The Ultimate guide to the Low Countries of Europe

Kelsie Colclough | Live the World

July 4, 2022

What are the Low Countries? Here’s everything you need to know!

What are the low countries of Europe? The Low Countries are located in the northwestern part of Europe. Also known as the lowlands, these countries include the Netherlands,Belgium, and Luxembourg. These three European countries have been connected together by history, geography, and culture. Keep reading to get all the facts you need to know about the Low Countries of Europe.

Are the low countries and lowlands the same place?

Yes. The Low Countries are often referred to as the lowlands or as Benelux. It all means the same thing. The Low Countries, or whichever name you prefer, is simply the collective name for Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands.

What does Benelux mean?

When you’re travelling around Europe, you may hear the Low Countries being called “Benelux”. This is a combined name of all the countries (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg). It also refers to the politico-economic union of the three low countries. The union is simply called the “Benelux Union”. Its aims are to ensure the financial stability and integration of the three low countries of Europe.

What are the Low Countries known for?

Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are all famous for unique reasons. However, collectively as the Low Countries they are known for the arts and culture movement from 1400 - 1600. They are also known for their strong connections as close neighbours and allies in the European Union (EU).

What happened during the Renaissance in the Low Countries?

During the 16th century, the lowlands of Europe experienced an impressive and culturally significant boom in the arts and culture sector. The Renaissance here was heavily inspired by the Italian Renaissance and spread from Bruges, which was a major trading post in Belgium for Europe’s merchants. This is the historical period when many of the important lowland artists emerged including painter Hieronymus Bosch, composer Orlande de Lassus, and writer Philips van Marnix.

The Low Countries also became an important hub of publishing. From the 1470s onwards, multiple cities had a printing press such as Utrecht and Leiden in the Netherlands, Belgium’s Antwerp and Leuven.

Are Belgium and the Netherlands separate countries?

The Netherlands and Belgium are next door neighbours. They are not the same country. To find out why, we’ll have to go back in time to 1839. Around this time, the Netherlands was the United Kingdom of the Netherlands which included the Netherlands, Belgium, and some overseas colonies in Indonesia. For years, since 1830, Belgians had been fighting for independence. Finally, in 1839, the Treaty of London was signed and so a border was established on the map and Belgium became an independent country.

Ready to learn more about the lowlands? Keep reading for all the data you need on the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

The Netherlands

1. The Netherlands

  • Population: 17.46 million (2021)
  • Capital: Amsterdam
  • Language: Dutch

Also known as Holland, the Netherlands is one of the major powers of Europe. The country is known for having a progressive outlook, eco-friendly living, and high rank on the World’s Happiness Index. Here is some popular activities here:

What’s it like to visit the Netherlands? It depends on where you go! The Netherlands has 12 provinces with the most well-known being North and South Holland where you’ll find Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The country itself means “low lands” - wherever you go you will be close to sea level on flat land. Cyclist friendly, green, and layered with canals, the Netherlands is a real treat to visit.


2. Belgium

  • Population: 11.52 million (2021)
  • Capital: Brussels
  • Language(s): Dutch, French, German

Belgium has been on the map of Europe as an independent country since 1839. These days, it’s known for being the heart of the European Union as Brussels is considered the unofficial capital of the EU and NATO. Belgium is famous across the world for its food exports such as waffles, chocolate, and beer. Belgium is also unique for its multilingual fluency, having 3 official languages, regional languages, and nearly 40% of the population speaking fluent English.

What’s it like to visit Belgium? Everyday can be different! Belgium is split in half with Flanders (the Dutch speaking part) in the north and Wallonia (the French part) in the south. Wherever you travel in Belgium, you’re sure to find medieval gems, secret spots, and amazing food.


3. Luxembourg

  • Population: 634,814 (2021)
  • Capital: Luxembourg City
  • Language(s): Luxembourgish, German, French

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe and has one of its smallest populations. Nestled on the borders of France, Germany, and Belgium, Luxembourg is a melting pot of cultures. Luxembourg is famous for being one of the richest countries in the world for having the highest GDP per capita of 116,921.11$ in 2020. Despite this, Luxembourg is often forgotten for Europe trips and maps.

Luxembourg is definitely a European country worth visiting. This small country packs a little bit of everything Europe has to offer in one place. Luxembourg is known for its easy transport links, fairy tale castles, unique capital, and gorgeous hiking routes. Everything you want from a Europe trip can be found in one of its smallest countries.

Fallen in love with the lowlands yet? We sure have! Keep on exploring the low countries and beyond with us using our map of Europe.

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