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Location of the Netherlands within Europe

The Netherlands is one of four constituent countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch, located in northwestern Europe. It borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east.
Since 2010, the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have become part of the country of the Netherlands, whereas Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are considered separate countries within the Kingdom, however only the Kingdom functions internationally as a sovereign state.

Although the Netherlands is often referred to as Holland, this use is strictly incorrect, as Holland is a region in the central-western part of the Netherlands, consisting of only two of the country's twelve provinces. The country's constitutional capital is Amsterdam, but the seat of government is in The Hague. The Hague also locates most international embassies, as well as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

The Netherlands is a very densely populated and geographically one of the most low-lying countries in the world (its name literally means "Low lands") that is popularly famous for, among other things, its dikes and canals, windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, bicycles and social tolerance. Its liberal policies, for instance regarding drugs, homosexuality or prostitution receive international attention.
As of 2014 the country ranks fourth in the world on the United Nations Human Development Index, or third on the inequality-adjusted H.D.I.. The Netherlands also ranked as the fourth happiest country in the world in the U.N.'s 2013 World Happiness Report, reflecting its high quality of life.

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Marlborough receives captured standards
The Battle of Ramillies was a major engagement of the War of the Spanish Succession fought on 23 May 1706. The encounter was a resounding success for the allied forces of England, the Dutch Republic, and Denmark; but the battle had followed a year of indecisive campaigning in 1705 where Allied over-confidence after their success at the Battle of Blenheim had resulted in an abortive campaign along the Moselle, forcing the Duke of Marlborough to abandon his plans for a push into France. Yet despite the Allies' inability to achieve a decisive victory, Louis XIV was eager for peace; but he wanted it on reasonable terms. Therefore, rather than standing on the defensive, French armies on all fronts swung over to the offensive.

The year 1706 had begun well for Louis XIV's generals, who had gained early success in Italy and in Alsace, where Marshal Villars had forced the Margrave of Baden to retreat across the Rhine. Louis now pressed Marshal Villeroi to seek out Marlborough and bring the Allies to battle in the Spanish Netherlands. Accordingly, the French Marshal set off from Louvain at the head of 60,000 men, and provocatively marched towards Léau.

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The Netherlands Carillon, north of Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
Credit: Carol M. Highsmith

The Netherlands Carillon adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery was a gift from the Netherlands to the United States of America in 1954, to thank the U.S. for its aid during and after World War II. A Carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least 23 cast bronze bells, and the Netherlands is home to more of them than any other nation.

Selected biography

Adriaen van der Donck
Adriaen Cornelissen van der Donck was a lawyer and landowner in New Netherland after whose honorific Jonkheer the city of Yonkers, New York is named. In addition to being the first lawyer in the Dutch colony, he was a leader in the political life of New Amsterdam (modern New York City), and an activist for Dutch-style republican government in the Dutch West India Company-run trading post.

Enchanted by his new homeland of New Netherland, Van der Donck made detailed accounts of the land, vegetation, animals, waterways, topography, and climate. Van der Donck used this knowledge to actively promote immigration to the colony, publishing several tracts, including his influential Description of New Netherland. Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Project, has called it "the fullest account of the province, its geography, the Indians who inhabited it, and its prospects…It has been said that had it not been written in Dutch, it would have gone down as one of the great works of American colonial literature."

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