Once part of the Holy Roman Empire, the country['s name actually describes it geography -- it is a low-lying region ever at the mercy of the sea. The Netherlands has been independent since the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648. A prosperous land, with an economy based on trade and seafaring, the Netherlands grew to empire status through its acquisition of Indonesia, Ceylon, South Africa, Surinam, portions of the West indies, and New Amsterdam. Added to this, it even came to monopolize the West's trade with Japan after 1637. The country was held in high esteem in Europe such that its influence far exceeded the importance that might be expected from its size. Germany's invasion of the country beginning in 1940 resulted in the Royal Family fleeing to safety in England for the duration of the War. The occupation caused severe damage to the country and the post-war period was difficult. The Netherlands lost Indonesia and had to work at reorganizing the country's economy. It participated in the "economic miracle" that transformed Europe's economic structure. Stable and successful, the netherlands continues to play a key role in European affairs.

A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU) and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999. In October 2010, the former Netherlands Antilles was dissolved and the three smallest islands - Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba - became special municipalities in the Netherlands administrative structure. The larger islands of Sint Maarten and Curacao joined the Netherlands and Aruba as constituent countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In February 2018, the Sint Eustatius island council (governing body) was dissolved and replaced by a government commissioner to restore the integrity of public administration. According to the Dutch Government, the intervention will be as "short as possible and as long as needed."