The Low Countries, also known as the Low Countries by the Sea, is the plane area in North-West Europe that constitutes the basin of the Lower Rhine, Lower Meuse and Scheldt. Originally the name was merely used to distinguish the lower German regions from those situated higher up.
From the 16th century onwards the Low Countries became the usual denomination for the Dutch regions, also referred to as Flanders, Netherlands, Belgium and Pays Bas. Since the East and South lacked distinguished geographical characteristics, only the North Sea was a clearly demarcated border.
Today the term Low Countries is also used to denote the whole of The Netherlands, Belgium, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, or sometimes just The Netherlands and Belgium.