|1.||Also called: Holland, Dutch name: Nederland a kingdom in NW Europe, on the North Sea: declared independence from Spain in 1581 as the United Provinces; became a major maritime and commercial power in the 17th century, gaining many overseas possessions; formed the Benelux customs union with Belgium and Luxembourg in 1948 and was a founder member of the Common Market, now the European Union. It is mostly flat and low-lying, with about 40 per cent of the land being below sea level, much of it on polders protected by dykes. Official language: Dutch. Religion: Christian majority, Protestant and Roman Catholic, large nonreligious minority. Currency: euro. Capital: Amsterdam, with the seat of government at The Hague. Pop: 16 227 000 (2004 est). Area: 41 526 sq km (16 033 sq miles)|
|2.||the kingdom of the Netherlands together with the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, esp as ruled by Spain and Austria before 1581; the Low Countries|
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.)