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Schiermonnikoog

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Schiermonnikoog is an island, a municipality, and a national park in the northern Netherlands. Schiermonnikoog is one of the West Frisian Islands, and is part of the province of Friesland. It is situated between the islands of Ameland and Rottumerplaat.The island is long and wide and is the site of the Netherlands' first national park. The only village on the island is also called Schiermonnikoog. Just around 946 people permanently reside on the island, making the municipality both the least populated and the least densely populated in the Netherlands. Because the island is small and flat, only 200 islanders have taken out the special licence allowing them to keep their own car, with the result that the few streets are virtually car-free.Up to 300,000 people visit the island every year, staying in the 5,500 beds available in holiday homes, apartments and hotels. Most visitors, however, are day trippers (about 4,000/day in July and August alone), with the result that after the last ferry leaves at 6.30pm, calm returns to Langestreek, the village high street.HistoryThanks to the tidal current, the prevailing winds, and North Sea storms, the island is slowly moving to the south and the east. In the year 1250, it lay roughly 2 km to the north of its present position, and it then had a significantly different shape.The earliest mention of Schiermonnikoog in writing dates from October 1440, in a document written for Philip the Good. The island's first known owners were the monks of Klaarkamp Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Rinsumageest, on the mainland. "Monnik" means "monk", "schier" is an archaic word meaning "grey", referring to the colour of the monks' habits, and "oog" translates as "island". The name Schiermonnikoog can therefore be translated as Grey Monk Island.
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