Belgium

  Belgium, Europe

Belgium, or officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a state located in Western Europe. It is a member of the European Union. It houses the headquarters of the Union and some international organizations such as NATO. Covering an area of ​​30,528 km², the population of the country is about 11.4 million people.

In Belgium, which forms a border between the Germanic and Latin worlds, Dutch is spoken by the Dutch, French by the Walloons, and German by a small group of Germans. Belgium has a federal state structure and consists of the Flemish Region, where Dutch is the official language, the Walloon Region, where French is the official language, and the Brussels-Capital Region, where both languages ​​are official languages. Finally, a small German-speaking community, all within the borders of the Walloon Region and neighboring Germany, is a part of the Walloon region but has autonomy in some areas and German is the official language in the region where they live. Belgium’s linguistic diversity and the associated political and cultural conflict are reflected in the Belgian history and system of government.

The name Belgium originates from Gallia Belgica, in the northernmost part of the Roman province of Gaul, inhabited by the Belgae, a mixed Celtic and Germanic people. Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are historically referred to as the Low Countries, which cover an area larger than the Benelux. The country, which was a commercial and cultural center of prosperity from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 17th century, was defined as the battlefield of Europe by the European powers as the scene of many battles from the 16th century to the Belgian Revolution in 1830. World War II and World War II. It was strengthened by World War II.

Upon independence, the country eagerly participated in the Industrial Revolution and established many colonies in Africa throughout the 20th century. In Belgium, the second half of the 20th century was marked by the conflict between the Dutch and the Francophones on the one hand, and the unequal economic development between the Flemish and Walloon Regions, on the other. These still ongoing conflicts have led to a series of reforms from the unitary state structure to the federal state in the country.

History

In the 1st century BC, the Romans defeated the indigenous tribes in the region and established the province of Gallia Belgica in the region. After the Migration of Tribes, the administration of the region was handed over to the Merovingian Dynasty by the Franks. During the 8th century, the Carolingian Empire took over the rule of the Franks.

With the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the territory was partitioned between the Middle and West Frankish Kingdoms, and as a result the landlords gained more or less independence as vassals during the Middle Ages under the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire.

Most of these vassalages were united in the 14th and 15th centuries to form the Netherlands of Burgundy (later the Habsburg Netherlands). Emperor Charles V continued the personal union of the 17 provinces in the 1540s, and this union became much more than a personal union with the Pragmatic Sanctions of 1549, increasing the king’s influence in the Diocese of Liège.

The Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) divided the Low Countries into the Republic of the United Netherlands (Latin Belgica Foederata, “Federation Netherlands”) and the Southern Netherlands (Belgica Regia, “Kingdom Netherlands”). The Southern Netherlands, which includes much of today’s modern Belgium, was successively ruled by Habsburg Spain and Habsburg Austria and was home to most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Following the fighting in the French Revolutionary Wars, Austrian sovereignty in the region was broken and annexed by the French Republic I, which included areas where so-called Habsburg rule never existed, such as the Low Countries-Diocese of Liège. With the dissolution of the French First Empire in 1815, the Low Countries were reunited under the name of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Belgian Revolution of 1830 led to Catholic and neutral Belgium declaring its independence under the Provisional Government and the National Congress. After the appointment of Léopold I as King in 1831, Belgium became a monarchy with a parliamentary system. Although the king’s rights were initially limited, universal suffrage for men (with plural suffrage until 1919) was introduced after the Belgian General Strike in 1893, and suffrage for women in 1949.

The main political parties in the 19th century were the Catholic Party and the Liberal Party, and the Belgian Labor Party, which was developing towards the end of the century. French was the only official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie. French began to lose its influence gradually, with Dutch gaining official language status. This recognition came in legal form with a Dutch version of the Belgian Constitution of 1898 and 1967.

Ownership of the Congo Free State at the Berlin Conference of 1885. It was handed over to Léopold. Towards 1900 and from the early 1900s II. The excessive and brutal treatment by Léopold of the people of the Congo, the state’s main source of rubber and ivory, has raised international concerns. This outcry led in 1908 the state, later known as the Belgian Congo, to take over responsibility for the colony.

Belgium was occupied by Germany in 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan, and most of the Western Front wars took place in the west of the country. The first months of the war are known as the Rape of Belgium, due to the mistreatment of Belgians by German forces. Belgium took over the administration of the German colonies of Rwanda-Urundi (present-day Rwanda and Burundi) during the war, and the region was mandated by Belgium in 1924 by decision of the League of Nations. As a result of World War I, Eupen-Malmedy of Prussia joined Belgium in 1925, resulting in the formation of a German-speaking minority in that country.

The country was occupied again by Germany in 1940 in a blitzkrieg, which ended in 1944 when the Allies re-controlled the country. II. King III, who is said to have collaborated with the Germans after World War II. A general strike broke out against Leopold, and the King abdicated in 1951. The Belgian Congo also gained its independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis; this was followed 2 years later by the independence of Rwanda-Urundi.

Belgium joined NATO as a founding country and together with the Netherlands and Luxembourg formed the Benelux group states. Belgium, one of the six founding countries of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, took part in the founding of the European Atomic Energy Community and the European Economic Community in 1957. It later became one of the founding members of the current European Union, which includes the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, where it hosts the most important governing bodies.

Geography

Belgium, which has a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the northwest, borders France (620 km), Germany (167 km), Luxembourg (148 km) and the Netherlands (450 km). Covering an area of ​​33,990 km² with inland waters, the country covers an area of ​​30,528 km² excluding inland waters. Belgium has three main geographic regions: the north-western coastal plains of the Anglo-Belgian Basin and the central plateau and the Ardennes lands that are part of the southeastern Hercynian orogenic belt. At the southern tip of the country, the Paris Basin reaches a small fourth region called Belgian Lorraine.

The coastal plains are mostly made up of dunes and polders. Further inland lies the soft and gently rising northwest Campine (Kempen) beach area, irrigated by numerous waterways. The Ardennes highlands have more rugged caves and densely forested hills and small rocky canyons. Expanding to France in the west, this area also includes the country’s highest point, the Signal de Botrange, at 694 meters, reaching eastward to the Eifel on the High Marshes plateau in Germany.

Climate

The country has an all-season rainy oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb). While the average minimum temperature in January is 3 °C, the average highest temperature in June is 19 °C. Average precipitation ranges from 54 millimeters in February and April to 78 mm in July.

Provinces

ProvinceDutch nameFrench nameGerman nameCapitalAreaPopulation
(1 January 2019)
Density
 AntwerpAntwerpenAnversAntwerpenAntwerp2,876 km2 (1,110 sq mi)1,857,986647/km2 (1,680/sq mi)
 East FlandersOost-VlaanderenFlandre orientaleOstflandernGhent3,007 km2 (1,161 sq mi)1,515,064504/km2 (1,310/sq mi)
 Flemish BrabantVlaams-BrabantBrabant flamandFlämisch-BrabantLeuven2,118 km2 (818 sq mi)1,146,175542/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 LimburgLimburgLimbourgLimburgHasselt2,427 km2 (937 sq mi)874,048361/km2 (930/sq mi)
 West FlandersWest-VlaanderenFlandre occidentaleWestflandernBruges3,197 km2 (1,234 sq mi)1,195,796375/km2 (970/sq mi)
 HainautHenegouwenHainautHennegauMons3,813 km2 (1,472 sq mi)1,344,241353/km2 (910/sq mi)
 LiègeLuikLiègeLüttichLiège3,857 km2 (1,489 sq mi)1,106,992288/km2 (750/sq mi)
 LuxembourgLuxemburgLuxembourgLuxemburgArlon4,459 km2 (1,722 sq mi)284,63864/km2 (170/sq mi)
 NamurNamenNamurNamur (Namür)Namur3,675 km2 (1,419 sq mi)494,325135/km2 (350/sq mi)
 Walloon BrabantWaals-BrabantBrabant wallonWallonisch-BrabantWavre1,097 km2 (424 sq mi)403,599368/km2 (950/sq mi)
 Brussels Capital RegionBrussels Hoofdstedelijk GewestRégion de Bruxelles-CapitaleRegion Brüssel-HauptstadtBrussels City162.4 km2 (62.7 sq mi)1,208,5427,442/km2 (19,270/sq mi)
TotalBelgiëBelgiqueBelgienBrussels City30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi)11,431,406373/km2 (970/sq mi)

Communities and facilities

Following the Burgundian and Habsburg courts, speaking French was necessary in order to be among the high class that ruled and ruled the country in the 19th century, Dutch speakers were lower class citizens. At the end of the century and further into the 20th century, the Flemish movement developed in response to this situation. Although the majority of Walloons and Brusselsians adopted French as their first language, the Flemish rejected it and succeeded in making Dutch the official language of the Flemish. II. After World War II, a tendency towards bilingual autonomy became increasingly dominant in Belgian politics. Social tensions increased and the constitution was amended to minimize the potential for conflict.

Mainly 4 language areas defined in 1962-63 (Dutch, French, bilingual (Dutch, French) and German areas) and successive revisions to the Belgian constitution in 1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993 created a single federal state divided into 3 levels of political power :

1- Belgian Federal Administration based in Brussels.
2- Three main communities:

  • the Flemish community;
  • the French community;
  • German community.
    3- Three regions:
  • Flemish Region divided into five provinces;
  • Walloon Region divided into five provinces;
  • Brussels-Capital Region.

The constitutional language areas determine the official languages ​​in their regions. Although this provided opportunity for seven parliaments and governments when communities and regions were created in 1980, Flemish politicians decided to combine the two. That is, the Flemish are united in a single parliament and administration, which is competent in all matters except federal and special municipal issues.

The overlapping borders of the communities and regions have created two notable features: the Brussels-Capital Region (created a few years later than the other regions) contains both the French and Flemish communities, and the German-speaking region is entirely within the Walloon Region. Conflicts between institutions are resolved by the Belgian Constitutional Court. Its structure is designed to create consensus for the peaceful coexistence of different cultures.

Economy

Belgium’s strongly globalized economy and transport infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. The country’s location at the heart of the highly industrialized region has helped it become the world’s 15th largest trading country in 2007. The economy is characterized by labour, high GNP and high exports per capita. Belgium’s main imports are food products, machinery, rough diamonds, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, clothing and accessories, and textiles, while its main exports are automobiles, food products, iron and steel, rough diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products, and non-ferrous are metals.

Belgium is the first continental European state to join the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The booming iron and steel production in Liège and Charleroi and the booming industry in the Sambre–Mass valley in the mid-20th century made Belgium one of the three most developed nations in the world between 1830 and 1910. In the 1840s, however, there was a serious crisis in the textile industry in Flanders, and the region suffered a famine in 1846-50.

II. After World War II, Ghent and Antwerp experienced rapid development in the chemical and oil industries. The 1973 and 1979 Oil Crises plunged the economy into recession, lasting longer in Wallonia, where the iron and steel industry was less competitive and production fell sharply. During the 1980s and 1990s the country’s economic center shifted northward and settled in today’s populous Vlaamse Ruit region.

Demography

At the beginning of 2007, about 92% of the Belgian population were Belgian Citizens and about 6% were citizens of other European Union countries. The large populations were Italians (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccans (80,579), Spaniards (42,765), Turks (39,419), and Germans (37,621).

In 2004, almost the entire population lived in cities, with a rate of 97%. Belgium has 342 people per square kilometer, and this ratio is the country with the highest density in Europe excluding microstates such as Monaco and the Netherlands. The densest area of ​​the country is Vlaamse Ruit, which consists of the cities of Antwerp-Leuven-Brussels-Gent, while the most secluded area is the Ardennes. In 2006, the Flemish Region had a population of 6,078,600, concentrated in Antwerp (457,749), Ghent (230,951) and Bruges (117,251). With cities such as Charleroi (201,373), Liège (185,574) and Namur (107,178), Wallonia had a population of 3,413,978, while the Brussels-Capital Region had a population of 1,018,804, consisting of 19 municipalities, 2 of which had a population of over 100,000.

Same-sex couples have the right to marry in Belgium.

Religion

Catholics: 54%
Non-religious: 32%
Islam: 5%
Protestantism: 3%
Orthodox: 1%
Other: 4%

Languages

Belgium is divided into Dutch, French and German regions according to the languages ​​spoken. In addition, several minority languages ​​are spoken informally. There are no official counts of Belgium’s 3 official languages ​​or dialects, nor are there any statistics. However, some figures can be given in areas involving some topics such as families, education and foreign children’s second languages.

According to a statistic, 59% of the Belgian population speaks Dutch and 40% speaks French. The total number of Dutch speakers is 6.23 million and this population is concentrated in the northern Flemish Region. The number of French speakers is 3.32 million, concentrated in Wallonia and an estimated 0.87 million people, 85% of the Brussels-Capital Region. The German-speaking population of 73,000 is located in the east of the Walloon Region; About 10,000 Germans and 60,000 Belgians speak German. About 23,000 German speakers live in municipalities near their official districts.

Dutch and French spoken in Belgium differ in vocabulary and nuance from those spoken in the Netherlands and France. Many Dutch still speak the Dutch dialect of their region. Walloon, the main official language of Wallonia, is mostly spoken or understood by older people today. The dialects of Wallonia, like the Picard language, are not in use in everyday life today.

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