Netherlands's History

The Romans used the Rhine/Meuse River as border between their Gallia Belgica province and the ungovernable Germanic tribes, so the Netherlands straddled both sides. Rome’s demise brought in warlike Germanic tribes and the Low Countries became a patchwork of fiefdoms owing allegiance to various overloads within the Holy Roman Empire. Protestant teachers won the Dutch to Calvinism leading to independence in 1581 from their Spanish Catholic Hapsburg masters. The Netherlands was a federal republic until 1795 when the French Revolution overflowed into the Low Countries finding many supporters. The new Batavian Republic lasted till 1806 replaced by the Kingdom of Holland which was absorbed into Napoleon’s France in 1810. The House of Orange-Nassau claimed the throne in 1813 and still reign. The Netherlands remained neutral in WWI but was overrun by Germany in WWII. Devastating floods in 1953 led to permanent solutions in the form of formidable sea walls and dikes.

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Since WWII Holland has prospered with a firm foundation of well educated people with a liberal outlook and willingness and necessity to engage in trade and International politics. The country fights an unending war against the sea, as 40% of the country is below sea level and the consequences of Global Warming are starkly obvious to the Dutch. The Dutch have a solid capitalist streak tempered with a social conscience. The diversified economy has a stable banking, media, agriculture and manufacturing sectors and Holland’s image of windmills, canals, tulips, clogs and bicycles together with rich artistic and cultural treasures is an enormous tourism drawcard. In 2013 Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother as King when Queen Beatrix abdicated.

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