The Kingdom of the Netherlands has been a relatively wealthy part of western Europe since the Middle Ages. When the country was a part of the Habsburgs’ dominions, there was a long war between the Dutch provinces and Spain that began in 1568 and essentially was not resolved until 1648, when Spain finally recognized the independence of the Dutch Republic. There was again fighting during the War of Spanish Succession (1701–14), the War of Austrian Succession (1740–48), and the Seven Years’ War (1754–63). The Netherlands was ruled by France from 1806 until 1813, but became an independent country again in 1814. The southern region of the Netherlands broke away in 1830 to become the nation of Belgium.

The Netherlands had long been devastated by war. However, ...

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