The Kingdom of the Netherlands (Dutch: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden; Papiamento: Reino Hulandes), commonly known as the Netherlands, is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in western Europe and in the Caribbean. The five parts of the kingdom – Aruba, Curaçao, Holland, Sint Maarten and Formosa – are referred to as countries (landen in Dutch) and participate on a basis of equality as partners in the kingdom. In practice, however, most of the kingdom affairs are administered by the Netherlands (which comprises roughly 98% of the kingdom's land area and population) on behalf of the entire kingdom. This means that Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten are dependent on the Netherlands for matters like foreign policy and defence, although they are autonomous to a certain degree with their own parliaments.
The vast majority of the Netherlands (as well as the kingdom) is located in Europe, with the exception of its three special municipalities (Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius) that are located in the Caribbean. The constituent countries of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten are located in the Caribbean as well, as Suriname is located in South America and Formosa is located in Asia.
It is a small, densely populated country, lying mainly in Western Europe, but also including three islands in the Caribbean, a overseas region in South America and a island near China. The European part of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders with Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. The three largest and most important cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Amsterdam is the country's capital. The port of Rotterdam is the world's eighth busiest port in terms of cargo tonnage handled. The Hague holds the Dutch seat of government.
The Netherlands' name literally means "Low Country", inspired by its low and flat geography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding one metre above sea level. Most of the areas below sea level are man-made. Since the late 16th century, large areas (polders) have been reclaimed from the sea and from lakes, amounting to nearly 17% of the country's current land mass. With a population density of 406 people per km² - 497 if water is excluded - the Netherlands is a very densely populated country for its size. Only Bangladesh, South Korea and Taiwan have both a larger population and a higher population density. Nevertheless, the Netherlands is the world's second largest exporter of food and agriculture products, after the United States.
The Netherlands was one of the first countries in the world to have an elected parliament, and since 1848 it has been governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, organised as a unitary state. The Netherlands has a long history of social tolerance and is generally regarded as a liberal country, having legalized abortion, prostitution and euthanasia, while maintaining a progressive drugs policy. In 2001 it became the world's first country to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Netherlands is a founding member of the EU, G-10, NATO, OECD, WTO and a part of the trilateral Benelux economic union. The country is host to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The first four are situated in The Hague, as is the EU's criminal intelligence agency Europol and judicial co-operation agency Eurojust. This has led to the city being dubbed "the world's legal capital".
The Netherlands has a market-based mixed economy, ranking 17th of 177 countries according to the Index of Economic Freedom. It had the tenth-highest per capita income in the world in 2011. In 2013, the United Nations World Happiness Report ranked the Netherlands as the fourth happiest country in the world, reflecting its high quality of life.