A file photo taken on December 6, 2013 shows the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier (Oosterscheldekering) in Vrouwenpolder, The Netherlands. AFP PHOTO / ANP / BAS CZERWINSKI
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Had nature been allowed to take its course much of the Netherlands would be a muddy swamp and the tiny coastal nation would never have risen to become the eurozone's fifth-largest economy.More than half of the country's 17 million people live in low-lying at risk areas, but thanks to hard work, perseverance and a lot of technical savvy they snuggle safely behind an ingenious network of 17,500 kilometers of dykes, dunes and barrages.Dutch companies now account for some 40 percent of the global dredging business open to international competition.Traumatized and shocked, the Dutch decided the only way forward was to improve their sea defenses.The world's burgeoning and resource-rich delta zones where some 10 percent of the world's population lives are at the greatest risk, according to the Delta Alliance organization.Some 2,500 Dutch firms work in the water industry, doing some 17 billion euros of business every year, said Lennart Silvis, director of the Netherlands Water Partnership.
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