Traditionally, the fate of the Netherlands has always been linked to water. Most of the country lies below sea level. For centuries, Holland has battled sea water by engineering an impressive network of locks, pumps and dikes. It’s a constant threat, but water has also always been a source of income for fishing, commerce and shipping. The Netherlands has known wealth and success thanks to water. In the Golden Age, large trading cities were created along the coast, Amsterdam being the most famous of them. In the 19th century, Rotterdam established itself as a trading port and became the world’s largest port of that era.
Initially, people were not yet in possession of sufficient or efficient means for managing water. The concept of the dike in the Netherlands was introduced by the Romans. They designed strategic roads, often along rivers. These roads were built so high that they remained viable during high tide. As a result, they also acted as a water barrier. This was the beginning of dikes and streamlined works. Today, in total, there are 3,600 kilometres of managed primary flood defenses, 13,500 kilometres of other flooddefenses and 235,000 kilometres of managed watercourses.