The delta region at the mouths of the Rhine, Maas, and Schelde rivers was occupied in ancient times by Celts. Gradually they were pushed to the south by Teutonic (Germanic) tribes migrating to the coastal area from the west. The new arrivals called the low coastal plains the netherlands (low lands).

Important dates in the Netherlands
50's B.C. Julius Caesar conquered much of the Low Countries, including what is now the Netherlands.
A.D. 400's-800's The Franks controlled the region.
870 The Netherlands became part of the East Frankish kingdom (now Germany).
1300's-1400's The French dukes of Burgundy united most of the Low Countries.
1516 Charles, ruler of the Low Countries, king Charles I of Spain. In 1519, Charles became Holy Roman Emporor Charles V.
1581 The Dutch declared their independence from Spain.
1648 Spain recognized Dutch independence.
1600's The Netherlands became the world's major sea power and developed a great colonial empire.
1795-1813 France controlled the Netherlands.
1815 The Netherlands became an independent kingdom united with Belgium.
1830 Belgium revolted and became independent.
1940-1945 Germany occupied the Netherlands in World War II.
1949 The Netherlands granted independence to the Netherlands Indies (now Indonesia).
1954 The colonies of Suriname and Netherlands Antilles became equal partners in the Dutch kingdom.
1957 The Netherlands helped form the European Economic Community, a forerunner of the European Union (EU).
1962 The Netherlands gave up its last colony, West New Guinea (now the Papua region of Indonesia).
1975 Suriname became a fully independent nation.
1992 The Netherlands and 11 other European nations signed the Treaty of European Union, an agreement establishing the EU, in the Dutch city of Maastricht.
2005 The Dutch government and the leaders of the Netherlands Antilles agreed to break up the Netherlands Antilles into separate political entities in the future.