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Limburg (Dutch: (Nederlands) Limburg and Lumburgish: (Hollands) Limburg or Limborg) is the southernmost of the twelve provinces of the Netherlandsmarker. It is located in the southeastern part of the country and bordered by the province of Gelderland to the north, Germanymarker to the east, Belgiummarker to the south and part of the west, andthe Dutch province of North Brabantmarker partly to the west. Its capital is Maastrichtmarker.

Limburg has a highly distinct character. The social and economic trends which affected the province in recent decades generated a process of change and renewal which has enabled Limburg to transform the drawbacks of its national peripheral location into advantages inherent in its European settings, linking the Netherlands to the southern part of Europe. A less appreciated consequence of this international gateway location is rising international crime, often drugs-related, especially in the southernmost part of the province.


Limburg's name derives from the fortified castle town known as Limbourgmarker, situated on the river Vesdremarker near the High Fensmarker, currently in the Belgianmarker province of Liègemarker. It was the seat of the medieval Duchy of Limburgmarker which extended into the Meusemarker region north of the city of Liègemarker. However, most the area of the current Dutch Limburg was not part of this polity but was divided among several states including the Duchy of Brabant, the Duchy of Jülichmarker, the Duchy of Guelders, and the Bishopric of Liègemarker, as well as the Duchy of Limburg. A result of this division is still evident in the plethora of distinct varieties of the Limburgish language spoken in Limburg municipalities.
For centuries, the strategic location of the current province made it a much-coveted region among Europe's major powers. Romans, Spaniardsmarker, Prussians, Habsburg Austrians and Frenchmarker have all ruled Limburg. In 1673, Louis XIV personally commanded the siege of Maastrichtmarker by French troops. During the siege, one of his brigadiers, Count Charles d'Artagnan, perished. He subsequently became known as a major character in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père (1802–1870).

Limburg was also the scene of many a bloody battle during the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), in which the Dutch Republic threw off Spanish rule. At the Battle of Mookerheyde (14 April 1574), two brothers of Prince William of Orange-Nassau and thousands of "Dutch" mercenaries lost their lives. Most Limburgians fought on the Spanish side, being Catholic and hating the Calvinist Hollandersmarker.

Following the Napoleonic Era, the great powers (England, Prussia, the Austrian Empiremarker, the Russian Empiremarker and Francemarker) united the region with the new United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. A new province was formed which was to receive the name "Maastricht" after its capital. The first king, William I, who did not want the name Limburg to be lost, insisted that the name be changed to "Province of Limburg." As such, the name of the new province derived from the old Duchy of Limburg that had existed until 1648 within the triangle of Maastrichtmarker, Liègemarker, and Aachenmarker.

When the Catholic and French-speaking Belgians split away from the mainly Calvinist northern Netherlands in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, the Province of Limburg was at first almost entirely under Belgian rule. However, by the 1839 Treaty of London, the province was divided in two, with the eastern part going to the Netherlands and the western part to Belgium, a division that remains today.
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With the Treaty of London, what is now the Belgian Province of Luxembourgmarker was handed over to Belgium and removed from the German Confederationmarker. To appease Prussia, which had also lost access to the Meuse after the Congress of Vienna, the Dutch province of Limburg (but not the cities of Maastrichtmarker and Venlomarker because without them the population of Limburg equalled the population of the Province of Luxembourg, 150,000 [2734]), was joined to the German Confederationmarker between September 5, 1839 and August 23, 1866 as Duchy of Limburg. On 11 May 1867, the Duchy, which from 1839 on had been de jure a separate polity in personal union with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was re-incorporated into the latter with the Treaty of London. The style "Duchy of Limburg" however continued in some official use until February 1907. Another idiosyncrasy survives today: the head of the province, referred to as the "Queen's Commissioner" in other provinces, is addressed as "Governor" in Limburg.

The Second World War cost the lives of many civilians in Limburg, and a large number of towns and villages were destroyed by bombings and artillery battles. Various cemeteries, too, bear witness to this dark chapter in Limburg's history. Almost 8,500 Americanmarker soldiers, who perished during the liberation of the Netherlands, lie buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorialmarker in Margratenmarker. Other big war cemeteries are to be found at Overloonmarker (Britishmarker soldiers) and the Ysselsteyn German war cemeterymarker was constructed in the Municipality of Venraymarker for the 31,000 German soldiers who lost their lives.

In December 1991, the European Community (now European Union) held a summit in Maastricht. At that summit, the "Treaty on European Union" or so-called Maastricht treaty was signed by the European Community member states. With that treaty, the European Union came into existence.


In 't Bronsgroen Eikenhout is the official anthem of both Belgian and Dutch Limburg.


Limburg has its own language, called Limburgish (Dutch: Limburgs). This is, since 1997, an official regional language, and as such receives moderate protection under Chapter 2 of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It is not recognised by the Dutchmarker, Germanmarker and Belgianmarker governments as an official language.Limburgish is spoken by an estimated 1.6 million people in both Belgianmarker and Dutch Limburg and Germany. There are many different dialects in the Limburgish language. Almost every town and village has its own slightly different dialect. Dialects in the southeast more toward the German border (near Aachenmarker) have a more German sound, while dialects spoken in the Meusemarker (Dutch: Maas) valley have a somewhat lighter tone to them. Even within the cities of Venlomarker and Maastrichtmarker, very different dialects separated by major isoglosses continue to exist. These distinctions have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It also shows signs of Celtic substrates.


The provincial council (Provinciale Staten) has 63 seats, and is headed by a Queen's Commissioner that is uniquely among Dutch provinces called the Governor. The current Governor is Leon Frissen, . While the provincial council is elected by the inhabitants, the Governor is appointed by the Queen and the cabinet of the Netherlands. The Christian CDA is currently the largest party in the council.

The daily affairs of the province are taken care of by the Gedeputeerde Staten, which are also headed by the Governor; its members (gedeputeerden) can be compared with ministers.



The south of the province is remarkable when compared to the rest of the country, as it is one of the few regions that has hills. The highest point in the Netherlands, the Vaalserbergmarker, is situated at the Dutch-Belgian-German border. The most important river is the Meusemarker, that passes through the entire length of the province from South to North. Limburg's surface is largely formed by deposits from this Meuse river, consisting of river clay, fertile loessial soil and large deposits of pebblestone, currently being quarried for the construction industry. In northern parts of the province, further away from the river bed, the soil primarily consists of sand and peat. Major cities are the provincial capital Maastrichtmarker and the urban agglomerations of Sittardmarker-Geleenmarker and Parkstad Limburgmarker (including Heerlenmarker) in the south and Venlomarker in the north. Limburg makes up one region of the International Organization for Standardization world region code system, having the code ISO 3166-2:NL-LI.


In the past peat, gravel and coal were mined in Limburg. The state-owned corporation that used to mine in Limburg, DSM, is currently a major chemical company, still operating in Limburg. Automotive industry (Born) and production of copiers and printers (Océ in Venlo) are also present.Furthermore in the southern part, the undulating, densely populated triangle between Heerlen/Kerkrade in the south-east, Sittard in the north and Maastricht in the south-west, there are some four beer-breweries.

From way back the southern part of Limburg is one of the two fruitgrowing area's of the country.Since some four decennia however big parts of the fruittree arsenal have disappeared and been replaced by water, as a result of vast gravel extraction near the river Meusemarker.

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