How low are the low lands?

Pretty low.
About half the country is more than a metre above sea level, mostly that in the east and south of the country. Most of the rest is below sea level, including where I live.

The government puts a lot of work into managing the water across the country, given that it’s a coastal country and laced with rivers this is a challenge.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 22.03.19

There is a whole government department devoted to managing water, they do a lot of pretty interesting innovation, including the huge movable surge barriers in Rotterdam – bigger than the Eiffel tower and they float.But where is “sea level” measured from?

Sea level for Amsterdam, in fact for the Netherlands and much of Northern Europe is measured from the “Normaal Amsterdamse Peil”, or the Amsterdam Ordinance Datum. This is shown in the City Council office by Waterlooplein.


The level of the NAP was estabished in 1684, and based on the average high tide of the IJ between September 1683 and September 1684, and represented a high-water mark. It was then marked on stones on the locks around Amsterdam by order of the Mayor, Mr Hudde. There is only one of these stones remaining in situ, it’s on the Eenhoorsluis, on the corner of Korte Prinsengracht and Haarlemmerdijk.


Even Schiphol is below sea level. This mural is at the city council office on Waterlooplein.



One thought on “How low are the low lands?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s