Belgium

Belgium

Overview
Belgium officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in Western Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. It is a founding member of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO. name="Note-1">Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many international organisations, including ACCT
Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique
The Agence de coopération culturelle et technique was founded in 1970 and was the precursor to what is now the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie....

, AfDB
AFDB
AFDB may refer to:*Adult Film Database*African Development Bank*Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie...

, AsDB, Australia Group
Australia Group
The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 to help member countries to identify those of their exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons .The group, initially consisting of 15 members, held its first...

, Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

, BIS
Bank for International Settlements
The Bank for International Settlements is an intergovernmental organization of central banks which "fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks." It is not accountable to any national government...

, CCC
Convention on Cybercrime
The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or just the Budapest Convention, is the first international treaty seeking to address Computer crime and Internet crimes by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation...

, CE
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, CERN
CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

, EAPC
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council , a NATO institution, is a multilateral forum created to improve relations between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe and those parts of Asia on the European periphery. The member states meet to cooperate and consult on a range of political and security issues...

, EBRD, EIB
European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank is the European Union's long-term lending institution established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome. A policy-driven bank, the EIB supports the EU’s priority objectives, especially European integration and the development of economically weak regions...

, EMU
Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union
The Economic and Monetary Union is an umbrella term for the group of policies aimed at converging the economies of members of the European Union in three stages so as to allow them to adopt a single currency, the euro. As such, it is largely synonymous with the eurozone.All member states of the...

, ESA, EU, FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

, G-10
Group of Ten (economic)
The Group of Ten or G-10 refers to the group of countries that have agreed to participate in the General Arrangements to Borrow...

, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

, ICRM
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

, IDA
International Development Association
The International Development Association , is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. It complements the World Bank's other lending arm — the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development — which serves middle-income countries with capital investment and...

, IDB
Inter-American Development Bank
The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean...

, IEA
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis...

, IFAD, IFC
International Finance Corporation
The International Finance Corporation promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing countries.IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States....

, IFRCS, IHO, ILO
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

, IMF
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, IMO
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...

, IMSO, Intelsat
Intelsat
Intelsat, Ltd. is a communications satellite services provider.Originally formed as International Telecommunications Satellite Organization , it was—from 1964 to 2001—an intergovernmental consortium owning and managing a constellation of communications satellites providing international broadcast...

, Interpol
Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

, IOC, IOM
International Organization for Migration
The International Organization for Migration is an intergovernmental organization. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration to help resettle people displaced by World War II....

, ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

, ITU
Itu
Itu is an old and historic municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The population in 2009 was 157,384 and the area is 641.68 km². The elevation is 583 m. This place name comes from the Tupi language, meaning big waterfall. Itu is linked with the highway numbered the SP-75 and are flowed...

, MONUC (observers), NATO, NEA
Nuclear Energy Agency
The Nuclear Energy Agency is an intergovernmental multinational agency that is organized under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development...

, NSG
Nuclear Suppliers Group
Nuclear Suppliers Group is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.- History :It was founded in...

, OAS
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration , is an international organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands.-History:The court was established in 1899 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution.The creation of...

, UN, UNCTAD, UNECE, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, UNHCR, UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization , French/Spanish acronym ONUDI, is a specialized agency in the United Nations system, headquartered in Vienna, Austria...

, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU
Upu
Upu, also called Apu , was the region surrounding Damascus of the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Damascus was named Dimašqu/Dimasqu/ etc. Upu, also called Apu (and Ubi or Upi by some authors), was the region surrounding Damascus of the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Damascus was named Dimašqu/Dimasqu/ etc. Upu,...

, WADB
West African Development Bank
The West African Development Bank - WADB is an international Multilateral Development Bank established in 1973 to serve the nations of Francophone and Lusophone West Africa...

 (non-regional), WEU, WHO
Who
Who may refer to:* Who , an English-language pronoun* who , a Unix command* Who?, one of the Five Ws in journalism- Art and entertainment :* Who? , a 1958 novel by Algis Budrys...

, WIPO, WMO, WTrO
WTRO
WTRO may refer to* WTRO , a radio station licensed to Dyersburg, Tennessee, United States* W.T.R.O., song by Paul Gilbert* World Trade Organization...

, ZC
Zangger Committee
The Zangger Committee, also known as the Nuclear Exporters Committee, sprang from Article III.2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force on March 5, 1970...

.

Belgium covers an area of 30528 square kilometres (11,786.9 sq mi), and it has a population of about 11 million people.
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Timeline

1792   France invades the Austrian Netherlands (present day Belgium), beginning the French Revolutionary War.

1795   Belgium is conquered by France.

1830   Creation of the state of Belgium after separation from The Netherlands.

1831   Inauguration of Leopold I of Belgium, first king of the Belgians.

1835   In Belgium, the first railway in continental Europe opens between Brussels and Mechelen.

1839   The Treaty of London establishes Belgium as a kingdom.

1904   Louis Rigolly, a Frenchman, becomes the first man to break the {{convert|100|mph|0|abbr=on}} barrier on land. He drove a 15-liter Gobron-Brille in Ostend, Belgium.

1914   World War I: Germany invades Belgium. In response, the United Kingdom declares war on Germany. The United States declare their neutrality.

1914   World War I: in Belgium, British and German troops clash for the first time in the war.

1915   World War I: British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium

 
Quotations

C'est moi qui a sauvé le brol.

(Prince Charles of Belgium)

Petit pays, petit esprit.

Leopold II of Belgium, commenting on the unwilligness of the parliament and people of Belgium to engage in colonial adventures.

La musique est un bruit qui coûte cher.

Leopold II of Belgium.

They're the Canada of France.

Craig Ferguson in 2008 at the 94th annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.

He said when he left that he wanted to repair the relationship, and that is very crucial. We need their help in Iraq. The more we can entice others to help us, the less of a target we could be."

Barbara Boxer's response response to a question from CNN's Wolf Blitzer about what advice she would give President George W. Bush as he visited Belgium that day (February 20, 2005).

My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with a low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery.

Doctor Evil in the Austin Powers Trilogy.

Rory: "Lorelai Gilmore". Nope, doesn't sound model-y enough. You need something that stands out more. How about "Waffle"? We could call you Waffle and say you're from Belgium.

From the second season of Gilmore Girls.

Kirk: Another Armenia, Belgium ... the weak innocents who always seem to be located on a natural invasion route.

Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Encyclopedia
Belgium officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in Western Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. It is a founding member of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO. name="Note-1">Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many international organisations, including ACCT
Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique
The Agence de coopération culturelle et technique was founded in 1970 and was the precursor to what is now the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie....

, AfDB
AFDB
AFDB may refer to:*Adult Film Database*African Development Bank*Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie...

, AsDB, Australia Group
Australia Group
The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 to help member countries to identify those of their exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons .The group, initially consisting of 15 members, held its first...

, Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

, BIS
Bank for International Settlements
The Bank for International Settlements is an intergovernmental organization of central banks which "fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks." It is not accountable to any national government...

, CCC
Convention on Cybercrime
The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or just the Budapest Convention, is the first international treaty seeking to address Computer crime and Internet crimes by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing cooperation...

, CE
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, CERN
CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

, EAPC
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council , a NATO institution, is a multilateral forum created to improve relations between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe and those parts of Asia on the European periphery. The member states meet to cooperate and consult on a range of political and security issues...

, EBRD, EIB
European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank is the European Union's long-term lending institution established in 1958 under the Treaty of Rome. A policy-driven bank, the EIB supports the EU’s priority objectives, especially European integration and the development of economically weak regions...

, EMU
Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union
The Economic and Monetary Union is an umbrella term for the group of policies aimed at converging the economies of members of the European Union in three stages so as to allow them to adopt a single currency, the euro. As such, it is largely synonymous with the eurozone.All member states of the...

, ESA, EU, FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

, G-10
Group of Ten (economic)
The Group of Ten or G-10 refers to the group of countries that have agreed to participate in the General Arrangements to Borrow...

, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

, ICRM
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

, IDA
International Development Association
The International Development Association , is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. It complements the World Bank's other lending arm — the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development — which serves middle-income countries with capital investment and...

, IDB
Inter-American Development Bank
The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean...

, IEA
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis...

, IFAD, IFC
International Finance Corporation
The International Finance Corporation promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing countries.IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States....

, IFRCS, IHO, ILO
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

, IMF
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, IMO
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...

, IMSO, Intelsat
Intelsat
Intelsat, Ltd. is a communications satellite services provider.Originally formed as International Telecommunications Satellite Organization , it was—from 1964 to 2001—an intergovernmental consortium owning and managing a constellation of communications satellites providing international broadcast...

, Interpol
Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

, IOC, IOM
International Organization for Migration
The International Organization for Migration is an intergovernmental organization. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration to help resettle people displaced by World War II....

, ISO
International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

, ITU
Itu
Itu is an old and historic municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The population in 2009 was 157,384 and the area is 641.68 km². The elevation is 583 m. This place name comes from the Tupi language, meaning big waterfall. Itu is linked with the highway numbered the SP-75 and are flowed...

, MONUC (observers), NATO, NEA
Nuclear Energy Agency
The Nuclear Energy Agency is an intergovernmental multinational agency that is organized under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development...

, NSG
Nuclear Suppliers Group
Nuclear Suppliers Group is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.- History :It was founded in...

, OAS
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration , is an international organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands.-History:The court was established in 1899 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution.The creation of...

, UN, UNCTAD, UNECE, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, UNHCR, UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization , French/Spanish acronym ONUDI, is a specialized agency in the United Nations system, headquartered in Vienna, Austria...

, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU
Upu
Upu, also called Apu , was the region surrounding Damascus of the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Damascus was named Dimašqu/Dimasqu/ etc. Upu, also called Apu (and Ubi or Upi by some authors), was the region surrounding Damascus of the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Damascus was named Dimašqu/Dimasqu/ etc. Upu,...

, WADB
West African Development Bank
The West African Development Bank - WADB is an international Multilateral Development Bank established in 1973 to serve the nations of Francophone and Lusophone West Africa...

 (non-regional), WEU, WHO
Who
Who may refer to:* Who , an English-language pronoun* who , a Unix command* Who?, one of the Five Ws in journalism- Art and entertainment :* Who? , a 1958 novel by Algis Budrys...

, WIPO, WMO, WTrO
WTRO
WTRO may refer to* WTRO , a radio station licensed to Dyersburg, Tennessee, United States* W.T.R.O., song by Paul Gilbert* World Trade Organization...

, ZC
Zangger Committee
The Zangger Committee, also known as the Nuclear Exporters Committee, sprang from Article III.2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force on March 5, 1970...

.

Belgium covers an area of 30528 square kilometres (11,786.9 sq mi), and it has a population of about 11 million people. Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 and Latin Europe
Latin Europe
Latin Europe is a loose term for the region of Europe with an especially strong Latin cultural heritage inherited from the Roman Empire.-Application:...

, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, mostly Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

 (about 60%), and the French-speakers
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

, mostly Walloons
Walloons
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

 (about 40%), plus a small group of German-speakers
German-speaking Community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of Belgium is one of the three federal communities of Belgium. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons...

. Belgium's two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders
Flemish Region
The Flemish Region is one of the three official regions of the Kingdom of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Colloquially, it is usually simply referred to as Flanders, of which it is the institutional iteration within the context of the Belgian political system...

 in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region. name="">


*


*


*


*

A German-speaking Community
German-speaking Community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of Belgium is one of the three federal communities of Belgium. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons...

 exists in eastern Wallonia. name=German-speaking_Community>
The (original) version in German language (already) mentions 73,000 instead of 71,500 inhabitants.
Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in the political history
History of Belgium
The history of Belgium, from pre-history to the present day, is intertwined with the histories of its European neighbours, in particular those of the Netherlands and Luxembourg...

 and a complex system of government. name=bbcnews1>
name=paulderidder>


Historically, the present day states of Belgium, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 together with the North of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (Artois
Artois
Artois is a former province of northern France. Its territory has an area of around 4000 km² and a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras , Saint-Omer, Lens and Béthune.-Location:...

, French Flanders
French Flanders
French Flanders is a part of the historical County of Flanders in present-day France. The region today lies in the modern-day region of Nord-Pas de Calais, the department of Nord, and roughly corresponds to the arrondissements of Lille, Douai and Dunkirk on the Belgian border.-Geography:French...

), and a small part of Western Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, were known as the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. These regions were unitied in a personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 of states starting the 14th and during the 15th and 16th century. The Low Countries were called Belgica in Latin after the Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica was a Roman province located in what is now the southern part of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, northeastern France, and western Germany. The indigenous population of Gallia Belgica, the Belgae, consisted of a mixture of Celtic and Germanic tribes...

 which covered the core of the same area. From the end of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the Southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and established an independent Kingdom of Belgium....

 in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name used to refer to Kingdom of the Netherlands during the period after it was first created from part of the First French Empire and before the new kingdom of Belgium split out in 1830...

, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the battleground of Europe, name=Hass>
—The book reviewer, Haß, attributes the expression in English to James Howell
James Howell
James Howell was a 17th-century Anglo-Welsh historian and writer who is in many ways a representative figure of his age. The son of a Welsh clergyman, he was for much of his life in the shadow of his elder brother Thomas Howell, who became Lord Bishop of Bristol.-Education:In 1613 he gained his B.A...

 in 1640. Howell's original phrase "the cockpit of Christendom" became modified afterwards, as shown by:
*
—and as such coined for Belgium:
*
(See also The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
The Nuttall Encyclopædia: Being a Concise and Comprehensive Dictionary of General Knowledge is an early 20th-century encyclopedia, edited by Rev. James Wood, first published in London in 1900 by Frederick Warne & Co Ltd.-Description:...

)
a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.

Upon its independence, Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

name="Fitzmaurice">
name="EUbusiness">

and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa
Belgian colonial empire
The Belgian colonial empire consisted of three colonies possessed by Belgium between 1901 and 1962: Belgian Congo , Rwanda and Burundi...

. name=Karl>

The second half of the 20th century was marked by the rise of non-violent conflicts between the Flemish and the Francophones fuelled by cultural differences
Culture of Belgium
A discussion of Belgian culture requires the language and what they eat discussing both those aspects of cultural life shared by 'all' or most of the Belgians, regardless of what language they speak, and also, the differences between the main cultural communities: the Flemish people from...

 on the one hand and an asymmetrical economic evolution
Economy of Belgium
The modern, private enterprise economy of Belgium has capitalised on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base...

 of Flanders and Wallonia on the other hand. These still-active conflicts have caused far-reaching reforms of the formerly unitary Belgian state into a federal state
State reform in Belgium
The term State reform in the Belgian context indicates a process towards finding constitutional and legal solutions for the problems and tensions between the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly Dutch-speakers of Flanders and French-speakers of Wallonia...

 which may lead to a complete partition of the country
Partition of Belgium
The partition of Belgium, or the dissolution of the Belgian state through the separation of the Dutch-speaking people of the Flanders region and Brussels from the French-speaking people of the Walloon region and Brussels, granting them either independence or respective accession to the Netherlands...

 in the future. name=SanFranChro>
name=BBCJuly2008>
name=Telegraph2010>

History



The name 'Belgium' is derived from Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica was a Roman province located in what is now the southern part of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, northeastern France, and western Germany. The indigenous population of Gallia Belgica, the Belgae, consisted of a mixture of Celtic and Germanic tribes...

, a Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 in the northernmost part of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 that, before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

.
A gradual immigration
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 by Germanic Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

. name=CookP3>
Cook (2002), p. 3
The Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

 in 843 divided the region into Middle
Middle Francia
Middle Francia was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom created by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious...

 and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdom
Fiefdom
A fee was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable lands granted under one of several varieties of feudal tenure by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the...

s which, during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, were vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

s either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

.

Many of these fiefdoms
Timeline of Burgundian and Habsburg acquisitions in the Low Countries
Around the 13th and early 14th century, various Dutch cities became so important that they started playing a major role in the political and economical affairs of their respective fiefs....

 were united in the Burgundian Netherlands
Burgundian Netherlands
In the history of the Low Countries, the Burgundian Netherlands refers to a number of Imperial and French fiefs ruled in personal union by the House of Valois-Burgundy and their Habsburg heirs in the period from 1384 to 1482...

 of the 14th and 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 extended the personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 of the Seventeen Provinces
Seventeen Provinces
The Seventeen Provinces were a personal union of states in the Low Countries in the 15th century and 16th century, roughly covering the current Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, a good part of the North of France , and a small part of Western Germany.The Seventeen Provinces were originally held by...

 in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549
Pragmatic Sanction of 1549
The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 was an edict, promulgated by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, reorganizing the Seventeen Provinces.It was his plan to centralize the administrative units of Holy Roman Empire. The Pragmatic Sanction transformed this agglomeration of lands into a unified entity, of which...

 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.
The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 (Belgica Foederata in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, the "Federated Netherlands") and the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 (Belgica Regia, the "Royal Netherlands"). The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

 and the Austrian Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

s and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

 during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars: Campaigns of 1794
The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1793 with few immediate changes in the diplomatic situation as France fought the First coalition.On the Alpine frontier, there was little change, with the French invasion of Piedmont failing...

, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

, ending Austrian rule in the region. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name used to refer to Kingdom of the Netherlands during the period after it was first created from part of the First French Empire and before the new kingdom of Belgium split out in 1830...

 occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 in 1815.

The 1830 Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the Southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and established an independent Kingdom of Belgium....

 led to the establishment of a Catholic and bourgeois, officially French-speaking and neutral, independent Belgium under a provisional government
Provisional Government of Belgium
The Provisional Government was formed as a revolutionary committee of notables during the Belgian Revolution on September 24, 1830 at the Brussels City Hall under the name of Administrative Commission....

 and a national congress
National Congress of Belgium
The Belgian National Congress was a temporary legislative assembly in 1830, established shortly after the Provisional Government of Belgium had proclaimed Belgian independence on October 4 of that year...

. name=Dobbelaere-VoyE>
name=Gooch>

Since the installation of Leopold I
Leopold I of Belgium
Leopold I was from 21 July 1831 the first King of the Belgians, following Belgium's independence from the Netherlands. He was the founder of the Belgian line of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

 as king on 1831 (which now celebrated as Belgium's National Day
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

), Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 and parliamentary democracy, with a laicist
Laïcité
French secularism, in French, laïcité is a concept denoting the absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs. French secularism has a long history but the current regime is based on the 1905 French law on the Separation of...

 constitution based on the Napoleonic code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

. Although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 for men was introduced after the general strike of 1893
Belgian general strike of 1893
The Belgian general strike of 1893 was ordered by the General Board of the Belgian Labour Party after the Belgian Parliament rejected the Law Proposal on universal suffrage....

 (with plural voting
Plural voting
Plural voting is the practice whereby one person might be able to vote multiple times in an election. It is not to be confused with a plurality voting system which does not necessarily involve plural voting...

 until 1919) and for women in 1949.
The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party
Catholic Party (Belgium)
The first Catholic Party in Belgium was established in 1869 as the Confessional Catholic Party .-History:In 1852 a Union Constitutionelle et Conservatrice was founded in Ghent, in Leuven , and in Antwerp and Brussels in 1858, which were active only during elections...

 and the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Belgium)
The Liberal Party was a Belgian political party that existed from 1846 until 1961, when it became the Party for Freedom and Progress, Partij voor Vrijheid en Vooruitgang/Parti de la Liberté et du Progrès or PVV-PLP, under the leadership of Omer Vanaudenhove.-History:The Liberal Party was founded...

, with the Belgian Labour Party
Belgian Labour Party
The Belgian Labour Party, called Belgische Werkliedenpartij in Dutch and Parti Ouvrier Belge in French, was the first socialist party in Belgium, founded in 1885.-History:...

 emerging towards the end of the century. French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 and the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

. It progressively lost its overall importance as Dutch became recognised as well. This recognition became official in 1898 and in 1967 a Dutch version of the Constitution was legally accepted.

The Berlin Conference
Berlin Conference
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period, and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power...

 of 1885 ceded control of the Congo Free State
Congo Free State
The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa which was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Its origins lay in Leopold's attracting scientific, and humanitarian backing for a non-governmental organization, the Association internationale africaine...

 to King Leopold II
Leopold II of Belgium
Leopold II was the second king of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865 and remained king until his death.Leopold is chiefly remembered as the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free...

 as his private possession. From around 1900 there was growing international concern for the extreme and savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, for whom the Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber production. In 1908 this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

.
Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan
Schlieffen Plan
The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory in a possible future war in which the German Empire might find itself fighting on two fronts: France to the west and Russia to the east...

 and much of the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 fighting of World War I occurred in western parts of the country. The opening months of the war were known as the Rape of Belgium
Rape of Belgium
The Rape of Belgium is a wartime propaganda term describing the 1914 German invasion of Belgium. The term initially had a figurative meaning, referring to the violation of Belgian neutrality, but embellished reports of German atrocities soon gave it a literal significance...

 due to German atrocities. Belgium took over the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi was a Belgian suzerainty from 1916 to 1924, a League of Nations Class B Mandate from 1924 to 1945 and then a United Nations trust territory until 1962, when it became the independent states of Rwanda and Burundi.- Overview :...

 (modern day Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

) during the war, and they were mandated to Belgium in 1924 by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy
Eupen-Malmedy, or the East Cantons , is a group of cantons in Belgium, composed of the former Prussian districts of Malmedy and Eupen, together with the Neutral Moresnet...

 were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.

The country was again invaded by Germany in 1940
Battle of Belgium
The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War...

 and was occupied until its liberation by the Allies in 1944. After World War II, a general strike
General strike against Leopold III of Belgium
The Royal Question refers to the 1950 political conflict surrounding the question whether King Leopold III should return to Belgium after World War II. A referendum was organised, in which the majority voted in favour of his return...

 forced king Leopold III
Leopold III of Belgium
Leopold III reigned as King of the Belgians from 1934 until 1951, when he abdicated in favour of the Heir Apparent,...

, who many saw as collaborating with the Germans during the war, to abdicate in 1951. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis
Congo Crisis
The Congo Crisis was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu...

;
Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later. Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community
European Coal and Steel Community
The European Coal and Steel Community was a six-nation international organisation serving to unify Western Europe during the Cold War and create the foundation for the modern-day developments of the European Union...

 in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community
European Atomic Energy Community
The European Atomic Energy Community is an international organisation which is legally distinct from the European Union , but has the same membership, and is governed by the EU's institutions....

 and European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

, established in 1957. The latter is now the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

, the Council of the European Union
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union is the institution in the legislature of the European Union representing the executives of member states, the other legislative body being the European Parliament. The Council is composed of twenty-seven national ministers...

 and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

.

Politics


Belgium is a constitutional
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, popular monarchy
Popular monarchy
Popular monarchy is a system of monarchical governance in which the monarch's title is linked with a popular mandate rather than a constitutional state. It was the norm in some places from the Middle Ages, and was occasionally used in 19th- and 20th-century Europe, often reflecting the results of...

 and a parliamentary democracy
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

. The bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 federal parliament
Belgian Federal Parliament
The Belgian Federal Parliament is a bicameral parliament. It consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate . It sits in the Palace of the Nation .- Chamber of Representatives :...

 is composed of a Senate
Belgian Senate
The Belgian Senate is one of the two chambers of the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the Chamber of Representatives. It is considered to be the "upper house" of the Federal Parliament.-History and future:...

 and a Chamber of Representatives
Belgian Chamber of People's Representatives
The Belgian Chamber of Representatives is one of the two chambers in the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the Senate...

. The former is made up of 40 directly elected politicians and 21 representatives appointed by the 3 Community parliaments, 10 co-opted senators and the children of the king, as Senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote. The Chamber
Chambers of parliament
Many parliaments or other legislatures consist of two chambers : an elected lower house, and an upper house or Senate which may be appointed or elected by a different mechanism from the lower house. This style of two houses is called bicameral...

's 150 representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts
Arrondissements of Belgium
The federalized country Belgium geographically consists of 3 regions, of which only Flemish Region and Walloon Region are subdivided into 5 provinces each; the Brussels-Capital Region is neither a province nor is it part of one....

. Belgium has compulsory voting
Compulsory voting
Compulsory voting is a system in which electors are obliged to vote in elections or attend a polling place on voting day. If an eligible voter does not attend a polling place, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as fines, community service, or perhaps imprisonment if fines are unpaid...

 and thus holds one of the highest rates of voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 in the world. name=Franklin>


The King
Monarchy of Belgium
Monarchy in Belgium is constitutional and popular in nature. The hereditary monarch, at present Albert II, is the head of state and is officially called King of the Belgians .-Origins:...

 (currently Albert II
Albert II of Belgium
Albert II is the current reigning King of the Belgians, a constitutional monarch. He is a member of the royal house "of Belgium"; formerly this house was named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

) is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, though with limited prerogatives
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

. He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government
Federal government
The federal government is the common government of a federation. The structure of federal governments varies from institution to institution. Based on a broad definition of a basic federal political system, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and...

. The numbers of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers are equal as prescribed by the constitution (the Prime Minister not being counted). name=constitution1>

The judicial system is based on civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 and originates from the Napoleonic code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

. The Court of Cassation
Court of Cassation (Belgium)
The Court of Cassation is the main court of last resort in Belgium.It was originally modelled after the French Cour de cassation. Its jurisdiction and powers are similar to those of its French counterpart....

 is the court of last resort, with the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal (Belgium)
The Court of Appeal in Belgium is a court which hears appeals against decisions of the Court of First Instance and the Commercial Court. Unlike the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal isn't divided into different divisions. There are five Courts of Appeal in Belgium...

 one level below.

Belgium's political institutions are complex; most political power is organised around the need to represent the main cultural communities.
Since around 1970, the significant national Belgian political parties have split into distinct components that mainly represent the political and linguistic interests of these communities. name=USStateDpt>

The major parties in each Community, though close to the political centre, belong to three main groups: the right-wing Liberals
Liberalism in Belgium
This article gives an overview of liberalism in Belgium. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme...

, the socially conservative Christian Democrats and the socialists forming the left wing.
Further notable parties came into being well after the middle of last century, mainly around linguistic, nationalist, or environmental themes and recently smaller ones of some specific liberal nature.
A string of Christian Democrat coalition governments from 1958 was broken in 1999
Belgian general election, 1999
The June 13, 1999 Belgian general elections was a Belgian election for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and Belgian Senate. The federal general elections were held on the same day as the European elections and the regional elections. The Flemish Liberals and Democrats won the elections.The...

 after the first dioxin crisis
Dioxine affair
The Dioxin Affair was a political crisis that struck in Belgium during the spring of 1999.Contamination of feedstock with polychlorinated biphenyls was detected in animal food products, mainly eggs and chickens....

, a major food contamination scandal.
A 'rainbow coalition' emerged from six parties: the Flemish and the French-speaking Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens.
Later, a 'purple coalition
Purple (government)
Purple is a common term in politics for governments or other political entities consisting of parties that have red and blue as their political colours...

' of Liberals and Social Democrats formed after the Greens lost most of their seats in the 2003 election.
The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt
Guy Verhofstadt is a Belgian politician who was the 47th Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.- Early career :...

 from 1999 to 2007 achieved a balanced budget, some tax reforms, a labour-market reform, scheduled nuclear phase-out and instigated legislation allowing more stringent war crime
War Crimes Law (Belgium)
Belgium's War Crimes Law invokes the concept of universal jurisdiction to allow anyone to bring war crime charges in Belgian courts, regardless of where the alleged crimes have taken place....

 and more lenient soft drug usage prosecution. Restrictions on withholding euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

 were reduced and same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage in Belgium
On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, with some restrictions. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions...

 legalized. The government promoted active diplomacy in Africa and opposed the invasion of Iraq.

Verhofstadt's coalition fared badly in the June 2007 elections
Belgian general election, 2007
The 2007 Belgian general election took place on Sunday 10 June 2007. Voters went to the polls in order to elect new members for the Chamber of Representatives and Senate.Eligible voters were Belgian citizens 18 years and older...

. For more than a year, the country experienced a political crisis. This crisis was such that many observers speculated on a possible partition of Belgium
Partition of Belgium
The partition of Belgium, or the dissolution of the Belgian state through the separation of the Dutch-speaking people of the Flanders region and Brussels from the French-speaking people of the Walloon region and Brussels, granting them either independence or respective accession to the Netherlands...

. From 2007 until 2008 the temporary Verhofstadt III Government was in office. This coalition of the Flemish and Francophone Christian Democrats
Humanist Democratic Centre
The Humanist Democratic Centre is a Francophone Christian democratic political party in Belgium. The cdH currently participates in the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, the Government of the French Community and the Walloon Government.- History :...

, the Flemish and Francophone Liberals together with the Francophone Social Democrats
Socialist Party (francophone Belgium)
The Socialist Party is a Francophone social-democratic political party in Belgium. As of the 2010 elections, it is the second largest party in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and the largest Francophone party...

 was an interim government until 2008. On that day a new government
Leterme I Government
The Leterme I Government was the federal government of Belgium from 20 March 2008 to 22 December 2008. It took office when the Flemish Christian democrat Yves Leterme was sworn in as Prime Minister...

, led by Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme
Yves Leterme
Yves Camille Désiré Leterme is a Flemish Belgian politician, a leader of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party , and the 48th Prime Minister of Belgium.Leterme was the Prime Minister of Belgium from March 2008 to December 2008...

, the actual winner of the federal elections of , was sworn in by the king. On 2008 Leterme announced the resignation of the cabinet to the king, as no progress in constitutional reforms
State reform in Belgium
The term State reform in the Belgian context indicates a process towards finding constitutional and legal solutions for the problems and tensions between the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly Dutch-speakers of Flanders and French-speakers of Wallonia...

 had been made.
In December 2008 he once more offered his resignation to the king after a crisis
2008–2009 Belgian financial crisis
The 2008–2009 Belgian financial crisis is a major financial crisis that hit Belgium from mid-2008 onwards. Two of the country's largest banks - Fortis and Dexia - started to face severe problems, exacerbated by the financial problems hitting other banks in the world. The value of their stocks, as...

 surrounding the sale of Fortis
Fortis (finance)
Fortis N.V./S.A. was a company active in insurance, banking and investment management. In 2007 it was the 20th largest business in the world by revenue but after encountering severe problems in the financial crisis of 2008, most of the company was sold in parts, with only insurance activities...

 to BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas S.A. is a global banking group, headquartered in Paris, with its second global headquarters in London. In October 2010 BNP Paribas was ranked by Bloomberg and Forbes as the largest bank and largest company in the world by assets with over $3.1 trillion. It was formed through the merger...

. At this juncture, his resignation was accepted and Christian Democratic and Flemish Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Achille Van Rompuy is the first long-term and full-time President of the European Council...

 was sworn in as Prime Minister on 2008.

After Herman Van Rompuy was designated the first permanent President of the European Council
President of the European Council
The President of the European Council is a principal representative of the European Union on the world stage, and the person presiding over and driving forward the work of the European Council...

 on 2009, he offered the resignation of his government to King Albert II on 2009. A few hours later, the new government
Leterme II Government
The Leterme II Government was the federal government of Belgium from 24 November 2009 to 26 April 2010. it is still the caretaker government. It took office when the Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme was sworn in as Prime Minister. It followed the Van Rompuy I Government which ended...

 under Prime Minister Yves Leterme was sworn in. On 2010, Leterme again offered the resignation of his cabinet to the king after one of the coalition partners, the OpenVLD, withdrew from the government, and on 2010 King Albert officially accepted the resignation.
The Parliamentary elections in Belgium on 2010 saw the Flemish nationalist N-VA become the largest party in Flanders, and the Socialist Party PS the largest party in Wallonia. Belgium has since then been governed by Leterme's caretaker
Caretaker government
Caretaker government is a type of government that rules temporarily. A caretaker government is often set up following a war until stable democratic rule can be restored, or installed, in which case it is often referred to as a provisional government...

 government awaiting the end of the currently deadlocked negotiations for formation of a new government. By 30 March 2011 this set a new world record for the elapsed time without an official government, previously held by war-torn Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. As this time increases to more than a year, the general understanding that the incumbent will merely continue existing and perform only urgent business becomes increasingly questioned.

Communities and Regions




Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Habsburgian courts, in the 19th century it was necessary to speak French to belong to the governing upper class, and those who could only speak Dutch were effectively second-class citizens. Late that century, and continuing into the 20th century, Flemish movement
Flemish movement
The Flemish Movement is a popular term used to describe the political movement for emancipation and greater autonomy of the Belgian region of Flanders, for protection of the Dutch language, and for the over-all protection of Flemish culture and history....

s evolved to counter this situation. While the Walloons and most Brusselers
Frenchification of Brussels
The Frenchification of Brussels is the transformation of Brussels, Belgium, from a Dutch-speaking city to one that is bilingual or even multilingual, with French as both the majority language and lingua franca...

 adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in imposing Dutch as Flanders' official language
Language legislation in Belgium
-1830: freedom of languages and linguistic coercion:One of the causes of the Belgian Revolution of the 1830s was the growing ascendancy of the Dutch language in the administration of the Southern provinces of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

. Following World War II, Belgian politics became increasingly dominated by the autonomy of its two main language communities. Intercommunal tensions rose and the constitution was amended in order to minimise the conflict potentials.

Based on the four language areas defined in 1962–63 (the Dutch, bilingual, French and German language areas), consecutive revisions
State reform in Belgium
The term State reform in the Belgian context indicates a process towards finding constitutional and legal solutions for the problems and tensions between the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly Dutch-speakers of Flanders and French-speakers of Wallonia...

 of the country's constitution
Constitution of Belgium
The Constitution of Belgium dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy that applies the principles of ministerial responsibility for the government policy and the Trias Politica. The Constitution established Belgium as a centralised unitary state...

 in 1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993 established a unique federal state with segregated political power into three levels: name=constitution2>
  1. The federal government
    Belgian federal government
    The Cabinet of Belgium is the executive branch of the Belgian federal government, consisting of ministers and secretaries of state drawn from the political parties which form the governing coalition. Formally, the ministers are appointed by the King...

    , based in Brussels.
  2. The three language communities:
    • the Flemish Community
      Flemish Community
      The term Flemish Community has two distinct, though related, meanings:...

       (Dutch-speaking);
    • the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (French-speaking);
    • the German-speaking Community
      German-speaking Community of Belgium
      The German-speaking Community of Belgium is one of the three federal communities of Belgium. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons...

      .
  3. The three regions:
    • the Flemish Region
      Flemish Region
      The Flemish Region is one of the three official regions of the Kingdom of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Colloquially, it is usually simply referred to as Flanders, of which it is the institutional iteration within the context of the Belgian political system...

      , subdivided into five provinces
      Provinces of Belgium
      Belgium is divided into three regions, two of them are subdivided into five provinces each.The division into provinces is fixed by Article 5 of the Belgian Constitution...

      ;
    • the Walloon Region, subdivided into five provinces;
    • the Brussels-Capital Region.


The constitutional language areas
Language legislation in Belgium
-1830: freedom of languages and linguistic coercion:One of the causes of the Belgian Revolution of the 1830s was the growing ascendancy of the Dutch language in the administration of the Southern provinces of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the empowered institutions for specific matters. Although this would allow for seven parliaments and governments, when the Communities and Regions were created in 1980, Flemish politicians decided to merge both. Thus the Flemings just have one single institutional body of parliament and government is empowered for all except federal and specific municipal matters.The Constitution set out seven institutions each of which can have a parliament, government and administration. In fact there are only six such bodies because the Flemish Region merged into the Flemish Community. This single Flemish body thus exercises powers about Community matters in the bilingual area of Brussels-Capital and in the Dutch language area, while about Regional matters only in the latter.

The overlapping boundaries of the Regions and Communities have created two notable peculiarities: the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region (which came into existence nearly a decade after the other regions) is included in both the Flemish and French Communities, and the territory of the German-speaking Community lies wholly within the Walloon Region. Conflicts jurisdiction between the bodies are resolved by the Constitutional Court of Belgium. The structure is intended as a compromise to allow different cultures to live together peacefully.

The Federal State's authority includes justice, defence, federal police, social security, nuclear energy, monetary policy and public debt, and other aspects of public finances. State-owned companies include the Belgian Post Group
Belgian Post Group
Bpost is the Belgian company responsible for the delivery of mail, national and international. The Belgian Post Group is one of the largest civilian employers in Belgium...

 and Belgian Railways. The Federal Government is responsible for the obligations of Belgium and its federalized institutions towards the European Union and NATO. It controls substantial parts of public health, home affairs and foreign affairs. The budget—without the debt—controlled by the federal government amounts to about 50% of the national fiscal income. The federal government employs around 12% of the civil servants.

Communities exercise their authority only within linguistically determined geographical boundaries, originally oriented towards the individuals of a Community's language: culture (including audiovisual media), education and the use of the relevant language. Extensions to personal matters less directly connected with language comprise health policy (curative and preventive medicine) and assistance to individuals (protection of youth, social welfare, aid to families, immigrant assistance services, and so on.).

Regions have authority in fields that can be broadly associated with their territory. These include economy, employment, agriculture, water policy, housing, public works, energy, transport, the environment, town and country planning, nature conservation, credit and foreign trade. They supervise the provinces, municipalities and intercommunal utility companies.

In several fields, the different levels each have their own say on specifics. With education, for instance, the autonomy of the Communities neither includes decisions about the compulsory aspect nor allows for setting minimum requirements for awarding qualifications, which remain federal matters. Each level of government can be involved in scientific research and international relations associated with its powers. The treaty-making power of the Regions' and Communities' Governments is the broadest of all the Federating units of all the Federations all over the world. name=Lagasse1>
name=Lagasse2>
name=Suinen>

Geography



Belgium shares borders with France , Germany , Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

  and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 . Its total area, including surface water area, is 33,990 square kilometres; land area alone is 30,528 km2. It lies between latitudes 49° and 53° N, and longitudes 2° and 7° E.

Belgium has three main geographical regions: the coastal plain in the north-west and the central plateau both belong to the Anglo-Belgian Basin; the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 uplands in the south-east are part of the Hercynian orogenic belt
Variscan orogeny
The Variscan orogeny is a geologic mountain-building event caused by Late Paleozoic continental collision between Euramerica and Gondwana to form the supercontinent of Pangaea.-Naming:...

. The Paris Basin
Paris Basin (geology)
The Paris Basin is one of the major geological regions of France having developed since the Triassic on a basement formed by the Variscan orogeny.-Extent:...

 reaches a small fourth area at Belgium's southernmost tip, Belgian Lorraine
Belgian Lorraine
Belgian Lorraine is the part of Lorraine that lies in the south of the Belgian province of Luxembourg, part of Wallonia.The term is used in a geological context, bordering the Ardennes in the north...

.

The coastal plain consists mainly of sand dunes and polder
Polder
A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices...

s. Further inland lies a smooth, slowly rising landscape irrigated by numerous waterways, with fertile valleys and the northeastern sandy plain of the Campine
Campine
The Campine is a natural region situated chiefly in north-eastern Belgium and parts of the south-western Netherlands which once consisted mainly of extensive moors, tracts of sandy heath, and wetlands...

 (Kempen). The thickly forested hills and plateaus of the Ardennes are more rugged and rocky with caves and small gorges
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

. Extending westward into France, this area is eastwardly connected to the Eifel
Eifel
The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium....

 in Germany by the High Fens
High Fens
The High Fens , which were declared a nature reserve in 1957, are an upland area, a plateau region in the province of Liège, in the east of Belgium and nearby parts of Germany, lying between the Ardennes and the Eifel highlands. It is the largest nature reserve or park in Belgium, with an area of ;...

 plateau, on which the Signal de Botrange
Signal de Botrange
The Signal de Botrange is the highest point in Belgium, located in the High Fens , at . It is the top of a broad plateau, and a road crosses the summit, passing an adjacent café. In 1923, the six-metre-high Baltia tower was built on the summit to allow visitors to reach an altitude of 700 m...

 forms the country's highest point at 694 metres (2,277 ft).

The climate is maritime temperate
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

 with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

: Cfb), as is the case with all areas adjacent to the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, including The Netherlands and much of the United Kingdom. The average temperature is lowest in January at 3 °C (37.4 °F) and highest in July at 18 °C (64.4 °F). The average precipitation per month varies between 54 millimetres (2.1 in) for February or April, to 78 mm (3.1 in) for July. Averages for the years 2000 to 2006 show daily temperature minimums of 7 °C (44.6 °F) and maximums of 14 °C (57.2 °F) and monthly rainfall of 74 mm (2.9 in); these are about 1 °C and nearly 10 millimetres above last century's normal values, respectively. name=statbel2>


Phytogeographically
Phytogeography
Phytogeography , also called geobotany, is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species...

, Belgium is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region
Circumboreal Region
The Circumboreal Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in Eurasia and North America, as delineated by such geobotanists as Josias Braun-Blanquet and Armen Takhtajan....

 within the Boreal Kingdom
Boreal Kingdom
The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good , which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia...

. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, the territory of Belgium belongs to the ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 of Atlantic mixed forests. Because of its high population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

, its location in the centre of Western Europe and inadequate political effort, Belgium faces serious environmental problems
Environment of Belgium
The environment of Belgium is affected by the high population density in most of the country. Water quality suffers from a relatively low percentage of sewage wastewater treatment and from historical pollution accumulated in sediments. Air quality is affected by emissions from traffic and house...

. A 2003 report suggested Belgian natural waters
(rivers and groundwater) to have the lowest water quality of the 122 countries studied.
In the 2006 pilot Environmental Performance Index
Environmental Performance Index
The Environmental Performance Index is a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies. This index was developed from the Pilot Environmental Performance Index, first published in 2002, and designed to supplement the environmental targets...

, Belgium scored 75.9% for overall environmental performance and was ranked lowest of the EU member countries, though it was only 39th of 133 countries.

Economy



Belgium's strongly globalized economy and its transportation infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world's 15th largest trading nation in 2007. The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP
GNP
Gross National Product is the market value of all products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the residents of a country...

 and high exports per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

. Belgium's main imports are raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, and oil products. Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs.

The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind.The richest (per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

) of Belgium's three regions is the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
The Flemish Region is one of the three official regions of the Kingdom of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Colloquially, it is usually simply referred to as Flanders, of which it is the institutional iteration within the context of the Belgian political system...

, followed by the Walloon Region
Walloon Region
The Walloon Region, commonly called Wallonia, is one of the three federal Regions of Belgium, and its capital is Namur. It comprises, as defined by Article 5 of the Constitution of Belgium, the provinces of Walloon Brabant, Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg and Namur...

 and lastly the Brussels-Capital Region. The ten municipalities with the highest reported income are: Laethem-Saint-Martin, Keerbergen
Keerbergen
Keerbergen is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises only the town of Keerbergen proper. On January 1, 2006 Keerbergen had a total population of 12,444...

, Lasne
Lasne
Lasne is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant, to the south east of Brussels. On January 1, 2008 Lasne had a total population of 14,043. The total area is 47.22 km² which gives a population density of 297 inhabitants per km². Lasne is the richest commune in the...

, Oud-Heverlee
Oud-Heverlee
Oud-Heverlee is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises the villages of Blanden, Haasrode, Oud-Heverlee proper, Sint-Joris-Weert and Vaalbeek. On January 1, 2006 Oud-Heverlee had a total population of 10,863...

, Hove
Hove, Belgium
Hove is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. The municipality only comprises the town of Hove proper. On January 1, 2006 Hove had a total population of 8,307. The total area is 5.99 km² which gives a population density of 1,388 inhabitants per km².A so called gemeente, it lies...

, De Pinte
De Pinte
De Pinte is a municipality located in the Belgian province of East Flanders. Before its existence as an independent municipality in 1868, De Pinte was a part of Nazareth. The municipality comprises the towns of De Pinte proper and Zevergem. On January 1, 2006 De Pinte had a total population of 10,235...

, Meise
Meise
Meise is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises the towns of Meise proper and Wolvertem , and, several smaller villages like Sint-Brixius-Rode, Oppem, Meusegem, Impde/Imde, Rossem, Westrode and quarters as Bouchout, Nerom and Slozen. As of...

, Knokke-Heist
Knokke-Heist
Knokke-Heist is a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the towns of Heist-aan-Zee, Knokke, Duinbergen, Ramskapelle and Westkapelle. On January 1, 2006 Knokke-Heist had a total population of 34,063. The total area is 56.44 km² which gives a...

, Bierbeek
Bierbeek
Bierbeek is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises the towns of Bierbeek proper, Korbeek-Lo, Lovenjoel and Opvelp. On January 1, 2006 Bierbeek had a total population of 9,147. The total area is 39.73 km² which gives a population density of 230...

.
One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy
Open economy
An open economy is an economy in which there are economic activities between domestic community and outside, e.g. people, including businesses, can trade in goods and services with other people and businesses in the international community, and flow of funds as investment across the border...

 and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies. Since 1922, through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union
Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union
The Belgium–Luxembourg Economic Union , abbreviated to BLEU or UEBL, is an economic and monetary union between Belgium and Luxembourg, two countries in the Benelux economic union....

, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union.


Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, in the early 19th century. Liège and Charleroi
Charleroi
Charleroi is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. , the total population of Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of and had a total population of 522,522 as of 1 January 2008, ranking it as...

 rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century in the Sambre
Sambre
The Sambre is a river in northern France and Wallonia, southern Belgium, left tributary of the Meuse River. The ancient Romans called the river Sabis.-Course:...

Meuse
Meuse River
The Maas or Meuse is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea...

 valley, the sillon industriel
Sillon industriel
The sillon industriel is the former industrial backbone of Wallonia and thus of Belgium. It runs across Wallonia, passing from Dour, in Borinage, in the west, to Verviers in the east, through Mons, La Louvière, Charleroi, Namur, Huy, and Liège, following the valleys of the rivers Haine, Sambre,...

 and made Belgium one of the top three most industrialized nations in the world from 1830 to 1910. However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis, and the region experienced famine from 1846 to 1850.

After World War II, Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 and Antwerp experienced a rapid expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. The 1973
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession; it was particularly prolonged in Wallonia, where the steel industry had become less competitive and experienced serious decline. In the 1980s and 1990s, the economic centre of the country continued to shift northwards and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish Diamond
Flemish Diamond
The Flemish Diamond is one of the larger European metropolitan regions, situated in the central provinces of Flanders and the capital region of Belgium.Herman Deweerdt : Het is zeker waar dat de Vlaamse ruit een centrum van economische activiteit is en dus een zeer belangrijke basis vormt voor de...

 area.

By the end of the 1980s, Belgian macroeconomic policies had resulted in a cumulative government debt of about 120% of GDP. As of 2006, the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to 90.30% of GDP. In 2005 and 2006, real GDP growth rates of 1.5% and 3.0%, respectively, were slightly above the average for the Euro area. Unemployment rates of 8.4% in 2005 and 8.2% in 2006 were close to the area average. By , this had grown to 8.5% compared to an average rate of 9.6% for the European Union as a whole (EU 27). From 1832 until 2002, Belgium's currency was the Belgian franc
Belgian franc
The franc was the currency of Belgium until 2002 when the euro was introduced into circulation. It was subdivided into centimes , 100 centiem or Centime .-History:...

. Belgium switched to the euro in 2002, with the first sets of euro coins being minted in 1999. The standard Belgian euro coins
Belgian euro coins
Belgian euro coins feature only a single design for all eight coins: the portrait or effigy of King Albert II of the Belgians and his royal monogram...

 designated for circulation show the portrait of King Albert II.

Despite a 18% decrease observed from 1970 to 1999, Belgium still had in 1999 the highest rail network
Rail transport in Belgium
Belgium has an extensive rail network. It is a member of the International Union of Railways . The UIC Country Code for Belgium is 88.-History:...

 density within the European Union with 113.8 km/1 000 km2. Due to the large population density in Belgium, this number corresponds to the quite low amount of 3.40% kilometers per capita in comparison to the mean EU value of 4.06%. On the other hand, the same period of time, 1970–1999, has seen a huge growth (+56%) of the motorway network. In 1999, the density of km motorways per 1000 km2 and 1000 inhabitants amounted to 55.1 and 16.5 respectively and were significantly superior to the EU's means of 13.7 and 15.9. Belgium however experiences one of the most congested traffic in Europe. In 2010, commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams. Like in most small european countries, more than 80% of the airways traffic is handled by a single airport, the Brussels Airport
Brussels Airport
Brussels Airport is an international airport northeast of Brussels, Belgium. The airport is partially in Zaventem and partially in the Diegem area of Machelen, both located in the Flemish Region of Belgium.Brussels Airport currently consists of 54 contact gates, and a total of 109 gates...

. The ports of Antwerp
Port of Antwerp
The port of Antwerp, in Belgium, is a port in the heart of Europe accessible to capesize ships. Antwerp stands at the upper end of the tidal estuary of the Scheldt. The estuary is navigable by ships of more than 100,000 Gross Tons as far as 80 km inland. The inland location means that the port...

 and Zeebrugge
Port of Zeebrugge
The port of Bruges-Zeebrugge is a large container, bulk cargo, new vehicles and passenger ferry terminal port in the municipality of Bruges, Flanders, Belgium, handling over 50 million tonnes of cargo annually.-General:...

 share more than 80% of Belgian maritime traffic, Antwerp being the second European harbour with a gross weight of goods handled of 115 988 000 t in 2000 after a growth of 10.9% over the preceeding five years.

Military


The Belgian Armed Forces have about 46,000 active troops. This number corresponded in 2009 to a yearly defence budget of $6 billion (11th in the EU) or 1.24% of GDP (19th in the EU). They are organised into one unified structure which consists of four main components: Land Component, or the Army; Air Component, or the Air Force; Naval Component, or the Navy; Medical Component
Belgian Medical Component
The Medical Component is the medical service of the Belgian Armed Forces. It provides medical support for the Belgian Armed Forces and its operations, participates in humanitarian aid and provides certain services to the civilian society...

. The operational commands of the four components are subordinate to the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (Belgium)
The Ministry of Defence is the Belgian ministry responsible for national defence and the Belgian military. As a result of the first Verhofstadt Government's plans to modernise the federal administration, all other ministries were transformed into Federal Public Services but in August 2007 there...

, which is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training
ACOS Operations and Training
The Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training, abbreviated as ACOS Ops & Trg, is the head of the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Belgian Ministry of Defence. He reports to the Chief of Defence and is responsible for the training of the Belgian Armed Forces and for its...

, and to the Chief of Defence
Chief of Defence (Belgium)
The Chief of Defence , abbreviated as CHOD, is the professional head and commander of the Belgian Armed Forces. He is the highest official within the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff. He reports directly to the Minister of Defence and is responsible for advising the Minister,...

.

The effects of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 made collective security
Collective security
Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, regional or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and agrees to join in a collective response to threats to, and breaches of, the peace...

 a priority for Belgian foreign policy
Foreign relations of Belgium
-Initial neutrality:Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe, Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbours. With virtually defenceless borders, Belgium has traditionally sought to avoid domination by the more powerful nations which...

. In March 1948 Belgium signed the Treaty of Brussels
Treaty of Brussels
The Treaty of Brussels was signed on 17 March 1948 between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as an expansion to the preceding year's defence pledge, the Dunkirk Treaty signed between Britain and France...

, and then joined NATO in 1948. However the integration of the armed forces into NATO did not begin until after the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

.

Science and technology



Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history. The 16th century Early Modern flourishing of Western Europe included cartographer
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 Gerardus Mercator
Gerardus Mercator
thumb|right|200px|Gerardus MercatorGerardus Mercator was a cartographer, born in Rupelmonde in the Hapsburg County of Flanders, part of the Holy Roman Empire. He is remembered for the Mercator projection world map, which is named after him...

, anatomist
Anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

 Andreas Vesalius, herbalist
Herbalist
An herbalist is:#A person whose life is dedicated to the economic or medicinal uses of plants.#One skilled in the harvesting and collection of medicinal plants ....

 Rembert Dodoens
Rembert Dodoens
Rembert Dodoens was a Flemish physician and botanist, also known under his Latinized name Rembertus Dodonaeus.-Biography:...

 and mathematician
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 Simon Stevin
Simon Stevin
Simon Stevin was a Flemish mathematician and military engineer. He was active in a great many areas of science and engineering, both theoretical and practical...

 among the most influential scientists.

Chemist Ernest Solvay
Ernest Solvay
Ernest Gaston Joseph Solvay was a Belgian chemist, industrialist and philanthropist.Born at Rebecq, he was prevented by acute pleurisy from going to university...

 and engineer Zenobe Gramme
Zénobe Gramme
Zénobe Théophile Gramme was a Belgian electrical engineer. He invented the Gramme machine, a type of direct current dynamo capable of generating smoother and much higher voltages than the dynamos known to that point.In 1873 he and Hippolyte Fontaine accidentally discovered that the device was...

 (École Industrielle de Liège) gave their names to the Solvay process
Solvay process
The Solvay process, also referred to as the ammonia-soda process, is the major industrial process for the production of soda ash . The ammonia-soda process was developed into its modern form by Ernest Solvay during the 1860s...

 and the Gramme dynamo, respectively, in the 1860s. Bakelite was developed in 1907–1909 by Leo Baekeland
Leo Baekeland
Leo Hendrik Baekeland was a Belgian chemist who invented Velox photographic paper and Bakelite , an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and popular plastic, which marks the beginning of the modern plastics industry.-Career:Leo Baekeland was born in Sint-Martens-Latem near Ghent, Belgium,...

. Ernest Solvay also acted as a major philantropist and gave its name to the Solvay Institute of Sociology
Solvay Institute of Sociology
The Solvay Institute of Sociology [SIS; Institut de Sociologie Solvay] assumed its first “definitive form” on November 16, 1902, when its founder Ernest Solvay, a wealthy Belgian chemist, industrialist, and philanthropist, inaugurated the original edifice of SIS in Parc Léopold...

, the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management
Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management
The Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management is an economics and management school and a Faculty of the Université libre de Bruxelles, in Brussels, Belgium.-History:...

 and the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry which are now part of the Université Libre de Bruxelles
Université Libre de Bruxelles
The Université libre de Bruxelles is a French-speaking university in Brussels, Belgium. It has 21,000 students, 29% of whom come from abroad, and an equally cosmopolitan staff.-Name:...

. In 1911, he started a series of conferences, the Solvay Conferences on Physics and Chemistry
Solvay Conference
The International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, located in Brussels, were founded by the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1912, following the historic invitation-only 1911 Conseil Solvay, the turning point in world physics...

, which have had a deep impact on the evolution of quantum physics and chemistry. A major contribution to fundamental science was also due to a Belgian, Georges Lemaître
Georges Lemaître
Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître was a Belgian priest, astronomer and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain. He was the first person to propose the theory of the expansion of the Universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble...

 (Catholic University of Leuven
Catholic University of Leuven
The Catholic University of Leuven, or of Louvain, was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 as the University of Leuven by John IV, Duke of Brabant and approved by a Papal bull by Pope Martin V.During France's occupation of Belgium in the...

), who is credited with proposing the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

 theory of the origin of the universe in 1927.

Three Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

 were awarded to Belgians: Jules Bordet
Jules Bordet
Jules Jean Baptiste Vincent Bordet was a Belgian immunologist and microbiologist. The bacterial genus Bordetella is named after him.-Biography:Bordet was born at Soignies, Belgium...

 (Université Libre de Bruxelles
Université Libre de Bruxelles
The Université libre de Bruxelles is a French-speaking university in Brussels, Belgium. It has 21,000 students, 29% of whom come from abroad, and an equally cosmopolitan staff.-Name:...

) in 1919, Corneille Heymans
Corneille Heymans
Corneille Jean François Heymans was a Flemish physiologist. He studied at the prestigious Jesuit College of Sainte Barbe after which he proceeded to Ghent University, where he obtained a doctor's degree in 1920.After graduation Heymans worked at the Collège de France Corneille Jean François...

 (University of Ghent) in 1938 and Albert Claude
Albert Claude
Albert Claude was a Belgian biologist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 with Christian de Duve and George Emil Palade. He studied engineering, and then medicine...

 (Université Libre de Bruxelles) together with Christian De Duve
Christian de Duve
Christian René, viscount de Duve is a Nobel Prize-winning cytologist and biochemist. De Duve was born in Thames Ditton, Surrey, Great Britain, as a son of Belgian refugees. They returned to Belgium in 1920...

 (Université Catholique de Louvain) in 1974. Ilya Prigogine
Ilya Prigogine
Ilya, Viscount Prigogine was a Russian-born naturalized Belgian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility.-Biography :...

 (Université Libre de Bruxelles) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

 in 1977. Two Belgian mathematicians have been awarded the Fields Medal
Fields Medal
The Fields Medal, officially known as International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, is a prize awarded to two, three, or four mathematicians not over 40 years of age at each International Congress of the International Mathematical Union , a meeting that takes place every four...

: Pierre Deligne
Pierre Deligne
- See also :* Deligne conjecture* Deligne–Mumford moduli space of curves* Deligne–Mumford stacks* Deligne cohomology* Fourier–Deligne transform* Langlands–Deligne local constant- External links :...

 in 1978 and Jean Bourgain
Jean Bourgain
Jean Bourgain is a Belgian mathematician. He has been a faculty member at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and, from 1985 until 1995, professor at Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques at Bures-sur-Yvette in France, and since 1994 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton,...

 in 1994.

Demographics



In the beginning of 2007, nearly 92% of the population had Belgian citizenship, and other European Union member citizens account for around 6%. The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 (80,579), Spanish (42,765), Turkish
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 (39,419) and German (37,621).
Immigrants since 1945 and their descendents are estimated by 2008 to have formed 22% of the total population. name="npdata.be_BuG-125">
Of these 'New Belgians', 1,313,000 (56%) are of European ancestry and the 950,000 others originated from the rest of the world.

Almost all of the Belgian population is urban—97% in 2004. The population density of Belgium is 342 per square kilometre (886 per square mile). The most densely inhabited area is Flanders, and in particular the Flemish Diamond
Flemish Diamond
The Flemish Diamond is one of the larger European metropolitan regions, situated in the central provinces of Flanders and the capital region of Belgium.Herman Deweerdt : Het is zeker waar dat de Vlaamse ruit een centrum van economische activiteit is en dus een zeer belangrijke basis vormt voor de...

, outlined by the AntwerpLeuven
Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 agglomerations. In 2007, there were 1.38 million foreign-born residents in Belgium, corresponding to 12.9% of the total population. Of these, 685 000 (6.4%) were born outside the EU and 695 000 (6.5%) were born in another EU Member State.
The Ardennes have the lowest density. As of 2006, the Flemish Region had a population of about 6,078,600, with Antwerp (457,749), Ghent (230,951) and Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 (117,251) its most populous cities; Wallonia had 3,413,978, with Charleroi
Charleroi
Charleroi is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. , the total population of Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of and had a total population of 522,522 as of 1 January 2008, ranking it as...

 (201,373), Liège
Liège
Liège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium....

 (185,574) and Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

 (107,178) its most populous. Brussels houses 1,018,804 in the Capital Region's 19 municipalities, two of which have over 100,000 residents.

Languages




Belgium has three official languages, which are in order of native speaker population in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well. name=Ethnologue-16thEd>

As no census exists, there are no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium's three official languages or their dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s. However, various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may provide suggested figures. An estimated 59% of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often colloquially referred to as "Flemish"), and 40% of the population speaks French.Native speakers of Dutch living in Wallonia and of French in Flanders are relatively small minorities that furthermore largely balance one another, hence counting all inhabitants of each unilingual area to the area's language can cause only insignificant inaccuracies (99% can speak the language). Dutch: Flanders' 6.079 million inhabitants and about 15% of Brussels' 1.019 million are 6.23 million or 59.3% of the 10.511 million inhabitants of Belgium (2006); German: 70,400 in the German-speaking Community (which has language facilities for its less than 5% French-speakers) and an estimated 20,000–25,000 speakers of German in the Walloon Region outside the geographical boundaries of their official Community, or 0.9%; French: in the latter area as well as mainly in the rest of Wallonia (3.414 − 0.093 = 3.321 million) and 85% of the Brussels inhabitants (0.866 million) thus 4.187 million or 39.8%; together indeed 100%.

Total Dutch speakers are 6.23 million, concentrated in the northern Flanders region, while French speakers comprise 3.32 million in Wallonia and an estimated 0.87 million or 85% of the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.Flemish Academic Eric Corijn (initiator of Charta 91), at a colloquium regarding Brussels, on 2001-12-05, states that in Brussels there is 91% of the population speaking French at home, either alone or with another language, and there is about 20% speaking Dutch at home, either alone (9%) or with French (11%)—After ponderation, the repartition can be estimated at between 85 and 90% French-speaking, and the remaining are Dutch-speaking, corresponding to the estimations based on languages chosen in Brussels by citizens for their official documents (ID, driving licenses, weddings, birth, sex, and so on); all these statistics on language are also available at Belgian Department of Justice (for weddings, birth, sex), Department of Transport (for Driving licenses), Department of Interior (for IDs), because there are no means to know precisely the proportions since Belgium has abolished 'official' linguistic censuses, thus official documents on language choices can only be estimations. For a web source on this topic, see e.g. General online sources: Janssens, Rudi The German-speaking Community
German-speaking Community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of Belgium is one of the three federal communities of Belgium. Covering an area of 854 km² within the province of Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of the so-called East Cantons...

 is made up of 73,000 people in the east of the Walloon Region; around 10,000 German and 60,000 Belgian nationals are speakers of German. Roughly 23,000 more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community. name="">

*

*


Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French
Belgian French
Belgian French is the variety of French spoken mainly in the French Community of Belgium, alongside related minority regional languages such as Walloon, Picard, Champenois and Gaumais. The French spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, which were formerly Belgian...

 have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France. Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch
Dutch dialects
Dutch dialects are primarily the dialects that are both cognate with the Dutch language and are spoken in the same language area as the Dutch standard language. Dutch dialects are remarkably diverse and are found in the Netherlands and northern Belgium....

 in their local environment. Walloon
Walloon language
Walloon is a Romance language which was spoken as a primary language in large portions of the Walloon Region of Belgium and some villages of Northern France until the middle of the 20th century. It belongs to the langue d'oïl language family, whose most prominent member is the French language...

, once the main regional language of Wallonia, is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people. Wallonia's dialects, along with those of Picard
Picard language
Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. It is spoken in two regions in the far north of France – Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – and in parts of the Belgian region of Wallonia, the district of Tournai and a part of...

, name=Ethnologue-15thEd> Among Belgium native German speakers many are familiar with the local dialect varieties of their region, that include dialects that spill over into neighboring Luxembourg and Germany.
(Online version: Sixteenth edition)
are not used in public life.

Education



Education is compulsory from six to 18 years of age for Belgians. name=Hofman_Hofman_Gray_Daly>
Extracts:
p. 97,
p. 105
Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third-highest proportion of 18–21 year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%. name=NCES_Tbl-388>

Though an estimated 98% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy
Functional illiteracy
Functional illiteracy is a term used to describe reading and writing skills that are inadequate "to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level." Functional illiteracy is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or...

. name=UNDP>

The Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium's education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average. name=OECD_PISA-2006>

Education being organised separately by each, the Flemish Community scores noticeably above the French and German-speaking Communities. name=De-Meyer_Pauly_Van-de-Poele>


Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal
Liberal Party (Belgium)
The Liberal Party was a Belgian political party that existed from 1846 until 1961, when it became the Party for Freedom and Progress, Partij voor Vrijheid en Vooruitgang/Parti de la Liberté et du Progrès or PVV-PLP, under the leadership of Omer Vanaudenhove.-History:The Liberal Party was founded...

 and the Catholic parties
Catholic Party (Belgium)
The first Catholic Party in Belgium was established in 1869 as the Confessional Catholic Party .-History:In 1852 a Union Constitutionelle et Conservatrice was founded in Ghent, in Leuven , and in Antwerp and Brussels in 1858, which were active only during elections...

, the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment. The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch
Catholic school
Catholic schools are maintained parochial schools or education ministries of the Catholic Church. the Church operates the world's largest non-governmental school system...

 education, is organised by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities. name=De-Ley>

Religion




Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought
Freethought
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

 movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics. However Belgium is largely a secular country as the laicist
Laïcité
French secularism, in French, laïcité is a concept denoting the absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs. French secularism has a long history but the current regime is based on the 1905 French law on the Separation of...

constitution
Constitution of Belgium
The Constitution of Belgium dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy that applies the principles of ministerial responsibility for the government policy and the Trias Politica. The Constitution established Belgium as a centralised unitary state...

 provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right in practice. During the reigns of Albert I
Albert I of Belgium
Albert I reigned as King of the Belgians from 1909 until 1934.-Early life:Born Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad in Brussels, he was the fifth child and second son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, and his wife, Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen...

 and Baudouin, the monarchy had a reputation of deeply rooted Catholicism. Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium's majority religion; being especially strong in Flanders. However, by 2009 Sunday church attendance was 5% for Belgium in total; 3% in Brussels, and 5.4% in Flanders. Church attendance in 2009 in Belgium is roughly half of the Sunday church attandance in 1998 (11% for the total of Belgium in 1998). Despite the 6% drop in Sunday church attendance in Belgium from 11% to 5% over this nine-year period, Catholicism nevertheless remains an important force in society.

Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position. Belgium has six officially recognised religions: Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Anglicanism, Islam and the (Greek and Russian) Orthodox Church. While other minority religions, such as Hinduism, do not yet have such status, Buddhism took the first steps toward legal recognition in 2007. According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion, about 47% of the population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church, while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5%. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered to be a more religious region than Wallonia, showed that 55% considered themselves religious and that 36% believed that God created the world.

A 2008 estimation shows that 6% of the Belgian population, about 628,751, is Muslim (98% Sunni).
Muslims constitute 25.5% of the population of Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, 4.0% of Wallonia and 3.9% of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

.
The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 and Charleroi
Charleroi
Charleroi is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. , the total population of Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of and had a total population of 522,522 as of 1 January 2008, ranking it as...

. The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with 264,974 people. The Turks are the third-largest group, and the second-largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering 159,336.

According to the Eurobarometer Poll
Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

 in 2005, 43% of Belgian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 29% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".

Health


The Belgians are known to enjoy good health. Their life expectancy numbered 79.5 years in 2004. Since 1960, life expectancy has, in line with the European average, grown by two months per year. Death is in Belgium mainly due to heart and vascular disorders, neoplasms, disorders of the respiratory system and unnatural causes of death (accidents, suicide). Non-natural causes of death and cancer are the most common causes of death for females up to age 24 and males up to age 44.

Health care is of high quality and is financed through both social security contributions and taxation. Health insurance is compulsory. However health care is delivered by a mostly private system of independent medical practitioners and hospitals. Most of the time each provided service is directly paid by the patient and reimbursed later on by health insurance companies. Belgian health care system is supervised and financed by the federal government, the three Communities and the three Regions, i.e. six distinct Ministries (the Flemish Community and Region have merged).

Culture


Despite its political and linguistic divisions
Partition of Belgium
The partition of Belgium, or the dissolution of the Belgian state through the separation of the Dutch-speaking people of the Flanders region and Brussels from the French-speaking people of the Walloon region and Brussels, granting them either independence or respective accession to the Netherlands...

, the region corresponding to today's Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had tremendous influence on European art and culture. Nowadays, to a certain extent, cultural life is concentrated within each language Community, and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced. Since the 1970s, there are no bilingual universities in the country except the Royal Military Academy
Royal Military Academy (Belgium)
The Royal Military Academy is the military university of Belgium. The school is responsible for the education of the officers of the four components of the Belgian defence . The school is located in Brussels in a building construct by the architects Henri Maquet and Henri Van Dievoet...

 and the Antwerp Maritime Academy, no common media and no single large cultural or scientific organisation in which both main communities are represented. The forces that once held the Belgians together—Roman Catholicism and economic and political opposition to the Dutch—are no longer strong.

Fine arts



Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art
Mosan art
Mosan art is a regional style of art from the valley of the Meuse in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Although the term applies to art from this region from all periods, it generally refers to Romanesque art, with Mosan Romanesque architecture, stone carving, metalwork, enamelling...

, the Early Netherlandish
Early Netherlandish painting
Early Netherlandish painting refers to the work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th- and early 16th-century Northern renaissance, especially in the flourishing Burgundian cities of Bruges and Ghent...

, the Flemish Renaissance
Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting
Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting represents the 16th century response to Italian Renaissance art in the Low Countries. These artists, who span from the Antwerp Mannerists and Hieronymus Bosch at the start of the century to the late Northern Mannerists such as Hendrik Goltzius and Joachim...

 and Baroque painting
Flemish Baroque painting
Flemish Baroque painting is the art produced in the Southern Netherlands between about 1585, when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south by the recapturing of Antwerp by the Spanish, until about 1700, when Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II...

 and major examples of Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

, Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

, Renaissance
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

 and Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 are milestones in the history of art. While the 15th century's art in the Low Countries is dominated by the religious paintings of Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck was a Flemish painter active in Bruges and considered one of the best Northern European painters of the 15th century....

 and Rogier van der Weyden, the 16th century is characterized by a broader panel of styles such as Peter Breughel
Pieter Brueghel the Elder
Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a Flemish renaissance painter and printmaker known for his landscapes and peasant scenes . He is sometimes referred to as the "Peasant Bruegel" to distinguish him from other members of the Brueghel dynasty, but he is also the one generally meant when the context does...

's landscape paintings and Lambert Lombard
Lambert Lombard
Lambert Lombard was a Renaissance painter, architect and theorist for the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. During his career he worked for Jan Gossaert in Middelburg and trained Frans Floris. In 1532 he became court painter and architect in Liège...

's representation of the antique. Though the Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck
Anthony van Dyck
Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next...

 flourished in the early 17th century in the Southern Netherlands, it gradually declined thereafter.

During the 19th and 20th centuries many original romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, expressionist
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 and surrealist
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 Belgian painters emerged, including James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

 and other artists belonging to the Les XX
Les XX
Les XX was a group of twenty Belgian painters, designers and sculptors, formed in 1883 by the Brussels lawyer, publisher, and entrepreneur Octave Maus. For ten years 'Les Vingt' , as they called themselves, held an annual exhibition of their art; each year twenty international artists were also...

 group, Constant Permeke
Constant Permeke
Constant Permeke was a Belgian painter and sculptor who is considered the leading figure of Flemish expressionism.Permeke was born in Antwerp but when he was six years old the family moved to Ostend, where his father became curator of the Municipal Museum of Arts. Permeke went to school in Bruges...

, Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux
Paul Delvaux was a Belgian painter, associated with Surrealism, famous for his paintings of female nudes.-Biography:...

 and René Magritte
René Magritte
René François Ghislain Magritte[p] was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images...

. The avant-garde CoBrA movement
COBRA (avant-garde movement)
COBRA was a European avant-garde movement active from 1948 to 1951. The name was coined in 1948 by Christian Dotremont from the initials of the members' home cities: Copenhagen , Brussels , Amsterdam .-History:...

 appeared in the 1950s, while the sculptor Panamarenko
Panamarenko
Panamarenko is a prominent assemblagist in Belgian sculpture. Famous for his work with airplanes as theme; none of which are able nor constructed to actually leave the ground....

 remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art. The multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre
Jan Fabre
Jan Fabre is a Belgian multidisciplinary artist, playwright, stage director, choreographer and designer.He studied at the Municipal Institute of Decorative Arts and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp...

 and the painter Luc Tuymans
Luc Tuymans
Luc Tuymans is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium. Tuymans is considered one of the most influential painters working today. His signature figurative paintings transform mediated film, television, and print sources into examinations of history and memory.-Life:Tuymans...

 are other internationally renowned figures on the contemporary art scene. Belgian contributions to architecture also continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, including the work of Victor Horta
Victor Horta
Victor, Baron Horta was a Belgian architect and designer. John Julius Norwich described him as "undoubtedly the key European Art Nouveau architect." Indeed, Horta is one of the most important names in Art Nouveau architecture; the construction of his Hôtel Tassel in Brussels in 1892-3 means that...

 and Henry van de Velde
Henry van de Velde
Henry Clemens Van de Velde was a Belgian Flemish painter, architect and interior designer. Together with Victor Horta and Paul Hankar he could be considered one of the main founders and representatives of Art Nouveau in Belgium...

, who were major initiators of the Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

 style.

The vocal music
Vocal music
Vocal music is a genre of music performed by one or more singers, with or without instrumental accompaniment, in which singing provides the main focus of the piece. Music which employs singing but does not feature it prominently is generally considered instrumental music Vocal music is a genre of...

 of the Franco-Flemish School
Franco-Flemish School
In music, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it...

 developed in the southern part of the Low Countries and was an important contribution to Renaissance culture. In the 19th and 20th centuries, there was an emergence of major violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps
Henri Vieuxtemps
Henri François Joseph Vieuxtemps was a Belgian composer and violinist. He occupies an important place in the history of the violin as a prominent exponent of the Franco-Belgian violin school during the mid-19th century....

, Eugène Ysaÿe
Eugène Ysaÿe
Eugène Ysaÿe was a Belgian violinist, composer and conductor born in Liège. He was regarded as "The King of the Violin", or, as Nathan Milstein put it, the "tzar"...

 and Arthur Grumiaux
Arthur Grumiaux
Arthur Grumiaux was a Belgian violinist who was also proficient in piano.-Youth:Grumiaux was born in Villers-Perwin, Belgium to a working-class family, and it was his grandfather who urged him to begin music studies at the age of only 4...

, while Adolphe Sax
Adolphe Sax
Antoine-Joseph "Adolphe" Sax was a Belgian musical instrument designer and musician who played the flute and clarinet, and is best known for having invented the saxophone.-Biography:...

 invented the saxophone
Saxophone
The saxophone is a conical-bore transposing musical instrument that is a member of the woodwind family. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1846...

 in 1846. The composer César Franck
César Franck
César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life....

 was born in Liège in 1822. Contemporary music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans
Toots Thielemans
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans , known as Toots Thielemans, is a Belgian jazz musician well known for his guitar and harmonica playing as well as his whistling. Thielemans is credited as one of the greatest harmonica players of the 20th century...

 and singer Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel was a Belgian singer-songwriter who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following in France initially, and later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson...

 have achieved global fame. In rock/pop music, Telex
Telex (band)
The Belgian synth-pop group Telex was formed in 1978 by Marc Moulin, Dan Lacksman, and Michel Moers, with the intention of "Making something really European, different from rock, without guitar — and the idea was electronic music." Mixing the aesthetics of disco, punk and experimental electronic...

, Front 242
Front 242
Front 242 is a pioneering Belgian electronic music group that came into prominence during the 1980s. They are known for being the premier pioneer of electronic body music and as a major influence on the electronic and industrial music genres.-Formation:...

, K's Choice
K's Choice
K's Choice is a Belgian rock band from Antwerp, formed in the mid-1990s. The band's core members are siblings Sarah Bettens and Gert Bettens . They are joined by Eric Grossman , Thomas Vanelslander , Reinout Swinnen and Koen Liekens...

, Hooverphonic
Hooverphonic
Hooverphonic are a Belgian rock/pop group, formed in 1995. Though early on categorized as a trip hop group, they quickly expanded their sound to the point where they could no longer be described as a lone genre, but rather encompass alternative, electronica, electropop, rock, and mixture of others...

, Zap Mama
Zap Mama
Zap Mama is a Belgian musical group founded and led by Marie Daulne. Daulne says her mission is to be a bridge between the European and the African and bring the two cultures together with her music...

, Soulwax
Soulwax
Soulwax, headed by David and Stephen Dewaele, are an alternative rock/electronic band from Ghent, Belgium. Next to the Dewaele brothers, Soulwax consists of bassist Stefaan Van Leuven and drummer Steve Slingeneyer. They were first noticed after the release of their album Much Against Everyone's...

 and dEUS are well known. In the heavy metal scene, bands like Machiavel, Channel Zero
Channel Zero (band)
Channel Zero is a heavy metal band formed in Brussels, Belgium. They are one of the best known heavy metal bands from Belgium and were often referred to as "the Belgian Metallica." They disbanded at the height of their career in 1997, however in 2009, the band announced a series of reunion gigs...

 and Enthroned
Enthroned
Enthroned is a black metal band formed in Charleroi in 1993 by Cernunnos. He soon recruited guitarist Tsebaoth and a vocalist from grindcore/black metal band Hecate who stayed until the end of December 1993. Then bassist/vocalist Sabathan joined. The band released a 5-track demo tape in mid-1994...

 have a worldwide fan-base.

Belgium has produced several well-known authors
Belgian literature
Because Belgium is a multilingual country,French, Dutch and German are legally the three official languages in Belgium see: EU-Belgium Belgian literature is divided into two main linguistic branches following the two most prominently spoken languages in the country - Dutch and French...

, including the poet Emile Verhaeren
Emile Verhaeren
Emile Verhaeren was a Belgian poet who wrote in the French language, and one of the chief founders of the school of Symbolism....

 and novelists Hendrik Conscience
Hendrik Conscience
Henri "Hendrik" Conscience was a Belgian writer. He was a pioneer in writing in Dutch after the secession from the Netherlands in 1830 left Belgium a mostly French speaking country....

, Georges Simenon
Georges Simenon
Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a Belgian writer. A prolific author who published nearly 200 novels and numerous short works, Simenon is best known for the creation of the fictional detective Maigret.-Early life and education:...

, Suzanne Lilar
Suzanne Lilar
Suzanne, Baroness Lilar was a Flemish Belgian essayist, novelist, and playwright writing in French...

 and Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb is a Belgian writer who writes in French.- Biography :Amélie Nothomb was born in Kobe, Japan to Belgian diplomats. She lived there until she was five years old, and then subsequently lived in China, New York, Bangladesh, Burma, Coventry and Laos...

. The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck, also called Comte Maeterlinck from 1932, was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who wrote in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life...

 won the Nobel Prize in literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 in 1911. The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin is a series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist , who wrote under the pen name of Hergé...

by Hergé
Hergé
Georges Prosper Remi , better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, although he was also...

 is the best known of Franco-Belgian comics
Franco-Belgian comics
Franco-Belgian comics are comics that are created in Belgium and France. These countries have a long tradition in comics and comic books, where they are known as BDs, an abbreviation of bande dessinée in French and stripverhalen in Dutch...

, but many other major authors, including Peyo
Peyo
Pierre Culliford , known as Peyo, was a Belgian comics artist, perhaps best known for the creation of The Smurfs comic strip.-Biography:...

 (The Smurfs
The Smurfs
The Smurfs is a comic and television franchise centred on a group of small blue fictional creatures called Smurfs, created and first introduced as a series of comic strips by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo on October 23, 1958...

), André Franquin
André Franquin
André Franquin was an influential Belgian comics artist, whose best known comic strip creations are Gaston and Marsupilami, created while he worked on the Spirou et Fantasio comic strip from 1947 to 1969, during a period seen by many as the series' golden age.-Franquin's beginnings:Franquin was...

 (Gaston Lagaffe
Gaston Lagaffe
Gaston is a comic strip created in 1957 by the Belgian cartoonist André Franquin in the comic strip magazine, Spirou. The series focuses on the every-day life of Gaston Lagaffe, a lazy and accident-prone office junior...

), Edgar P. Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen
Willy Vandersteen
Willy Vandersteen was a Belgian creator of comic books. In a career spanning 50 years, he created a large studio and published more than 1,000 comic albums in over 25 series, selling more than 200 million copies worldwide....

 brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry a worldwide fame.

Belgian cinema
Cinema of Belgium
Belgium is essentially a bi-lingual country divided into the Flemish north and the French-speaking south. There is also a small community of German speakers in the border region with Germany...

 has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen.Notable Belgian films based on works by Flemish authors include: De Witte (author Ernest Claes
Ernest Claes
Andreas Ernestus Josephus Claes was a Flemish author.Some of his works are written under the pseudonym G...

) movie by Jan Vanderheyden and Edith Kiel in 1934, remake as De Witte van Sichem directed by Robbe De Hert
Robbe De Hert
Robbe De Hert is a Belgian film director.-Movies:*Camera Sutra *De Witte van Zichem *Le filet américain *Maria Danneels of Het leven dat we droomden...

 in 1980; De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (Johan Daisne
Johan Daisne
Johan Daisne was the pseudonym of Flemish author Herman Thiery . Born in Ghent, Belgium, he attended the Koninklijk Atheneum before studying Economics and Slavic languages at Ghent University, receiving his doctorate in 1936...

) André Delvaux 1965; Mira ('De teleurgang van de Waterhoek' by Stijn Streuvels
Stijn Streuvels
Stijn Streuvels, born Franciscus Petrus Maria Lateur, is a Flemish writer. He was born on 3 October 1871 in Heule, Kortrijk, and died in Ingooigem, Anzegem on 15 August 1969 at the age of 98. In 1905 he married Alida Staelens. They had 4 children: Paula , Paul , Dina and Isa...

) Fons Rademakers 1971; Malpertuis
Malpertuis
Malpertuis is a gothic horror novel by the Belgian author Jean Ray.-Premise:Malpertuis is a crumbling, ancient house where a dying warlock has trapped the aging gods of Olympus inside the "skins" of ordinary Flemish citizens.-Structure:...

 (aka The Legend of Doom House)
(Jean Ray [pen name of Flemish author who mainly wrote in French, or as John Flanders in Dutch]) Harry Kümel 1971; De loteling (Hendrik Conscience
Hendrik Conscience
Henri "Hendrik" Conscience was a Belgian writer. He was a pioneer in writing in Dutch after the secession from the Netherlands in 1830 left Belgium a mostly French speaking country....

) Roland Verhavert 1974; Dood van een non (Maria Rosseels
Maria Rosseels
Maria, Baroness Rosseels , also known with her pen name E. M. Vervliet, was a Belgian Catholic writer. The first years of her life, she lived in the Goedendagstraat in Borgerhout. When Maria was 7 years old, the family moved to Oostmalle, where she already started to write...

) Paul Collet and Pierre Drouot 1975; Pallieter (Felix Timmermans
Felix Timmermans
Leopold Maximiliaan Felix Timmermans is a much translated author of Flanders.Timmermans was born in the Belgian city of Lier, as the thirteenth of fourteen children in the family. He died in Lier, aged 60. He was an autodidact, and wrote plays, historical novels, religious works, and poems. His...

) Roland Verhavert 1976; De komst van Joachim Stiller (Hubert Lampo
Hubert Lampo
Hubert Leon Lampo was a Flemish writer, one of the founders of magic realism in Flanders. His most famous book is...

) Harry Kümel 1976; De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (Hendrik Conscience
Hendrik Conscience
Henri "Hendrik" Conscience was a Belgian writer. He was a pioneer in writing in Dutch after the secession from the Netherlands in 1830 left Belgium a mostly French speaking country....

) Hugo Claus
Hugo Claus
Hugo Maurice Julien Claus was a leading Belgian author who published under his own name as well as various pseudonyms. Claus' literary contributions spanned the genres of drama, the novel, and poetry; he also left a legacy as a painter and film director...

 (a famous author himself) 1985; Daens
Daens (film)
Daens is a 1992 Belgian film directed by Stijn Coninx. This 1992 drama starring Jan Decleir, Gérard Desarthe, Antje de Boeck and Michael Pas, tells the true story of Adolf Daens, a Catholic priest in Aalst who strives to improve the miserable working conditions in the local factories...

('Pieter Daens' by Louis Paul Boon
Louis Paul Boon
Louis Paul Boon was a Flemish journalist and novelist who is considered one of the major 20th century writers in the Dutch language...

) Stijn Coninx
Stijn Coninx
Stijn, Baron Coninx is a Belgian film director best known for the movie Daens. He was made a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium...

 1992; see also Filmarchief les DVD!s de la cinémathèque (in Dutch). Retrieved on 2007.
Other Belgian directors include André Delvaux, Stijn Coninx
Stijn Coninx
Stijn, Baron Coninx is a Belgian film director best known for the movie Daens. He was made a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium...

, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne; well-known actors include Jan Decleir
Jan Decleir
Jan Decleir is a prolific Belgian movie and stage actor born in Niel, Antwerp .He had his first big role in Fons Rademakers "Mira" and has since then appeared in countless Flemish and Dutch films and tv productions...

 and Marie Gillain
Marie Gillain
Marie Gillain is a Belgian actress.In 1996 Gillain received the Prix Romy Schneider. She is single but has two daughters, Dune and Vega .-In popular culture:* She was the heroine of the John Malkovich play Hysteria in Chicago on December 1999.* She...

; and successful films include Man Bites Dog
Man Bites Dog (film)
Man Bites Dog is a darkly comedic crime Belgian mockumentary starring Benoît Poelvoorde. In the film, a crew of filmmakers follow a serial killer, recording his crimes for a documentary they are producing...

and The Alzheimer Affair. In the 1980s, Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts produced important fashion trendsetters, known as the Antwerp Six
Antwerp Six
The Antwerp Six refers to a group of influential avant garde fashion designers who graduated from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980-1981. At the Academy they were taught by Linda Loppa. The fashion collective presented a distinct, radical vision for fashion during the 1980s that...

.

Folklore


Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: the country has a comparatively high number of processions, cavalcades, parades, 'ommegangs' and 'ducasses',The Dutch word 'ommegang' is here used in the sense of an entirely or mainly non-religious procession, or the non-religious part thereof—see also its article on the Dutch-language Wikipedia; the Processional Giants of Brussels, Dendermonde and Mechelen mentioned in this paragraph are part of each city's 'ommegang'. The French word 'ducasse' refers also to a procession; the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'. 'kermesse' and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious or mythological background
Mythology of the Low Countries
The folklore of the Low Countries has its roots in the mythologies of pre-Christian Gaulish and Germanic cultures, predating the region's Christianization by the Franks in the Early Middle Ages....

. The Carnival of Binche
Carnival of Binche
The carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. The carnival is the most known of several others that take place in Belgium at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the...

 with its famous Gilles
Gilles
The Gilles are the oldest and principal participants in the Carnival of Binche in Belgium. Other cities, such as Nivelles have a tradition of Gilles at carnival, but the Carnival of Binche is by far the most famous....

 and the 'Processional Giants and Dragons' of Ath
Ath
Ath is a Belgian municipality located in the Walloon province of Hainaut. The Ath municipality includes the old communes of Lanquesaint, Irchonwelz, Ormeignies, Bouvignies, Ostiches, Rebaix, Maffle, Arbre, Houtaing, Ligne, Mainvault, Moulbaix, Villers-Notre-Dame, Villers-Saint-Amand, Ghislenghien...

, Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Dendermonde
Dendermonde
Dendermonde is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of East Flanders in the Denderstreek. The municipality comprises the city of Dendermonde proper and the towns of Appels, Baasrode, Grembergen, Mespelare, Oudegem, Schoonaarde, and Sint-Gillis-bij-Dendermonde...

, Mechelen
Mechelen
Mechelen Footnote: Mechelen became known in English as 'Mechlin' from which the adjective 'Mechlinian' is derived...

 and Mons
Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

 are recognised by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity was made by the Director-General of UNESCO starting in 2001 to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage and encourage local communities to protect them and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural...

.

Other examples are the Carnival of Aalst
Aalst, Belgium
Aalst is a city and municipality on the Dender River, 19 miles northwest from Brussels. It is located in the Flemish province of East Flanders in the Denderstreek. The municipality comprises the city of Aalst itself and the villages of Baardegem, Erembodegem, Gijzegem, Herdersem, Hofstade,...

; the still very religious processions of the Holy Blood
Procession of the Holy Blood
The Procession of the Holy Blood is a large religious procession, dating back to the Middle Ages, which takes place each Ascension Day in Bruges, Belgium. The centerpiece is the Blood of Christ, a coagulated relic said to become fluid again each year on this day. Sixty to one hundred thousand...

 in Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

, Virga Jesse Basilica
Virga Jesse Basilica
The Virga-Jesse Basilica in Hasselt, Belgium, stands where a member of the Fraternity of Our Lady built the Clerkenkapel in 1334. This first building was replaced by a church in late Baroque and early Classical Revival style in 1727....

 in Hasselt
Hasselt
Hasselt is a Belgian city and municipality, and capital of the Flemish province of Limburg...

 and Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk
Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk
The Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk is a Basilica in Mechelen, Belgium.The crypta and the basilica itself contains several depictions of Saint Rumbold.-External links:*...

 in Mechelen; festival in Liège
Liège
Liège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium....

; and the Walloon festival in Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

. Originated in 1832 and revived in the 1960s, the Gentse Feesten
Gentse Feesten
The Gentse Feesten is a music and theatre festival in the city of Ghent . Besides stage events there are random small street acts such as mimickers, buskers, etc. It starts on the Saturday before July 21 and lasts ten days...

 have become a modern tradition. A major non-official holiday is the Saint Nicholas Day, a festivity for children and, in Liège, for students.

Cuisine



Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide
Michelin Guide
The Michelin Guide is a series of annual guide books published by Michelin for over a dozen countries. The term normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant guide, which awards the Michelin stars...

. Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, waffles
Belgian waffle
The Belgian waffle is a type of waffle identified by its larger size, lighter batter and higher grid pattern which forms deep pockets and has larger squares than other types...

 and french fries
French fries
French fries , chips, fries, or French-fried potatoes are strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans tend to refer to any pieces of deep-fried potatoes as fries or French fries, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut slices of deep-fried potatoes are...

. Contrary to their name, french fries also originated in Belgium. The national dishes are "steak and fries with salad", and "mussels with fries
Moules-frites
Moules-frites is a popular dish consisting of mussels and French fries that is primarily served in Belgium and northern France."Moules" means mussels and "frites" means fries in French....

".

Brands of Belgian chocolate and pralines, like Côte d'Or
Côte d'Or (brand)
Côte d'Or is a producer of Belgian chocolate, owned by Kraft Foods.Côte d'Or was founded in 1883 by Charles Neuhaus, a chocolate manufacturer who used the name Côte d'Or referring to the old name of contemporary Ghana, the source of much of the cacao beans used in chocolate manufacturing.Côte...

, Guylian
Guylian
Guylian is a Belgian chocolate manufacturer founded by Guy Foubert in 1960. The company takes its name from the combination of Foubert's first name with that of his wife, Liliane....

, Neuhaus
Chocolatier Neuhaus
Neuhaus is a manufacturer of luxury Belgian chocolates, biscuits and ice cream. The company was founded in Brussels in 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss immigrant, who opened the first store in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. In 1912, his grandson, Jean Neuhaus II, invented the chocolate bonbon or...

, Leonidas
Leonidas (chocolate maker)
Leonidas Confiserie SA is a chocolate producer with an international presence, based in Belgium. The company's focus is pralines ; it also sells marzipan, solid chocolates, and other confections...

, Corné and Galler are famous, as well as independent producers such as Burie and Del Rey in Antwerp and Mary's in Brussels. Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer
Belgian beer
Beer in Belgium varies from pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish red. There are approximately 178 breweries in the country, ranging from international giants to microbreweries..-History:...

. The Trappist beer
Trappist beer
A Trappist beer is a beer brewed by or under control of Trappist monks. There are a total of 174 Trappist monasteries worldwide ; only seven produce Trappist beer and are authorized to label their beers with the Authentic Trappist Product logo that indicates a compliance to the various rules of...

 of the Abbey of Westvleteren
Westvleteren Brewery
The Westvleteren Brewery is a Belgian brewery founded in 1838 inside the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in the Belgian municipality of Vleteren, not far from the hops-producing town of Poperinge and the medieval city of Ypres. The brewery and its beers are usually referred to as...

 has repeatedly been rated the world's best beer.
The biggest brewer in the world by volume is Anheuser-Busch InBev
Anheuser-Busch InBev
Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V. is a Belgian-Brazilian publicly-traded company, based in Leuven, Belgium. It is the largest global brewer with nearly 25% global market share and one of the world's top five consumer products companies by EBITA....

, based in Leuven
Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

.

Sports


Since the 1970s, sports clubs and federations are organised separately within each language community. Association football
Football in Belgium
Football, a sport which has been played in Belgium since the end of the 19th century, is that country's most popular sport. The national association was founded in 1895 with the intention of bringing some order and organization to the sport...

 is one of the most popular sports in both parts of Belgium, together with cycling, tennis, swimming and judo. With five victories in the Tour de France
Tour de France
The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race held in France and nearby countries. First staged in 1903, the race covers more than and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours", the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world. The...

 and numerous other cycling records, Belgian Eddy Merckx
Eddy Merckx
Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx , better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian former professional cyclist. The French magazine Vélo called him "the most accomplished rider that cycling has ever known." The American publication, VeloNews, called him the greatest and most successful cyclist of all...

 is regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time. His hour speed record (set in 1972) stood for 12 years. Jean-Marie Pfaff
Jean-Marie Pfaff
Jean-Marie Pfaff is a Belgian former football goalkeeper.-Biography:At the age of 16, Pfaff joined K.S.K. Beveren with whom he won a Belgian champions title and a Belgian Cup . The same year, he received the Belgian Golden Shoe...

, a former Belgian goalkeeper, is considered one of the greatest in the history of football. Belgium and The Netherlands previously hosted the UEFA European Football Championship
UEFA European Football Championship
The UEFA European Football Championship is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by UEFA . Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing to the current...

 in 2000. Belgium hosted the 1972 European Football Championships.

Kim Clijsters
Kim Clijsters
Kim Antonie Lode Clijsters is a Belgian professional tennis player. As of 7 November 2011, Clijsters is ranked No. 13 in singles. Clijsters is a former World No. 1 in both singles and doubles....

 and Justine Henin both were Player of the Year
WTA Awards
This is a list with all the WTA Awards given by the Women's Tennis Association to players who have done or achieved something remarkable during the season or their career.-Player of the Year:-Doubles Team of the Year:-Most Improved Player:...

 in the Women's Tennis Association
Women's Tennis Association
The Women's Tennis Association , founded in 1973 by Billie Jean King, is the principal organizing body of Women's Professional Tennis. It governs the WTA Tour which is the worldwide professional tennis tour for women. Its counterpart organization in the men's professional game is the Association of...

 as they were ranked the number one female tennis player.
The Spa-Francorchamps motor-racing circuit hosts the Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix
The Belgian Grand Prix is an automobile race, part of the Formula One World Championship....

. The Belgian driver, Jacky Ickx
Jacky Ickx
Jacques Bernard "Jacky" Ickx is a Belgian former racing driver who achieved 25 podium finishes in Formula One and six wins in the 24 hours of Le Mans.- Racing career :...

, won eight Grands Prix and six 24 Hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

 and finished twice as runner-up in the Formula One World Championship. Belgium also has a strong reputation in motocross
Motocross
Motocross is a form of motorcycle sport or all-terrain vehicle racing held on enclosed off road circuits. It evolved from trials, and was called scrambles, and later motocross, combining the French moto with cross-country...

. Sporting events annually held in Belgium include the Memorial Van Damme
Memorial Van Damme
Memorial van Damme is an annual athletics event at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium that takes place in late August or early September...

 athletics competition, the Belgian Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix
The Belgian Grand Prix is an automobile race, part of the Formula One World Championship....

 Formula One, and a number of classic cycle races
Classic cycle races
The classic cycle races are one-day professional cycling road races in the international calendar. Most of the events, all run in western Europe, have been fixtures on the professional calendar for decades and the oldest ones date back to the 19th Century. They are normally held at roughly the same...

 such as the Tour of Flanders
Tour of Flanders
The Tour of Flanders is a Flanders Classics road cycling race held in Belgium every spring, a week before the Paris–Roubaix road race. It is part of the UCI World Tour and one of the so-called monuments of the European professional calendar. It is the most important cycling race in Flanders...

 and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The 1920 Summer Olympics
1920 Summer Olympics
The 1920 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the VII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium....

 were held in Antwerp.

See also


  • Energy in Belgium
    Energy in Belgium
    Energy in Belgium describes energy and electricity production, consumption and import in Belgium. Energy policy of Belgium will describe the politics of Belgium related to energy more in detail. Electricity sector in Belgium is the main article of electricity in Belgium.The Kingdom of Belgium...

  • Foreign relations of Belgium
    Foreign relations of Belgium
    -Initial neutrality:Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe, Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbours. With virtually defenceless borders, Belgium has traditionally sought to avoid domination by the more powerful nations which...



External links


Government

General information
Tourism
Other
  • Belgium, entry on the Catholic Encyclopedia 1913
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    , republished on Wikisource
    Wikisource
    Wikisource is an online digital library of free content textual sources on a wiki, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aims are to host all forms of free text, in many languages, and translations. Originally conceived as an archive to store useful or important historical texts, it has...

  • Belgium, entry on the Public Diplomacy
    Public diplomacy
    In international relations, public diplomacy or people's diplomacy, broadly speaking, is the communication with foreign publics to establish a dialogue designed to inform and influence. There is no one definition of Public Diplomacy, and may be easier described than easily defined as definitions...

     wiki monitored by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy
    USC Center on Public Diplomacy
    The University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy is a joint academic research, teaching and training center created and run jointly by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences' School of International Relations.Center leadership is...

  • History of Belgium: Primary Documents EuroDocs: Online Sources for European History