Luctor et Emergo, reads Zeeland’s slogan: “I struggle and I emerge”, a reference to the interminable battle the province has waged with the sea. As its name suggests, the southwestern corner of the Netherlands is bound as much by water as land. Comprising three main peninsulas within the delta of the Rijn (Rhine), the Schelde and the Maas, this cluster of islands and semi-islands is linked by a complex network of dykes. This concrete web not only gives protection from flooding but also forms the main lines of communication between each sliver of land. The northernmost landmass, Goeree-Overflakkee, a little south of Rotterdam, is connected by two dams to Schouwen-Duiveland, while further south are Noord and Zuid Beveland, the western tip of which adjoins Walcheren. Furthest south of all is Zeeuws Vlaanderen, lying across the blustery waters of the Westerschelde on the Belgian mainland.
Before the Delta Project secured the area, fear of the sea’s encroachment had prevented any large towns developing and consequently Zeeland remains a condensed area of low dunes and nature reserves, popular with holidaymakers escaping the cramped conurbations nearby. The province also has more sun than anywhere else in the Netherlands: the winds blow the clouds away, with spectacular sunsets guaranteed. Getting around is easy, with bus services making up for the lack of north–south train connections, though undoubtedly the best way to see these islands is to cycle, using Middelburg as a base and venturing out into its environs.