How the Dutch built the Netherlands to protect it from flooding

Most of the Netherlands is actually below sea level.
Loukia Papadopoulos

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Most of the Netherlands is actually below sea level which causes quite some problems for the country. The Dutch have spent centuries building sea defenses to push back water, successfully managing to reclaim almost 20% of their land from the sea and lakes. 

To achieve this impressive goal, they used polders, low-lying areas of land that were reclaimed through the building of dikes, drainage canals, and pumping stations. Today, there are more than 3,000 polders throughout the nation. This wasn't enough though, and in 1916, they suffered from severe flooding.

That's when the Dutch decided to work on the Afsluitdijk to protect low-lying areas and the wall off the Zuiderzee from the sea. The seawall was one of the largest engineering feats of its time, spanning 20 mi (32 km) and a final height of 23 ft (7 m) above sea level. More impressive was the fact that it was topped off by sand and clay, and held together by grass. 

How effective was the Afsluitdijk in saving parts of the country? What happened during another devastating flood in 1953?  When was the Delta Works conceived and built? What other measures did the Dutch invent to mitigate flooding? We answer all these questions and more in our video.

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