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Travelling to Drenthe. The Free Encyclopedia about Drenthe

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Province of the Netherlands
Flag of Drenthe
Coat of arms of Drenthe
Coat of arms
Anthem: "Mijn Drenthe"
"My Drenthe"
Location of Drenthe in the Netherlands
Location of Drenthe in the Netherlands
Coordinates: 52°55′N 6°35′E / 52.917°N 6.583°E / 52.917; 6.583
Country Netherlands
Capital Assen
Largest city Emmen
 • King's Commissioner Jetta Klijnsma (PvdA)
 • Council States of Drenthe
 • Total 2,683 km (1,036 sq mi)
 • Land 2,639 km (1,019 sq mi)
 • Water 44 km (17 sq mi)
Area rank 7th nationally
 (1 January 2017)
 • Total 491,867
 • Rank 10th nationally
 • Density 180/km (470/sq mi)
 • Density rank 9th nationally
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
ISO 3166 code NL-DR
HDI (2017) 0.901
very high · 12th
Website www.drenthe.nl

Drenthe (/ˈdrɛntə/ DREN-tə, Dutch: [ˈdrɛntə] (About this soundlisten); German: Drente) is a province of the Netherlands located in the northeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany (districts of Emsland and Bentheim, Lower Saxony) to the east. In January 2017, it had a population of 491,867 and a total area of 2,683 km (1,036 sq mi).

Drenthe has been populated for 150,000 years. The region has subsequently been part of the Episcopal principality of Utrecht, Habsburg Netherlands, Dutch Republic, Batavian Republic, Kingdom of Holland and Kingdom of the Netherlands. Drenthe has been an official province since 1796. The capital and seat of the provincial government is Assen. The King's Commissioner of Drenthe is Jetta Klijnsma. The Labour Party (PvdA) is the largest party in the States-Provincial, followed by the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).

Drenthe is a sparsely populated rural area, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands. Except for some industry in Assen and Emmen, the land in Drenthe is mainly used for agriculture.


Papeloze Kerk, a dolmen (hunebed) near Schoonoord

Map of Drenthe, 1866

The name Drenthe is said to stem from thrija-hantja meaning "three lands".

Drenthe has been populated by people since prehistory. Artifacts from the Wolstonian Stage (150,000 years ago) are among the oldest found in the Netherlands. In fact, it was one of the most densely populated areas of the Netherlands until the Bronze Age. The most tangible evidence of this are the dolmens (hunebedden) built around 3500 BC. 53 of the 54 dolmens in the Netherlands can be found in Drenthe, concentrated in the northeast of the province. In 2006, the archaeological reserve of Strubben-Kniphorstbos, located between Anloo and Schipborg, was created to preserve part of this heritage.

Drenthe was first mentioned in a document from 820, it was called Pago Treanth (Drenthe district). In archives from Het Utrechts Archief, from 1024 to 1025, the "county Drenthe" is mentioned, when Emperor Henry II gave it to Bishop Adalbold II of Utrecht.

After long being subject to the Utrecht diocese, Bishop Henry of Wittelsbach in 1528 ceded Drenthe to Emperor Charles V of Habsburg, who incorporated it into the Habsburg Netherlands. When the Republic of the Seven United Provinces was declared in 1581, Drenthe became part of it as the County of Drenthe, although it never gained full provincial status due to its poverty; the province was so poor it was exempt from paying federal taxes and as a consequence was denied representation in the States General. The successor Batavian Republic granted it provincial status on 1 January 1796.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Dutch government built a camp near the town of Hooghalen to accommodate German (Jewish) refugees. During the Second World War, the German occupiers used the camp (which they named KZ Westerbork) as a Durchgangslager (transit camp). Many Dutch Jews, Sinti, Roma, resistance combatants and political adversaries were imprisoned before being transferred to concentration and extermination camps in Germany and occupied Poland. Anne Frank was deported on the last train leaving the Westerbork transit camp on 3 September 1944.

In the 1970s, there were four hostage crises where South Moluccan terrorists demanded an independent Republic of South Maluku. They held hostages in hijacked trains in 1975 and 1977, in a primary school in 1977, and in the province hall in 1978.


Satellite image of Drenthe

Topography map of Drenthe, 2013

Dwingelderveld National Park

Nationaal beek- en esdorpenlandschap Drentsche Aa national park

Drenthe is situated at 52°55′N 6°35′E / 52.917°N 6.583°E / 52.917; 6.583 in the northeast of the Netherlands; with to the north the province Groningen, to the west the province Friesland, to the south the province Overijssel, and to the east the German districts Emsland and Bentheim in the state Lower Saxony.

Drenthe is the 9th largest province of the Netherlands. It has a total area of 2,683 km (1,036 sq mi), with 2,639 km (1,019 sq mi) of land and 44 km (17 sq mi) of water. About 72% of the land or 1,898 km (733 sq mi) is used for agriculture.

Drenthe has several heathlands and no significant rivers or lakes. The national parks Drents-Friese Wold and Dwingelderveld (IUCN category II) and the national landscape Drentsche Aa (IUCN category V) are all (partially) located in the province.

The major urban centers of the province are the capital Assen in the north and Emmen, Meppel, Hoogeveen, and Coevorden in the south.


The province (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics or NUTS level 2) is divided into three COROP regions (NUTS level 3): North Drenthe, Southeast Drenthe, and Southwest Drenthe. The COROP regions are used for statistical purposes.

The Netherlands has been subject to a large amount of municipal mergers during the last decades. Drenthe is no exception; the largest concurrent merger happened in 1998, when 32 municipalities were amalgamated into 10 larger municipalities. As of 2014 Drenthe consists of 12 municipalities; Emmen is the largest municipality in terms of both population and area, Westerveld is the least populous and Meppel covers the smallest area.

The municipalities Assen, Noordenveld, and Tynaarlo are part of the interprovincial Groningen-Assen Region and the municipalities Aa en Hunze, Assen, Borger-Odoorn, Coevorden, Emmen, Midden-Drenthe, Noordenveld, and Westerveld are part of the international Ems Dollart Region (EDR).

Municipality Population Population density Total area COROP group
Aa en Hunze 25,333 93 /km (241 /sq mi) 278.88 km (107.68 sq mi) North Drenthe
Assen 67,209 820 /km (2,124 /sq mi) 83.45 km (32.22 sq mi) North Drenthe
Borger-Odoorn 25,633 94 /km (243 /sq mi) 277.89 km (107.29 sq mi) South East Drenthe
Coevorden 35,771 121 /km (313 /sq mi) 299.69 km (115.71 sq mi) South East Drenthe
Emmen 108,003 324 /km (839 /sq mi) 346.25 km (133.69 sq mi) South East Drenthe
Hoogeveen 54,680 430 /km (1,114 /sq mi) 129.25 km (49.9 sq mi) South West Drenthe
Meppel 32,875 585 /km (1,515 /sq mi) 57.03 km (22.02 sq mi) South West Drenthe
Midden-Drenthe 33,368 98 /km (254 /sq mi) 345.87 km (133.54 sq mi) North Drenthe
Noordenveld 31,110 154 /km (399 /sq mi) 205.32 km (79.27 sq mi) North Drenthe
Tynaarlo 32,506 225 /km (583 /sq mi) 147.7 km (57.03 sq mi) North Drenthe
Westerveld 18,902 69 /km (179 /sq mi) 282.74 km (109.17 sq mi) South West Drenthe
De Wolden 23,592 106 /km (275 /sq mi) 226.35 km (87.39 sq mi) South West Drenthe


Drenthe has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb).


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1899 148,544 —    
1930 222,432 +49.7%
1960 311,196 +39.9%
1970 366,590 +17.8%
1980 418,479 +14.2%
1990 441,028 +5.4%
2000 469,806 +6.5%
2010 490,981 +4.5%
Source: CBS

On 1 January 2014, Drenthe had a total population of 488,957 and a population density of 182.2/km (472/sq mi). It is the 3rd least populous and least densely populated province of the Netherlands, with only Flevoland and Zeeland having fewer people. Emmen is the most populous municipality in the province.


Agriculture is an important employer, although industrial areas are found near the cities. The quietness of the province is also attracting a growing number of tourists.

Drenthe is known as the "Cycling Province" of the Netherlands and is an exceptional place for a cycling holiday, having hundreds of kilometres of cycle paths through forest, heath and along canals and many towns and villages offering refreshment along the way. Drenthe exports through the entire Netherlands and also receives supplies and goods from Germany, making it a good business district. Many Dutch and German multinational companies are settled in Drenthe.



Over half the population of Drenthe speaks the Drents dialect. Each town or village has its own version. All versions are part of the Low Saxon language group. Dutch Low Saxon has been officially recognised by the Dutch government as a regional language and is protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.


FC Emmen is the only professional football club in Drenthe. It plays in the Eredivisie and its home stadium is JenS Vesting.

The TT Circuit in Assen hosts a MotoGP race and the Dutch TT.


Drents Museum is an art and history museum in Assen. It had 227,000 visitors in 2013.


Seat of the provincial government in Assen

The States of Drenthe have 41 seats, and is headed by the King's Commissioner, currently Jetta Klijnsma. While the provincial council is elected by the people of Drenthe, the Commissioner is appointed by the King and the cabinet of the Netherlands. With 12 seats, the social democratic PvdA 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.

Provincial election results
Party Votes % Seats
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy 29,527 15.22 7
Labour Party 29,399 15.15 7
Christian Democratic Appeal 27,997 14.43 6
Socialist Party 24,404 12.57 5
Party for Freedom 21,108 10.88 5
Democrats 66 19,120 9.85 4
ChristianUnion 12,472 6.43 3
GreenLeft 10,037 5.17 2
All other parties 20,008 10.32 2
Total valid votes 195,133 100 41
Invalid/blank votes 1,051 0.25
Total 194,082
Registered voters/turnout 382,865 50.97
Source: Kiesraad


The Meppel railway station is a national heritage site

The motorways A28 (E232), A32, A37 (E233), and the other major roads N33, N34, and N48 are maintained by the state.

There are four railways partially in the province of Drenthe:

Trajectory Railway stations in Drenthe
Arnhem–Leeuwarden Overijssel – Meppel – Friesland
Gronau–Coevorden Germany – Coevorden
Meppel–Groningen Meppel – Hoogeveen – Beilen – Assen – Groningen
Zwolle–Emmen Overijssel – Coevorden – Dalen – Nieuw Amsterdam – Emmen Zuid – Emmen

Groningen Airport Eelde is a minor international airport located in Eelde in the province of Drenthe. Hoogeveen Airport is a general aviation airport located in Hoogeveen.

Science and education

Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope

ASTRON, the Netherlands institute for radio astronomy, is located near Dwingeloo. Their single-dish radio telescope of the Dwingeloo Radio Observatory was completed in 1956 and is now a national heritage site (rijksmonument). Their Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope is an array of fourteen dishes near the village of Westerbork and construction was completed in 1970. Their international Low-Frequency Array with its core near Exloo was completed in 2012.

In Assen, Emmen, and Meppel are universities of applied sciences (hogescholen). The Stenden University of Applied Sciences has locations in these three towns, which formed the Drenthe University of Applied Sciences before a merger in 2008. The Hanze Institute of Technology, part of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, is located in Assen. There are no research universities (universiteiten) in the province of Drenthe.


RTV Drenthe, the regional radio and television station, is based in Assen. The regional daily newspaper for the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen is Dagblad van het Noorden, which is based in the city of Groningen.

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