Belgium may be a country located in Europe. 30,528 km² The country’s population is approximately 11 million. The capital is Brussels and it’s a federal constitutional monarchy. physiography Let’s take a fast check out the relief: The Ardennes are practically the sole mountains within the country and make it culminate at 694 meters with the Signal de Botrange. The north is at low altitude, the south is at a better altitude, it is a gradient. Territorial administration The country has been a federation since 1993 but has had local governments since 1980. Belgium is formed from three regions: Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels. The regions are divided into provinces, 5 in Flanders and 5 in Wallonia. Brussels isn’t concerned. and therefore the provinces are divided into 589 municipalities, including 19 within the Brussels region.
What makes the foremost populous municipality within the country is Antwerp and not Brussels which is subdivided. Then on top of all that, the country is split into three linguistic communities: Flemish Community which concerns the Flanders Region and therefore the Brussels Region. The French community which concerns a really large a part of the Walloon Region and therefore the Brussels Region. The German-speaking community which concerns some municipalities within the Walloon Region. Languages Belgium is therefore a trilingual country with a Flemish or Dutch-speaking area, a French-speaking area and a German-speaking area. But actually , the German-speaking part has little or no influence within the political life. The stake is between the 2 other communities. Note also that de jure Brussels may be a bilingual French-Flemish city. but the French took the advantage.
This double linguistic culture comes from a historical reason. Wallonia may be a recent concept, it dates from the 19th century and made it possible to designate the French-speaking areas in Belgium. Originally, in Wallonia, different French dialects are spoken like Picard or Liège, the latter was instituted during a language called Walloon. Picard and Walloon are both languages of OIL, a bit like the languages of the northern a part of France. Elsewhere, we speak Flemish because it’s a neighborhood linked to Netherlands . Let’s not forget that Dutch are often considered as a variant of ordinary German. For German-speaking municipalities, after the primary war , Germany offered them to Belgium as compensation. they need remained German-speaking ever since.
the municipalities therefore have Dutch as their official language, as everywhere in Flanders, except that thanks to the influence of Brussels, the populations living in these municipalities are predominantly French-speaking. They therefore enjoy linguistic facilities, especially within the administrative field. There are 27 municipalities of this sort throughout Belgium. Now let’s check out the regional linguistic influence. For the calculation i will be able to consider that Brussels is entirely French-speaking because French is far and away the most language. Flanders therefore has 6.4 million inhabitants. Wallonia and Brussels together have 4.8 million inhabitants. German municipalities have only 75,000 inhabitants. Dutch is therefore the most language of the country, almost 60% of the inhabitants sleep in a predominantly Dutch-speaking region. And on the contrary a touch quite 40% of the inhabitants sleep in a predominantly French-speaking region.
After that doesn’t mean that it represents the amount of French and Dutch speakers, there are tons of foreigners living in Belgium and who use one among the 2 languages at work without it being their maternal language . Demography Belgium features a very high density, 360 inhabitants per square kilometer. it’s therefore one among the densest countries within the world. In Flanders, the density increases to 480 inhabitants per square kilometer. allow us to now check out the most towns. Brussels is that the largest with 1.3 million inhabitants. The agglomeration includes the Brussels Region but also some municipalities in Flanders and even partly in Wallonia. The Rocade de Bruxelles are thus located in three regions at an equivalent time. there’s also Waterloo, now a suburban residential community in Wallonia.
Brussels airport is in Zaventem in Flanders, suddenly within the Dutch-speaking area. But as said before, whether you’re during a Dutch or French speaking area, French remains the most language of the agglomeration. Antwerp is that the second largest city within the country with 1.2 million inhabitants. So hardly but Brussels. The municipality of Antwerp has 500,000 inhabitants, it’s the foremost populous municipality within the country. And this agglomeration is entirely Dutch-speaking. French has no official status. The third largest city within the country is Liège, which is entirely French-speaking since it’s located in Wallonia. it might make about 700,000 inhabitants.
Among the opposite agglomerations we will mention Ghent which is Dutch-speaking, Charleroi which is French speaking, Bruges in Flanders, Namur in Wallonia. we will also mention the municipality of Kortrijk which isn’t necessarily very populated, but which is a component of the agglomeration of Lille. About sixty Belgian municipalities are a part of the Lille Eurometropolis, or a few million inhabitants. Network Let’s check out the road network. First for the highways, we’ve a group of highways including the A15 called the Autoroute de Wallonie which links Liège to Tournai. it’s a serious axis that connects all the most Walloon towns: Liège, Namur, Charleroi, Mons, Tournai to then join the French border. then it’s at an equivalent time a rail axis.
There is no real equivalent within the Flemish Region but there’s a highway that leaves from Antwerp and which matches to the French border via Ghent and Kortrijk. Otherwise the remainder of Belgium, they’re star-shaped highways with Brussels at its center.
For a long time, Belgium was a producer of coal, the mining basins were located in Liège, Charleroi and Mons which are exploited from the 18th century. As a result, Wallonia was much more dynamic than Flanders. But in the twentieth century, a mining basin developed in the Campine in Flanders. The coal economy has enabled the steel industry to flourish. But after World War II, the mines began to close. Charcoal from abroad becomes cheaper than that extracted locally where the workforce is too high. Suddenly the economy will reverse itself. Wallonia is deindustrializing and Flanders is benefiting from the tertiarisation of the economy.
Today the two major economic centers of the country are Brussels and Antwerp. Brussels is a city of services which benefits above all from the presence of European institutions. Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world. Diamonds from all over the world arrive there in rough form for cutting. In addition to that, the city has the second largest European port. As for airports, there are 4 main ones: Brussels, Charleroi, Liège and Antwerp. Obviously, in a small country like Belgium, there are no domestic flights. In fact, only Brussels airport is an airport for passengers originally, the national airline Sabena was based there. But the latter went bankrupt in 2001 with the liberalization of the European sky.
This same liberalization of the sky has allowed other airports to specialize. Liège airport has thus become the main freight airport in Belgium. Charleroi airport has become since 1997, the main base of the airline Ryanair in continental Europe, the airport renamed itself Brussels South for the occasion. Antwerp and Liège also welcome low cost flight passengers. Politics Let’s move on to politics, because it is quite original. Belgium has been known to have had periods of instability without a government. Since the 1960s, many political parties split into French-speaking and Dutch-speaking wings. In addition, separatist movements have developed.
Legislative elections elect representatives of the House of Representatives is the Lower House. It is made up of 150 deputies. Obviously, with the different parties of different languages, it is difficult to build coalitions. If we look at the 2014 elections, the NVA obtained 33 seats, it is therefore the first party. But it is a Dutch-speaking party and it is even a pro-Flemish party. To create a majority, the various Dutch-speaking right-wing parties united with the main French-speaking right-wing party, the Reform Movement. But the Flemish pro-independence NVA found itself in the minority. So it is the Reform Movement which with the alliance with the other Dutch centrist parties took power. The King of Belgium has therefore appointed as Prime Minister, the leader of the Reform Movement. So there you have it, many parties and many languages.
In general, for political parties, we can see three types of linguistic cleavage. The most classic case, these are the parties that each have their equivalent in a language. The Socialist Party in French-speaking Belgium and the Socialist Party in Dutch-speaking Belgium for example. Two parties, but which are equivalent and can form coalitions in government. Then there are the parties which are unitary. That is, one party for both languages, often they are either parties whose ideology is Belgian unity like the Belgian Union, or either far-left parties with an internationalist tendency. Finally, there are the linguistic nationalist parties, which themselves, cannot exist in the opposite camp.
For example the NVA which is a pro-Flemish party, does not exist in a French version. In any case, the breakthrough of the NVA in the last elections shows that the idea of an independent Flanders is increasingly appreciated. The Flemish represent the majority of the population, the main economic weight of the country but they have always had a lower status in history. French for a long time was the only institutional language of Belgium. The recognition of Flemish has therefore been gradual, and above all admitted in 1962 with the creation of linguistic borders.