" Holland in 1500 was a small European nation, but extremely energetic, practical, and progressive, with a strong emphasis on trade. Particularly in the northern provinces, the Dutch embraced Protestant Christianity during the sixteenth century, supplanting Catholicism. They were aggressive and dynamic traders, well-positioned to transport goods to and from the Baltic and North Atlantic, and the interior of Europe up the Rhine River. They built efficient ships that carried large cargoes with small crews. Very limited in land, they developed an intense agriculture and began reclaiming lowlands from the sea.
By accident of marriage and inheritance, control of the now largely Protestant Holland shifted to Catholic Spain in the mid-sixteenth century, and Spanish kings sought, in turn, to supplant Protestantism within their realm. This led to a revolt against Spain. Although at a great disadvantage in overall wealth and power, the Dutch proved a tough opponent and drew allies to their side. By 1609 Holland was virtually independent.
In the era of colonial expansion by great empires, the Dutch pursued business opportunities. They were soon engaged in the trade with the Americas, despite Spanish attempts to exclude non-allies. The efficiency of their ships made them attractive as low-cost carriers. They built a business carrying and processing sugar and other goods out of Portuguese Brazil. When the Spanish allied with Portugal and closed the Portuguese ports to the Dutch, the Dutch seized several islands, including Aruba and Curaçao.
In 1610 Henry Hudson explored the North American coast and rediscovered both the river now named after him and the great harbor of modern-day New York City. After several trading voyages to the area seeking furs, the Dutch planted a small trading outpost up the river near Albany in 1614 and later a more permanent settlement on Manhattan Island. The relatively few colonists were more interested in trade profits than in establishing a lasting and well-defended colony. New Amsterdam fell easily to a British fleet commanded by the Duke of York in 1664. The Dutch regained it briefly in 1673, but ceded it permanently to Britain in 1674.
The Dutch made their biggest mark in the East Indies. Following in the wake of the Portuguese around Africa in the early 1600s, agents of the Dutch East India Company took over much of the East India trade, together with England. "
Of the subsequent Bell Beaker culture (2700–2100 BC) several regions of origin have been postulated, notably the Iberian peninsula, the Netherlands and Central Europe.  They introduced metalwork in copper, gold and later bronze and opened international trade routes not seen before, reflected in the discoveries of copper artifacts , as the metal is not normally found in Dutch soil. The many finds in Drenthe of rare bronze objects, suggest that it was even a trading centre in the Bronze Age (2000–800 BC). The Bell Beaker culture developed locally into the Barbed-Wire Beaker culture (2100–1800 BC) and later the Elp culture (c. 1800–800 BC),  a Middle Bronze Age archaeological culture having earthenware pottery of low quality as a marker. The initial phase of the Elp culture was characterised by tumuli (1800–1200 BC) that were strongly tied to contemporary tumuli in northern Germany and Scandinavia, and were apparently related to the Tumulus culture in central Europe. The subsequent phase was that of cremating the dead and placing their ashes in urns which were then buried in fields, following the customs of the Urnfield culture (1200–800 BC). The southern region became dominated by the related Hilversum culture (1800–800 BC), which apparently inherited cultural ties with Britain of the previous Barbed-Wire Beaker culture.