The Netherlands: Historical Overview                        

Ice Age

The Netherlands, inhabited since the Ice Age, was invaded and then controlled by many cultures including: the Romans, the Germanic Franks and the Spanish.

55 BC-410 AD

For around 450 years, the southern part of the Netherlands was integrated into the Roman Empire.


Spanish Netherlands was the collective name of states of the Roman Empire in the Low Countries, controlled by the Spanish Crown (Habsburg Spain).


The Dutch United Provinces (part of current-day Netherlands) declared their independence from Spain.


The tulip was first introduced by botanist Carolus Clusius.


Tulipomania (See section on the Tulip Festival for more.)

17th-18th Centuries

The Netherlands became a leading seafaring and commercial power with settlements and colonies around the world. Via the Dutch East and West India Companies, the Netherlands once ruled its own worldwide empire of trade.


After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed.


Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom.


The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I.


The Netherlands suffered German invasion and occupation in World War II.


The country was a founding member of NATO and the EEC (now the EU) and participated in the introduction of the euro in 1999.


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.

Present day
A modern and industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products.