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The continuous effect of the tides has had great consequence in the creation of the Wadden Islands as they are today. They originated some 8,000 years ago. The North Sea filled up and the sea level rose. Large quantities of sand were moved to the coast. The tidal flats became dry upon low tide and submerged upon high tide. The channels in between eroded resulting in tidal flats which were then no longer submerged. And yet, Texel has a very different landscape compared to the other Wadden Islands.
In one of the final ice ages, a sturdy layer of boulder clay stayed behind on Texel. These boulder clay deposits are where the first inhabitants settled and this surface is where a landscape originated different from the sandy surface of the other islands. The Wadden Islands are not only part of the Netherlands.
The Wadden Sea stretches from Den Helder in the Netherlands to Esbjerg in Denmark. Roughly 50 islands form a protective buffer between the North Sea and the Wadden area so to speak. The islands are constantly moving: they slowly “walk” from west to east. On the eastern side larger sand continuously develop thus generating new land, whilst on the western side, the island disappears bit by bit into the sea.
Texel is the largest island, followed by the Danish island of Rømø and the German Sylt. Sylt has the most inhabitants with 21,000 people. Texel counts just under 14,000. In total, the Wadden Islands are home to over 81,000 inhabitants. The Netherlands has five inhabited Wadden Islands. The Dutch have developed a handy mnemonic to remember the names as well as the order of the islands.
The abbreviation stands for Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland, Schiermonnikoog. A little under 24,000 people inhabit these five islands. Besides these islands, there are a few uninhabited islands and tidal flats, which aren’t considered to be islands due to their small size. The Wadden area is so unique that is a protected area.
The Wadden See is the only natural world heritage site in the Netherlands and is on equal footing with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The area is an essential stopover on millions of birds’ migratory flyway.
Would you like to see more of the other Wadden Islands? From Texel you can catch a glimpse of the neighbours! Wadden ferry “De Vriendschap” provides passage to Vlieland in the spring and summer. We will gladly provide you with more information.