the Netherlands vs. The Netherlands

Subject: the Netherlands vs. The Netherlands
From: T K <tvk_tw -at- yahoo -dot- ie>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, techcomm -at- user -dot- itconsult -dot- co -dot- uk
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2006 17:24:48 +0100 (BST)

Hi,

I have a question in relation to the correct spelling of the term "The Netherlands". If the word "The" is at the start of a sentence there is no ambiguity but if it occurs mid-sentence I am seeing conflicting opinions as to whether it should be "...of the Netherlands" or "...of The Netherlands".

Would anybody be able to advise?

I apologise if this seems like a very basic question, but I am unable to find a conclusive answer on sites such as the ISO list of country names (http://www.iso.org/iso/en/prods-services/iso3166ma/02iso-3166-code-lists/list-en1.html),
and indeed searching various websites throws up a mixture of both capitalisation and non-capitalisation so it would seem I am not the only one who is unsure.

Wiktionary says that the proper noun is "the Netherlands" (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Dutch) and indeed the Wikipedia naming conventions page indicates "of the Netherlands" and "of The Gambia" so it would seem that Wikipedia acknowledges that some countries can have the definite article capitalised mid-sentence, but not the Netherlands.

I guess my question becomes how authoritative a source is Wikipedia?

The official title seems to be "Kingdom of the Netherlands" (rather than "Kingdom of The Netherlands") so it would follow that it should be "...of the Netherlands". However sites such as Ethnologue omit the definite article and refer to terms such as "Languages of Netherlands" - see http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=NL

Thanks,
Thomas.


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