Map of the Week – Plan to drain the South Sea, 1891-1892

In 1891, Cornelis Lely came up with a plan to claim more land from the sea. His ambitious plan involved building a dike between North Holland and Friesland to close off the Zuiderzee [South Sea]. That would make it possible to reclaim large sections of land and create a fresh water lake, the IJsselmeer. This plan formed the basis of a major water engineering project carried out in the first half of the 1900s. In 1932, the dike was completed. The southern (Flevopolder) and eastern (Noordoost polder) areas were turned into land in the 1950s and 1960s. The western polder was never built and is now a nature reserve. In 1986, the Flevopolder and Noordoost polder together formed the new province of Flevoland, the twelfth province of the Netherlands.

Plan by Cornelis Lely to drain the South Sea, 1891. Credits: Zuiderzeemuseum (public domain)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Rob Waaijenberg says

    Nice post; great map. One question though:
    Did you make a concious decision about translating “Zuiderzee” into “South Sea”?
    Not even the Zuiderzeemuseum does that; and South Sea usually refers to the southern part of the Pacific or Oceania.
    The referral in Wikipedia reads: “Zuiderzee or Southern Sea, a reclaimed bay of the North Sea, now IJsselmeer, Netherlands”.
    Sorry; just my autism playing up again.

    • Yvette Hoitink says

      I just translated that as opposed to the North Sea. I did not realize that others translated it differently.

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