The Kingdom of the Netherlands (Dutch: Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, Papiamento: Reino Hulandes) is an association with federal characteristics (federacy), based on a political compact, which consists of three constituent countries: the Netherlands in Western Europe, and the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean. The current Kingdom of the Netherlands was constituted with the proclamation of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 28, 1954. From 1830 to 1954, the "Kingdom of the Netherlands" referred to the Netherlands Kingdom and its colonial (formerly Dutch East- and West-Indian Co.) possessions. Suriname was a constituent nation within the Kingdom from 1954 to 1975.
The Charter specifies the competences of the Kingdom; apart from these competences the constituent countries are completely autonomous in their internal affairs.
The Charter is a unique document, which compares with difficulty to other types of political compacts for associations and government. It has some characteristics of a federal state, the main difference being that its members, on the federal level, are not completely equal. The Netherlands, as one of the constituent nations, actually is responsible for the federal affairs. The interests of the overseas constituent nations in matters that are governed by the Kingdom, are in practice subordinate to those of the Netherlands .