The country is also subdivided in water districts, governed by a water board (waterschap or hoogheemraadschap), each having authority in matters concerning water management.
As of 1 January 2005 there are 27. The creation of water boards actually pre-dates that of the nation itself, the first appearing in 1196. In fact, the Dutch water boards are one of the oldest democratic entities in the world still in existence.
The administrative structure on the 3 BES islands, also known as the Caribbean Netherlands, is different. These islands have the status of openbare lichamen (public bodies) and are generally referred to as special municipalities. They are not part of a province.
A Dutch province represents the administrative layer in between the national government and the local municipalities, having the responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance.
The government of each province consists of three major parts: the Provinciale Staten which is the provincial parliament elected every four years.
Elected from its members are the Gedeputeerde Staten, a college charged with most executive tasks, presided by the Commissaris van de Koningin appointed by the Crown.
he modern-day Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces.