The Batavian Republic was the successor of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. It was proclaimed on 19 January 1795, and ended on 5 June 1806, in early 1795, intervention by French revolutionary forces led to the downfall of the old Dutch Republic. The new Republic enjoyed widespread support from the Dutch population and was the product of a popular revolution. Nevertheless, it clearly was founded with the support of the revolutionary French Republic. The political and social reforms that were brought about during the short duration of the Batavian Republic have had a lasting impact. The confederal structure of the old Dutch Republic was permanently replaced by a unitary state, for the first time in Dutch history, the constitution that was adopted in 1798 had a genuinely democratic character. For a while the Republic was governed democratically, although the coup détat of 1801 put an authoritarian regime in power, after another change in constitution, the memory of this brief experiment with democracy helped smooth the transition to a more democratic government in 1848.
A type of government was introduced for the first time in Dutch history. The new king, Louis Bonaparte, surprisingly did not slavishly follow French dictates either, the final days of the intermittent constitutional monarchy/republic, the Dutch Republic, which had governed the Netherlands since the late 16th century, were quite eventful. Most Patriots went into exile in France, while Hollands own Ancien Régime strengthened its grip on Dutch government chiefly through the Orangist Grand Pensionary Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel. Only two years later, the French Revolution began, which embraced many of the ideas that the Patriots had espoused in their own revolt. The Stadtholder joined the ill-fated First Coalition of countries in their attempt to subdue the suddenly anti-Austrian French First Republic, however, in many cities revolution broke out even before the French arrived and Revolutionary Committees took over the city governments, and the national government also. William was forced to flee to England on a boat on 18 January 1795.
Though the French presented themselves as liberators, they behaved like conquerors, apart from imposing territorial concessions and a huge indemnity, this obligated the Dutch to maintain a French army of occupation of 25,000 men. However, this did not mean that it lost its independence in all respects, the program of reform that the Dutch revolutionaries attempted to put in place was mostly driven by indigenous needs and aspirations. The political events in the Netherlands were mainly derived from Dutch initiative, the French were responsible for at least one of the coups détat, and the French ambassador often acted as a proconsul. At first, the revolutionaries used the constitutional machinery of the old confederal republic and they resumed where they had left off after the purge in 1787 of Patriot regents, taking over the offices of the Orangist regents that were now purged in their turn. Though the political make-up of the States-General changed appreciably because of change in personnel
Battles of La Naval de Manila
The Spanish forces, which included many native Filipino volunteers, consisted of two, and later, three Manila galleons, a galley and four brigantines. They neutralized a Dutch fleet of nineteen warships, divided into three separate squadrons, heavy damage was inflicted upon the Dutch squadrons by the Spanish-Filipino forces, forcing the Dutch to abandon their invasion of the Philippines. The victories against the Dutch invaders were attributed by the Spanish, pursuing their quest for alternative trade routes to Asia, the Dutch reached the Philippines and sought to dominate the commercial sea trade in Southeast Asia. Being at war with Spain, they engaged in privateering activities and they harassed the coasts of Manila Bay and its environs, and preyed on sampans and junks from China and Japan, thereby disrupting Spanish trade. The first Dutch squadron to reach the Philippines was led by Olivier van Noort, on December 14,1600, van Noorts squadron grappled with the Spanish fleet under Antonio de Morga near Fortune Island, where de Morgas flagship, the San Diego, sank.
Van Noort managed to return to Holland, thus becoming the first Dutch to circumnavigate the world, on October 1616, another Dutch fleet of 10 galleons under the command of Joris van Spilbergen blockaded the entrance of the Manila Bay. A Spanish armada of seven galleons led by Juan Ronquillo battled against Spilbergens fleet at the Playa Honda on April 1617, Spilbergens flagship, the Sol de Holanda sank, and the Dutch were once again repulsed. From 1640 to 1641, a Dutch fleet of three ships stationed near Embocadero de San Bernandino tried to capture galleons coming from Acapulco, Mexico. These galleons, escaped safely by taking a different route after receiving warnings from a system of fire-signals which was devised by the Jesuit priest Francisco Colin, the entire Philippines was already in dire situation at the time when the Dutch were planning their invasion. A series of eruptions took place between 1633 and 1640. Food shortage at the same time crippled the city, wars against the Muslims of Mindanao led by Sultan Kudarat in 1635 and the Sangley Rebellion in 1639 to 1640 had taken its toll of lives and resources.
Numerous wrecks and losses of sea vessels which sailed to and from New Spain did not only disrupted the Manila–Acapulco trade, the new Spanish governor-general Diego Fajardo Chacón reached the Philippines at the end of June in 1644, together with the Andalusian Captain Sebastian López. Fajardo found the islands deficient in naval strength, aboard in one of the two galleons was the archbishop-elect of Manila, His Grace Don Fernando Montero de Espinosa. On his way to Manila, de Espinosa was stricken by hemorrhagic fever, the citizens of Manila, who were in great need of a religious leader to strengthen their faith in those desperate times, sorrowfully mourned at the untimely death of de Espinosa. On November 30,1645, during the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, five days later, on December 5, another earthquake as violent as the first rocked the city. Although no fatalities were recorded, the unstable structures damaged by the first tremor were totally destroyed. The destructive powers of the earthquake reached other provinces of the islands, natives villages were utterly overthrown, as their huts built of bamboos and palm-leaves were leveled.
Great fissures, and even chasms, appeared in the open fields, rivers overflowed and flooded the cities and villages as the result of the subsequent quakes
Siege of Pondicherry (1793)
For other sieges with this name, see Siege of Pondicherry The Siege of Pondicherry was a colonial military operation in the early stages of the French Revolutionary Wars. British India was centred on the ports of Bombay and Calcutta. French India was governed from Pondicherry on the Coromandel Coast, British forces in India were considerably stronger than the French, with the British Indian Army supported by British Army detachments and a Royal Navy squadron under Rear-Admiral William Cornwallis. Only Pondicherry was able to resist, and a siege was instigated on 1 August 1793 by Colonel John Braithwaite while Cornwallis imposed a naval blockade, British forces constructed trenches and batteries, often under heavy fire, over the following weeks. Twenty days after the city was cut off, Braithwaite began a bombardment of the defences, within hours the French commander Colonel Prosper de Clermont requested a truce, followed the next morning by an unconditional surrender. The administration of British India was largely delegated to the East India Company and this force had been heavily engaged in the Third Anglo-Mysore War of 1789 to 1792.
Naval support was provided by a squadron under Rear-Admiral William Cornwallis in the frigate HMS Minerva, the French military position in India was considerably weaker than the British, with no significant investment in the colonies since the outbreak of the Seven Years War in 1754. The French held a number of trading ports, including Karaikal, Mahé and Chandernagore but the most important colony was at Pondicherry. Great Britain was not initially engaged in conflict, but diplomatic relations with France were rapidly deteriorating. On 1 February 1793, shortly after the execution of the deposed King Louis XVI, the French National Convention declared war on Britain and the Dutch Republic. Due to the distances involved, it took five months for news of the outbreak of war to reach India, passing through the British consul at Alexandria. On 2 June the news arrived at Madras and passed to Calcutta on 11 June, the Governor-General of India Lord Cornwallis issued instructions for operations against the territories of French India.
Lord Cornwallis, brother to William, originally intended to participate in the surrender of Pondicherry himself in the seized French merchant ship Bien Aimé, admiral Cornwallis was anchored at Trincomalee in Dutch Ceylon when he learned of the outbreak of war on 19 June. He immediately gave orders to sail for Pondicherry, which he placed under blockade, on 13 July sails appeared to the southeast, Cornwallis assuming they belonged to reinforcements. On investigation, this proved to be the 40-gun Cybèle. On land, the army at Madras was placed under the command of Colonel John Braithwaite, on 28 July, Braithwaite reached the city and established positions on the Red Hill overlooking Pondicherry, sending a demand to its commander Colonel Prosper de Clement that he surrender. This move was however a feint, Braithwaite planned to launch his assault on the northeast corner where the defences were weaker. Fire was especially heavy against the lines to the north of the city
Battle of Albrolhos
The naval Battle of the Abrolhos took place on 12 September 1631 off the coast of Bahía, during the Eighty Years War. A joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet under Admiral Oquendo defeated the Dutch after a naval battle. On 5 May 1631 Basque Spanish Admiral Oquendo left Lisbon with a fleet of about 20 men-of-war and he carried reinforcements to Paraíba, Pernambuco and Bahia. On his way back to Portugal, he was to convoy ships loaded with sugar, so as to allow the Dutch extra time to get ready, he headed first for Bahia. Once the Dutch learned of his coming, their fleet in Pernambuco, led by admiral Adrian Pater, despite Pater had 33 ships at Pernambuco, he left 17 in port as he considered only 8 of Oquendo’s to be battleworthy. Finally, on September 12, the two fleets met around the cays and these Spanish men-of-war are accompanied by the 28-gun Portuguese warship São Jorge, 20-gun Santiago,19. This force was protecting ten unarmed Brazilian caravels bearing 1,200 troops under the Neapolitan-born Cmdr, giovanni Vincenzo de San Felice, Conde de Bagnuoli, intended to reinforce the town of Paraíba in addition to 20 Lisbon-bound sugar merchantmen.
Standing away from the coast, the formation was driven southeast by contrary winds. On the evening of 11 September the Iberian fleet was sighted by Admiral Pater, at first light the admiral summoned his captains for final instructions, drank a toast of Brunswick beer to the days success. The Dutch admiral Pater had formed his fleet in two lines, Its place was taken by the much larger Concepción of Capt. Juan de Prado, Buenaventura, San Carlos, and San Bartolomé lag astern. Fighting began around midmorning, when Vice Admiral de Vallecillas San Antonio opened fire on Thijssens advancing Geunieerde Provintien, about 15 minutes de Oquendo and four other galleon opened fire on Paters flagship, which steered directly toward Santiago de Oliste with Walcheren. The Dutch held their opening broadsides until point-blank range and grappled, a murderous engagement erupted around each flagship and vice-flag, both sides firing repeatedly into their opponents and yet unable to board. Its place was taken by the much larger Concepción of Capt.
Juan de Prado, a chance shot from de Oquendos flagship started a blaze aboard Prins Willem, which the Spanish admiral cleverly directed his musketeers to fire at, so as to hamper Dutch fire-fighting efforts. The flames gained hold and finally drove Pater into the water, along with a few survivors, the remaining Dutch vessels were content to fire from long range –Hollandia and Fortuijn being the only others to become closely engaged-while the Spaniards responded in kind. The day ended in a Spanish victory, although depending on the sources Spanish losses may have somewhat greater. According to David Marley, a Vice-flagship and galleon were sunk and another was taken, with 585 dead, the Dutch flagship and another man-of-war disappeared beneath the waves, leaving 350 dead and missing plus more than 80 seriously wounded. According to Miguel Esquerdo Galiana, the Dutch fleet lost 2,000 men, thijssen showed no inclination to renew action the next day, preferring to limp back to Recife with his mauled fleet on 21–22 September.
De Oquendo meanwhile deposited his reinforcements at Barra Grande of Porto Calvo –only 700 of them actually reach Fort Arrail do Bom Jesus– before continuing toward Europe with his sugar convoy, the Dutch garrison at Pernambuco subsequently evacuated Olinda in November in order to concentrate its strength around Recife
Capitulation of Saldanha Bay
The Capitulation of Saldanha Bay saw the surrender to the British Royal Navy of a Dutch expeditionary force sent to recapture the Dutch Cape Colony in 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1794 the army of the French Republic overran the Dutch Republic which became a French client state, the British commander, Vice-Admiral Sir George Elphinstone, reinforced the garrison and stationed a naval squadron at the Cape to protect the British conquest. The Batavian government immediately ordered a force to sail to the Cape. This force comprised two ships of the line and five vessels, all under the command of Rear-Admiral Engelbertus Lucas. Security regarding the plans was weak and the British knew of the operation before Lucas had sailed, the British warned Elphinstone, who further reinforced the Cape. Lucass journey took six months, suffering shortages of drinking water leading to a near-mutinous state among his crews. On arrival, the Batavian fleet anchored in Saldanha Bay to take on water before deciding to abandon the operation.
On 15 August 1796 Elphinstones larger fleet discovered Lucass force and trapped it in the bay, aware that resistance would be futile and with his crews in open revolt, Lucas surrendered unconditionally. The ships of the captured Batavian force were taken into the Royal Navy, joining the squadron at the Cape, the Batavian operation did however force the cancellation of a planned British invasion of Île de France. Lucas faced a court martial on his return to the Netherlands, the Cape Colony was not attacked again before the end of the war in 1802, when the Treaty of Amiens returned it to the Batavian Republic. In the winter of 1794 the army of the French Republic overran the Dutch Republic, the French National Convention reformed the Dutch Republic into a revolutionary client state named the Batavian Republic. This event alarmed the government of Great Britain, erstwhile allies of the Dutch, as the Dutch Empire controlled a number of strategically important colonies in the East Indies. To ensure that the Cape Colony did not become a French naval base, the force comprised two squadrons and 500 troops, all under the overall control of Vice-Admiral Sir George Elphinstone, more substantial reinforcements followed.
Arriving on 10 June in False Bay, Elphinstone conducted two months of negotiations with the government at the Cape, led by Abraham Josias Sluysken. On 7 August, with negotiations stalled, Elphinstone ordered an attack on Dutch positions at Muizenberg, the Dutch defenders withdrew, but Elphinstones forces were low on food and ammunition and not numerous enough to launch a major attack on Cape Town. On 14 September the arrival of British reinforcements under General Alured Clarke convinced Sluysken to surrender the colony, Elphinstone turned his attention to planning operations against the Dutch East Indies and the French island base of Île de France. Much of his squadron was dispersed on operations across the Indian Ocean. While Elphinstone was consolidating his position, the Batavian government determined to recapture the Cape, a squadron was prepared under the command of Rear-Admiral Engelbertus Lucas, who had sailed to the East Indies once in 1786, but otherwise had no experience of long expeditionary campaigns
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts, lasting from 1792 until 1802, resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French First Republic against Britain and several other monarchies and they are divided in two periods, the War of the First Coalition and the War of the Second Coalition. Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension as the political ambitions of the Revolution expanded, French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe. The Revolutionary Wars began from increasing political pressure on King Louis XVI of France to prove his loyalty to the new direction France was taking. In the spring of 1792, France declared war on Prussia and Austria, the victory rejuvenated the French nation and emboldened the National Convention to abolish the monarchy. A series of victories by the new French armies abruptly ended with defeat at Neerwinden in the spring of 1793, by 1795, the French had captured the Austrian Netherlands and knocked Spain and Prussia out of the war with the Peace of Basel.
A hitherto unknown general called Napoleon Bonaparte began his first campaign in Italy in April 1796, in less than a year, French armies under Napoleon decimated the Habsburg forces and evicted them from the Italian peninsula, winning almost every battle and capturing 150,000 prisoners. With French forces marching towards Vienna, the Austrians sued for peace and agreed to the Treaty of Campo Formio, the War of the Second Coalition began with the French invasion of Egypt, headed by Napoleon, in 1798. The Allies took the opportunity presented by the French strategic effort in the Middle East to regain territories lost from the First Coalition. The war began well for the Allies in Europe, where they pushed the French out of Italy and invaded Switzerland—racking up victories at Magnano, Cassano. However, their efforts largely unraveled with the French victory at Zurich in September 1799, Napoleons forces annihilated a series of Egyptian and Ottoman armies at the battles of the Pyramids, Mount Tabor, and Abukir.
These victories and the conquest of Egypt further enhanced Napoleons popularity back in France, the Royal Navy had managed to inflict a humiliating defeat on the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, further strengthening British control of the Mediterranean. Napoleons arrival from Egypt led to the fall of the Directory in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon reorganized the French army and launched a new assault against the Austrians in Italy during the spring of 1800. This latest effort culminated in a decisive French victory at the Battle of Marengo in June 1800, another crushing French triumph at Hohenlinden in Bavaria forced the Austrians to seek peace for a second time, leading to the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. With Austria and Russia out of the war, the United Kingdom found itself increasingly isolated and agreed to the Treaty of Amiens with Napoleons government in 1802, concluding the Revolutionary Wars. The lingering tensions proved too difficult to contain, however, in 1789–1792, the entire governmental structure of France was transformed to fall into line with the Revolutionary principles of Liberty and Fraternity.
As a result, one of the first major elements of the French state to be restructured was the army, the transformation of the army was best seen in the officer corps. Before the revolution 90% had been nobility, compared to only 3% in 1794, Revolutionary fervour was high, and was closely monitored by the Committee of Public Safety, which assigned Representatives on Mission to keep watch on generals
Dutch pacification campaign on Formosa
Prior to the campaign the Dutch had been in Formosa for eleven years, but did not control much of the island beyond their principal fortress at Tayouan, and an alliance with the town of Sinkan. Thus the Dutch were able to expand the extent of their territorial control in a short time. The campaign ended in February 1636, when representatives from twenty-eight villages attended a ceremony in Tayouan to cement Dutch sovereignty, solidifying the southwest under their rule, the Dutch were able to expand their operations from the limited entrepôt trading carried out by the colony prior to 1635. The expanded territory allowed access to the trade, which became very lucrative. It provided fertile land, which the Dutch used imported Chinese labour to farm, the allied villages provided opportunities for Dutch missionaries to spread their faith. The pacification campaign is considered the stone on which the success of the colony was built. Although initially the intention was to run the colony solely as an entrepôt, the Company decided to ally with the closest village, the relatively small Sinkan, who were able to supply them firewood and fish.
However, relations with the villages were not so friendly. The aboriginal settlements of the area were involved in more or less constant low-level warfare with other. In 1625 the Dutch bought a piece of land from the Sinkaners for the sum of fifteen cangans, initially other villages in the area, chiefly Mattau and Bakloan, professed their desire to live in peace with the Dutch. The villages saw that it was in their interest to good relations with the newcomers. The earliest of these was a Dutch attack on Chinese pirates in the bay of Wancan, not far from Mattau, the pirates were able to drive off the Dutch soldiers, causing the Dutch to lose face among the Formosan villages. Encouraged by this Dutch failure, warriors from Mattau raided Sinkan, at this point, the Dutch returned to Wancan and this time were able to rout the pirates, restoring their reputation. Mattau was forced by the colonials to return the property stolen from Sinkan, the peace was short-lived, because in November 1626 the villagers of Sinkan attacked Mattau and Bakloan, before going to the Dutch to ask for protection from retribution.
Although the Dutch were able to force Sinkans enemies to back down in this case, frustrated by the inability of the Dutch to protect them, the Sinkan villagers turned to Japanese traders, who were not on friendly terms with the VOC. In 1627 a delegation from the village visited Japan in order to ask for Japanese protection, in 1629 however the Dutch were unable to defend either themselves or their allies. Governor Nuyts went to Mattau on a visit with a guard of sixty musketeers. After leaving the village the next morning, the musketeers were ambushed while crossing a stream and slaughtered to a man, the Governor had a lucky escape as he had returned to Fort Zeelandia the previous evening
The Dutch Empire comprised the overseas colonies and outposts controlled and administered by Dutch chartered companies and subsequently, the Dutch Republic and the modern Netherlands. This was reflective of the fact that the network of the Dutch Empire was commercial exchange as opposed to sovereignty over a homogeneous landmass. The companies brief domination of global commerce contributed greatly to a commercial revolution, in their search for new trade passages between Asia and Europe Dutch navigators explored and charted vast regions such as New Zealand and parts of the eastern coast of North America. Shortly after reaching its zenith, the Dutch Empire began to decline as a result of the Anglo-Dutch Wars, in which it lost many of its colonial possessions and trade monopolies to the British Empire. Nevertheless, some portions of the empire survived until the advent of global decolonisation following World War II, namely the East Indies, three former colonial territories—Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten—are retained as constituent countries within the Netherlands.
In 1566, a Protestant Dutch revolt broke out against rule by Roman Catholic Spain, led by William of Orange, independence was declared in the 1581 Act of Abjuration. The revolt resulted in the establishment of an de facto independent Protestant republic in the north by Treaty of Antwerp, the coastal provinces of Holland and Zeeland had for centuries prior to Spanish rule been important hubs of the European maritime trade network. Their geographical location provided convenient access to the markets of France, Germany, efficient access to capital enabled the Dutch in the 1580s to extend their trade routes beyond northern Europe to new markets in the Mediterranean and the Levant. In the 1590s, Dutch ships began to trade with Brazil and the Dutch Gold Coast of Africa, and towards the Indian Ocean, by attacking Portuguese overseas possessions, the Dutch forced Spain to divert financial and military resources away from its attempt to quell Dutch independence. Thus began the several decade-long Dutch-Portuguese War, in 1594, the Compagnie van Verre was founded in Amsterdam, with the aim of sending two fleets to the spice islands of Maluku.
The first fleet sailed in 1596 and returned in 1597 with a cargo of pepper, the second voyage, returned its investors a 400% profit. The success of these led to the founding of a number of companies competing for the trade. The competition was counterproductive to the interests as it threatened to drive up the price of spices at their source in Indonesia whilst driving them down in Europe. As a result of the caused by inter-company rivalry, the Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602. The directors of the company, the Heeren XVII, were given the authority to establish fortresses and strongholds, to sign treaties. The company itself was founded as a joint stock company, similarly to its English rival that had founded two years earlier, the English East India Company. The Spanish-Dutch War was for the Dutch part of their struggle for independence and religious freedom, the Netherlands became part of the domains of the Spanish branch of the Habsburg dynasty when Emperor Charles V divided the holdings of the Habsburg Empire following his abdication in 1555.
From 1517, the port of Lisbon in Portugal was the main European market for products from India that was attended by other nations to purchase their needs
George Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith
George Keith Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith GCB was a British admiral active throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Fifth son of the 10th Lord Elphinstone, he was born in Elphinstone Tower, near Stirling and he became lieutenant in 1770, commander in 1772, and post captain in 1775. During the war in America he was employed against the privateers, in January 1781, when in command of the 50-gun HMS Warwick, he captured a Dutch 50-gun ship which had beaten off a British vessel of equal strength a few days before. On 15 September 1782 in the Delaware Bay he led a squadron captured the French 38 gun frigate Aigle during which Captain Latouche Tréville was taken prisoner. After peace was signed he remained on shore for ten years, serving in Parliament as member first for Dunbartonshire and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1790. When war broke out again in 1793, he was appointed to the 74-gun HMS Robust, in which he took part in the occupation of Toulon by Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood. He particularly distinguished himself by beating a body of the French ashore at the head of a brigade of British.
He was entrusted with the duty of embarking the fugitives when the town was evacuated, in 1794 he was promoted rear-admiral, and in 1795 he was sent to occupy the Dutch colonies in South Africa thereby establishing the Cape of Good Hope Station. He had a share in the capture of the Cape in 1795. In the interval he had gone on to India, where his health suffered, when the Nore Mutiny broke out in 1797 he was appointed to the command, and was soon able to restore order. He was equally successful at Plymouth, where the squadron was in a state of effervescence, at the close of 1798, he was sent as second in command to St Vincent. In May 1799, he was unable to counter Bruix expedition, Keith followed the enemy to Brest on their retreat, but was unable to bring them to action. He returned to the Mediterranean in November as commander-in-chief and he co-operated with the Austrians in the siege of Genoa, which surrendered on 4 June 1800. The close of 1801 and the beginning of the year were spent in transporting the army sent to recover Egypt from the French.
He was made Baron Keith of the United Kingdom, an Irish barony having been conferred on him in 1797, on the renewal of the war in 1803 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, North Sea, which post he held till 1807. In February 1812 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the English Channel and he was at Plymouth when Napoleon surrendered and was brought to England in HMS Bellerophon by Captain Maitland. The decisions of the British government were expressed through him to the fallen Emperor, Lord Keith refused to be led into disputes, and confined himself to declaring steadily that he had his orders to obey. He was not much impressed by the appearance of his illustrious charge and thought that the airs of Napoleon, Lord Keith died in 1823 at Tulliallan Castle, near Kincardine-on-Forth, his property in Scotland, and was buried in the parish church
The Netherlands, informally known as Holland is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a densely populated country located in Western Europe with three territories in the Caribbean. The European part of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing borders with Belgium, the United Kingdom. The three largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam and The Hague, Amsterdam is the countrys capital, while The Hague holds the Dutch seat of parliament and government. The port of Rotterdam is the worlds largest port outside East-Asia, the name Holland is used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. Netherlands literally means lower countries, influenced by its low land and flat geography, most of the areas below sea level are artificial. Since the late 16th century, large areas have been reclaimed from the sea and lakes, with a population density of 412 people per km2 –507 if water is excluded – the Netherlands is classified as a very densely populated country.
Only Bangladesh, South Korea, and Taiwan have both a population and higher population density. Nevertheless, the Netherlands is the worlds second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products and this is partly due to the fertility of the soil and the mild climate. In 2001, it became the worlds first country to legalise same-sex marriage, the Netherlands is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G-10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as being a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union. The first four are situated in The Hague, as is the EUs criminal intelligence agency Europol and this has led to the city being dubbed the worlds legal capital. The country ranks second highest in the worlds 2016 Press Freedom Index, the Netherlands has a market-based mixed economy, ranking 17th of 177 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom. It had the thirteenth-highest per capita income in the world in 2013 according to the International Monetary Fund, in 2013, the United Nations World Happiness Report ranked the Netherlands as the seventh-happiest country in the world, reflecting its high quality of life.
The Netherlands ranks joint second highest in the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, the region called Low Countries and the country of the Netherlands have the same toponymy. Place names with Neder, Nieder and Nedre and Bas or Inferior are in use in all over Europe. They are sometimes used in a relation to a higher ground that consecutively is indicated as Upper, Oben. In the case of the Low Countries / the Netherlands the geographical location of the region has been more or less downstream. The geographical location of the region, changed over time tremendously