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The Netherlands is a western European country that borders Belgium and Germany as well as the North Sea. Its history is in many ways dominated by its geography. The term Netherlands denotes the low elevation of the country. In fact, up to the mid-16th century, the entire Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg) was simply known as the Low Countries. Situated at the mouth of the Rhine and Maas Rivers, this region was prone to frequent flooding and, as such, developed impressive technological and administrative apparatuses to protect the low-lying regions. While this geography hindered settlement, it also provided opportunities for trade. The riverine landscape allowed easier trade into the interior of the continent, and via the North Sea, the Dutch developed a robust grain ...

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