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from Dutch Nederland, literally "lower land" (see nether); said to have been used by the Austrians (who ruled much of the southern part of the Low Countries from 1713 to 1795), by way of contrast to the mountains they knew, but the name is older than this. The Netherlands formerly included Flanders and thus were equivalent geographically and etymologically to the Low Countries. Related: Netherlander; Netherlandish (c.1600).
Constitutional monarchy in northwestern Europe, bordered by the North Sea to the west and north, Germany to the east, and Belgium to the south. Amsterdam is the constitutional capital, and The Hague is the seat of the government. The Netherlands are also popularly known as Holland, after a region of the country.
Note: Half of the country lies below sea level. Much of this land has been reclaimed from the North Sea and is protected by dikes and irrigated by an intricate system of canals.
Note: During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, The Netherlands established a powerful commercial and colonial empire. The Dutch Empire included the settlement of New Amsterdam, which later became New York, and the conquest of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
Note: The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries also saw a flowering of Dutch painting by masters such as Rembrandt.
Note: During World War II, Germany invaded and occupied The Netherlands, exterminating most Dutch Jews. (See Anne Frank.)