Nation profile


General information
653,953 inhabitants (2021)
3.324 km²
Provincial Government and Parliament
Major cities
Ljouwert (Leeuwarden), It Hearrenfean (Heerenveen), Drachten
State administration
Territorial languages
Frisian, Low Saxon
Official languages
Dutch, Frisian (semi-official)
Major religion
Christianity (Protestantism), with Catholic and Muslim minorities


Frisia is a country in northwestern Europe, along the coast of the North Sea. The extent of its land area may be understood in different ways depending on the conception of the person who is referring to it. Data and flag included in the general information above exclusively refer to the territory of the current province of Friesland (official name: Fryslân), in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Even so, the most maximal conceptions of the Frisian lands include, west to east: the region of West Friesland, in the province of North Holland; the province of Friesland aforementioned; the province of Groningen; the region of East Frisia and the municipality of Saterland, the district of Friesland and the adjacent city of Wilhelmshaven, the north of the district of Wesermarch and the northwest of Cuxhaven, all of them in the German federal state (land) of Lower Saxony; and finally the district of Nordfriesland and the island of Heligoland, in the land of Schleswig-Holstein.


Three Frisian languages are currently spoken. The largest one by far (460,000 speakers, 2007) is West Frisian, spoken in a large part of the province of Fryslân and in a small area of Groningen, in the Netherlands. It enjoys a certain degree of recognition and official use. North Frisian (8,000 speakers, 1996) is spoken in North Frisia and Helgoland, while East Frisian strives for survival in the Saterland towns of Strücklingen, Ramsloh and Scharrel (1,000 speakers, 2007.)

Dialects of Low Saxon —or Low German, as the language is also called— spoken in the province of Groningen and in the land of Lower Saxony show a remarkable influence from Frisian language varieties that were spoken in those areas until the middle and modern ages —in some cases to a very late stage, such as in the case of the island of Wangerooge, in the region of East Frisia, where it remained alive until the 20th century.


Afûk is one of the main organizations promoting the Frisian language and culture in the province of Friesland, especially in the field of education. Founded in 1928, it receives provincial and municipal funding and is part of several European networks.

Several organizations in favour of the Frisian language and culture are organized, in the province of Friesland, in a coordinated manner under the Council of the Frisian Movement (Ried fan de Fryske Beweging), founded in 1945. It is active, above all, in the promotion of the language and in the defense of the linguistic rights of Frisian speakers.

Since 1956 there has been a council that brings together representative organizations of the West, East and North Frisians: the Frisian Council (Fryske Rie, Fräiske Räid or Frasche Rädj), with three different sections for each of these subdivisions.

In the academic field, one of the reference organizations is the Frisian Academy (Fryske Akademy), created in 1936. The Academy conducts research on Friesland, with a special focus on the language, society, and history of the country.

Politics and institutions

The province of Friesland is at present the most prominent government body, as is the only one in the Frisian lands that at the same time bears the name of the country and coincides with a first level state subdivision. It has its own government and assembly (the Provincial Council) elected by direct suffrage. It has the capacity to approve ordinances —legal regulations of lower rank than a Dutch law— and executive powers in the areas of transport, economy, agriculture, environment, culture, language and territorial organization. In that assembly, the Frisian National Party (Fryske Nasjonale Partij, FNP) has now for decades holding seats. In the subsequent provincial elections of the 21st century it has obtained 8% to 13% of the votes. The FNP favours that Frisian government bodies are devolved as many powers as possible within a federal Netherlands. Another Frisian party is Provincial Interest of Friesland (Provinciaal Belang Fryslân, PBF), formed in 1992 as an alliance of municipal parties. It is more conservative and less active in the defense of the Frisian language than the FNP.

Schleswig-Holstein's northwestern area makes up the District of North Friesland, which has its own District Council exercising some executive powers of supramunicipal coordination (maintenance of roads, building of hospitals and schools, and running the provision of some social services). The South Schleswig Voters’ Association (Südschleswigscher Wählerverband or Söödschlaswiksche Wäälerferbånd, SSW) seeks to represent the interests of Danes and Frisians, and demands equal rights for all native cultures of the territory. It has had continued representation in government bodies — with MPs in the Parliament of Schleswig-Holstein and councilors at the local level in North Friesland— since 1958. It has been part of several cabinets of this German land.

In Lower Saxony, Die Friesen advocated the autonomy of East Frisia and closer relations with other Frisian regions. The party, founded in 2007, was dissolved in 2023.


King's Commissioner (provincial president): Arno Blok, VVD (since 2017)
Distribution of seats at the provincial council (2023 election). 43 members:
Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB, right, agrarist) - 14
Labour Party (PvdA, centre-left, social democratic) - 5
Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA, centre-right, christian democratic) - 4
Frisian National Party (FNP, centre to centre-left, Frisian federalist) - 4
People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD, centre-right, liberal) - 3
Green Left (GL, centre-left, green politics) - 3
Christian Union (CU, centre, christian democratic) - 2
Party for Freedom (PVV, right to far right) - 2
Forum for Democracy (FvD, far right) - 1
Socialist Party (SP, left, socialist) - 1
Party of the Animals (PvdD, left, rights of the animals) - 1
Democrats 66 (D66, centre social liberal) - 1
Right Answer 2021 (JA2021, right to far right) - 1
Provincial Interest Frisia (PBF, centre-right, regionalist and municipalist) - 1

Electoral system: proportional system in one single constituency.
Government: BBB, CDA, FNP i CU.

(Last updated August 2023.)