats, and is headed by the Queen's Commissioner, currently Hanja Maij-Weggen. While the provincial council is elected by the inhabitants, the Commissioner is appointed by the Queen and the cabinet of the Netherlands. With 28 seats, the Christian-Democratic CDA is the largest party in the council.
The daily affairs of the province are taken care of by the Gedeputeerde Staten, which are also headed by the Commissioner; its members (gedeputeerden) can be compared with ministers.
North Brabant is currently divided into 68 municipalities. Traditionally, almost every town was a separate municipality, but their number was reduced greatly in the 1990s by incorporating smaller towns with neighbouring cities or mergers. The municipalities in North Brabant are:
Like most of the Netherlands, North Brabant is mostly flat. While most of the population lives in urban areas, much of the province is uninhabited, though most of the land is cultivated. However, forests, heathlands and dune areas can also be found.
Employment is found in the agricultural, industrial and service sectors. Main agricultural products are wheat and sugar beets, while cows and pigs are held as cattle. The chief industries produce cars, electronics (both mainly in Eindhoven), textile and shoes.
In the twentieth century, tourism has risen as important sector for North Brabant, the woods and quiet atmosphere combined with the attractiveness of some of the cities proved successful. Another big tourist attraction is theme park Efteling in Kaatsheuvel, the largest of the Benelux.
 External links
- Official Website (in Dutch)
- Province map showing subdivision in municipalities
- Merger Geldrop and Mierlo 1 Jan 2004, with map, http://www.geldrop-mierlo.nl/
- Deltaworks Online - Flood protection of North Brabant and Deltaregion