The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces, commonly referred to in historiography as the Dutch Republic, was a federal republic which existed from 1588 to 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first fully independent Dutch nation state.
The republic was established after several Dutch provinces in the Spanish Netherlands revolted against rule by Spain. The provinces formed a mutual alliance against Spain in 1579 and declared their independence in 1581. It comprised Groningen, Frisia, Overijssel, Guelders, Utrecht, Holland and Zeeland.
Although the state was small and contained only around 1.5 million inhabitants, it controlled a worldwide network of seafaring trade routes. Through its trading companies, the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, it established a Dutch colonial empire. The income from this trade allowed the Dutch Republic to compete militarily against much larger countries. It amassed a huge fleet of 2,000 ships, larger than the fleets of England and France combined.