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Walcheren (välˈkhərən) [key], region, Zeeland prov., SW Netherlands, on the North Sea at the entrance to the Scheldt estuary. Middelburg is the chief city and is also the capital of Zeeland prov. Vlissingen is also important. Dunes line the North Sea coast, and diked lowlands predominate elsewhere. Agriculture and cattle raising constitute the mainstays of Walcheren's economy; principal crops are wheat, vegetables, fruit, and sugar beets. Walcheren also has a considerable tourist trade, attracted largely by the medieval buildings in Middelburg. The region was occupied by the Germans and suffered heavy bombardment during World War II. The dikes were bombed and the area largely flooded in order hamper the German forces. In the autumn of 1944, Canadian and British troops assaulted and secured Walcheren as part of the campaign to clear the Scheldt estuary so that the Allies could use the Belgian port of Antwerp, which had been captured earlier.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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