From Maartensdijk to Meerkerk and from Abcoude to Zoeterwoude: the Green Heart is a vast rural area surrounded by the largest Dutch cities. The Green Heart is home to seven hundred thousand people, surrounded by seven million more. The contrast in lifestyles is sometimes stark – city and countryside overlap, and it is this overlap that has brought prosperity to the Dutch Delta for four centuries. For city dwellers, the landscape of the Green Heart is a weekend destination; for residents, it is part of their identity. A thousand years ago, the Green Heart was a peatland wilderness. Step by step, pioneers reclaimed the marshes and brought the area under cultivation. In the twelfth century, the first waterworks were built because of the subsidence of the land. This book tells the story of the Green Heart and introduces the people who have shaped and coloured the landscape. The book also gives meaning and direction to today’s urgent challenges: subsidence, salinisation, water intake and discharge, drought problems, housing, nature and strengthening a healthy and attractive business climate. The question is not whether the landscape of the Green Heart will change, but how. This book tells the story of ten centuries of transformation.