The Low Countries is a coastal region of Western Europe that consists of the nations of the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of France, Germany, and Luxembourg. The region stretches from Gravelines and Dunkirk in France to the southwest to German East Frisia in the northeast and Luxembourg and French Thionville in the southeast. The region was famous for its trade and its guild system during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with guilds and councils encouraging the free flow of goods and craftsmen in the region and governing cities. The region was once almost entirely ruled by the House of Habsburg as the "Habsburg Netherlands" and the "Seventeen Provinces" from the 16th to 18th centuries, but the Dutch Revolt and the expansion of France would lead to the dissolution of both. Today, the countries are closely related through European Union membership and historical ties, and they prove to be a mixture of Flemish/Dutch, French, and German cultures.