Low Countries Facts
Low Countries are an area of Northwestern Europe that include a number of countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The name ‘Low Countries’ doesn’t relate to anything historical, but more on the political side as it refers to the geographic areas. This area has been the center of many battles and in both the medieval and modern times, was the wealthiest areas of Europe.
The various cultures allowed different religions and so Belgium and Luxembourg is Roman Catholic whereas both Roman Catholic and Protestant religions exist equally in the Netherlands.
The area known as the Low Countries were conquered by the Romans in the First Century BCS and remained under their rule until the 5th Century CE. At that time, it became part of the controlling area of the Franks.
The Frankisk Carolingian Empire collapsed around the mid-9th century and it allowed multiple political units to occur in the various countries. This included the duchy of Brabant, the county of Flanders, the county of Holland and the bishopric of Liege.
The ruling factor of the house of Habsburg in the 15th and 16th centuries brought about some stability but was then broken during a revolt in 1568 by the mostly Protestant northern provinces, forming the Dutch Republic and the United Provinces. These united provinces became some of the greatest political powers in Europe.
After the revolution in France in 1795, the Low Countries came under the rule of France and then in 1814 there was a reunification as the independent Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Catholic southern provinces remained under the rule of the Habsburgs through the 18th century. At that time there was a revolution and in 1831 the kingdom of Belgium was formed.
Most of the Luxembourg history included the fact that it was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire and it was established as a grand duchy in 1815 to be ruled by the kings of the Netherlands. In 1890, this established union ended.
World War I brought about a change for each of the countries as the Netherlands tried to remain neutral and Luxembourg and Belgium were under the occupation of German forces.
In World War II, all of the Low Countries were taken over by the German Nazis, however, after the war each of the three countries decided to give up their concept of neutrality and were part of the founding members of NATO.
- The Low Countries are listed as hereditary and constitutional monarchies with a parliamentary form of government.
- The Benelux Customs Union was formed in 1947 by the three nations. This expanded over the years into what was called the Benelux Economic Union in the 1960 treaty confirmation.
The Low Countries are named this due to the fact that most of the land inland and along the Northern seacoast it either at or below sea level; some areas are just a bit above sea level.
- There are over 3,000 square miles of fertile farmland that has been reclaimed from the various deltas of the rivers.
- The population of people in the Low Countries is some of the highest in all of Europe as well as the world.
- Nine-tenths of the Low Countries population live in urbanized communities or cities.
- Some of the most industrialized areas in the world exist in the Low Countries and their exposure to external trade make these countries a major source that many of the world markets depend on.
The importance of trade is of such a priority that the union allows for free movement of people, capital, goods and services between the three countries through a Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union that was formed in 1921. The agreement coordinates policies in financial, economic and social fields as well as pursues policies in common foreign trade.