Around the IJsselmeer is an arc of boulder clay high areas of land, which formed during the Ice Age glaciations of the Pleistocene epoch: Texel, Wieringen, Urk, de Voorst, and Gaasterland.
The Noordoostpolder in its early years had an alternative name "Urker Land," from which Urk's newspaper, Het Urkerland, gets its name.From 1614 to 1660, Urk and Emmeloord were ruled by Jonkheer van der Werve.(from an important family of Antwerp.) From 1660 to 1792 Urk and Emmeloord belonged to the municipality of Amsterdam, and ruled from 1660 to 1672/1678 by Andries de Graeff.In 1939, a dike from the mainland to Urk ended the town's island status, just as the Afsluitdijk project was changing the salt water Zuiderzee surrounding Urk to the less saline IJsselmeer.Later in the 20th century, seabed areas surrounding Urk were reclaimed from the sea and became the Noordoostpolder.Until 1475 the High and Low Lordship of Urk and Emmeloord (the most northern village of Schokland) was in the hands of the Van Kuinre family.
From 1475 to 1614, the Zoudenbalch family of Utrecht were Lords of Urk and Emmeloord.
Due to rising prices of fish, at present Urk is a very prosperous village.
In the past, many lives were lost in storms on the Zuiderzee and North Sea.
The southwest side of Urk, which rose perpendicularly out of the sea, was called het Hoge Klif ("the High Cliff").
Around 1700 the municipality of Amsterdam gave sea defences to Urk.
Dutch topographic map of the municipality of Urk, June 2015 The oldest instance of the name "Urk" is a donation certificate of 966 from Holy Roman Emperor Otto I to the Sint Pantaleonsklooster monastery in Cologne.