Friesland is one of the 12 Dutch provinces, but without a doubt the most distinct of all. Friesland has its own language Frisian and calls itself Fryslân. City signs contain both Dutch and Frisian names. Friesland has its own anthem (Folksliet) and flag.

The Frisian flag is a curious one: blue and white stripes with red water lilies, that are often confused with hearts. Frisian soccer team SC Heerenveen plays in shirts resembling the flag and had to convince UEFA the lilies are not a commercial expression to use the kit in European competitions as well. The flag officially contains seven blue stripes, seven white stripes and seven lilies. This number seven stems from the Middle Ages: there were seven so-called sealands in the region that cooperated to defend Friesland from Viking attacks.

Friesland has 620.000 inhabitants. Eleven towns have historical city rights:

Apart from capital Leeuwarden, the biggest Frisian towns nowadays are Drachten and Heerenveen.

Friesland's distinct culture is also expressed in typical events, such as the Elfstedentocht (Tour of the Eleven Cities, a 220 kilometer ice skating tour) and Simmer (a yearly event involving Frisian culture and people). The province also has its own sports:

The province is situated in the north of the Netherlands. East of Friesland lie the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, to the south Overijssel and Flevoland. To the north and west there is nothing but water: the IJsselmeer and the Waddenzee. The Afsluitdijk connects Friesland to Noord-Holland at Zurich. In the Waddenzee, four Frisian islands are popular summer resorts, especially for German tourists: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.

In addition to being a Dutch province, Friesland is also a nonexistent island south of Iceland.

Friesland started to appear on some maps during the late 1500s, as an island about the size of Ireland. This was because some Italian family (who's name i cannot remember at the moment) wanted to improve their social status. They had heard of all those explorers who traveled the seas and claimed new land in the name of their king/queen, but these exploration voyages were too dangerous and expensive for them to try. The solution was simple: They got a map over the Atlantic sea, and drew a new island there.

The funny thing is that later more and more detailed information on Friesland appeared, including drawings of the people who lived there. This is probably because sea travelers were expecting the land to be there and while they looked for it, they might have reached Iceland or Ireland.

Later on when more advanced methods for calculating positions were developed people realized that the island of Friesland was a myth, so it did not appear on any maps after the 1600s.


Source: http://www.westgard.com/essay2.htm plus some TV show on Discovery Channel

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