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Introduction: The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579; during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring and commercial power, with settlements and colonies around the world. After a 20-year French occupation, a Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed in 1815. In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. The Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, but suffered invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. 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...

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Political Developments: The centre-right cabinet of the minority liberal Christian Democrat (VVD) coalition government was sworn into office by Queen Beatrix on 14 October 2010. VVD Leader, Mark Rutte, is the Netherlands Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen is Deputy Prime Minister. Dr Uri Rosenthal is the Foreign ...

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Government and Political Conditions: The present constitution -- which dates from 1848 and has been amended several times, most recently in 1983 -- protects individual and political freedoms, including freedom of religion. Although church and state are separate, a few historical ties remain; the royal family belongs to the Dutch Reformed Church (Protestant). Freedom of speech also is protected.

Government ...

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International Relations: The Netherlands' Relations with Neighbours

The Netherlands places great importance on maintaining good relations with its neighbouring countries: its Benelux partners (Belgium and Luxembourg), Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries. The Netherlands is closely engaged in developments within the European Union. Over the coming year, the focus of the Dutch Government will be particularly on promoting international security and stability, human rights and also the economic prosperity of The Netherlands.

The Netherlands' Relations with the International Community

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