Coat of arms of Drenthe
Anthem: "Mien Drenthe"
"My Drenthe"
Location of Drenthe in the Netherlands
Location of Drenthe in the Netherlands
Coordinates: 52°55′N 6°35′E / 52.917°N 6.583°E / 52.917; 6.583Coordinates: 52°55′N 6°35′E / 52.917°N 6.583°E / 52.917; 6.583
Largest cityEmmen
 • King's CommissionerJetta Klijnsma (PvdA)
 • CouncilStates of Drenthe
 • Total2,680 km2 (1,030 sq mi)
 • Land2,634 km2 (1,017 sq mi)
 • Water46 km2 (18 sq mi)
 • Rank9th
 (1 November 2019)[2]
 • Total493,648
 • Rank10th
 • Density188/km2 (490/sq mi)
  • Rank12th nationally
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
ISO 3166 codeNL-DR
HDI (2018)0.903[3]
very high · 12th

Drenthe (Dutch: [ˈdrɛntə] (listen)) is a province of the Netherlands located in the northeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and the German state of Lower Saxony to the east. As of November 2019, Drenthe had a population of 493,449[2] and a total area of 2,680 km2 (1,030 sq mi).

Drenthe has been populated for 15,000 years. The region has subsequently been part of the Episcopal principality of Utrecht, Habsburg Netherlands, Dutch Republic, Batavian Republic, Kingdom of Holland and Kingdom of the Netherlands. Drenthe has been an official province since 1796. The capital and seat of the provincial government is Assen. The King's Commissioner of Drenthe is Jetta Klijnsma. The Labour Party (PvdA) is the largest party in the States-Provincial, followed by the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA).

Drenthe is a sparsely populated rural area, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands; except for the small cities of Assen (pop. 67,963[4]) and Emmen (pop. 107,113), the land in Drenthe is mainly used for agriculture and it has a notable amount of forests and nature.[5][6]


Papeloze Kerk, a dolmen (hunebed) near Schoonoord
Papeloze Kerk, a dolmen (hunebed) near Schoonoord
Map of Drenthe, 1866
Map of Drenthe, 1866

The name Drenthe is said to stem from thrija-hantja meaning "three lands".

Drenthe has been populated by people since prehistory. Artifacts from the Wolstonian Stage (150,000 years ago) are among the oldest found in the Netherlands. In fact, it was one of the most densely populated areas of the Netherlands until the Bronze Age. The most tangible evidence of this are the dolmens (hunebedden) built around 3500 BC. 53 of the 54 dolmens in the Netherlands can be found in Drenthe, concentrated in the northeast of the province. In 2006, the archaeological reserve of Strubben-Kniphorstbos, located between Anloo and Schipborg, was created to preserve part of this heritage.

Most of the Bronze Age objects found in the Netherlands have been found in Drenthe.[citation needed] One item shows that trading networks during this period extended a far distance. Large bronze situlae (buckets) found in Drenthe were manufactured somewhere in eastern France or in Switzerland. They were used for mixing wine with water (a Roman/Greek custom). The many finds in Drenthe of rare and valuable objects, such as tin-bead necklaces, suggest that Drenthe was a trading centre in the Netherlands in the Bronze Age.[citation needed]

Drenthe was first mentioned in a document from 820, it was called Pago Treanth (Drenthe district). In archives from Het Utrechts Archief, from 1024 to 1025, the "county Drenthe" is mentioned, when Emperor Henry II gave it to Bishop Adalbold II of Utrecht.

After long being subject to the Utrecht diocese, Bishop Henry of Wittelsbach in 1528 ceded Drenthe to Emperor Charles V of Habsburg, who incorporated it into the Habsburg Netherlands. When the Republic of the Seven United Provinces was declared in 1581, Drenthe became part of it as the County of Drenthe, although it never gained full provincial status due to its poverty;[citation needed] the province was so poor it was exempt from paying federal taxes and as a consequence was denied representation in the States General. The successor Batavian Republic granted it provincial status on 1 January 1796.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Dutch government built a camp near the town of Hooghalen to intern German Jewish refugees. During the Second World War, the German occupiers used the camp (which they named KZ Westerbork) as a Durchgangslager (transit camp). Many Dutch Jews, Sinti, Roma, resistance combatants and political adversaries were imprisoned before being transferred to concentration and extermination camps in Germany and occupied Poland. Anne Frank was deported on the last train leaving the Westerbork transit camp on 3 September 1944.

In the 1970s, there were four hostage crises where South Moluccan terrorists demanded an independent Republic of South Maluku. They held hostages in hijacked trains in 1975[7] and 1977,[8] in a primary school in 1977,[8] and in the province hall in 1978.[9]


Satellite image of Drenthe
Satellite image of Drenthe
Topography map of Drenthe, 2019
Topography map of Drenthe, 2019
Dwingelderveld National Park
Nationaal beek- en esdorpenlandschap Drentsche Aa national park

Drenthe is situated at 52°55′N 6°35′E / 52.917°N 6.583°E / 52.917; 6.583 in the northeast of the Netherlands; with to the north the province Groningen, to the west the province Friesland, to the south the province Overijssel, and to the east the German districts Emsland and Bentheim in the state Lower Saxony.

Drenthe is the 9th largest province of the Netherlands. It has a total area of 2,683 km2 (1,036 sq mi), with 2,639 km2 (1,019 sq mi) of land and 44 km2 (17 sq mi) of water. About 72% of the land or 1,898 km2 (733 sq mi) is used for agriculture.[10]

Drenthe has several heathlands and no significant rivers or lakes. The national parks Drents-Friese Wold and Dwingelderveld (IUCN category II) and the national landscape Drentsche Aa (IUCN category V) are all (partially) located in the province.

The major urban centers of the province are the capital Assen in the north and Emmen, Meppel, Hoogeveen, and Coevorden in the south.


The province (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics or NUTS level 2) is divided into three COROP regions (NUTS level 3): North Drenthe, Southeast Drenthe, and Southwest Drenthe. The COROP regions are used for statistical purposes.[11]

The Netherlands underwent a large number of municipal mergers in the past decades and Drenthe was no exception. The most significant simultaneous set of mergers took place in 1998, when 32 municipalities were amalgamated into 10 larger municipalities.[12] As of 2014 Drenthe consists of 12 municipalities; Emmen is the largest municipality in terms of both population and area, Westerveld is the least populous and Meppel covers the smallest area.[13][14]

The municipalities Assen, Noordenveld, and Tynaarlo are part of the interprovincial Groningen-Assen Region[15] and the municipalities Aa en Hunze, Assen, Borger-Odoorn, Coevorden, Emmen, Midden-Drenthe, Noordenveld, and Westerveld are part of the international Ems Dollart Region (EDR).[16]

Municipality Population[13] Population density[14] Total area[14] COROP group
Aa en Hunze 25,333 93 /km2 (241 /sq mi) 278.88 km2 (107.68 sq mi) North Drenthe
Assen 67,209 820 /km2 (2,124 /sq mi) 83.45 km2 (32.22 sq mi) North Drenthe
Borger-Odoorn 25,633 94 /km2 (243 /sq mi) 277.89 km2 (107.29 sq mi) South East Drenthe
Coevorden 35,771 121 /km2 (313 /sq mi) 299.69 km2 (115.71 sq mi) South East Drenthe
Emmen 108,003 324 /km2 (839 /sq mi) 346.25 km2 (133.69 sq mi) South East Drenthe
Hoogeveen 54,680 430 /km2 (1,114 /sq mi) 129.25 km2 (49.9 sq mi) South West Drenthe
Meppel 32,875 585 /km2 (1,515 /sq mi) 57.03 km2 (22.02 sq mi) South West Drenthe
Midden-Drenthe 33,368 98 /km2 (254 /sq mi) 345.87 km2 (133.54 sq mi) North Drenthe
Noordenveld 31,110 154 /km2 (399 /sq mi) 205.32 km2 (79.27 sq mi) North Drenthe
Tynaarlo 32,506 225 /km2 (583 /sq mi) 147.7 km2 (57.03 sq mi) North Drenthe
Westerveld 18,902 69 /km2 (179 /sq mi) 282.74 km2 (109.17 sq mi) South West Drenthe
De Wolden 23,592 106 /km2 (275 /sq mi) 226.35 km2 (87.39 sq mi) South West Drenthe


Drenthe has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb).

Climate data for Groningen Airport Eelde (53°08′N 06°35′E / 53.133°N 6.583°E / 53.133; 6.583)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.5
Average high °C (°F) 4.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.4
Average low °C (°F) −0.4
Record low °C (°F) −22.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 74.2
Average rainy days 20 16 20 17 18 19 20 20 19 20 22 20 230
Average snowy days 8 7 5 2 0 0 3 6 33
Average relative humidity (%) 90 88 85 79 79 81 82 83 86 89 91 92 86
Mean monthly sunshine hours 54.2 78.7 117.2 171.6 210.0 187.0 199.1 183.9 137.0 107.2 56.5 47.5 1,550
Percent possible sunshine 21 29 32 41 43 37 39 40 36 33 22 20 35
Source: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute[17][18][19]


Historical population
1899 148,544—    
1930 222,432+49.7%
1960 311,196+39.9%
1970 366,590+17.8%
1980 418,479+14.2%
1990 441,028+5.4%
2000 469,806+6.5%
2010 490,981+4.5%
Source: CBS[20][21][22]

On 1 January 2014, Drenthe had a total population of 488,957 and a population density of 182.2/km2 (472/sq mi).[10][23] It is the 3rd least populous and least densely populated province of the Netherlands, with only Flevoland and Zeeland having fewer people. Emmen is the most populous municipality in the province.


In 2015, 23.8% of the population belonged to the Protestant Church in the Netherlands while 9.3% was Roman Catholic, 0.9% was Muslim and 3.6% belonged to other churches or faiths. Over half (62.4%) of the population identified as non-religious.

Religion in Drenthe (2015)[24]

  Not religious (62.4%)
  Catholicism (9.3%)
  Other (3.6%)
  Islam (0.9%)


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Agriculture is an important employer, although industrial areas are found near the cities. The quietness of the province is also attracting a growing number of tourists.

Drenthe is known as the "Cycling Province" of the Netherlands and is an exceptional place for a cycling holiday, having hundreds of kilometers of cycle paths through forest, heath and along canals and many towns and villages offering refreshment along the way. Drenthe exports through the entire Netherlands and also receives supplies and goods from Germany, making it a good business district. Many Dutch and German multinational companies are settled in Drenthe.

The Gross domestic product (GDP) of the province was 15.1 billion € in 2018, accounting for 1.9% of the Netherlands economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 26,700 € or 89% of the EU27 average in the same year.[25]



Over half the population of Drenthe speaks the Drents dialect. Each town or village has its own version. All versions are part of the Low Saxon language group. Dutch Low Saxon has been officially recognised by the Dutch government as a regional language and is protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.


FC Emmen is the only professional football club in Drenthe. It plays in the Eredivisie and its home stadium is De Oude Meerdijk.

The Ronde van Drenthe is an elite men's and women's professional road bicycle race that takes place annually in early March.

The TT Circuit Assen hosts the Dutch TT, which is a round of the MotoGP series of the Motorcycle Road Racing World Championship.


Drents Museum is an art and history museum in Assen. It had 227,000 visitors in 2013.[26]

Museum Collectie Brands is a local museum located in Nieuw-Dordrecht that houses an extensive collection of rare and curious items collected by Jans Brands.


Seat of the provincial government in Assen
Seat of the provincial government in Assen

The States of Drenthe have 41 seats, and is headed by the King's Commissioner, currently Jetta Klijnsma. While the provincial council is elected by the people of Drenthe, the Commissioner is appointed by the King and the cabinet of the Netherlands. With 12 seats, the social democratic PvdA is 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 Commissioner; its members (gedeputeerden) can be compared with ministers.

Provincial election results
Party Votes % Seats
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy 29,527 15.22 7
Labour Party 29,399 15.15 7
Christian Democratic Appeal 27,997 14.43 6
Socialist Party 24,404 12.57 5
Party for Freedom 21,108 10.88 5
Democrats 66 19,120 9.85 4
ChristianUnion 12,472 6.43 3
GreenLeft 10,037 5.17 2
All other parties 20,008 10.32 2
Total valid votes 195,133 100 41
Invalid/blank votes 1,051 0.25
Total 194,082
Registered voters/turnout 382,865 50.97
Source: Kiesraad[27]


The Meppel railway station is a national heritage site[28]

The motorways A28 (E232), A32, A37 (E233), and the other major roads N33, N34, and N48 are maintained by the state.[29]

There are four railways partially in the province of Drenthe:

Trajectory Railway stations in Drenthe
Arnhem–Leeuwarden OverijsselMeppelFriesland
Gronau–Coevorden GermanyCoevorden
Meppel–Groningen MeppelHoogeveenBeilenAssenGroningen
Zwolle–Emmen OverijsselCoevordenDalenNieuw AmsterdamEmmen ZuidEmmen

Groningen Airport Eelde is a minor international airport located in Eelde in the province of Drenthe. Hoogeveen Airport is a general aviation airport located in Hoogeveen.

Science and education

Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope

ASTRON, the Netherlands institute for radio astronomy, is located near Dwingeloo. Their single-dish radio telescope of the Dwingeloo Radio Observatory was completed in 1956 and is now a national heritage site (rijksmonument). Their Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope is an array of fourteen dishes near the village of Westerbork and construction was completed in 1970. Their international Low-Frequency Array with its core near Exloo was completed in 2012.

In Assen, Emmen, and Meppel are universities of applied sciences (hogescholen). The Stenden University of Applied Sciences has locations in these three towns, which formed the Drenthe University of Applied Sciences before a merger in 2008. The Hanze Institute of Technology, part of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, is located in Assen. There are no research universities (universiteiten) in the province of Drenthe.


RTV Drenthe, the regional radio and television station, is based in Assen. The regional daily newspaper for the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen is Dagblad van het Noorden, which is based in the city of Groningen.


  1. ^ "Error".
  2. ^ a b "CBS Statline".
  3. ^ "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "CBS Statline".
  5. ^ Drenthe. "Drentse loofbossen zijn van topkwaliteit!". Provincie Drenthe (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 20 September 2022. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  6. ^ wandelverhaal (3 June 2021). "Drenthe, de oerprovincie van Nederland". WANDELVERHAAL (in Dutch). Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  7. ^ (in Dutch) Marianne van Exel, Molukse treinkaping bij Wijster Archived 23 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, IS Geschiedenis, 2011. Retrieved on 8 April 2014.
  8. ^ a b (in Dutch) Marnix Koolhaas, Herdenking Molukse treinkaping 1977, Geschiedenis 24, 2007. Retrieved on 8 April 2014.
  9. ^ (in Dutch) Molukse gijzeling in Assen, Geschiedenis 24, 2000. Retrieved on 8 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b (in Dutch) Bodemgebruik; uitgebreide gebruiksvorm, per gemeente, Statistics Netherlands, 2013. Retrieved on 14 April 2014.
  11. ^ (in Dutch) Indeling van Nederland in 40 COROP-gebieden Archived 5 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Statistics Netherlands. Retrieved on 2 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Gemeentelijke indeling op 1 januari 1998" [Municipal divisions on 1 January 1998]. cbs.nl (in Dutch). CBS. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  14. ^ a b c "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 20 December 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  15. ^ About us Archived 25 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Groningen-Assen Region. Retrieved on 6 April 2014.
  16. ^ (in German) Die Mitglieder der EDR Archived 3 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Ems Dollart Region, 2014. Retrieved on 6 April 2014.
  17. ^ (in Dutch) Stationslijst Archived 16 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved on 8 April 2014.
  18. ^ (in Dutch) Eelde, langjarige gemiddelden, tijdvak 1981–2010, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved on 2 April 2014.
  19. ^ (in Dutch) Eelde extremen tijdvak 1971 t/m 2000[permanent dead link], Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved on 8 April 2014.
  20. ^ (in Dutch) Volkstelling 1899; algemene uitkomsten per gemeente, Statistics Netherlands, 1999. Retrieved on 1 April 2014.
  21. ^ (in Dutch) Volkstelling 1930; bewoners naar geslacht en geboorteplaats, Statistics Netherlands, 2006. Retrieved on 1 April 2014.
  22. ^ (in Dutch) Bevolkingsontwikkeling; levendgeborenen, overledenen en migratie per regio, Statistics Netherlands, 2013. Retrieved on 1 April 2014.
  23. ^ (in Dutch) Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand, Statistics Netherlands, 2017. Retrieved on 13 February 2017.
  24. ^ Helft Nederlanders is kerkelijk of religieus, CBS, 22 December 2016
  25. ^ "Regional GDP per capita ranged from 30% to 263% of the EU average in 2018". Eurostat.
  26. ^ (in Dutch) "2013: Overzicht bezoekcijfers musea in Nederland Archived 2014-07-28 at the Wayback Machine", Metro, 2013. Retrieved on 20 July 2014.
  27. ^ "Provinciale Staten 18 maart 2015" (in Dutch). Kiesraad. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  28. ^ (in Dutch) Monumentnummer: 508721 – Station Meppel Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Retrieved on 3 April 2014.
  29. ^ (in Dutch) Wegenoverzicht Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Rijkswaterstaat. Retrieved on 2 April 2014.