1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brabant, North

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BRABANT, NORTH, the largest province in Holland, bounded S. by Belgium, W. and N.W. by the Scheldt, the Eendracht, the Volkerak and the Hollandsch Diep, which separate it from Zealand and South Holland, N. and N. E. by the Merwede and Maas, which separate it from South Holland and Gelderland, and E. by the province of Limburg. It has an area of 231 sq. m. and a pop. (1900) of 553,842. The surface of the province is a gentle slope from the south-east (where it ranges between 80 and 160 ft. in height) towards the north and north-west, and the soil is composed of diluvial sand, here and there mixed with gravel, but giving place to sea-clay along the western boundary and river-clay along the banks of the Maas and smaller rivers. The watershed is formed by the north-eastern edge of the Belgian plateau of Campine, and follows a curved line drawn through Bergen-op-Zoom, Turnhout and Maastricht. The landscape consists for the most part of waste stretches of heath, occasionally slightly overlaid with high fen. Between the valleys of the Aa and the Maas lies the long stretch of heavy high-fen called the Peel (“marshy land”). Deurne, a few miles east of Helmond, the site of a prehistoric burial-ground, was an early fen colony. The work of reclamation was removed farther eastwards to Helenaveen in the second half of the 19th century. Agriculture (potatoes, buckwheat, rye) is the main industry, generally combined with cattle-raising. On the clay lands wheat and barley are the principal products, and in the western corner of the province beetroot is largely cultivated for the beet sugar industry, factories being found at Bergen-op-Zoom, Steenbergen and Oudenbosch. There is a special cultivation of hops in the district north-west of 's Hertogenbosch. The large majority of the population is Roman Catholic. The earliest development of towns and villages took place along the river Maas and its tributaries, and the fortified Roman camps which were the origin of many such afterwards developed in the hands of feudal lords. The chief town of the province, 's Hertogenbosch, may be cited as an interesting historical example. Geertruidenberg,