More than a quarter of The Netherlands’ is under sea level, with almost 20% of its total area water.
It is also one of the world’s most densely populated nations, with a population of 16.7 million.
Since the 16th century it has been one of the world’s foremost maritime trading nations and was one of the six founding members of the European Union.
In 1952 the Netherlands joined Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and West Germany to set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
In 1957 they signed the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community.
The Netherlands has produced many of the world’s most famous artists from Rembrandt and Vermeer in the 17th century to Van Gogh in the 19th and Mondrian in the 20th century.
The country is not known for its cuisine, but the Dutch stroopwafel – two thin layers of waffle pastry filled with a special sweet syrup (stroop) – is famous across the world.