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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

New meaning to going Dutch

A post in Javaranch regarding e-mail reminded me of a little enclave of Baarle-Hertog near the Dutch border. It's 5,000+ parcels of land are split into the towns called Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau.

Houses on the opposite side of the street or even those attached can be in different countries.House numberplates have either a Netherland flag or Belgian flag. The local governments have offices 200 yards from each other run their own towns and the policw patrol their own towns.

A Belgian sending a letter to his Dutch neighbour using a Belgian post-box would be picked up by his Belgian postman taken to the nearest big town, Turnhout which is in Belgium proper, and re-directed to Brussels. From there it would be flown to Amsterdam and sent on to the post-man in Baarle-Nassau where a Dutch post-man would deliver it down the street (probably as the Belgian postman who picked it up was walking past).

The Belgian poster would in reality have posted the letter in a Dutch post-box which would have been delivered by local mail.

The situation arose from political ties that go back to the 12th century.
It's quite interesting. Godfrid of Schoten gave the land to the Duke of Brabant.The duke loaned out some land, gave some to the Counts of Nassau and some back to Godfrid, keeping all the inhabited land for himself. With time his land ended up in the ownership of Belgium while the others were lands belonging to Netherlands. In World War I the town was not invaded by the Germans because some of it belonged to then neutral Netherlands.

Seems to me here's something for delivers of e-mail to learn from.

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