By the seventeenth century the Netherlands had become a prosperous country through its shipping trade across Europe and its trade links with the Far East. The United Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) was formed in 1602 in order to unite various small trade companies which had created commercial links with the India and the Far East during the late sixteenth century. With bases in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, the Company became a powerful trade organization. It was even given powers of rule over its dominions, along similar lines to those of the English East India Company. Like its British rival, the Dutch East India Company issued coins for trade in its dominions. The coin bears the Company's monogram (VOC) and the date. Gold ducats were first struck in Venice in the thirteenth century and, such was the success of the coin, continued to be produced until the end of the eighteenth century. It became the standard European gold coin, and many rulers produced their own coins to a similar weight and fineness.