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The Dutch (Dutch: About this sound Nederlanders{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} ), occasionally referred to as Netherlanders, a term that is cognate to the Dutch word for Dutch people, "Nederlanders" are a Germanic<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> ethnic group native to the Netherlands.<ref>Netherlanders in America, an example of usage of the term Netherlanders, in the title of a 20th-century book.</ref><ref name=Stats>Autochtone population at 1 January 2006, Central Statistics Bureau, Integratiekaart 2006, (external link) This includes the Frisians as well.</ref> They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Curaçao, Argentina, Brazil, Canada,<ref name=autogenerated7>Based on Statistics Canada, Canada 2001 Census.Link{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[dead link] }} to Canadian statistics.</ref> Australia,<ref name=autogenerated1>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> South Africa,<ref name=autogenerated4>Based on figures given by Professor JA Heese in his book Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner (The Origins of Afrikaners), who claims the modern Afrikaners (who total around 4.5 million) have 35% Dutch heritage. How 'Pure' was the Average Afrikaner?</ref> New Zealand, and the United States.<ref name=autogenerated8>According to Factfinder.census.gov</ref>

In the Middle Ages, the Low Countries were situated around the border of France and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a part of their respective peripheries, and the various territories of which they consisted had de facto become virtually autonomous by the 13th century.<ref>Winkler Prins Geschiedenis der Nederlanden I (1977), p. 150; I.H. Gosses, Handboek tot de staatkundige geschiedenis der Nederlanden I (1974 [1959]), 84 ff.</ref> Under the Habsburgs, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic.<ref>The actual independence was accepted by in the 1648 treaty of Munster, in practice the Dutch Republic had been independent since the last decade of the 16th century.</ref> The high degree of urbanization characteristic of Dutch society was attained at a relatively early date.<ref>D.J. Noordam, "Demografische ontwikkelingen in West-Europa van de vijftiende tot het einde van de achttiende eeuw", in H.A. Diederiks e.a., Van agrarische samenleving naar verzorgingsstaat (Leiden 1993), 35-64, esp. 40</ref> During the Republic the first series of large scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.

Despite the small size of the Netherlands, the Dutch left behind a legacy in excess of their mere numbers. The Dutch people are generally seen as the pioneers of capitalism, and their emphasis on a modern economy, secularism, and a free market ultimately had a huge influence on the great powers of the West, especially the British Empire, its Thirteen Colonies, and ultimately the United States.

The traditional art and culture of the Dutch encompasses various forms of traditional music, dances, architectural styles and clothing, some of which are globally recognizable. Internationally, Dutch painters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh are held in high regard. The dominant religion of the Dutch is Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant), although in modern times the majority is no longer religious. Significant percentages of the Dutch are adherents of humanism, agnosticism, atheism or individual spirituality.<ref name="CBS statline Church membership">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name="Religion in the Netherlands">Religion in the Netherlands. (Dutch){{#invoke:Category handler|main}}</ref>


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