Vlissingen pronunciation (occasionally British English: Flushing) is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century Vlissingen was a main harbour for ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It is also known as the birthplace of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter.
Vlissingen is mainly noted for the wharves on the Scheldt where most of the ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine) are built.
The fishermen’s hamlet that came into existence at the estuary of the river Scheldt (Schelde) 620 A.D. has grown into a tourist attraction and into the third most important port of the Netherlands 1400 years later. Because of its favourable geographical situation, the Counts of Holland and Zeeland had the first harbours dug.
Nowadays each year 50,000 ships from all corners of the world pass through the river Schelde. Tourist are very pleased with this phenomenon, because nowhere in the world ships pass this closely to the shore.
In the centuries of its growth Vlissingen was especially well known as the centre of (herring) fishery, commerce, privateering and slave trade. The history of Vlissingen is characterized by oppression, bombardments and floods. All this as a consequence of Vlissingen’s strategic position at the river Schelde.
He who ruled Vlissingen owned the most important passageway to the docks of Antwerp. For this reason the eyes of several foreign powers fell on Vlissingen. British, French, Germans and Spaniards, they were all within the city's boundaries long before the tourists were there.