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Vlissingen – the small Dutch city with a big reach

The Netherlands has certainly left its mark on the wider world, not only in terms of its delicious and unique cuisine, but also in the fields of language, religion, science and much, much more. The country’s sweeping influence has managed to put it quite firmly on the map, and in a literal sense too – in the form of Dutch place names.

And, surprisingly, you’re just as likely to stumble across towns named after Dutch cities and provinces in the United States, as you are in former Dutch colonies such as Indonesia and Surinam. Whilst many of these place names have become slightly distorted from the original over the years, you can still find plenty that sound authentically Dutch such as:

• Harlem (a New York City district), named after the Dutch city of Haarlem
• Brooklyn (another New York City district), named after the Dutch town Breukelen
• New Utrecht (a Brooklyn neighbourhood, again in New York City), named after the Dutch city of Utrecht.

The U.S. state of Michigan also boasts more than its fair share of towns named after Dutch provinces, including Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Drenthe, Groningen and Overissel.

Naturally, former Dutch colony Suriname features several towns and villages with a Dutch namesake, including Nieuw Amsterdam, Geertruidenberg and Alkmaar. Yet even in neighbouring Guyana you can pay a visit to Zeeburg, Zeelandia and New Amsterdam and curiously you’ll stumble across a Mauritsstad and Olinda in Brazil.

Perhaps more striking is the fact that Vlissingen is such a popular Dutch place name around the globe. In addition to the humble harbour city in the Dutch province of Zeeland, there is also a Vlissingen in Namibia, (Vlissingen Noord and Vlissingen Suid), Tobago (Nieuw Vlissingen, today known as Scarborough), and – albeit in a somewhat corrupt form – in the British county of Cornwall (Flushing) and in New York City (also Flushing). Maybe Vlissingen’s popularity has something to do with its strategic location. Indeed, the original Dutch port of Vlissengen was once ruled by a number of foreign invaders including the Spanish from 1568-1572, the English between 1585 and 1616, and the French from 1807 to 1815, before it finally fell back into Dutch hands in 1815. However, whether or not the locals in those foreign towns named after Vlissengen enjoy typical Dutch meals like Zeeuwse wortelstamppot met ham (Zeeland carrot and ham stew), is quite another matter!

Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Why not visit to our sister blog, heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad.

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