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Enclosing Dike (Afsluitdijk)

In 1932, the North Sea coastline of The Netherlands was sealed off by a 30-km (19-mile) dike, connecting the province of Noord-Holland with Friesland. The Afsluitdijk stands 100 meters (328 feet) wide and sits seven meters (23 feet) above sea level, and this outstanding feat of hydraulic engineering closed the mouth of the saltwater Zuiderzee (Southern Sea), shortening the coastline and giving Amsterdam and other low-lying towns protection from repeated flooding by the sea.

In time the Zuiderzee became the freshwater Ijsselmeer – one of the largest lakes in Western Europe – and while large areas of land were reclaimed for farming and housing, many residents of the outlying fishing villages lost their livelihoods.