Q:

What countries make up the Netherlands?

A:

Quick Answer

The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four separate countries, as of 2015. They include the Netherlands itself, plus three independent countries located in the Caribbean: Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten.

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Full Answer

The political configuration of The Kingdom of the Netherlands was modified by constitutional reform in 2010. This change mandated that the primary country of the Netherlands was redefined to encompass its European land plus three special municipalities: the Caribbean Islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. The 2010 reform also elevated the islands of Curacao and St. Maarten to the status of countries, each with their own governments. The fourth country, Aruba, has been an independent country since 1986.

Before the 2010 reforms, the Kingdom of the Netherlands consisted of three countries: the European Netherlands, Aruba, and the Netherlands Antilles. The Antilles encompassed the five islands: Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The Netherlands Antilles was dissolved as a political entity by the reform.

The Netherlands is often referred to as Holland, but this is a misnomer. Holland does not exist as a separate country, but the European Netherlands contains two coastal provinces, North Holland and South Holland. Because the Holland region of the Netherlands was historically the dominant location for trade, many foreign traders began referring to the entire region as Holland.

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