Scotland is a country, part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides; the Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain; the union created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom.
The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922. Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland; the legal system within Scotland has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The continued existence of legal, educational and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England; the Scottish Parliament, a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs.
Scotland is a member of the British–Irish Council, sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. "Scotland" comes from the Latin name for the Gaels. From the ninth century, the meaning of Scotia shifted to designate Gaelic Scotland and by the eleventh century the name was being used to refer to the core territory of the Kingdom of Alba in what is now east-central Scotland; the use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass most of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded and came to encompass various peoples of diverse origins. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period, it is believed the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation.
At the time, Scotland was covered in forests, had more bog-land, the main form of transport was by water. These settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, the first villages around 6,000 years ago; the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation and ritual sites are common and well preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone. Evidence of sophisticated pre-Christian belief systems is demonstrated by sites such as the Callanish Stones on Lewis and the Maes Howe on Orkney, which were built in the third millennium BCE; the first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands. During the first millennium BCE, the society changed to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.
The first Roman incursion into Scotland occurred in 79 AD. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line, but by three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands; the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in northern England and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Roman influence on the southern part of the country was considerable, they introduced Christianity to Scotland. Beginning in the sixth century, the area, now Scotland was divided into three areas: Pictland, a patchwork of small lordships in central Scotland; these societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves through the ninth century. Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of Gaelic-speaking clerics working as missionaries. Operating in the sixth ce
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore. Recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the supreme courts of Scotland; the city's Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The city has long been a centre of education in the fields of medicine, Scots law, philosophy, the sciences and engineering, it is the second largest financial centre in the United Kingdom and the city's historical and cultural attractions have made it the United Kingdom's second most popular tourist destination, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. Edinburgh is Scotland's second most populous city and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom; the official population estimates are 488,050 for the Locality of Edinburgh, 513,210 for the City of Edinburgh, 1,339,380 for the city region.
Edinburgh lies at the heart of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region comprising East Lothian, Fife, Scottish Borders and West Lothian. The city is the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, it is home to national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582 and now one of four in the city, is placed 18th in the QS World University Rankings for 2019; the city is famous for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the latter being the world's largest annual international arts festival. Historic sites in Edinburgh include Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the churches of St. Giles and the Canongate, the extensive Georgian New Town, built in the 18th/19th centuries. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town together are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, managed by Edinburgh World Heritage since 1999. "Edin", the root of the city's name, derives from Eidyn, the name for this region in Cumbric, the Brittonic Celtic language spoken there.
The name's meaning is unknown. The district of Eidyn centred on the dun or hillfort of Eidyn; this stronghold is believed to have been located at Castle Rock, now the site of Edinburgh Castle. Eidyn was conquered by the Angles of Bernicia in the 7th century and by the Scots in the 10th century; as the language shifted to Old English, subsequently to modern English and Scots, The Brittonic din in Din Eidyn was replaced by burh, producing Edinburgh. Din became dùn in Scottish Gaelic, producing Dùn Èideann; the city is affectionately nicknamed Auld Reekie, Scots for Old Smoky, for the views from the country of the smoke-covered Old Town. Allan Ramsay said. A name the country people give Edinburgh from the cloud of smoke or reek, always impending over it."Thomas Carlyle said, "Smoke cloud hangs over old Edinburgh,—for since Aeneas Silvius's time and earlier, the people have the art strange to Aeneas, of burning a certain sort of black stones, Edinburgh with its chimneys is called'Auld Reekie' by the country people."A character in Walter Scott's The Abbot says "... yonder stands Auld Reekie--you may see the smoke hover over her at twenty miles' distance."Robert Chambers who said that the sobriquet could not be traced before the reign of Charles II attributed the name to a Fife laird, Durham of Largo, who regulated the bedtime of his children by the smoke rising above Edinburgh from the fires of the tenements.
"It's time now bairns, to tak' the beuks, gang to our beds, for yonder's Auld Reekie, I see, putting on her nicht -cap!"Some have called Edinburgh the Athens of the North for a variety of reasons. The earliest comparison between the two cities showed that they had a similar topography, with the Castle Rock of Edinburgh performing a similar role to the Athenian Acropolis. Both of them had fertile agricultural land sloping down to a port several miles away. Although this arrangement is common in Southern Europe, it is rare in Northern Europe; the 18th-century intellectual life, referred to as the Scottish Enlightenment, was a key influence in gaining the name. Such luminaries as David Hume and Adam Smith shone during this period. Having lost most of its political importance after the Union, some hoped that Edinburgh could gain a similar influence on London as Athens had on Rome. A contributing factor was the neoclassical architecture that of William Henry Playfair, the National Monument. Tom Stoppard's character Archie, of Jumpers, said playing on Reykjavík meaning "smoky bay", that the "Reykjavík of the South" would be more appropriate.
The city has been known by several Latin names, such as Aneda or Edina. The adjectival form of the latter, can be seen inscribed on educational buildings; the Scots poets Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns used Edina in their poems. Ben Jonson described it as "Britaine's other eye", Sir Walter Scott referred to it as "yon Empress of the North". Robert Louis Stevenson a son of the city, wrote, "Edinburgh is what Paris ought to be"; the colloquial pronunciation "Embra" or "Embro" has been used, as in Robert Garioch's Embro to the Ploy. The earliest known human habitation in the Edinburgh area was at Cramond, where evidence was found of a Mesolithi
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo
Normandy is one of the 18 regions of France referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy. Normandy is divided into five administrative departments: Calvados, Manche and Seine-Maritime, it covers 30,627 square kilometres, comprising 5% of the territory of metropolitan France. Its population of 3.37 million accounts for around 5% of the population of France. The inhabitants of Normandy are known as Normans, the region is the historic homeland of the Norman language; the historical region of Normandy comprised the present-day region of Normandy, as well as small areas now part of the departments of Mayenne and Sarthe. The Channel Islands are historically part of Normandy. Normandy's name comes from the settlement of the territory by Danish and Norwegian Vikings from the 9th century, confirmed by treaty in the 10th century between King Charles III of France and the Viking jarl Rollo. For a century and a half following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman and Frankish rulers.
Archaeological finds, such as cave paintings, prove that humans were present in the region in prehistoric times. Celts invaded Normandy in successive waves from the 4th to the 3rd century BC; when Julius Caesar invaded Gaul, there were nine different Celtic tribes living in Normandy. The Romanisation of Normandy was achieved by the usual methods: Roman roads and a policy of urbanisation. Classicists have knowledge of many Gallo-Roman villas in Normandy. In the late 3rd century, barbarian raids devastated Normandy. Coastal settlements were raided by Saxon pirates. Christianity began to enter the area during this period. In 406, Germanic tribes began invading from the east; as early as 487, the area between the River Somme and the River Loire came under the control of the Frankish lord Clovis. Vikings started to raid the Seine valley during the middle of the 9th century; as early as 841, a Viking fleet appeared at the mouth of the Seine, the principal route by which they entered the kingdom. After attacking and destroying monasteries, including one at Jumièges, they took advantage of the power vacuum created by the disintegration of Charlemagne's empire to take northern France.
The fiefdom of Normandy was created for Rollo. Rollo had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks, Charles the Simple, through the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for his homage and fealty, Rollo gained the territory which he and his Viking allies had conquered; the name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking origins. To this day, in Norwegian language the word nordmann denotes a Norwegian person; the descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romance language and intermarried with the area's native Gallo-Roman inhabitants. They became the Normans – a Norman-speaking mixture of Norsemen and indigenous Franks and Romans. Rollo's descendant William became king of England in 1066 after defeating Harold Godwinson, the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings, at the Battle of Hastings, while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants. Besides the conquest of England and the subsequent subjugation of Wales and Ireland, the Normans expanded into other areas.
Norman families, such as that of Tancred of Hauteville, Rainulf Drengot and Guimond de Moulins played important parts in the conquest of southern Italy and the Crusades. The Drengot lineage, de Hauteville's sons William Iron Arm and Humphrey, Robert Guiscard and Roger the Great Count progressively claimed territories in southern Italy until founding the Kingdom of Sicily in 1130, they carved out a place for themselves and their descendants in the Crusader states of Asia Minor and the Holy Land. The 14th-century explorer Jean de Béthencourt established a kingdom in the Canary Islands in 1404, he received the title King of the Canary Islands from Pope Innocent VII but recognized Henry III of Castile as his overlord, who had provided him aid during the conquest. In 1204, during the reign of John Lackland, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under King Philip II. Insular Normandy remained however under English control. In 1259, Henry III of England recognized the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris.
His successors, however fought to regain control of their ancient fiefdom. The Charte aux Normands granted by Louis X of France in 1315 – like the analogous Magna Carta granted in England in the aftermath of 1204 – guaranteed the liberties and privileges of the province of Normandy. French Normandy was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years' War in 1345–1360 and again in 1415–1450. Normandy lost three-quarters of its population during the war. Afterward prosperity returned to Normandy until the Wars of Religion; when many Norman towns joined the Protestant Reformation, battles ensued throughout the province. In the Channel Islands, a period of Calvinism following the Reformation was suppressed when Anglicanism was imposed following the English Civil War. Samuel de Champlain founded Acadia. Four years
Chambers Harrap Publishers is a reference publisher based in Edinburgh, which held the property rights of the venerable W. R. Chambers Publishers and its competitor George G. Harrap and Company. Chambers was founded as W. & R. Chambers Publishers by the two brothers William Chambers of Glenormiston and Robert Chambers, they were born into a rich, mill-owning family in Peebles in Scotland in 1800 and 1802 during the time of the war with France. The war impoverished the family and, in 1813, the family left Peebles for Edinburgh. Robert remained at home to finish his education, but William was forced to find work to support his parents, he was a keen reader and would get up early in the morning to read by the dawn light because he was too poor to buy candles. He was apprenticed at the sum of 4 shillings a week. Robert an avid reader, could not go to university when he finished school because his parents could not afford to pay, he too moved to Edinburgh, rented a one-roomed shop in Leith Walk, set himself up as a bookseller when he was just 16 years old.
William's apprenticeship came to an end when he joined Robert working in the shop. Although they had had a modest beginning, the brothers began to do well, they had no training in printing and binding but together they printed and published 750 copies of The Songs of Robert Burns in around 1819. This was the nearest thing to a guaranteed best-seller in 19th-century Edinburgh, brought further profits and some fame. In 1824, Robert wrote, the brothers published, Traditions of Edinburgh. Education was always the main priority for Robert. In 1832, they published The Chambers Journal, a weekly newspaper containing articles on subjects such as history, religion and science, many of which were written by Robert himself, it was an immediate success and within a few years the weekly circulation had risen to 84,000 copies. This put an end to their struggle to survive. Between 1859 and 1868 they published their most important work to date, the renowned Chambers's Encyclopaedia in 520 weekly parts at three-halfpence each.
The first edition was based on a translation into English of the 10th edition of the German-language Konversations-Lexikon, which became the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie. This went through several further editions, reaching a high point of quality with the 1950 edition published in 15 volumes by George Newnes which took six years to prepare, cost £500,000 and included the work of over 2,300 authors; the work was lauded by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Jowitt, as "outstanding proof" of British scholarship, while the managing editor, M. D. Law, commented that she believed the work to be the first major encyclopaedia to be published in Britain since before the First World War; the encyclopaedia was regarded as such a scholarly achievement that Law received the O. B. E. for her efforts. Chambers published an extensive list of innovative and ultra-reliable language and reference titles, covering English-language dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, specialist titles on subjects such as biography, literary characters and technology and world history.
At the end of 2009, the parent company shut the Edinburgh premises of Chambers Harrap Publishers. The Chambers imprint is now managed from London by Hodder Education, while Harrap titles are edited in Paris. A subsidiary, Allied Chambers, publishes the titles for the market around India. Chambers Harrap Publishers is best known for its flagship title, The Chambers Dictionary, which contains more words and definitions than any other single-volume dictionary and is known for its humorous definitions; the Chambers list is split into the following areas: Dictionaries Thesauruses Language Reference Subject Reference School Range Crosswords Puzzles Games Phrasebooks Adult Learners' Range Chambers purchased the independent Harrap's in the early 1990s. Harrap publishes bilingual dictionaries, for instance Harrap's Shorter French Dictionary; the Harrap list includes study aids, slang dictionaries and business dictionaries. In the UK, Harrap publishes bilingual titles in French, Portuguese, Italian and Polish.
Chambers has started selling Harrap publications under the "Chambers" imprint. It is not known. At the end of 2007 Chambers Harrap Publishers acquired the rights to publish the renowned British slang lexicographer Jonathon Green's Slang Dictionary as Chambers Slang Dictionary published by Cassell of the Orion Publishing Group; this new edition was published in October 2008. On 1 January 2008, Chambers Harrap Publishers acquired the Brewer's list from Orion Publishing Group, including the famous Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. For other history and founders: William Chambers and Robert Chambers. George G. Harrap and Co. Chambers's Encyclopaedia The Chambers Dictionary Harrap's Shorter French Dictionary William Chambers of Glenormiston Ebenezer Cobham Brewer Fyfe, Aileen. Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the Business of Publishing, 1820-1860. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-27651-9. Chambers Harrap Publishers Chambers Reference Online Chambers Catalogue Harrap Harrap Catalogue Harrap France A History of Chambers HarrapDemocratising Knowledge: An Online Resource from National Museums Scotland
Netherlands Institute for Art History
The Netherlands Institute for Art History or RKD is located in The Hague and is home to the largest art history center in the world. The center specializes in documentation and books on Western art from the late Middle Ages until modern times. All of this is open to the public, much of it has been digitized and is available on their website; the main goal of the bureau is to collect and make art research available, most notably in the field of Dutch Masters. Via the available databases, the visitor can gain insight into archival evidence on the lives of many artists of past centuries; the library owns 450,000 titles, of which ca. 150,000 are auction catalogs. There are ca. 3,000 magazines, of which 600 are running subscriptions. Though most of the text is in Dutch, the standard record format includes a link to library entries and images of known works, which include English as well as Dutch titles; the RKD manages the Dutch version of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a thesaurus of terms for management of information on art and architecture.
The original version is an initiative of the Getty Research Institute in California. The collection was started through bequests by Frits Lugt, art historian and owner of a massive collection of drawings and prints, Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, a collector, art historian and museum curator, their bequest formed the basis for both the art collection and the library, now housed in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Though not all of the library's holdings have been digitised, much of its metadata is accessible online; the website itself is available in both an English user interface. In the artist database RKDartists, each artist is assigned a record number. To reference an artist page directly, use the code listed at the bottom of the record of the form: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/ followed by the artist's record number. For example, the artist record number for Salvador Dalí is 19752, so his RKD artist page can be referenced. In the images database RKDimages, each artwork is assigned a record number.
To reference an artwork page directly, use the code listed at the bottom of the record of the form: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/ followed by the artwork's record number. For example, the artwork record number for The Night Watch is 3063, so its RKD artwork page can be referenced; the Art and Architecture Thesaurus assigns a record for each term, but these can not be referenced online by record number. Rather, they are used in the databases and the databases can be searched for terms. For example, the painting called "The Night Watch" is a militia painting, all records fitting this keyword can be seen by selecting this from the image screen; the thesaurus is a set of general terms, but the RKD contains a database for an alternate form of describing artworks, that today is filled with biblical references. This is the iconclass database. To see all images that depict Miriam's dance, the associated iconclass code 71E1232 can be used as a special search term. Official website Direct link to the databases The Dutch version of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus
The Netherlands is a country located in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian. The six largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General and Supreme Court; the Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, the largest in any country outside Asia. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union.
It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, dubbed'the world's legal capital'. Netherlands means'lower countries' in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre above sea level, nearly 17% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of 41,500 square kilometres —of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres —the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, intensive agriculture; the Netherlands was the third country in the world to have representative government, it has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848.
The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortion and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870, allowed women's suffrage in 1917, became the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, its mixed-market advanced economy had the thirteenth-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom, economic freedom, human development, quality of life, as well as happiness; the Netherlands' turbulent history and shifts of power resulted in exceptionally many and varying names in different languages. There is diversity within languages; this holds for English, where Dutch is the adjective form and the misnomer Holland a synonym for the country "Netherlands". Dutch comes from Theodiscus and in the past centuries, the hub of Dutch culture is found in its most populous region, home to the capital city of Amsterdam.
Referring to the Netherlands as Holland in the English language is similar to calling the United Kingdom "Britain" by people outside the UK. The term is so pervasive among potential investors and tourists, that the Dutch government's international websites for tourism and trade are "holland.com" and "hollandtradeandinvest.com". The region of Holland consists of North and South Holland, two of the nation's twelve provinces a single province, earlier still, the County of Holland, a remnant of the dissolved Frisian Kingdom. Following the decline of the Duchy of Brabant and the County of Flanders, Holland became the most economically and politically important county in the Low Countries region; the emphasis on Holland during the formation of the Dutch Republic, the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, made Holland serve as a pars pro toto for the entire country, now considered either incorrect, informal, or, depending on context, opprobrious. Nonetheless, Holland is used in reference to the Netherlands national football team.
The region called the Low Countries and the Country of the Netherlands. Place names with Neder, Nieder and Nedre and Bas or Inferior are in use in places all over Europe, they are sometimes used in a deictic relation to a higher ground that consecutively is indicated as Upper, Oben, Superior or Haut. In the case of the Low Countries / Netherlands the geographical location of the lower region has been more or less downstream and near the sea; the geographical location of the upper region, changed tremendously over time, depending on the location of the economic and military power governing the Low Countries area. The Romans made a distinction between the Roman provinces of downstream Germania Inferior and upstream Germania Superior; the designation'Low' to refer to the region returns again in the 10th century Duchy of Lower Lorraine, that covered much of the Low Countries. But this time the corresponding Upper region is Upper Lorraine, in nowadays Northern France; the Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled the Low Countries in the 15th century, used the term les pays de par deçà for the Low Countries as opposed to les pays de par delà for their original