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Kingdom of Belgium
Koninkrijk België (Dutch)
Royaume de Belgique (French)
Königreich Belgien (German)
Flag of Belgium Coat of arms of Belgium
Flag Coat of arms
MottoEendracht maakt macht  (Dutch)
L'union fait la force  (French)
Einigkeit macht stark  (German)
"Strength through Unity" (lit. "Unity creates Strength", "Unity makes one strong")
AnthemThe "Brabançonne"
Location of Belgium
Location of  Belgium  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

Capital Brussels
50°51′N 4°21′E / 50.85°N 4.35°E / 50.85; 4.35
Largest metropolitan area Brussels Capital Region
Official languages Dutch, French, German
Demonym Belgian
Government Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy
 -  King Albert II
 -  Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy
 -  Declared 4 October 1830 
 -  Recognized 19 April 1839 
EU accession 25 March 1957
 -  Total 30,528 km2 (139th)
11,787 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 6.4
 -  2008 estimate 10,666,866[1]
 (76th [2005])
 -  2001 census 10,296,350 
 -  Density 344.32/km2 (2006) (29th [2005])
892/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2007 estimate
 -  Total $377.215 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $35,387[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
 -  Total $454.283 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $42,617[2] 
Gini (2000) 33 (medium) (33rd)
HDI (2005) 0.946 (high) (17th)
Currency Euro ()1 (EU)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .be
Calling code 32
1 Before 1999: Belgian franc.
2 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
The Seventeen Provinces (orange, brown and yellow areas) and the Bishopric of Liège (green)

The Kingdom of Belgium en-us-Belgium.ogg /ˈbɛldʒəm/ is a country in northwest Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts its headquarters, as well as those of other major international organizations, including NATO.[3] Belgium covers an area of 30,528 km2 (11,787 square miles) and has a population of about 10.7 million.

Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home for two main linguistic groups, the Flemings and the French-speakers, mostly Walloons, plus a small group of German-speakers.

Belgium's two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north, with 59% of the population, and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia, inhabited by 31%. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region and near the Walloon Region, and has 10% of the population.[4] A small German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia.[5] Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political and cultural conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.[6][7]

The name 'Belgium' is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples.[8][9] Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. From the 16th century until the Belgian revolution in 1830, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed "the battlefield of Europe"[10] and "the cockpit of Europe"[11]—a reputation strengthened by both World Wars. Upon its independence, Belgium eagerly participated in the Industrial Revolution,[12][13] and, at the end of the nineteenth century, possessed several colonies in Africa.[14] The second half of the 20th century was marked by the rise of communal conflicts between the Flemings and the Francophones fuelled by cultural differences on the one hand and an asymmetrical economic evolution of Flanders and Wallonia on the other hand. These still-active conflicts have caused far-reaching reforms of the unitary Belgian state into a federal state.



In the 1st century BC, the Romans, after defeating the local tribes, created the province of Gallia Belgica. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish 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. The Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and Western Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which during the Middle Ages were vassals either of the King of France or of the Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries. Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.[15]

The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) divided the area into the northern United Provinces (Belgica Foederata in Latin, the "Federated Netherlands") and the Southern Netherlands (Belgica Regia, the "Royal Netherlands"). The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries.[16] Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, 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, ending Austrian rule in the region. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815. The 1830 Belgian Revolution led to the establishment of an independent, Catholic, and neutral Belgium under a provisional government and a national congress. Since the installation of Leopold I as king in 1831, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. Although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced in 1893 (with plural voting until 1919), and for women in 1949. The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party and the Liberal Party, with the Belgian Labour Party emerging towards the end of the century. French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie. It progressively lost its overall importance as Dutch became recognized as well. This recognition became official in 1898, and in 1967 a Dutch version of the Constitution was legally accepted.[17]

Episode of the Belgian Revolution of 1830 (1834)
by Egide Charles Gustave Wappers,
in the Ancient Art Museum, Brussels.

The Berlin Conference of 1885 gave the Congo Free State to King Leopold II as his private possession. From around 1900 there was growing international concern at the savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, for whom the Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber. In 1908 this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo.[18]

Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan, and much of the Western Front fighting of World War I occurred in western parts of the country. Belgium took over the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi (modern day Rwanda and Burundi) during the war, and they were mandated to Belgium in 1924 by the League of Nations. In the aftermath of the first World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy were annexed by Belgium 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority. The country was again invaded by Germany in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg offensive, and occupied until its liberation in 1945 by the Allies. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis;[19] Ruanda-Urundi followed two years later.

After World War II, Belgium joined NATO as a founder 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 in 1951, and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter is now the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament.

Government and politics

Belgium is a constitutional, popular monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy

The federal bicameral parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives. The former is made up of 40 directly elected politicians and 21 representatives appointed by the 3 community parliaments, 10 coopted senators and the children of the king, as senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote. The Chamber's 150 representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts. Belgium is one of the few countries that has compulsory voting, and thus holds one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world.[20]

The King (currently Albert II) is the head of state, though with limited prerogatives. He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government. The numbers of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers are equal as prescribed by the Constitution.[21] The judicial system is based on civil law and originates from the Napoleonic code. The Court of Cassation is the court of last resort, with the Court of Appeal one level below.

Belgium's political institutions are complex; most political power is organized 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. The major parties in each community, though close to the political centre, belong to three main groups: the right-wing Liberals, 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 after the first dioxin crisis, a major food contamination scandal.[22][23] A 'rainbow coalition' emerged from six parties: the Flemish and the French-speaking Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens.[24] Later, a 'purple coalition' of Liberals and Social Democrats formed after the Greens lost most of their seats in the 2003 election.[25] The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt 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 and more lenient soft drug usage prosecution. Restrictions on withholding euthanasia were reduced and same-sex marriage legalized. The government promoted active diplomacy in Africa[26] and opposed the invasion of Iraq.[27] Verhofstadt's coalition fared badly in the June 2007 elections. Since then the country has been experiencing a long-lasting political crisis.[28] This crisis is such that many observers have speculated on a possible partition of Belgium. From the 21 December 2007 until 20 March 2008 the Verhofstadt III Government was in office. This coalition of the Flemish and Francophone Christian Democrats, the Flemish and Francophone Liberals together with the Francophone Social Democrats was an interim government until 20 March 2008. On that day a new government, led by Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, the actual winner of the federal elections of June 2007, was sworn in by the king. On 15 July 2008 Leterme announced the resignation of the cabinet to the king, as no progress in constitutional reforms has been made.[29] In December 2008 he offered once more his resignation to the King after a crisis surrounding the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas.[30]. His resignation was accepted and Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy was sworn in as Prime Minister on December 30, 2008.[31]

In its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Belgium (along with Finland and Sweden) 5th out of 169 countries.[32]

Communities and regions

     Flemish Community          Flemish & French Community      French Community     German-speaking Community
     Flemish Region     Brussels-Capital Region     Walloon Region

Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Hasburgian courts,[33] in the 19th century it was necessary to speak French to belong to the governing upper class, and those who could only speak Dutch, Walloon or other regional dialects were effectively second-class citizens. Late that century, and continuing into the 20th century, the Flemish and Walloon movements evolved to counter this situation. While the Walloons and most Brusselers adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in imposing Dutch as Flanders' official language. 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, consecutive revisions of the country's constitution in 1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993 established a unique federal state with segregated political power into three levels:[34][35]

  1. The federal government, based in Brussels.
  2. The three language communities:
  3. The three regions:

The constitutional language areas 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 in the Flemish Region a single institutional body of parliament and government is empowered for all except federal and specific municipal matters.[36] 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 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.[12]

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 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.[37] The budget – without the debt – controlled by the federal government amounts to about 50% of the national fiscal income. The federal government employs ca. 12% of the civil servants.[38]

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, etc.).[39]

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.[39]

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.[37] Each level of government can be involved in scientific research and international relations associated with its powers.[40][40] The treaty-making power of the Region's and Communities' Governments is the broadest of all the Federating units of all the Federations all over the world.[41][42][43]

Geography, climate, and environment

Polders along the Yser river

Belgium shares borders with France (620 km), Germany (167 km), Luxembourg (148 km) and the Netherlands (450 km). Its total area, including surface water area, is 33,990 square kilometres; land area alone is 30,528 km2. 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 uplands in the south-east are part of the Hercynian orogenic belt. The Paris Basin reaches a small fourth area at Belgium's southernmost tip, Belgian Lorraine.[44]

The coastal plain consists mainly of sand dunes and polders. Further inland lies a smooth, slowly rising landscape irrigated by numerous waterways, with fertile valleys and the northeastern sandy plain of the Campine (Kempen). The thickly forested hills and plateaus of the Ardennes are more rugged and rocky with caves and small gorges, and offer much of Belgium's wildlife but little agricultural capability. Extending westward into France, this area is eastwardly connected to the Eifel in Germany by the High Fens plateau, on which the Signal de Botrange forms the country's highest point at 694 metres (2,277 ft).[45][46]

Wooded landscape of Ardennes

The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb). The average temperature is lowest in January at 3 °C (37 °F), and highest in July at 18  °C (64  °F). The average precipitation per month varies between 54 millimetres (2.1 in) in February or April, to 78 millimetres (3.1 in) in July.[47] Averages for the years 2000 to 2006 show daily temperature minimums of 7 °C (45 °F) and maximums of 14 °C (57 °F), and monthly rainfall of 74 millimetres (2.9 in); these are about 1 degree Celsius and nearly 10 millimetres above last century's normal values, respectively.[48]

Phytogeographically, Belgium is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom.[49] According to the WWF, the territory of Belgium belongs to the ecoregion of Atlantic mixed forests.[50]

Because of its high population density, location in the centre of Western Europe, and inadequate political effort, Belgium faces serious environmental problems. A 2003 report suggested Belgian natural waters (rivers and groundwater) to have the lowest water quality of the 122 countries studied.[51] In the 2006 pilot Environmental Performance Index, 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.[52]


Steelmaking along the Meuse River at Ougrée, near Liège

Belgium's strongly globalized economy[53] and its transportation infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helps made it 2007 the world's 15th largest trading nation.[54][55] The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP, and high exports per capita.[10] Belgium's main imports are food products, machinery, rough diamonds, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, clothing and accessories, and textiles. Its main exports are automobiles, food products, iron and steel, finished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products, and nonferrous metals. The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind.[12][56] One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies. Since 1922, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market within a customs and currency union: the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union.

Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone (Commemorative €2 coin).

Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 1800s.[57] Liège and Charleroi rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century in the SambreMeuse valley, the sillon industriel, and made of Belgium from 1830 to 1910 one of the three first industrial powers of the world.[58] However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis and the region experienced famine from 1846–50.

After World War II, Ghent and Antwerp experienced a rapid expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. The 1973 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.[59] In the 1980s and 90s, the economic centre of the country continued to shift northwards and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish Diamond area.[60]

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.[61] 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.[62]

From 1832 until 2002, Belgium's currency was the Belgian franc. Belgium switched to the euro in 2002, with the first sets of euro coins being minted in 1999. While the standard Belgian euro coins designated for circulation show the portrait of King Albert II, this does not happen for commemorative coins, where designs are freely chosen.


Main areas and places in Belgium

At the start of 2007 nearly 92% of the Belgian population were national citizens, and around 6% were citizens from other European Union member countries. The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan (80,579), Spanish (42,765), Turkish (39,419), and German (37,621).[63][64]


Brussels, the capital of Belgium and largest metropolitan area in the country.

Almost all of the Belgian population is urban—97% in 2004.[65] The population density of Belgium is 342 per square kilometre (886 per square mile)—one of the highest in Europe, after that of the Netherlands and some microstates such as Monaco. The most densely inhabited area is the Flemish Diamond, outlined by the AntwerpLeuvenBrusselsGhent agglomerations. 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 (117,251) its most populous cities; Wallonia had 3,413,978, with Charleroi (201,373), Liège (185,574) and Namur (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.[1]


Belgium has three official languages, which are, in order from the greatest speaker population to the smallest, Dutch, French, and German. A number of non-official, minority languages are spoken as well.

As no census exists, there is no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium's three official languages or their dialects. 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%[66] of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often colloquially referred to as "Flemish"), and French is spoken by 40%. 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.[67][68] The German-speaking Community 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 of German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.[5][69]

Bilingual signs in Brussels.

Both the Dutch spoken in Belgium and the Belgian French 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 in their local environment. Walloon, 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,[70] are not used in public life.


Education is compulsory from six to eighteen for Belgians, but many continue to study until about 23 years of age. Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third-highest proportion of 18–21-year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%.[71] Though an estimated 98% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy.[70][72] The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium's education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[73]

Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the liberal and the catholic parties, 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 education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the Communities.[74]


Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics.[75] However Belgium is largely a secular country as the laicist constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right in practice. During the reign of Albert I and Baudouin, the monarchy has had a reputation of deeply-rooted Catholicism.

Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position. Belgium's concept of 'recognized religions'[76] set a path for Islam to follow to acquire the treatment of Jewish and Protestant religions. While other minority religions, such as Hinduism, do not yet have such status, Buddhism took the first steps toward legal recognition in 2007.[74][77][78] According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion,[79] 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.[80]

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005,[81] 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".

It is estimated that between 3 to 4% of the Belgian population is Muslim (98% Sunni) (350 000 to 400 000 people).[82][83] The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi. 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.[84] There is also a small Hindu population.[citation needed] Moreover about 10,000 Sikhs are also present in Belgium.[85]

Science and technology

Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history. The sixteenth century Early Modern flourishing of Western Europe included cartographer Gerardus Mercator, anatomist Andreas Vesalius, herbalist Rembert Dodoens, and mathematician Simon Stevin among the most influential scientists.

The quickly developed and dense Belgian railroad system caused major companies like La Brugeoise et Nivelles (now the BN division of Bombardier Transportation) to develop specific technologies, and the economically important very deep coal mining in the course of the First Industrial Revolution has required highly reputed specialized studies for mine engineers.

The end of the nineteenth century and the twentieth saw important Belgian advances in applied and pure science. The chemist Ernest Solvay and the engineer Zenobe Gramme (École Industrielle de Liège) gave their names to the Solvay process and the Gramme dynamo, respectively, in the 1860s. Bakelite was developed in 1907–1909 by Leo Baekeland. Georges Lemaître (Catholic University of Leuven) is credited with proposing the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe in 1927. Three Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine were awarded to Belgians: Jules Bordet (Université Libre de Bruxelles) in 1919, Corneille Heymans (University of Ghent) in 1938, and Albert Claude (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and Christian De Duve (Université Catholique de Louvain) in 1974. Ilya Prigogine (Université Libre de Bruxelles) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.[86]


Cultural life is nowadays concentrated within each language community and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced.[12][87][88] There has been since the 1970s no bilingual universities except the Royal Military Academy, no common media,[89] and no single large cultural or scientific organization 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.[90] Despite its political and linguistic divisions that have been strongly changing during the centuries, 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.

Fine arts

Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art, the Early Netherlandish,[91] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting,[92] and major examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture[93] 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 and Rogier van der Weyden, the 16th century is characterized by a broader panel of styles such as Peter Breughel's landscape paintings and Lambert Lombard's representation of the antique.[94] Though the Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck flourished in the early 17th century in the Southern Netherlands,[95] it gradually declined thereafter.[96][97] During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many original romantic, expressionist and surrealist Belgian painters emerged, including James Ensor, Constant Permeke and René Magritte. The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the 1950s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art.[98][99] The multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre and the painter Luc Tuymans are other internationally renowned figures on the contemporary art scene. Belgian contributions to architecture also continued into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the work of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde, who were major initiators of the Art Nouveau style.[100][101]

The vocal music of the Franco-Flemish School developed in the southern part of the Low Countries and was an important contribution to Renaissance culture.[102] The nineteenth and twentieth centuries witnessed the appearance of major violinists, such as Eugène Ysaÿe and Arthur Grumiaux, while Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846. The composer César Franck was born in Liège in 1822. Contemporary music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel have achieved global fame. In rock/pop music, Telex, Front 242, K's Choice, Hooverphonic, Zap Mama, Soulwax and dEUS are well known.[103]

Belgium has produced several well-known authors, including the poet Emile Verhaeren and novelists Hendrik Conscience, Georges Simenon, Suzanne Lilar and Amélie Nothomb. The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1911. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé is the best known of Franco-Belgian comics, but many other major authors, including Peyo (The Smurfs), André Franquin, Edgar P. Jacobs, and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry on a par with the U.S.A. and Japan.

Belgian cinema, has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen.[104] Other Belgian directors include André Delvaux, Stijn Coninx, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne; well-known actors include Jan Decleir and Marie Gillain; and successful films include Man Bites Dog and The Alzheimer Affair.[105] In the 1980s, Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts produced important fashion trendsetters, known as the Antwerp Six.[106]


The Gilles of Binche, in costume, wearing wax masks

Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: the country has a comparatively high number of processions, cavalcades, parades, 'ommegangs' and 'ducasses',[107] 'kermesse', and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious or mythological background. The Carnival of Binche with its famous Gilles, and the 'Processional Giants and Dragons' of Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons are recognized by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[108] Other examples are the Carnival of Aalst; the still very religious processions of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Virga Jesse in Hasselt, and Hanswijk in Mechelen; the August 15 festival in Liège; and the Walloon festival in Namur. Originated in 1832 and revived in the 1960s, the Gentse Feesten have become a modern tradition. A major non-official holiday is the Saint Nicholas Day, a festivity for children and, in Liège, for students.[109]


The 1920 Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp, Belgium.

Association football and cycling are the most popular sports in Belgium. With five victories in the Tour de France and numerous other cycling records, Belgian Eddy Merckx ranks #1 as the greatest cyclist of all time.[110] His hour speed record (set in 1972) stood for twelve years. Jean-Marie Pfaff, a former Belgian goalkeeper, is considered one of the greatest in the history of football.[111] Belgium is currently bidding with the Netherlands to host the 2018 World Cup.[112] Both countries previously hosted the UEFA European Football Championship in 2000. Belgium also hosted the European Football Championships in 1972.

Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin both were Player of the Year in the Women's Tennis Association 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. The Belgian driver, Jacky Ickx, won eight Grands Prix and six 24 Hours of Le Mans, and twice finished as runner-up in the Formula One World Championship. Belgium also has a strong reputation in motocross; world champions include Roger De Coster, Joël Robert, Georges Jobé, Eric Geboers, Joël Smets and Stefan Everts.


Belgium is well known in the world over for its cuisine.[113][114] Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential gastronomic guides, such as the Michelin Guide.[115] Belgians love waffles and french fries. Contrary to their name, french fries also originated in Belgium. The name "french fries" actually refers to the description of the manner in which the potato is cut. To "french" means to cut into slivers. The national dishes are "steak and fries with salad", and "mussels with fries".[116][117][118]

Brands of Belgian chocolate and pralines, like Callebaut, Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Guylian and Godiva, are world renowned and widely sold.

Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer. The Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has consistently been rated the world's best beer.[119] The biggest brewer in the world by volume is Anheuser-Busch InBev based in Belgium.[120]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Structuur van de bevolking—België / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest / Vlaams Gewest / Waals Gewest / De 25 bevolkingsrijkste gemeenten (2000–2006)" (in Dutch) (asp). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy—Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. © 1998/2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Belgium, economic data". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved on 2008-10-09. 
  3. ^ Footnote: Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many international organizations, including ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CCC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G-10, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MONUC (observers), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNECE, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WADB (non-regional), WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC.
  4. ^ Leclerc, Jacques , membre associé du TLFQ (2007-01-18). "Belgique • België • Belgien—Région de Bruxelles-Capitale • Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest" (in French). L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Host: Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Université Laval, Quebec. Retrieved on 2007-06-18. "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. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. "the Brussels-Capital Region is an enclave of 162 km2 within the Flemish region." 
    * "Flanders (administrative region)". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Microsoft. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. "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). Retrieved on 2007-06-21. "The country is divided into three increasingly 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, lecturer at University of Birmingham Institute of Local Government Studies, School of Public Policy. "Language Facilities in the Brussels Periphery" (PDF). KULeuven—Leuvens Universitair Dienstencentrum voor Informatica en Telematica. Retrieved on 2007-06-21. "Brussels is a kind of enclave within Flanders—it has no direct link with Wallonia." 
  5. ^ a b "The German-speaking Community". The German-speaking Community. Retrieved on 2007-05-05.  The (original) version in German language (already) mentions 73,000 instead of 71,500 inhabitants.
  6. ^ Morris, Chris (2005-05-13). "Language dispute divides Belgium". BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  7. ^ Petermann, Simon, Professor at the University of Liège, Wallonia, Belgium—at colloquium IXe Sommet de la francophonie—Initiatives 2001—Ethique et nouvelles technologies, session 6 Cultures et langues, la place des minorités, Bayreuth (2001-09-25). "Langues majoritaires, langues minoritaires, dialectes et NTIC" (in French). Retrieved on 2007-05-04. 
  8. ^ Bunson, Matthew (1994). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire (Hardcover 352pp ed.). Facts on File, New York. pp. 169. ISBN 0 8160 2135 X [Paperback 512pp, ISBN 0-8160-3182-7; Revised edition (2002), Hardcover 636pp, ISBN 0-8160-4562-3]. 
  9. ^ Footnote: The Celtic and/or Germanic influences on and origin(s) of the Belgae remains disputed. Further reading e.g. Witt, Constanze Maria (May 1997). "Ethnic and Cultural Identity". Barbarians on the Greek Periphery?—Origins of Celtic Art. Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. Retrieved on 2007-06-06. 
  10. ^ a b "Belgian economy". Belgium. Belgian Federal Public Service (ministry) of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. Retrieved on 2007-05-21. 
  11. ^ Haß, Torsten, Head of the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences) of Kehl Library, Kehl, Germany (2003-02-17). "Rezention zu (Review of) Cook, Bernard: Belgium. A History ISBN 0-8204-5824-4" (in German). FH-Zeitung (journal of the Fachhochschule).,belgium.htm. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. "die Bezeichnung Belgiens als „the cockpit of Europe” (James Howell, 1640), die damals noch auf eine kriegerische Hahnenkampf-Arena hindeutete" [dead link]—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. Retrieved on 2007-05-24. —and as such coined for Belgium:
       Wood, James (1907). "Nuttall Encyclopaedia of General Knowledge—Cockpit of Europe". Retrieved on 2007-05-24. "Cockpit of Europe, Belgium, as the scene of so many battles between the Powers of Europe."  (See also The Nuttall Encyclopaedia)
  12. ^ a b c d Fitzmaurice, John, at the Secretariat-General of the European Commission, taught at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (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. Retrieved on 2007-08-12. 
  13. ^ "Belgium country profile". EUbusiness, Richmond, UK. 2006-08-27. Retrieved on 2007-08-12. 
  14. ^ Karl, Farah (text); Stoneking, James (course) (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, VA, USA. Retrieved on 2007-08-16. [dead link]
  15. ^ Edmundson, George (1922). "Chapter II: Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands". History of Holland. The University Press, Cambridge. Republished: Authorama. Retrieved on 2007-06-09. 
  16. ^ Footnote: Further reading: France in the 17th and 18th centuries
  17. ^ Kris Deschouwer (January 2004). "Ethnic structure, inequality and governance of the public sector in Belgium" (PDF). United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).$FILE/Deschou.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-05-22. 
  18. ^ Meredith, Mark (2005-06-06). The State of Africa (Hardcover 608pp ed.). Free Press. pp. 95–96(?). ISBN 0-7432-3221-6. 
  19. ^ The Congolese Civil War 1960–1964
  20. ^ Franklin, Mark N., Trinity College, Connecticut (2001). "The Dynamics of Electoral Participation—Table 10.1 Average turnout in free elections to the lower house in 40 countries, 1961–1999" (PDF). p. 32. Retrieved on 2007-05-29. 
  21. ^ "Belgium—Constitution—Title III Powers, Chapter II The Senate, Article 72 [King's Descendants] ; and Title III, Chapter III King and Federal Government, Section I The King ; and Section II The Federal Government, Article 99 [Composition of Government]". International Constitutional Law. Institut für öffentliches Recht, University of Berne, Switzerland. 1994-02-17. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.  Or both:
    * "Title III on power, Chapter II on the Senate, Art. 72". The Constitution of Belgium. The Federal Parliament of Belgium. 1997-01-21. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.  And
    * "Title III on Power, Chapter III on the King and the Federal Government, Section I on the King  and Section II on the Federal Government, Art. 99". The Constitution of Belgium. The Federal Parliament of Belgium. 1997-01-21. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. 
  22. ^ Tyler, Richard (1999-06-08). "Dioxin contamination scandal hits Belgium: Effects spread through European Union and beyond". World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). Retrieved on 2007-05-25. —Follow-up on occasion of 2nd dioxin crisis: α
  23. ^ School of Food Biosciences, University of Reading, UK (1999-06-16). Food Law News—EU : CONTAMINANTS—Commission Press Release (IP/99/399) Preliminary results of EU-inspection to Belgium. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-05-29. 
  24. ^ "Belgium's "rainbow" coalition sworn in". BBC News. 1999-07-12. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. 
  25. ^ "La Chambre des représentants—Composition (Composition of the Chamber of Representatives)" (in French) (PDF). The Chamber of Representatives of Belgium. 2006-03-09. Retrieved on 2007-05-25. 
  26. ^ "Rwanda". tiscali.reference. Tiscali UK. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.  The article shows an example of Belgium's recent African policies.
  27. ^ "Belgian demand halts NATO progress". CNN News. 2003-02-16. Retrieved on 2007-06-16. 
  28. ^ "The Belgian crisis in detail". Majorityrights. 2007-11-20. Retrieved on 2007-11-22. 
  29. ^ BBC news, july 15th, 2008
  30. ^ [1]Belgium Prime Minister offers resignation over banking deal
  31. ^ Belgian king asks Van Rompuy to form government Reuters
  32. ^ Reporters Without Frontiers, 2007
  33. ^ Johannes Kramer (1984) (in German). Zweisprachigkeit in den Benelux-ländern. Buske Verlag. p. 69. ISBN 3871185973. "Zur prestige Sprache wurde in den Spanischen Niederlanden ganz eindeutig das Französische. Die Vertreter Spaniens beherrschte normalerweise das Französische, nicht aber das Niedderländische; ein beachtlicher Teil der am Hofe tätigen Adligen stammte aus Wallonien, das sich ja eher auf fie spanische Seite geschlagen hatte als Flandern und Brabant. In dieser Situation war es selbstverständlich, dass die flämischen Adligen, die im Laufe der Zeit immer mehr ebenfalls zu Hofbeamten wurden, sich des Französischen bedienen mussten, wenn sie als gleichwertig anerkannt werden wollten. [Transl.: The prestigious language in the Spanish Netherlands was clearly French. The Spain's representatatives usually mastered French but not Dutch; a notable part of the nobles at the court came from Wallonia, which had taken party for the Spanish side to a higher extent than Flanders and Brabant. It was therefore evident within this context that the Flemish nobility, of which a progessively larger number became servants of the court, had to use French, if it wanted to get acknowledged as well.]" 
  34. ^ Willemyns, Roland, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Germanic Languages (2002). "The Dutch-French Language Border in Belgium" (PDF). Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development Vol. 23 (Nos. 1&2): 36–49. Retrieved on 2007-06-22. 
  35. ^ Footnote: Each municipality of the Kingdom is part of one of the four language areas (taalgebieden in Dutch, Sprachgebiete in German), occasionally called linguistic regions (régions linguistiques in French). See the three legal versions of the Constitution:
    * "Titel I: Het federale België, zijn samenstelling en zijn grondgebied" (in Dutch). De Belgische Grondwet. Belgian Senate. 2007-05-15 last update of web page. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 België omvat vier taalgebieden" 
    * "Titel I: Das föderale Belgien, seine Zusammensetzung und sein Staatsgebiet" (in German). Die Verfassung Belgiens. Belgian Senate. 2007-05-15 last update of web page. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 Belgien umfaßt vier Sprachgebiete" 
    * "Titre Ier: De la Belgique fédérale, de ses composantes et de son territoire" (in French). La Constitution Belge. Belgian Senate. 2007-05-15 last update of web page. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 La Belgique comprend quatre régions linguistiques" 
      English translation, not recently updated and without legal value:
    * "Title I: On Federal Belgium, its components and its territory". the Constitution. Belgian Senate. 1997-01-21 last update of main 'the Constitution' page on web site. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 Belgium has four linguistic regions" 
  36. ^ Footnote: 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, and about Regional matters only in the latter.
  37. ^ a b "The Federal Government's Powers". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. [dead link]
  38. '^ Charles-Etienne Lagasse (2003). Les nouvelles institutions politiques de la Belgique et de l'Europe'. Namur: Erasme. p. 289. ISBN 2-87127-783-4. "In 2002, 58.92% of the fiscal income was going to the budget of the federal government, but more than one third was used to pay the interests of the public debt. Without including this post, the share of the federal government budget would be only 48.40% of the fiscal income. There are 87,8% of the civil servants who are working for the Regions or the Communities and 12,2% for the Federal State." 
  39. ^ a b "The Communities". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. [dead link]
  40. ^ a b "The Regions". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23. [dead link]
  41. ^ Charles-Etienne Lagasse (May 17–18, 2004). "Federalism in Russia, Canada and Belgium: experience of comparative research" (in French). Kazan Institute of Federalism. "La Belgique constitue ainsi le seul exemple clair du transfert d’une partie de la compétence « affaires étrangères » à des entités fédérées. (Transl.: Belgian is the only example of a transfer of a part of the power "foreign policy" to federating units" 
  42. ^ C.E. Lagasse (in French). Les nouvelles institutions de la Belgique et de l'Europe. p. 603. "[Le fédéralisme belge] repose sur une combinaison unique d'équipollence, d'exclusivité et de prolongement international des compétences. (Transl.: [Belgian federalism] is based on a unique combination of equipollent and exclusiv powers prolonged ont the international scene.)" 
  43. ^ Philippe Suinen (October 2000). "Une Première mondiale" (in French). Le Monde Diplomatique. "Dans l’organisation de ces autonomies, la Belgique a réalisé une « première » mondiale: afin d’éviter la remise en cause, par le biais de la dimension internationale, de compétences exclusives transférées aux entités fédérées, les communautés et régions se sont vu reconnaître une capacité et des pouvoirs internationaux. (Transl.: Belgian was the first country who gave the treaty-making policy to the Federating units)" 
  44. ^ "Belgium—The land—Relief". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, IL, USA. © 2007. Retrieved on 2007-07-03. 
  45. ^ "Geography of Belgium". Retrieved on 2007-08-10. 
  46. ^ "Life—Nature" (PDF 3.8 MB). Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. 2005. Retrieved on 2007-08-10. 
  47. ^ "Climate averages—Brussels". EuroWEATHER/EuroMETEO, Nautica Editrice Srl, Rome, Italy. Retrieved on 2007-05-27. 
  48. ^ "Kerncijfers 2006—Statistisch overzicht van België" (in Dutch) (PDF 1.8 MB). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy—Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. pp. 9–10. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  49. ^ Takhtajan, Armen, 1986. Floristic Regions of the World. (translated by T.J. Crovello & A. Cronquist). University of California Press, Berkeley.
  50. ^ Atlantic mixed forests (PA0402), World Wildlife Fund, 2001.
  51. ^ Pearce, Fred (2003-03-05). "Sewage-laden Belgian water worst in world". New Scientist. Retrieved on 2006-05-09. 
  52. ^ Pilot 2006 Environmental Performance Index – Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network
  53. ^ Belgium ranked first in the KOF Index of Globalization 2009 "KOF Index of Globalization". Retrieved on 2009-02-02. 
  54. ^ "Rank Order - Exports". CIA - The 2008 world factbook. Retrieved on 2008-10-05. "15[th]: Belgium $322,200,000,000 (2007 est.)" 
  55. ^ "Rank Order - Imports". CIA - The 2008 world factbook. Retrieved on 2008-10-05. "15[th]: Belgium $323,200,000,000 (2007 est.)" 
  56. ^ "Wallonia in 'decline' thanks to politicians". Expatica Communications BV. 2005-03-09. Retrieved on 2007-06-16. 
  57. ^ "Industrial History Belgium". European Route of Industrial Heritage. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  58. ^ Jean-Pierre Rioux (1989) (in French). La révolution industrielle. Paris: Seuil. p. 105. ISBN 2-02-000651-0. 
  59. ^ "Background Note: Belgium". US Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. April 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  60. ^ Vanhaverbeke, Wim. "Het belang van de Vlaamse Ruit vanuit economisch perspectief The importance of the Flemish Diamond from an economical perspective" (in Dutch). Netherlands Institute of Business Organization and Strategy Research, University of Maastricht (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration), The Netherlands. Retrieved on 2007-05-19. [dead link]
  61. ^ "The World Factbook—(Rank Order—Public debt)". CIA. 2007-04-17. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  62. ^ "Key figures". National Bank of Belgium. Retrieved on 2007-05-19. [dead link]
  63. ^ Perrin, Nicolas, UCLouvain, Study Group of Applied Demographics (Gédap) (April 2006). "European Migration Network—Annual Statistical Report on migration and asylum in Belgium (Reference year 2003)—section A. 1) b) Population by citizenship & c) Third country nationals, 1 January 2004" (PDF). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Interior—Immigration Office. pages 5–9. Retrieved on 2007-05-28. 
  64. ^ De vreemde bevolking
  65. ^ "Quelques résultats des précédents recensements—Indicateurs de logement (1991)" (in French switchable to Dutch). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy—Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. © 1998/2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  66. ^ Footnote: 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%;
  67. ^ 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
  68. ^ "Belgium Market background". British Council. Retrieved on 2007-05-05. "The capital Brussels, 80–85 percent French-speaking, ..." —Strictly, the capital is the municipality (City of) Brussels, though the Brussels-Capital Region might be intended because of its name and also its other municipalities housing institutions typical for a capital.
  69. ^ "Citizens from other countries in the German-speaking Community". The German-speaking Community. Retrieved on 2007-05-05. 
    * "German (Belgium)—Overview of the language". Mercator, Minority Language Media in the European Union, supported by the European Commission and the University of Wales.;id=112;lang=1. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
    * Leclerc, Jacques , membre associé du TLFQ (2006-04-19). "Belgique • België • Belgien—La Communauté germanophone de Belgique" (in French). L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Host: Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Université Laval, Quebec. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  70. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005). "Languages of Belgium". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th edition. SIL International Dallas, Texas, USA. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  71. ^ "Table 388. Percentage of population enrolled in secondary and postsecondary institutions, by age group and country". Digest of Education Statistics—Tables and Figures. National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), US Department of Education. 2005, data: 2002. Retrieved on 2007-06-06. 
  72. ^ "I. Monitoring Human Development: Enlarging peoples's choices... —5. Human poverty in OECD, Eastern Europe and the CIS" (PDF). Human Development Indicators. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2000. pp. 172–173. Retrieved on 2007-06-06. [dead link]
  73. ^
  74. ^ a b De Ley, Herman (2000). "Humanists and Muslims in Belgian Secular Society (Draft version)". Centrum voor Islam in Europe (Centre for Islam in Europe), Ghent University. Retrieved on 2007-06-07. 
  75. ^ See for example Belgium entry of the Catholic Encyclopedia
  76. ^ "2001 Annual Report on Human Rights in Belgium" (PDF). 
  77. ^ Bousetta, Hassan; Gsir, Sonia; Jacobs, Dirk (2005). "Active Civic Participation of Immigrants in Belgium—Country Report prepared for the European research project POLITIS, Oldenburg" (PDF). Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg IBKM. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. "In many respects, the Catholic Roman Church remains in a very advantageous situation both symbolically and materially. The long and troublesome process that eventually lead to the recognition of Islam is also illustrative of the ambiguity of the relations between the Belgian State and religions. For 25 years, Islam has been maintained in an unfair position in comparison to other religions." 
  78. ^ "België gaat plat op zijn buik voor China (Belgium bends over backwards for China)" (in Dutch). Metro (Belgian newspaper). 2007-05-10. p. 2. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. "[Upon the Dalai Lama for the second time in two years canceling a visit to Belgium after being informed by the Belgian government of Peking's diplomatic pressure, quote newspaper:] Uittredend Senaatsvoorzitster Anne-Marie Lizin reageert teleurgesteld: 'Gezien het belang van de vergadering waaraan u wilde deelnemen en gezien de redenen van uw beslissing, betreur ik dat ik u niet kan ontvangen in ons land, een land dat openstaat voor iedereen, ongeacht de religieuze overtuiging, en dat net een eerste stap heeft gezet in de erkenning van het'[sic] 'boeddhistische filosofie'. (Lawfully resigning at the end of the government's legislation, President of the Senat Anne-Marie Lizin reacts disappointedly: 'In view of the importance of the meeting you wanted to attend and in view of the reasons of your decision, I regret not being able to receive you in our country, a country open for everyone regardless of religious conviction, and which has just set a first step towards the recognition of the Buddhist philosophy.')"  Alternative urls:α, β, pdf 1.1 MB:γ[dead link]
  79. ^ "Belgium". International Religious Freedom Report 2004. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2004. Retrieved on 2007-05-28. 
  80. ^ Inquiry by 'Vepec', 'Vereniging voor Promotie en Communicatie' (Organisation for Promotion and Communication), published in Knack magazine 22 November2006 p. 14 [The Dutch language term 'gelovig' is in the text translated as 'religious', more precisely it is a very common word for believing in particular in any kind of God in a monotheistic sense, and/or in some afterlife].
  81. ^ "Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005 – page 11" (PDF). Retrieved on 2007-05-05. 
  82. ^ The many faces of Islam, TIME
  83. ^ 'Belgian Malcolm X' seeks office
  84. ^ Voor het eerst meer Marokkaanse dan Italiaanse migranten[dead link]
  85. ^ Dutch newspaper on Sikhs celebrating Maghi in Brussels
  86. ^ "Rembert Dodoens: iets over zijn leven en werk—Dodoens' werken" (in Dutch). Plantaardigheden—Project Rembert Dodoens (Rembertus Dodonaeus). Stichting Kruidenhoeve/Plantaardigheden, Balkbrug, the Netherlands. Revised 20 December, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-05-17. "... het Cruijdeboeck, dat in 1554 verscheen. Dit meesterwerk was na de bijbel in die tijd het meest vertaalde boek. Het werd gedurende meer dan een eeuw steeds weer heruitgegeven en gedurende meer dan twee eeuwen was het het meest gebruikte handboek over kruiden in West-Europa. Het is een werk van wereldfaam en grote wetenschappelijke waarde. De nieuwe gedachten die Dodoens erin neerlegde, werden de bouwstenen voor de botanici en medici van latere generaties. (... the Cruijdeboeck, published in 1554. This masterpiece was, after the Bible, the most translated book in that time. It continued to be republished for more than a century and for more than two centuries it was the mostly used referential about herbs. It is a work with world fame and great scientific value. The new thoughts written down by Dodoens, became the building bricks for botanists and physicians of later generations.)" 
    * O'Connor, J. J.; Robertson, E. F. (2004). "Simon Stevin". School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Retrieved on 2007-05-11. "Although he did not invent decimals (they had been used by the Arabs and the Chinese long before Stevin's time) he did introduce their use in mathematics in Europe." 
    * "Abstract (*)". S. Karger AG, Basel. Retrieved on 2007-05-11. "The importance of A. Vesalius' publication 'de humani corporis fabrica libri septem' cannot be overestimated."  (*) Free abstract for pay-per-view article by De Broe, Marc E.; De Weerdt, Dirk L.; Ysebaert, Dirk K.; Vercauteren, Sven R.; De Greef, Kathleen E.; De Broe Luc C. (1999). "The Low Countries - 16th/17th century" (PDF). American Journal of Nephrology 19 (2): 282–9. doi:10.1159/000013462. PMID 10213829. 
    * Midbon, Mark, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2000-03-24). "'A Day Without Yesterday': Georges Lemaitre & the Big Bang". Commonweal, republished: Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC). pp. 18–19. Retrieved on 2007-06-07. 
  87. ^ "Belgium—Arts and cultural education". Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 8th edition. Council of Europe / ERICarts. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-08. 
  88. ^ "Belgique". European Culture Portal. European Commission. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. 
  89. ^ Adrien Gonthier (2003). "Frontière linguistique, frontière politique, une presse en crise" (in French). Le Monde Diplomatique. Retrieved on 2008-06-17. 
  90. ^ Mumford, David (2008). The World Today Series. Western Europe/2007. NY Times. ISBN 1-887985-89-1. 
  91. ^ "Low Countries, 1000–1400 AD". Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. 
  92. ^ "Low Countries, 1400–1600 AD". Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. 
  93. ^ Several examples of major architectural realisations in Belgium belong to UNESCO's World Heritage List: "Belgium". Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. UNESCO. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. 
  94. ^ Hendrick, Jacques (1987) (in French). La peinture au pays de Liège. Liège: Editions du Perron. p. 24. ISBN 287114026X. 
  95. ^ Guratzsch, Herwig (1979) (in German). Die große Zeit der niederländische Malerei. Freiburg im Beisgau: Verlag Herder. p. 7. 
  96. ^ "Low Countries, 1600–1800 AD". Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. 
  97. ^ "Art History: Flemish School: (1600–1800)—Artists: (biography & artworks)". World Wide Arts Resources. 2006-02-05. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. —A general presentation of the Flemish artistic movement with a list of its artists, linking to their biographies and artworks
  98. ^ "Belgian Artists: (biographies & artworks)". World Wide Arts Resources. 2006-02-05. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. —List of Belgian painters, linking to their biographies and artworks
  99. ^ Baudson, Michel (1996). "Panamarenko". Flammarion (Paris), quoted at presentation of the XXIII Bienal Internacional de São Paulo. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. [dead link]
  100. ^ Brussels, capital of Art Nouveau (page 1), "ib. (page2)". Senses Art Nouveau Shop, Brussels. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-11.  (for example)
  101. ^ "Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)". UNESCO's World Heritage List. UNESCO. Retrieved on 2007-05-16. "The appearance of Art Nouveau in the closing years of the 19th century marked a decisive stage in the evolution of architecture, making possible subsequent developments, and the Town Houses of Victor Horta in Brussels bear exceptional witness to its radical new approach." 
  102. ^ "Western music, the Franco-Flemish school". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. "Most significant musically was the pervasive influence of musicians from the Low Countries, whose domination of the musical scene during the last half of the 15th century is reflected in the period designations the Netherlands school and the Franco-Flemish school." 
  103. ^ Two comprehensive discussions of rock and pop music in Belgium since the fifties:
    * "The Timeline—A brief history of Belgian Pop Music". The Belgian Pop & Rock Archives. Flanders Music Centre, Brussels. March 2007. Retrieved on 2007-06-07. 
    * "Belgian Culture—Rock". Vanberg & DeWulf Importing. © 2006. Retrieved on 2007-05-11. 
  104. ^ Notable Belgian films based on works by Flemish authors include: De Witte (author Ernest Claes) movie by Jan Vanderheyden & Edith Kiel in 1934, remake as De Witte van Sichem directed by Robbe De Hert in 1980; De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (Johan Daisne) André Delvaux 1965; Mira ('De teleurgang van de Waterhoek' by Stijn Streuvels) Fons Rademakers 1971; Malpertuis (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) Roland Verhavert 1974; Dood van een non (Maria Rosseels) Paul Collet & Pierre Drouot 1975; Pallieter (Felix Timmermans) Roland Verhavert 1976; De komst van Joachim Stiller (Hubert Lampo) Harry Kümel 1976; De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (Hendrik Conscience) Hugo Claus (a famous author himself) 1985; Daens ('Pieter Daens' by Louis Paul Boon) Stijn Coninx 1992; see also Filmarchief les DVD!s de la cinémathèque (in Dutch). Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
  105. ^ A review of the Belgian cinema can be found at "Cinema". .be Federal Portal. Federal government of Belgium. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-13. [dead link]
  106. ^ "Fashion and the ‘Antwerp Six’". Fashion Worlds, Dorset, UK. © 2004. Retrieved on 2007-05-13. 
  107. ^ Footnote: 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'.
  108. ^ "Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium and France". UNESCO. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. 
  109. ^ "Folklore estudiantin liégeois" (in French). University of Liège. Retrieved on 2008-06-17. 
  110. ^ Majendie, Matt (2005-04-18). "Great, but there are greater" (stm). BBC Sport. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. "[the Author's] top five [cyclists] of all time: 1 Eddy Merckx, 2 Bernard Hinault, 3 Lance Armstrong, 4 Miguel Indurain, 5 Jacques Anquetil" 
  111. ^ "Goalkeeping Greats" Retrieved on June 29, 2008
  112. ^ " Benelux trio to apply to host the 2018 World Cup, ESPN Soccernet Global, retrieved on May 22, 2008 from 2018 FIFA World Cup
  113. ^ "Eating Out in Belgium". subsite, Dublin, Ireland. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. 
  114. ^ "Belgium Cuisine". French Cuisine. About, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. 
  115. ^ "The Michelin stars 2007 in Belgium". TM Dreaminvest. 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. 
  116. ^ "Steak-frites". Epicurious. Retrieved on 2007-08-12.  Republished from Van Waerebeek, Ruth; Robbins, Maria (October 1996). Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook. Workman Publishing. ISBN 1-56305-411-6 (Paperback), ISBN 0-7611-0106-3 (Cloth). 
  117. ^ "Belgium". Global Gourmet. Retrieved on 2007-08-12.  Republished from Van Waerebeek, Ruth; Robbins, Maria (October 1996). Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook. Workman Publishing. ISBN 1-56305-411-6 (Paperback), ISBN 0-7611-0106-3 (Cloth). 
  118. ^ "Mussels". Visit Belgium. Official Site of the Belgian Tourist Office in the Americas. 2005. Retrieved on 2007-08-12. —Note: Contrarily to what the text suggests, the season starts as early as July and lasts through April.
  119. ^ Whilst taste is highly subjective and individual, some international beer drinkers consider the Westvleteren 12 to be among their favourite beers. The majority of members of and, two beer rating websites, consistently rate the Westvleteren 12 as their most enjoyable beer; the 8 and the Blonde also rank highly on both sites.
  120. ^ InBev (2007-04-24). InBev dividend 2006: 0.72 euro per share—infobox: About InBev. Press release. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. "InBev is a publicly traded company (Euronext: INB) based in Leuven, Belgium. The company's origins date back to 1366, and today it is the leading global brewer by volume." 

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