The province of Zeeland is composed of the three peninsulas between the estuaries of the Scheldt and the Meuse. It is bordered by the provinces of South Holland and North Brabant.
Most of the province lies beneath sea level and was reclaimed from the sea over the centuries.
It has a surface area of 1,788 km˛, a population of 380,000 inhabitants (the second least populated part of the Netherlands after Flevoland).
The County of Zeeland was created at the beginning of the 10th century. It was soon to be disputed by the Counts of Holland and those of Flanders.
In 1299, Holland and Zeeland both passed to the Counts of Hainaut, then to the Wittelsbach of Bavaria in 1345, to the Dukes of Burgundy a century later, and finally to the Habsburgs in 1477.
The Eighty Years' War (1568-1648) with Spain resulted the independence of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, of which Zeeland was part.
The southern part of Zeeland, called Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, remained part of the County of Flanders and the Habsburgian Netherlands until 1815. when the modern province of Zeeland was formed.
Zeeland being surrounded by water (hence its name "Sealand"), it has been particularily vulnerable to tidal changes, storms and floods. In 1421, the St. Elizabeth flood swallowed some 72 villages, causing 2,000 or 10,000 deaths (depending on the sources) in Zeeland and Holland.
The last major catastrophe happened in Januray 1953, when the North Sea flood affected the the provinces of Zeeland, Zuid-Holland and Noord-Brabant, leaving 1,835 people dead, some 30,000 animals drowned, and nearly 50,000 buildings destroyed. This led to the construction of the protective Delta Works, a system of dams, sluices, locks, dykes and storm surge barriers, completed in 1997.