Belgium

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 .mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}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)

Location of Belgium
Capital
and largest city
Brussels
50°51′N 4°21′E / 50°51′N 4°21′E / 50.850; 4.350
Official languagesDutch
French
German
Ethnic groups
see Demographics
Religion
(2015[1])
Demonym(s)Belgian
GovernmentFederal parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[2]
• Monarch
Philippe
Sophie Wilmès
LegislatureFederal Parliament
Senate
Chamber of Representatives
Independence 
(from the Netherlands)
• Declared
4 October 1830
19 April 1839
Area
• Total
30,689[3] km2 (11,849 sq mi) (136th)
• Water (%)
6.5
Population
• 1 November 2019 census
11,515,793 Increase[4] (80th)
• Density
376/km2 (973.8/sq mi) (22th)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$550 billion[5] (38th)
• Per capita
$48,224[5] (20th)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$533 billion[5] (23rd)
• Per capita
$46,724[5] (17th)
Gini (2018)Positive decrease 25.6[6]
low
HDI (2019)Increase 0.919[7]
very high · 17th
CurrencyEuro () (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+2 (CEST)
Note: Although Belgium is located in Western European Time/UTC (Z) zone, since 25 February 1940, upon WW2 German occupation, Central European Time/[1] with a +0:42:30 offset (and +1:42:30 during DST) from Brussels LMT (UTC+0:17:30).
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.[8]
  3. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Belgium,[A] officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It 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 and Liège.

The sovereign state is 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:[9] the Flemish Region in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. 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 groups or communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), although French is the dominant language.[10] Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments.

Historically, Belgium is part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that also included parts of northern France and western Germany. Its modern name is derived from the Latin word 'Belgium', used by Julius Caesar's Gallic War, which described the region in the period around 55 BCE.[11] From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan center of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe",[12] a reputation strengthened by both world wars. The country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution when it seceded from the Netherlands.

Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution[13][14] and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.[15] The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled 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;[16] and the formation of a coalition government took 18 months following the June 2010 federal election, a world record.[17] Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders, which boomed after the war.[18]

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 several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.[B]

Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has very high standards of living, quality of life,[19] healthcare,[20] education,[21] and is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index.[22] It also ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world.[23]

History

Pre-independent Belgium

Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third. (...) Of all these, the Belgae are the strongest (...) .

Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, Book I, Ch. 1

The Belgae were the inhabitants of the northernmost part of Gaul, which was significantly bigger than modern Belgium. Caesar used the word "Belgium" once, to refer to their region. Gallia Belgica, as it was more commonly called, became a Roman province as a result of his conquests. Areas closer to the Rhine frontier, including the eastern part of modern Belgium, eventually became part of the province of Germania Inferior, which interacted with Germanic tribes outside the empire. At the time when central government collapsed in the Western Roman Empire, the region of Belgium was inhabited by a mix of Frankish tribes and a more Romanized population. During the 5th century the area came under the rule of the Merovingian kings, who had already seized power in what is northern France. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire.

The Dutch Revolt spread to the south in the mid-1570s after Spanish troops mutinied for lack of pay and went on the rampage in Antwerp, destroying 1,000 houses and slaughtering 17,000 people.[24] Military terror defeated the Flemish movement, and restored Spanish rule in Belgium.[25]

The Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the Carolingian empire into three kingdoms, whose borders had a lasting impact on medieval political boundaries. Most of modern Belgium was in the Middle Kingdom, later known as Lotharingia. Only the coastal county of Flanders became part of West Francia, the predecessor of France. During the Middle Ages, Lotharingia came under the control of the Holy Roman Emperor, but the lordships along the "March" (frontier) between the two great kingdoms maintained important connections.

Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries.[26] 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.[27]

The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) divided the Low Countries 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 (Spanish Netherlands) and the Austrian Habsburgs (Austrian Netherlands) and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of several more protracted conflicts during much of the 17th and 18th centuries involving France, including the Franco-Dutch War (1672–1678), the Nine Years' War (1688–1697), the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), and part of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748).

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 1814, after the abdication of Napoleon.

Independent Belgium

Scene of the Belgian Revolution of 1830 (1834), by Gustaf Wappers

In 1830, the Belgian Revolution led to the separation of the Southern Provinces from the Netherlands and to the establishment of a Catholic and bourgeois, officially French-speaking and neutral, independent Belgium under a provisional government and a national congress.[28][29] Since the installation of Leopold I as king on 21 July 1831, now celebrated as Belgium's National Day, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a laicist constitution based on the Napoleonic code.[30] Although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced after the general strike of 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 19th 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 the parliament accepted a Dutch version of the Constitution.[31]

The Berlin Conference of 1885 ceded control of the Congo Free State to King Leopold II as his private possession. From around 1900 there was growing international concern for the extreme and savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, for whom the Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber production.[32] Many Congolese were killed by Leopold's agents for failing to meet production quotas for ivory and rubber.[33] It is estimated that nearly 10 million were killed during the Leopold period. In 1908, this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo.[34] A Belgian commission in 1919 estimated that Congo's population was half what it was in 1879.[33]

Cheering crowds greet British troops entering Brussels, 4 September 1944

Germany invaded Belgium in August 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan to attack France, and much of the Western Front fighting of World War I occurred in western parts of the country. The opening months of the war were known as the Rape of Belgium due to German excesses. Belgium assumed control of the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi (modern-day Rwanda and Burundi) during the war, and in 1924 the League of Nations mandated them to Belgium. In the aftermath of the First World War, Belgium annexed the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.

German forces again invaded the country in May 1940, and 40,690 Belgians, over half of them Jews, were killed during the subsequent occupation and The Holocaust. From September 1944 to February 1945 the Allies liberated Belgium. After World War II, a general strike forced King Leopold III to abdicate in 1951, since many Belgians felt he had collaborated with Germany during the war.[35] The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis;[36] Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later. Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter has now become 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.

Other Languages
Acèh: Bèlgia
Адыгэбзэ: Белгиэ
адыгабзэ: Белгие
Afrikaans: België
Akan: Belgium
Alemannisch: Belgien
አማርኛ: ቤልጅግ
Ænglisc: Belgice
Аҧсшәа: Бельгиа
العربية: بلجيكا
aragonés: Belchica
ܐܪܡܝܐ: ܒܠܓܝܩܐ
arpetan: Bèlg·ica
asturianu: Bélxica
Avañe'ẽ: Véyhika
авар: Белген
Aymar aru: Bilkiya
azərbaycanca: Belçika
تۆرکجه: بلژیک
Bali: Belgia
bamanankan: Bɛliziki
Bân-lâm-gú: Pe̍k-ní-gī
башҡортса: Бельгия
беларуская: Бельгія
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Бэльгія
भोजपुरी: बेल्जियम
Bikol Central: Belhika
Bislama: Beljiom
български: Белгия
Boarisch: Bejgien
བོད་ཡིག: པེར་ཅིན།
bosanski: Belgija
brezhoneg: Belgia
буряад: Бельги
català: Bèlgica
Чӑвашла: Бельги
Cebuano: Belhika
čeština: Belgie
Chamoru: Belgika
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Bélgica
chiShona: Belgium
chiTumbuka: Belgium
corsu: Belgica
Cymraeg: Gwlad Belg
dansk: Belgien
davvisámegiella: Belgia
Deitsch: Belgien
Deutsch: Belgien
ދިވެހިބަސް: ބެލްޖިއަމް
dolnoserbski: Belgiska
डोटेली: बेल्जियम
ཇོང་ཁ: བེལ་ཇིཡམ
eesti: Belgia
Ελληνικά: Βέλγιο
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Bélgi
español: Bélgica
Esperanto: Belgio
estremeñu: Bélgica
euskara: Belgika
eʋegbe: Belgium
فارسی: بلژیک
Fiji Hindi: Belgium
føroyskt: Belgia
français: Belgique
Frysk: Belgje
Fulfulde: Beljik
furlan: Belgjo
Gaeilge: An Bheilg
Gaelg: Yn Velg
Gagauz: Belgiya
Gàidhlig: A' Bheilg
galego: Bélxica
ГӀалгӀай: Бельги
ગુજરાતી: બેલ્જિયમ
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: बेल्जियम
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Pí-li-sṳ̀
한국어: 벨기에
Hausa: Beljik
Hawaiʻi: Pelekiuma
հայերեն: Բելգիա
Արեւմտահայերէն: Պելճիքա
हिन्दी: बेल्जियम
hornjoserbsce: Belgiska
hrvatski: Belgija
Ido: Belgia
Igbo: Belgium
Ilokano: Belhika
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: বেলজিয়াম
Bahasa Indonesia: Belgia
interlingua: Belgica
Interlingue: Belgia
Ирон: Бельги
íslenska: Belgía
italiano: Belgio
עברית: בלגיה
Jawa: Bèlgi
Kabɩyɛ: Pɛliziki
kalaallisut: Belgia
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಬೆಲ್ಜಿಯಂ
Kapampangan: Belgika
къарачай-малкъар: Бельгия
ქართული: ბელგია
kaszëbsczi: Belgijskô
қазақша: Бельгия
kernowek: Pow Belg
Kinyarwanda: Ububiligi
Kirundi: Ububirigi
Kiswahili: Ubelgiji
коми: Бельгия
Kongo: Belezi
Kreyòl ayisyen: Bèljik
kurdî: Belçîka
Кыргызча: Бельгия
Ladino: Beljika
لۊری شومالی: بلجیک
latgaļu: Beļgeja
Latina: Belgica
latviešu: Beļģija
Lëtzebuergesch: Belsch
лезги: Бельгия
lietuvių: Belgija
Ligure: Belgio
Limburgs: Belsj
lingála: Bɛ́ljika
Lingua Franca Nova: Beljia
Livvinkarjala: Bel'gii
la .lojban.: beldjym
Luganda: Bubirigi
lumbaart: Belgi
magyar: Belgium
मैथिली: बेल्जियम
македонски: Белгија
Malagasy: Belzika
മലയാളം: ബെൽജിയം
Malti: Belġju
Māori: Pehiamu
मराठी: बेल्जियम
მარგალური: ბელგია
مصرى: بلجيكا
مازِرونی: بلژیک
Bahasa Melayu: Belgium
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Bī-lé-sì
Mirandés: Bélgica
мокшень: Бельгие
монгол: Бельги
Nāhuatl: Belgica
Dorerin Naoero: Berdjiyum
Nederlands: België
Nedersaksies: België
नेपाली: बेल्जियम
नेपाल भाषा: बेल्जियम
日本語: ベルギー
Napulitano: Belge
нохчийн: Бельги
Nordfriisk: Belgien
Norfuk / Pitkern: Beljum
norsk: Belgia
norsk nynorsk: Belgia
Nouormand: Belgique
Novial: Belgia
occitan: Belgica
олык марий: Бельгий
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ବେଲଜିଅମ
Oromoo: Beeljiyeem
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Belgiya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਬੈਲਜੀਅਮ
Pälzisch: Belgien
Pangasinan: Belhika
پنجابی: بیلجیم
Papiamentu: Bélgika
پښتو: بېلجیم
Patois: Beljiom
Перем Коми: Белгия
Picard: Bergike
Piemontèis: Belgi
Tok Pisin: Beljiam
Plattdüütsch: Belgien
polski: Belgia
Ποντιακά: Βέλγιον
português: Bélgica
Qaraqalpaqsha: Belgiya
qırımtatarca: Belçika
Ripoarisch: Belgien
română: Belgia
romani čhib: Beljiya
rumantsch: Belgia
Runa Simi: Bilhika
русиньскый: Белґія
русский: Бельгия
саха тыла: Бельгия
Gagana Samoa: Peleseuma
संस्कृतम्: बेल्जियम्
Sängö: Bêleze
sardu: Bèlgiu
Scots: Belgium
Seeltersk: Belgien
Sesotho sa Leboa: Belgium
shqip: Belgjika
sicilianu: Belgiu
සිංහල: බෙල්ජියම
Simple English: Belgium
سنڌي: بيلجيم
SiSwati: IBhelijiyamu
slovenčina: Belgicko
slovenščina: Belgija
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Бєлгїѥ
ślůnski: Belgijo
Soomaaliga: Beljim
کوردی: بەلجیکا
Sranantongo: Belgikondre
српски / srpski: Белгија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Belgija
Sunda: Bélgia
suomi: Belgia
svenska: Belgien
Tagalog: Belhika
Taqbaylit: Biljik
tarandíne: Bèlge
татарча/tatarça: Бельгия
తెలుగు: బెల్జియం
tetun: Béljika
тоҷикӣ: Белгия
ᏣᎳᎩ: ᏇᎵᏥᎥᎻ
Türkçe: Belçika
Türkmençe: Belgiýa
удмурт: Бельгия
ᨅᨔ ᨕᨘᨁᨗ: Belgia
українська: Бельгія
اردو: بلجئیم
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: بېلگىيە
Vahcuengh: Bijliswz
vèneto: Belgio
vepsän kel’: Bel'gii
Tiếng Việt: Bỉ
Volapük: Belgän
Võro: Belgiä
walon: Beldjike
文言: 比利時
West-Vlams: België
Winaray: Belhika
Wolof: Belsik
吴语: 比利时
Xitsonga: Belgium
ייִדיש: בעלגיע
粵語: 比利時
Zazaki: Belçıka
Zeêuws: Belhië
žemaitėška: Belgėjė
中文: 比利时
kriyòl gwiyannen: Bèljik
Sakizaya: Belguim