James McDonald looks for a corner of the densely populated Netherlands where modern life hasn’t managed to take hold. The island of Schiermonnikoog provides just that. The 1000 inhabitants live stubbornly on their island, refusing to join the modern rat race. The pace of life is slower, with most people shunning cars in a patch of land only a few kilometres long. In winter, they can sometimes be cut off from the mainland for days because of bad weather. This has instilled a strong sense of independence in them. It also gives us a peek at how life once was in the Netherlands, with old customs maintained.
But all this is under threat, with pressures from tourism and the gas industry wanting to exploit the island. Even the language is dying out, with only 80 elderly residents still able to speak it.
Producer: James McDonald
Broadcast: March 12, 1999