Belgium

Coordinates: 50°50′N 4°00′E / 50.833°N 4.000°E / 50.833; 4.000

Kingdom of Belgium
  • Koninkrijk België  (Dutch)
  • Royaume de Belgique  (French)
  • Königreich Belgien  (German)
Motto: "Eendracht maakt macht" (Dutch)
"L'union fait la force" (French)
"Einigkeit macht stark" (German)
Anthem: 
"La Brabançonne"
(English: "The Brabantian")
Location of Belgium (dark green) – in Europe (green & dark grey) – in the European Union (green)
Location of Belgium (dark green)

– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (green)

Capital
and largest city
Brussels
50°51′N 4°21′E / 50.850°N 4.350°E / 50.850; 4.350
Official languages
Ethnic groups
(2020[1])
Religion
(2019[2])
Demonym(s)
GovernmentFederal parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[3]
• Monarch
Philippe
Alexander De Croo
LegislatureFederal Parliament
Senate
Chamber of Representatives
Independence 
from the Netherlands
• Declared
4 October 1830
19 April 1839
Area
• Total
30,689[4] km2 (11,849 sq mi) (136th)
• Water (%)
0.71 (2015)[5]
Population
• 2020 estimate
Neutral increase 11,492,641[6] (82nd)
• Density
376/km2 (973.8/sq mi) (22nd)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase$715.658 billion[7] (36th)
• Per capita
Increase$61,586[7] (18th)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase609.887 billion[7] (26th)
• Per capita
Increase$52,485[7] (16th)
Gini (2020)Positive decrease 25.4[8]
low
HDI (2019)Increase 0.919[9]
very high · 17th
CurrencyEuro () (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+2 (CEST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+32
ISO 3166 codeBE
Internet TLD.be
  1. The flag's official proportions of 13:15 are rarely seen; proportions of 2:3 or similar are more common.
  2. The Brussels region is the de facto capital, but the City of Brussels municipality is the de jure capital.[10]
  3. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Belgium,[A] officially the Kingdom of Belgium,[B] is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi). The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven.

Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions:[11] the Flemish Region (Flanders) in the north, the Walloon Region (Wallonia) in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region.[12] Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita.

Belgium is home to two main linguistic communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which constitutes about 40 percent of the population. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in French and Dutch,[13] although French is the dominant language.[14] Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its complex system of governance, made up of six different governments.

The country as it exists today was established following the 1830 Belgian Revolution, when it seceded from the Netherlands, which had itself only existed since 1815. The name chosen for the new state is derived from the Latin word Belgium, used in Julius Caesar's "Gallic Wars", to describe a nearby region in the period around 55 BCE.[15] Belgium is part of an area known as the Low Countries, historically a somewhat larger region than the Benelux group of states, as it also included parts of northern France. Since the Middle Ages, its central location near several major rivers has meant that the area has been relatively prosperous, connected commercially and politically to its bigger neighbours. Belgium has also been the battleground of European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe",[16] a reputation strengthened in the 20th century by both world wars.

Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution[17][18] and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.[19] Between 1885 and 1908, the Congo Free State, which was privately owned by King Leopold II of Belgium, was characterized by widespread atrocities and a population decline of millions, leading Belgium to takeover the territory as a colony.[20]

The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fuelled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased; there is significant separatism particularly among the Flemish; controversial language laws exist such as the municipalities with language facilities;[21] and the formation of a coalition government took 18 months following the June 2010 federal election, a world record.[22] Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders, which boomed after the Second World War.[23]

Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and its capital, Brussels, hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, as well as one of two seats of the European Parliament (the other being Strasbourg). Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, and a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.[C]

Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has very high standards of living, quality of life,[24] healthcare,[25] education,[26] and is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index.[27] It also ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world.[28]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Demographics2020 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Eurobarometer 90.4: Attitudes of Europeans towards Biodiversity, Awareness and Perceptions of EU customs, and Perceptions of Antisemitism. European Commission. Retrieved 9 August 2019 – via GESIS.
  3. ^ "Government type: Belgium". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  4. ^ "be.STAT". Bestat.statbel.fgov.be. 26 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Surface water and surface water change". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Structuur van de bevolking" (in Dutch). Statbel. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d "World Economic Outlook Database, April 2022". International Monetary Fund. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income – EU-SILC survey". ec.europa.eu. Eurostat. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  9. ^ "2019 Human Development Index Ranking". Hdr.undp.org. Archived from the original on 19 April 2020. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  10. ^ The Belgian Constitution (PDF). Brussels, Belgium: Belgian House of Representatives. May 2014. p. 63. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  11. ^ Pateman, Robert and Elliott, Mark (2006). Belgium. Benchmark Books. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7614-2059-0
  12. ^ The Belgian Constitution (PDF). Brussels, Belgium: Belgian House of Representatives. May 2014. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. Article 3: Belgium comprises three Regions: the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels Region. Article 4: Belgium comprises four linguistic regions: the Dutch-speaking region, the French-speaking region, the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital and the German-speaking region.
  13. ^ Janssens, Rudi (2008). Language use in Brussels and the position of Dutch. Brussels Studies [Online]. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  14. ^ Leclerc, Jacques (18 January 2007). "Belgique • België • Belgien—Région de Bruxelles-Capitale • Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest". L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde (in French). Host: Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Université Laval, Quebec. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2007. C'est une région officiellement bilingue formant au centre du pays une enclave dans la province du Brabant flamand (Vlaams Brabant)
    *"About Belgium". Belgian Federal Public Service (ministry) / Embassy of Belgium in the Republic of Korea. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2007. the Brussels-Capital Region is an enclave of 162 km2 within the Flemish region.
    *"Flanders (administrative region)". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Microsoft. 2007. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2007. The capital of Belgium, Brussels, is an enclave within Flanders.
    *McMillan, Eric (October 1999). "The FIT Invasions of Mons" (PDF). Capital translator, Newsletter of the NCATA, Vol. 21, No. 7, p. 1. National Capital Area Chapter of the American Translators Association (NCATA). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 21 June 2007. The country is divided into three autonomous regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, mostly French-speaking Brussels in the center as an enclave within Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, including the German-speaking Cantons de l'Est.
    *Van de Walle, Steven. "Language Facilities in the Brussels Periphery". KULeuven—Leuvens Universitair Dienstencentrum voor Informatica en Telematica. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2007. Brussels is a kind of enclave within Flanders—it has no direct link with Wallonia.
  15. ^ C. Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, book 8, chapter 46.
  16. ^ Haß, Torsten (17 February 2003). Rezension zu (Review of) Cook, Bernard: Belgium. A History (in German). FH-Zeitung (journal of the Fachhochschule). ISBN 978-0-8204-5824-3. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2007. die Bezeichnung Belgiens als "the cockpit of Europe" (James Howell, 1640), die damals noch auf eine kriegerische Hahnenkampf-Arena hindeutete—The book reviewer, Haß, attributes the expression in English to James Howell in 1640. Howell's original phrase "the cockpit of Christendom" became modified afterwards, as shown by:
    *Carmont, John. "The Hydra No.1 New Series (November 1917)—Arras And Captain Satan". War Poets Collection. Napier University's Business School. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2007.—and as such coined for Belgium:
    *Wood, James (1907). "Nuttall Encyclopaedia of General Knowledge—Cockpit of Europe". Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2007. Cockpit of Europe, Belgium, as the scene of so many battles between the Powers of Europe. (See also The Nuttall Encyclopaedia)
  17. ^ Fitzmaurice, John (1996). "New Order? International models of peace and reconciliation—Diversity and civil society". Democratic Dialogue Northern Ireland's first think tank, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
  18. ^ "Belgium country profile". EUbusiness, Richmond, UK. 27 August 2006. Archived from the original on 7 October 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
  19. ^ Karl, Farah; Stoneking, James (1999). "Chapter 27. The Age of Imperialism (Section 2. The Partition of Africa)" (PDF). World History II. Appomattox Regional Governor's School (History Department), Petersburg, Virginia, USA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
  20. ^ "Belgium's genocidal colonial legacy haunts the country's future". The Independent. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  21. ^ Buoyant Brussels. "Bilingual island in Flanders". UCL. Archived from the original on 24 May 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  22. ^ "Belgian government sworn in, ending 18-month crisis". Expatica. 6 December 2011. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  23. ^ Robinson, Duncan (3 November 2015). "Belgium: A nation divided by more than two languages". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Quality of Life Index by Country 2017 Mid-Year". www.numbeo.com. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  25. ^ "Health index" (PDF). World Health Organization. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 August 2011.
  26. ^ "Education index | Human Development Reports". hdr.undp.org. Archived from the original on 4 January 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  27. ^ "Human Development Report 2016" (PDF). undp.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Global Peace Index 2017" (PDF). reliefweb.int. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 December 2017.


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