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The Netherlands is a country in Europe and inhabited predominantly by the Dutch (deriving from deutsch or German), a Germanic ethnic group. The Netherlands is often called Holland. This is technically incorrect, as North and South Holland in the western Netherlands are only two of the country's twelve provinces. The Low Countries were situated around the border of France and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a part of their respective peripheries and the various territories of which they consisted had become virtually, but not officially, autonomous by the 13th century. Under the Habsburger, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic.


After the reconquest of the Germania inferior province of Germania occupied by the Romans and at the time of the conquest of Rome, three Germanic tribes lived in what is now the Netherlands: the Frisians lived on the coast, the Saxons in the east and the Franks in the south.

Around 1200, several Frisian communities (Rüstringen was one of them) between the Zuidersee and the Weser concluded a peace union of the seven Frisian lakes. The right of the so-called Frisian freedom that had been granted to them meant direct subordination to the Roman-German Emperor, similar to what was the case with the free imperial cities ( Freie Reichsstädte). The representatives of this supra-regional alliance held a Thing every year on the Tuesday after Pentecost at the Upstalsboom, near today's Rahe, southwest of the city of Aurich. The flag of the Seven Frisian Sea States contains blue and white stripes and seven red water lilies. Politically, the Netherlands belonged to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until 1648, when it was separated from the empire like Switzerland by the Peace of Westphalia ending the Eighty Years’ War.[1]

The Netherlands is the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which consists of the Netherlands, and the islands of the Netherlands Antilles. The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, located in Western Europe. It is bordered by the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. The Netherlands is often called Holland. This is technically incorrect, as North and South Holland in the western Netherlands are only two of the country's twelve provinces. The Netherlands is a geographically low-lying and densely populated country. It is popularly known for its windmills, cheese, clogs (wooden shoes), delftware and gouda pottery, dikes, tulips, bicycles, and social tolerance.

The Netherlands has an international outlook; among other affiliations the country is a member of the European Union (EU), NATO, the OECD, and has signed the Kyoto protocol. Along with Belgium and Luxembourg, the Netherlands is also one of three member nations of the Benelux economic union. The country is host to four international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Court. All of these courts, as well as the EU's criminal intelligence agency (Europol) are situated in The Hague, which has led to the city being referred to as "the world's legal capital."

The dominant religion of the Dutch is Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant (Lutheranism), but in modern times the majority are no longer religious. Significant percentages of the Dutch are adherents of humanism, agnosticism, atheism or individual spirituality.


The National Anthem "Het Wilhelmus", after Wilhelm I. von Oranien-Nassau (1533–1584), begins with the words:

Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
Ben ick van Duytschen bloet
Den Vaderlant getrouwe
Blyf ick tot in den doet.
Wilhelm von Nassau
I am of German blood
true to the fatherland
I will stay until my death.

See also

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In German


  1. Since Lutheran Sweden preferred Osnabrück as a conference venue, its peace negotiations with the Holy Roman Empire, including the allies of both sides, took place in Osnabrück. The empire and its opponent France, including the allies of each, as well as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and its opponent Spain (and their respective allies), negotiated in Münster. The peace negotiations had no exact beginning and ending, because the participating total of 109 delegations never met in a plenary session, but arrived between 1643 and 1646 and left between 1647 and 1649. According to the Peace of Westphalia, all parties would recognize the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, in which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio). Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will. The delegates also recognized the exclusive sovereignty of each party over its lands, people, and agents abroad, and responsibility for the warlike acts of any of its citizens or agents. Multiple territorial adjustments were also decided. Among the most important ones was the recognition of the independence of Switzerland from the Holy Roman Empire and the expansion of the territories of France, Sweden, and Brandenburg-Prussia (later Prussia). The independence of the city of Bremen was clarified. Also, barriers to trade and commerce erected during the war were abolished, and “a degree” of free navigation was guaranteed on the Rhine.