OVERYSEL, or Overyssel, a province of Holland, bounded S. and S.W. by Gelderland, N.W. by the Zuider Zee, N. by Friesland and Drente, and E. by the Prussian provinces of Hanover and Westphalia respectively; area 1291 sq. m.; pop. (1904) 359,443. It includes the island of Schokland in the Zuider Zee. Like Drente on the north and Gelderland on the south, Overysel consists of a sandy flat relieved by hillocks, and is covered with waste stretches of heath and patches of wood and high fen. Along the shores of the Zuider Zee, however, west of the ZwoUe-Leeuwarden railway, the country is low-lying and covered for the most part with fertile pasture lands. Cattlerearing and butter and cheese making are consequently the chief occupations, while on the coast many of the people are engaged in making mats and besoms. The river system of the province is determined by two main ridges of hills. The first of these extends from the southern border at Markelo to the Lemeler hill (262 ft.) near the confluence of the Vecht and Regge, and forms the watershed between the Regge and the Salland streams (Sala, whence Sahs, Isala, Ysel), which unite at Zwolle to form the Zwarte Water. The other ridge of hills extends through the south-eastern division of the province called Twente, from Enschede to Ootmarsum, and divides the basin of the Almelosche Aa from the Dinkel and its streams. The river Vecht crosses the province from E. to W. and joins the Zwarte Water, which communicates with the Zuider Zee by the Zwolsche Diep and with the Ysel by the WiUemsvaart. Everywhere along the streams is a strip of fertile grass-land, from which agriculture and cattlerearing have gradually spread over the sand-grounds. A large proportion of the sand-grounds, however, is waste. Forest culture is practised on parts of them, especially in the east, and pigs are largely bred. The deposits of the Salland and the Dinkel streams are found to contain iron ore, which is extracted and forms an article of export to Germany. Peat-digging and fen reclamation have been carried on from an early period, and the area of high fen which formerly covered the portion of the province to the north of the Vecht in the neighbourhood of Dedemsvaart has been mostly reclaimed. This industry is now most active on the eastern borders between Almelo and Hardenberg, Vriezenveen being the chief fen colony. Cottonspinning, together with bleaching-works, has come into prominence in the 19th century in the district of Twente. The reason of its isolated settlement here is to be found in the former general practice of weaving as a home craft and its organization as an industry by capitalist Baptist refugees who arrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. The chief town of the province is Zwolle, and other thriving industrial centres are Deventer, famous for its carpets and cake, and Almelo, Enschede, Hengelo and Oldenzaal in Twente. Kampen, Genemuiden, VoUenhove and Blokzyl, on the Zuider Zee, carry on some fishing trade. Near VoUenhove was the castle of Toutenburg, built in 1502-1533 by the famous stadtholder of the emperor Charles V., George Schenk. The castle was demolished in the beginning of the 1qth century and the remains are slight. The railway system of the province is supplemented by steam tram-lines between ZwoDe, Dedemsvaart and Hardenberg.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)