From Academic Kids

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The main municipalities of the Randstad; note that the marked areas are not just the built-up areas but the whole municipalities

The Randstad is an agglomeration in the Netherlands. It consists of the four biggest cities, and the surrounding areas. With its 7.1 million inhabitants (almost half of the population of the Netherlands) it's one of the biggest agglomerations in Europe. Its main cities are Amsterdam, Zoetermeer, Almere, Hilversum, Utrecht, Gouda, Dordrecht, Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Leiden and Haarlem.

The cities of the Randstad form more or less a chain. This chain gave the Randstad its name (Rand is Dutch for edge, Stad for city). The area that is surrounded by the larger cities is called the Green Heart (Groene Hart).

For the last decades, a major topic in the Randstad is the "conflict" between the major cities and the villages inbetween. These villages usually are much greener than the cities, house many commuters that work in the cities and strongly depend on them for facilities such as hospitals and large scale entertainment. Cities want space for expansion, yet villages fear to lose their identity and authority. Villages tend to cooperate to withstand this pressure and sometimes even fuse.

The discussion about the Groene Hart (English:Green Heart) is an other hot topic closely related to this one. On the one hand it should be protected, as it is considered a valuable rural area amongst cities. On the other hand however, many (richer) people like a house in a relatively quiet environment near the jobs and facilities of the Randstad.

More recently many Dutch planologists have started to refer to the "Randstad" as "Deltametropool" [1] (http://www.deltametropool.nl/pages/english/Deltametropolis.php). Deltametropolis actually consists of two large metropolitan areas:

1. The "Noordvleugel" (North Wing, pop.: around 2.5 million), consisting of the Haarlem and IJmuiden conurbations in the west, Amsterdam at the centre and Almere and the Gooi-area in the east. The conurbation of Utrecht (pop. around an extra 800,000) could also be considered to be part of the North Wing. The main center is however clearly Amsterdam, which could - as such - be considered a classical centralistic metropole.

2. The "Zuidvleugel" (South Wing, pop.: around 3.5 million), stretching some 60 kilometers from Dordrecht in the South East to Leiden in the North. The main conurbations are the more or less equivalent Rotterdam and The Hague areas. The virtual centre of the "Zuidvleugel" lies in between those two major cities, near Delft, and - in some minds - this area should offer great potential for future development. The first strides towards such further development are being made at this moment by the construction of a new fast light-rail connection between Rotterdam and The Hague: Randstad Rail. A long delayed extension of the western A4-highway from the south of Delft to Rotterdam has also been put back on the administrative agenda, creating a second connection between Rotterdam, via The Hague, to Amsterdam.

External link

Official Zuidvleugel website (http://www.zuidvleugel.nl) (Dutch)ca:Randstad de:Randstad nl:Randstad


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