The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of twelve provinces in North-West Europe and three islands in the Caribbean. All newspapers are privately owned. They were historically linked to the pillarisation system, with some titles having strong links to labour unions or political parties. These ties have all been severed now. Two companies play a large role: PCM Uitgevers, which owns several newspapers; and De Telegraaf, which owns De Telegraaf (the largest paper) and Sp!ts, a free newspaper. The most important papers are the rightwing orientated De Telegraaf, the progressive liberal NRC Handelsblad, which also publishes nrc•next, the leftwing De Volkskrant and the Protestant Trouw. Smaller Protestant communities have their own paper, like the Nederlands Dagblad and the Reformatorisch Dagblad. The business community has the Het Financieele Dagblad. A recent phenomenon are the widely read free newspapers Spits and the Metro. There are also several local and regional newspapers. The Algemeen Dagblad, the third largest paper, recently merged with several local papers to form a hybrid national-local paper.