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
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.