country in northwest Europe bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France, with a short coastline on the North Sea. It is one of the founding members of the European Union and hosts its headquarters, as well as those of other major international organizations, including NATO.[2] Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 square miles) and has a population of about 10.5 million.

Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium's two largest regions are Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, with 58% of the population, and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia, inhabited by 32%. The Brussels-Capital Region is an officially bilingual enclave within the Flemish and near the Walloon Region, and has 10% of the population.[3] A small German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia.[4] Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political and cultural conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.[5][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 seventeenth century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. From the sixteenth 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] generating wealth and also a demand for raw materials; the latter was a factor during the era of its African colonies.[14]


Main article: History of Belgium
Enlarge picture
The Seventeen Provinces (orange, brown and yellow areas) and the Bishopric of Liège (green)
The area of present-day Belgium has seen significant demographic, political and cultural upheavals over the course of two millenia. In the first century BCE, the Romans, after defeating the local tribes, created the province of Gallia Belgica. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the fifth century, brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kingdom, which evolved into the Carolingian Empire in the eighth century. During the Middle Ages small feudal states emerged, many of which rejoined as the Burgundian Netherlands in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Emperor Charles V completed the union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, and unofficially also controlled the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.[15]

The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) divided the area into the northern United Provinces ('federate' Belgica Foederata in Latin) and the Southern Netherlands ('royal' Belgica Regia). The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. Until independence the area was sought after by numerous French conquerors and was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.[16] Following the , 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 Spanish-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. Initially an oligarchy ruled mainly by the Catholic Party and the Liberals, the country had evolved towards universal suffrage by World War II with the rise of the Labour Party and trade unions playing a strong role. French, once the single official language and adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie, had by then lost its overall importance as Dutch had become recognized as well. However, it was not until 1967 that an official Dutch version of the Constitution was accepted.[17]

Enlarge picture
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. In 1908, it was ceded to Belgium as a colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo. Belgian control of the Congolese population, particularly under Leopold II, was savage, and the country was plundered of resources such as ivory and rubber.[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, of which it was a founding member. The Treaty of Versailles had subjected several German border towns, most notably Eupen and Malmedy, to a plebiscite, which led to their annexation by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a small German community. Belgium was again invaded by Germany in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg offensive, and occupied until its liberation by Allied troops in the winter of 1944–45. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis; Ruanda-Urundi followed two years later.

After World War II, Belgium joined NATO, headquartered at Brussels, 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 1957 established European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community. 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

Main article: Politics of Belgium
Further information: List of Belgian monarchs, List of Belgian Prime Ministers, Foreign relations of Belgium
Belgium is a constitutional, popular monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

In the nineteenth century, the Francophile political and economic elite treated the Flemish-speaking population as second class citizens. At the end of the nineteenth century, and during much of the twentieth century, the Flemish movement evolved to counter this situation. A very sensitive issue is that fractions of this movement were not unsympathetic to the German occupation during World War II. Following World War II, Belgian politics became increasingly dominated by the autonomy of its two main language communities. Intercommunal tensions rose and even the unity of the Belgian state became scrutinized.[5] Through constitutional reforms in the 1970s and 1980s, regionalisation of the unitary state led to a three-tiered federation: federal, regional, and community governments were created, a compromise designed to minimize linguistic, cultural, social and economic tensions.[1].

Enlarge picture
Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Minister of mainly Liberal - Social Democrat governments for two full terms
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 as senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote, currently Prince Philippe, Princess Astrid and Prince Laurent, children of the King. 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.[19]

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.[20] 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-wingLiberals, the socially conservativeChristian Democrats, and the Socialists forming the left-wing. Further notable parties came to be 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 which led to the establishment of the Belgian Food Agency.[21][22] A 'rainbow coalition' emerged from six parties: the Flemish and the French-speaking Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens.[23] Later, a 'purple coalition' of Liberals and Social Democrats formed after the Greens lost most of their seats in the 2003 election.[24] The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from 1999 to 2007 achieved a balanced budget, 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[25] and opposed a military intervention during the Iraq disarmament crisis.[26] Verhofstadt's coalition fared badly in the elections of 2007.

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

Communities and regions

(Dutch) Koninkrijk België
(French) Royaume de Belgique
(German) Königreich Belgien
Kingdom of Belgium
FlagCoat of arms
Eendracht maakt macht  (Dutch)
L'union fait la force"  (French)
Einigkeit macht stark  (German)
"Strength through Unity"
The "Brabançonne"
Enlarge picture
Location of Belgium
Location of  Belgium  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)

Largest metropolitan areaBrussels Capital Region
Official languagesDutch, French, German
GovernmentFederal constitutional monarchy and bicameral parliamentary democracy
 - KingAlbert II
 - Prime MinisterGuy Verhofstadt
 - Declared4 October 1830 
 - Recognized19 April 1839 
Accession to
 European Union
25 March 1957
 - Water (%)6.4
 - 2006 estimate10,511,382[1]
 (76th [2005/small>]])
 - 2001 census10,296,350 
GDP (PPP)2004 estimate
 - Total$316.2 billion (30th)
 - Per capita$31,400 (13th)
Gini? (2000)33 (medium) (33rd)
HDI (2004) 0.945 (high) (13th)
CurrencyEuro ()1 (EUR)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD.be²
Calling code+32
1Prior to 1999: Belgian franc.

Flemish Community

French Community


Flemish Region

Walloon Region

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:[27][28]
  1. The federal government, based in Brussels.
  2. The three language communities:
  3. * the Flemish Community (Dutch-speaking);
  4. * the French (i.e., French-speaking) Community;
  5. * the German-speaking Community.
  6. The three regions:
  7. * the Flemish Region, subdivided into five provinces;
  8. * the Walloon Region, subdivided into five provinces;
  9. * the Brussels-Capital Region.

The constitutional language areas determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the for specific matters empowered institutions:

Public services rendered in the language of
individuals expressing themselves…
the Communities the Regions (and their provinces) the

 French  German-
Walloon Brussels-
…in Dutch …in French…in German
Dutch language areaYin 12 municipalities
(limited to 'facilities')
French language areain 4 municipalities
(limited to 'facilities')
Yin 2 municipalities
(limited to 'facilities')
Bilingual area Brussels-CapitalYY-YY---YY
German language area-in all 9 municipalities
(limited to 'facilities')
 By Law, inhabitants of 27[30] municipalities can ask limited services to be rendered in a neighbour language, forming 'facilities' for them.
'Facilities' exist only in specific municipalities near the borders of the Flemish with the Walloon and with the Brussels-Capital Regions,
and in Wallonia also in 2 municipalities bordering its German language area as well as for French-speakers throughout the latter area.
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.[29]

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]

Political authority

The Federal State retains a considerable "common heritage". This includes justice, defense, federal police, social security, nuclear energy, monetary policy and public debt, and other aspects of public finances. State-owned companies include the Post Office 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.[31]

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.).[32]

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.[33]

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.[31] Each level of government can be involved in scientific research and international relations associated with its powers.[32][33]

Geography, climate, and environment

Main article: Geography of Belgium
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.[34]

Enlarge picture
High Fens (Hautes Fagnes)
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 westernly 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).[35][36]

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.[37] 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.[38]

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 rivers to have the lowest water quality of the 122 countries studied.[39]


Main article: Economy of Belgium
Belgium's economy and its transportation infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helps make it one of the world's ten largest trading nations. 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 and 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, with Brussels as its main multilingual and multi-ethnic centre, and a Walloon economy that lags behind.[12][40] 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. In 1999, Belgium adopted the euro, the single European currency, which fully replaced the Belgian franc in 2002. Since 1922, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market within a customs and currency union: the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union.

Enlarge picture
Steelmaking along the Meuse River at Ougrée, near Liège
Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 1800s.[41] Liège and Charleroi rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century. 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.[42] 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.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45]


By New Year 2004 nearly 92 percent of the Belgian population were national citizens, and 5.5 percent were citizens of the rest of the initial 15 members of the European Union. The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (183,021), French (114,943), Dutch (100,700), Moroccan (81,763), Spanish (43,802), Turkish (41,336), and German (35,530).[46]

Enlarge picture
Main areas and places in Belgium


Almost all of the Belgian population is urban, at 97.2% in 2004.[47] Statistics for 1991 indicate two out of three residents were owners of their dwelling in Flanders and Wallonia, compared to 40% in the Brussels-Capital Region.[48] 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 Antwerp-Leuven-Brussels-Ghent 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]


Both the Dutch spoken in Belgium and the Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken 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. Its dialects, along with those of Picard,[49] are not used in public life.

As no census exists, there are no official statistics on Belgium's three official languages or their dialects. Various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may affect suggested figures. An estimated 59%[50] of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often 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.[51][52] 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.[4][53]

The Capital Region having bilingual status obliges its authorities to attend to people and organisations in French or Dutch language as these prefer, and to show street names in both languages on the plates, but does not allow a bilingual school as education belongs to either the French Community or the Flemish one. Geographically, it is an enclave in the Flemish Region though near Wallonia. Constitutionally, it is a politically distinct Region, while within its boundaries both the Flemish and French Communities exercise their authority. Its local language until shortly before Belgium's independence used to be Dutch, now mainly spoken by approximately 0.15 million residents, or a 15% minority.[3][6][7][51][52] Recent immigration, usually from a neither French nor Dutch-speaking country, has brought its population of foreign origin to 56%; thus the first language of roughly half of the inhabitants is not an official one of the Capital Region. Nevertheless, about three out of four residents have the Belgian nationality.[54][55][56][57] In general the population of Brussels is younger and the gap between rich and poor is wider. Brussels also has a large concentration of Muslims, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan ancestry, and mainly French-speaking black Africans. However, Belgium does not collect statistics by ethnic background, so exact figures are unknown.

In 2006, the UCL, the country's largest French-speaking university, published a report with this introduction (here translated): "This issue of Regards économiques is devoted to the demand for knowledge of languages in Belgium and in its three regions (Brussels, Flanders, Wallonia). The surveys show that Flanders is clearly more multilingual : whereas 59% and 53% of the Flemings know French or English respectively, only 19% and 17% of the Walloons know Dutch or English. The measures advocated by the Marshall Plan go towards the proper direction, but are without doubt very insufficient to fully overcome the lag." ''(This particular 2006–2009 'Marshall Plan' was deviced in 2004 and published in 2005 to uplift the Walloon economy.[58])'' Within the report, professors in economics Ginsburgh and Weber further show that of the Brussels' residents, 95% declared they can speak French, 59% Dutch, and 41% know the non-local English. Economically significant for a further globalizing future, among people under the age of forty, in Flanders 59%, in Wallonia 10%, and in Brussels 28% can speak all three forementioned languages. In each region, Belgium's third official language, German, is notably less known than those.[59][60][54]


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 percent.[61] Though an estimated 98 percent of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy.[49][62]

Highly politicized conflicts between freethought and Catholic segments of the population during the 1950s caused a split in educational organization. A secular branch of schooling is controlled by the Community, the province, or the municipality, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the Community.[63]


Since independence, Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics.[64] 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. Nevertheless, the monarchy has a reputation of deeply-rooted Catholicism. In 1990, for instance, as King constitutionally obliged to sign a law legalizing abortion after it had been passed by both chambers, Baudouin asked the then Christian-Democrat Prime Minister Wilfried Martens to find a way out, causing the Parliament to declare him 'temporarily unfit to reign', with his consent.[65] On the yearly national holiday, the King and Queen and other members of the royal family officially attend Te Deum celebrations.[66]

Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position. Belgium's concept of 'recognized religions' caused a tedious path for Islam to acquire the treatment of Jewish and Protestant religions. While other minority religions, such as Hinduism, do not yet have such status, Buddhism set the first step on this path in 2007.[63][67][68] According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion,[69] about 47 percent of the population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church, while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5 percent. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered more religious than Wallonia, showed 55% to call themselves religious, and that 36% believe that God created the world.[70]

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005,[71] 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".

Science and technology

Enlarge picture
Gerardus Mercator
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. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the Walloon method of making bar iron found its way to Sweden where it remained in use for more than two hundred and sixty years.

The quickly developed and dense Belgian railroad system caused major companies like Brugeoise et Nivelles (now the BN division of Bombardier) 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 gave their names to the Solvay process and the Gramme dynamo, respectively, in the 1860s. Georges Lemaître 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 in 1919, Corneille Heymans in 1938, and Albert Claude and Christian De Duve in 1974. Ilya Prigogine was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.[72]


Main article: Culture of Belgium
Belgian cultural life is concentrated within each language community,[12][73][74] and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced. There are no bilingual universities except the Royal Military Academy, no common media, and no single large cultural or scientific organisation in which both main communities are represented. Despite its divisions 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,[75] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting,[76] and major examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture[77] are milestones in the history of art. Famous names in this classic tradition include Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Theodore de Bry. The historical artistic production of the Flemish before the early seventeenth century Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck is often not distinguished from that of the Dutch. In the southern Netherlands it gradually declined thereafter, although high quality tapestry continued to be created until well into the eighteenth century.[78][79]

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many original romantic, expressionist and surrealist Belgian painters emerged, including Egide Wappers, 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.[80][81] 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.[82][83]

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.[84] The nineteenth and twentieth-centuries witnessed the appearance of major violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps, Eugène Ysaÿe and Arthur Grumiaux, while Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846. Belgium has also produced music of contemporary note. The first Belgian singer to successfully pursue an international career is Bobbejaan Schoepen, pioneer of varieté and pop music.[85] Jazz musician Toots Thielemans has achieved global fame, as have the singers Jacques Brel and Italy-born Adamo.[86] In rock/pop music, Telex, Front 242, K's Choice, Hooverphonic and dEUS are well known.[87]

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, Marc Sleen, and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry on a par with the U.S.A. and Japan.

Belgian cinema, often influenced by the Dutch or French, has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen.[88] The absence of a major Belgian cinema company, however, has forced several talented directors to emigrate, such as Carl Colpaert or participate in low-budget productions such as Marc Didden's Brussels by Night (1983).[89] 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.[90] In the 1980s, Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts produced important fashion trendsetters, known as the Antwerp Six.[91]


Enlarge picture
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, 'ommegangs' and 'ducasses',[92] 'kermesse', and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious 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.[93] 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.[94]


Football and cycling are especially popular amongst Belgians. Eddy Merckx is considered one of the greatest cyclists ever,[95] given five victories of the Tour de France and numerous other bicycle races records; his hour speed record set in 1972 stood for twelve years. Belgium has produced two female tennis champions who repeatedly ranked number one of the world, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.

The Spa-Francorchamps motor-racing circuit hosts the Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix. Belgium's most notable driver is Jacky Ickx and Thierry Boutsen, winner of eight Grands Prix and six 24 Hours of Le Mans. Belgium also has a strong reputation in motocross; world champions include Roger De Coster, Joel Robert, Georges Jobé, Eric Geboers, Joël Smets and Stefan Everts.

Belgium has played a major part in the promotion and development of Duathlon. More specifically Benny Vansteelant has made a lasting legacy concquering a stunning 8 World Champion titles and 5 European Champion titles.


Belgium is well known for its cuisine.[96][97] Many highly ranked restaurants can be found in the high-impact gastronomic guides, such as the Michelin Guide.[98] Brands of Belgian chocolate, like Neuhaus, Guylian and Godiva, are world renowned and widely sold. This reputation of very high quality extends to sweets like the 'Caramella Mokatine', created by Confiserie Roodthooft in Antwerp in 1934.[99]

Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer. The biggest brewery in the world by volume is Inbev based in Belgium.[100] Belgians have a reputation for loving waffles and French fried potatoes, both assumed to have originated in their country. The national dishes are steak-fries and lettuce, and mussels-fries.[101][102][103] A challenge for a television program caused no less than 307 different Flemish local or regional dishes to be presented on a 118-meter long table in Tivoli Park in Mechelen on 1 September 2007.[104]



1. ^ Structuur van de bevolking — België / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest / Vlaams Gewest / Waals Gewest / De 25 bevolkingsrijkste gemeenten (2000–2006) (asp) (Dutch). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy — Directorate-general Statistics Belgium (© 1998/2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-23.
2. ^ 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.
3. ^ Leclerc, Jacques , membre associé du TLFQ (2007-01-18). Belgique • België • Belgien — Région de Bruxelles-Capitale • Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (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 (plus 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.
4. ^ 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.
5. ^ Morris, Chris (2005-05-13). Language dispute divides Belgium. BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
6. ^ De Ridder, Paul, Doctor in Medieval History, Royal Library of Belgium. Linguistic Usages in Brussels before 1794. Vereniging voor Brusselse Geschiedenis (Society for History of Brussels). Retrieved on 2007-05-01.
7. ^ Petermann, Simon, Professor at the University of Liège, Wallonia, Belgium — at colloquium IXe Sommet de la francophonie — Intitiatives 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 (French). Retrieved on 2007-05-04.
8. ^ Bunson, Matthew (1994). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire, Hardcover 352pp, Facts on File, New York, p. 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. ^ 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 Library, Kehl, Germany (2003-02-17). Rezention zu (Review of) Cook, Bernard: Belgium. A History ISBN 0-8204-5824-4 (German). FH-Zeitung (journal of the Fachhochschule). 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 – 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. ^ Fitzmaurice, John, at the Secretariat-General of the European Commission, teached 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. Appomatox Regional Governor's School (History Department), Petersburg, VA, USA. Retrieved on 2007-08-16.
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). Retrieved on 2007-05-22.
18. ^ Meredith, Mark (2005-06-06). The State of Africa, Hardcover 608pp, Free Press, pp. 95–96(?). ISBN 0-7432-3221-6. 
19. ^ 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.
20. ^ 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.
21. ^ 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
22. ^ 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.
23. ^ "Belgium's "rainbow" coalition sworn in", BBC News, 1999-07-12. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. 
24. ^ La Chambre des représentants — Composition (Composition of the Chamber of Representatives) (pdf) (French). The Chamber of Representatives of Belgium (2006-03-09). Retrieved on 2007-05-25.
25. ^ Rwanda. tiscali.reference. Tiscali UK. Retrieved on 2007-05-27. The article shows an example of Belgium's recent African policies.
26. ^ "Belgian demand halts NATO progress", CNN News, 2003-02-16. Retrieved on 2007-06-16. 
27. ^ Willemyns, Roland, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Germanic Languages (2002). "The Dutch-French Language Border in Belgium". Journal of Multilingual and Multicutural Development Vol. 23 (Nos. 1&2): pp. 36–49. Retrieved on 2007-06-22. 
28. ^ 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 (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 (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 (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
29. ^ 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.
30. ^ Footnote: Apart from the municipalities with language facilities for individuals, the French language area has three more municipalities in which the second language in education legally has to be either Dutch or German, whereas in its municipalities without special status this would also allow for English. Lebrun, Sophie (2003-01-07). Langues à l'école: imposées ou au choix, un peu ou beaucoup (French). La Libre Belgique's web site. Retrieved on 2007-08-17.
31. ^ The Federal Government's Powers. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23.
32. ^ The Communities. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23.
33. ^ The Regions. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2007-05-23.
34. ^ Belgium — The land — Relief. Encyclopædia Britannica online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, IL, USA (© 2007). Retrieved on 2007-07-03.
35. ^ Geography of Belgium. Retrieved on 2007-08-10.
36. ^ Life – Nature (pdf 3.8 MB). Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (2005). Retrieved on 2007-08-10.
37. ^ Climate averages — Brussels. EuroWEATHER/EuroMETEO, Nautica Editrice Srl, Rome, Italy. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.
38. ^ Kerncijfers 2006 — Statistisch overzicht van België (pdf 1.8 MB) (Dutch) pp. 9–10. Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy — Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
39. ^ Pearce, Fred (2003-03-05). Sewage-laden Belgian water worst in world. New Scientist. Retrieved on 2006-05-09.
40. ^ Wallonia in 'decline' thanks to politicians. Expatica Communications BV (2005-03-9). Retrieved on 2007-06-16.
41. ^ Industrial History Belgium. European Route of Industrial Heritage. Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
42. ^ Background Note: Belgium. US Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (April 2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
43. ^ Vanhaverbeke, Wim. Het belang van de Vlaamse Ruit vanuit economisch perspectief The importance of the Flemish Diamond from an economical perspective (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.
44. ^ [ The World Factbook — (Rank Order — Public debt)]. CIA (2007-04-17). Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
45. ^ Key figures. National Bank of Belgium. Retrieved on 2007-05-19.
46. ^ 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) pages 5–9. Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Interior — Immigration Office. Retrieved on 2007-05-28.
47. ^ 5. Demographic trends — Urban population (% of total). Human Development Indicators 2006 — Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2006). Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
48. ^ Quelques résultats des précédents recensements — Indicateurs de logement (1991) (French switchable to Dutch). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy — Directorate-general Statistics Belgium (© 1998/2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
49. ^ 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.
50. ^ Footnote: Native speakers of Dutch living in Wallonia and of French in Flanders are relatively small minorities which 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%;
51. ^ 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, death, and so on); all these statistics on language are also available at Belgian Department of Justice (for weddings, birth, death), 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
52. ^ 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.
53. ^ Citizens from other countries in the German-speaking Community. The German-speaking Commmunity. 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. Retrieved on 2007-05-07.
* Leclerc, Jacques , membre associé du TLFQ (2006-04-19). Belgique • België • Belgien — La Communauté germanophone de Belgique (French). L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Host: Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Université Laval, Quebec. Retrieved on 2007-05-07.
54. ^ Van Parijs, Philippe, Professor of economic and social ethics at the UCLouvain, Visiting Professor at Harvard University and the KULeuven. "Belgium's new linguistic challenges" (pdf 0.7 MB). KVS Express (supplement to newspaper De Morgen) March–April 2007: Article from original source (pdf 4.9 MB) pages 34–36 republished by the Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy — Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. Retrieved on 2007-05-05.  – The linguistic situation in Belgium (and in particular various estimations of the population speaking French and Dutch in Brussels) is discussed in detail.
55. ^ "Van autochtoon naar allochtoon" (in Dutch). De Standaard (newspaper) online. Retrieved on 2007-05-05. “Meer dan de helft van de Brusselse bevolking is van vreemde afkomst. In 1961 was dat slechts 7 procent. (More than half of the Brussels' population is of foreign origin. In 1961 this was only 7 percent.) 
56. ^ Footnote: The Brussels region's 56% residents of foreign origin include several percents of either Dutch people or native speakers of French, thus roughly half of the inhabitants do not speak either French or Dutch as primary language.
57. ^ Population et ménages (pdf 1.4 MB) (French). IBSA Cellule statistique — Min. Région Bruxelles-Capitale (Statistical cell — Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region). Retrieved on 2007-05-05.
58. ^ Bayenet, Benoît, Professor at the ULB, in 2004 Economical Advisor to the federal Vice Prime Minister & Justice Minister, and to the Walloon Region's Minister of Economy and Employment; Vandendorpe, Luc, Direction Politique économique, Ministry of the Walloon Region (2004). "Le plan Marshall: cinq actions prioritaires pour l’avenir wallon (The Marshall plan: five prioritary actions for the Walloon future)" (in French). OVER.WERK journal of Steunpunt WAV (4/2005). Retrieved on 2007-07-23. 
59. ^ Ginsburgh, Victor, Université Catholique de Louvain; Weber, Shlomo, Professor Economy and Director of the Center for Economic Studies of the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, USA, and having a seat in the expert panel of the IMF [2] (June 2006). "La dynamique des langues en Belgique" (in French) (pdf 0.7 MB). Regards économiques, Publication préparée par les économistes de l'Université Catholique de Louvain (Numéro 42). Retrieved on 2007-05-07. “Ce numéro de Regards économiques est consacré à la question des connaissances linguistiques en Belgique et dans ses trois régions (Bruxelles, Flandre, Wallonie). Les enquêtes montrent que la Flandre est bien plus multilingue, ce qui est sans doute un fait bien connu, mais la différence est considérable : alors que 59 % et 53 % des Flamands connaissent le français ou l'anglais respectivement, seulement 19 % et 17 % des Wallons connaissent le néerlandais ou l'anglais. Les mesures préconisées par le Plan Marshall vont dans la bonne direction, mais sont sans doute très insuffisantes pour combler le retard. ... 95 pour cent des Bruxellois déclarent parler le français, alors que ce pourcentage tombe à 59 pour cent pour le néerlandais. Quant à l’anglais, il est connu par une proportion importante de la population à Bruxelles (41 pour cent). ... Le syndrome d’H (...) frappe la Wallonie, où à peine 19 et 17 pour cent de la population parlent respectivement le néerlandais et l’anglais.IMF%20%3Csmall%3E[]%3C%2Fsmall%3E&">  (Summary: Slechts 19 procent van de Walen spreekt Nederlands (Dutch). Nederlandse Taalunie (2006-06-12). Retrieved on 2007-05-26. – The article shows the interest in the Ginsburg-Weber report, by the French-language Belgian newspaper Le Soir and the Algemeen Dagblad in the Netherlands)
60. ^ Schoors, Koen, Professor of Economics at Ghent University, the KULeuven and the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School [3]. Réformer sans tabous - Question 1: les langues — La connaissance des langues en Belgique: Reactie (pdf) (Dutch). Itinera Institute. Retrieved on 2007-06-14. “Hoewel in beide landsdelen de jongeren inderdaad meer talen kennen dan de ouderen, is de talenkloof tussen Vlaanderen en Wallonië toch gegroeid. Dit komt omdat de talenkennis in Vlaanderen sneller is toegenomen dan die in Wallonië. ... Het probleem aan Franstalige kant is dus groot en er is, verassend genoeg, niet echt een verbetering of oplossing in zicht. ... het is met de kennis van het Engels ongeveer even pover gesteld als met de kennis van het Nederlands. Tot daar dus de verschoning van de povere talenkennis aan Waalse zijde als een rationele individuele keuze in een markt met externe effecten. Het is merkwaardig dat de auteurs dit huizenhoge probleem met hun verklaring expliciet toegeven, maar er bij het formuleren van beleidsadviezen dan toch maar van uit gaan dat hun model juist is. (Although in both parts of the country the young indeed know more languages than the elder, the languages chasm between Flanders and Wallonia has nevertheless grown. This is because the knowledge of languages in Flanders has increased faster than that in Wallonia. ... Thus the problem at the French-speaking side is large and there is, quite surprisingly, not really an improvement or solution in sight. ... the knowledge of English is in about as poor a state as the knowledge of Dutch. So far, about the excuse for the poor knowledge of languages on the Walloon side as a rational individual choice in a market with external effects. It is remarkable that the authors by their statement explicitly acknowledge this towering problem, but in formulating governance advices still assume their model to be correct.) – Reaction on the Ginsburgh-Weber report; Ib. Reactions (pdf) (French translation).
61. ^ 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.
62. ^ I. Monitoring Human Development: Enlarging peoples's choices... — 5. Human poverty in OECD, Eastern Europe and the CIS (pdf). Human Development Indicators pp. 172–173. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2000). Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
63. ^ 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.
64. ^ See for example entry of the Catholic Encyclopedia
65. ^ "HEADLINERS; Out of Power", New York Times, 1990-04-08. Retrieved on 2007-06-07. 
66. ^ Members of the royal family may attend Te Deums at several locations, the King and Queen always in the Brussels-Capital Region.
* July 21 – national holiday. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2007-07-07.
* Festivities for the National Holiday. .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government (2006-07-14). Retrieved on 2007-07-07.
67. ^ 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 which 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.
68. ^ "België gaat plat op zijn buik voor China (Belgium bends over backwards for China)", Metro (Belgian newspaper), 2007-05-10, pp. page 2. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. (Dutch) “[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 disappointed: '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 the 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
69. ^ Belgium. International Religious Freedom Report 2004. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2004). Retrieved on 2007-05-28.
70. ^ 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].
71. ^ Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005 - page 11. Retrieved on 2007-05-05.
72. ^ Rembert Dodoens: iets over zijn leven en werk — Dodoens' werken (Dutch). Plantaardigheden — Project Rembert Dodoens (Rembertus Dodonaeus). Stichting Kruidenhoeve/Plantaardigheden, Balkbrug, the Netherlands (Revised 20 Dec, 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): pp. 282–9. DOI:10.1159/000013462. PMID 10213829. 
* Poh Miller, Carol (Winter 2003). "Study Tour Takes A Close-up Look at Sweden’s Industrial Heritage" (pdf). Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter 32 (1): p. 7. Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, U.S.A.. Retrieved on 2007-07-13. 
* Midbon, Mark, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2000-03-24). 'A Day Without Yesterday': Georges Lemaitre & the Big Bang pp. 18–19. Commonweal, republished: Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC). Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
73. ^ 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.
74. ^ Belgique (though it should have been 'Belgium'). European Culture Portal. European Commission (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-10.
75. ^ Low Countries, 1000–1400 AD. Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-10.
76. ^ Low Countries, 1400–1600 AD. Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-10.
77. ^ 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.
78. ^ Low Countries, 1600–1800 AD. Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-10.
79. ^ 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
80. ^ 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
81. ^ Baudson, Michel (1996). Panamarenko. Flammarion (Paris), quoted at presentation of the XXIII Bienal Internacional de São Paulo. Retrieved on 2007-05-10.
82. ^ Brussels, capital of Art Nouveau (page 1), ib. (page2). Senses Art Nouveau Shop, Brussels (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-11. (for example)
83. ^ 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.
84. ^ 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.
85. ^ Notte, Peter (1992). De Vlaamse kleinkunstbeweging na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Een historisch overzicht. — 4. De schlager na de tweede wereldoorlog (Dutch). Verhandeling voorgelegd aan de Faculteit der Letteren en Wijsbegeerte, groep Germaanse Filologie, van de Universiteit Gent, voor het verkrijgen van de graad van licentiaat (Thesis presented at the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy, Germanic Philology, Ghent University, for obtaining a licentiate [equivalent to master's] degree) Promotor: Prof. Dr Anne-Marie Musschoot. Sint-Lodewijkscholen (educational project ethesis). Retrieved on 2007-05-12. (For these credentials see this thesis' presentation, retrieved on 2007-05-12)
86. ^ The Italian singer Adamo mainly made his career in Belgium, as confirmed by the biography on his site, retrieved on 2007-06-07.
87. ^ 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.
88. ^ 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.
89. ^ Kroniek van de Vlaamse film 1955–1990 — Perstekst naar aanleiding van de uitgave van ‘Brussels By Night? (doc) (Dutch). Flemish Community, Media Desk, Ghent. Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
90. ^ A review of the Belgian cinema can be found at Cinema. .be Federal Portal. Federal government of Belgium (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
91. ^ Fashion and the ‘Antwerp Six?. Fashion Worlds, Dorset, UK (© 2004). Retrieved on 2007-05-13.
92. ^ 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 ; 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 – see also ; the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'.
93. ^ Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium and France. UNESCO. Retrieved on 2007-05-15.
94. ^ Folklore estudiantin liégeois (French). University of Liège. Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
95. ^ Matt Majendie (18 April, 2005). BBC Sport:Great, but there are greater. Retrieved on 20 September, 2007. “[the Author's] top five [cyclists] of all time: 1 Eddy Merckx, 2 Bernard Hinault, 3 Lance Armstrong, 4 Miguel Indurain, 5 Jacques Anquetil
96. ^ Eating Out in Belgium. subsite, Dublin, Ireland (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-15.
97. ^ Belgium cuisine. French Cuisine. About, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-15.
98. ^ The Michelin stars 2007 in Belgium. TM Dreaminvest (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-15.
99. ^ Confiserie Roodthooft. Confectionery, Biscuits in Belgium – Belgium Chocolate Directory. WTO Emarketplace. Retrieved on 2007-07-08.
100. ^ 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.
101. ^ 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). 
102. ^ 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). 
103. ^ 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.
104. ^ Mechelen viert feest! - het verslag (Fata Morgana) (Dutch). één, primary TV channel of the official Flemish radio & television broadcast institution VRT (2007-09-02). Retrieved on 2007-09-02. “[translated] From starter to dessert (...) from all over Flanders. Also the entire public could enjoy the food, and did! Only the verdict by the sworn bailiff might spoil the fun. She counted 307 local or regional dishes. — [300 different ones were required to meet the challenge] see also challenge details, retrieved on 2007-09-02

General online sources


  • Arblaster, Paul (2005-12-23). A History of the Low Countries, Hardcover 312pp, Palgrave Essential Histories, Palgrave Macmillan, New York. ISBN 1-4039-4827-5 [Also edition (2005-12-23), Paperback 312pp, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 1-4039-4828-3]. 
  • Blom, J. C. H., Dutch State Institute for War Documentation, ed.; Lamberts, Emiel, Professor in Modern History KULeuven, ed.; Kennedy, James C., translator (May 1999). History of the Low Countries, Hardcover 503pp, Berghahn Books, Oxford/New York. ISBN 1-5718-1084-6 [Also newer edition (2006-06-29), Paperback 516pp, Berghahn Books, New York, ISBN 1-8454-5272-0]. 
  • Cammaerts, Émile L. [1913] (1921). A History of Belgium from the Roman Invasion to the Present Day, 357pp, D. Appleton and Co, New York. OCLC 1525559 ASIN B00085PM0A [Also editions [1913], London, OCLC 29072911; (1921) D. Unwin and Co., New York OCLC 9625246; also published (1921) as Belgium from the Roman invasion to the present day, The Story of the nations, 67, T. Fisher Unwin, London, OCLC 2986704 ASIN B00086AX3A]. 
  • Cook, Bernard A., Professor of History at Loyola University New Orleans, LA, USA (c2002 or May 2004). Belgium: A History, Paperback 205pp, Studies in Modern European History, Vol. 50, Peter Lang Pub, New York. ISBN 0-8204-5824-4 Ib. e-book (2004) NetLibrary, Boulder, CO, USA, ISBN 0-8204-7283-2 [Also print edition (2004-06-30 or 2005), ISBN 0-8204-7647-1]. 
  • de Kavanagh Boulger, Demetrius C. [1902] (2001-06-28 or 2006-03-30). The History of Belgium: Part 1. Cæsar to Waterloo, Paperback 493pp, Elibron Classics, Adamant Media (Delaware corporation), Boston, MA, USA.. ISBN 1-4021-6714-8 [Facsimile reprint of a 1902 edition by the author, London]. Ib. [1909] (2001-06-28 or 2006-03-30). Ib. Part 2. 1815-1865. Waterloo to the Death of Leopold I, Paperback 462pp, Ib., Ib. ISBN 1-4021-6713-X [Facsimile reprint of a 1909 edition by the author, London]. 
  • Fitzmaurice, John (March 1996). The Politics of Belgium: A Unique Federalism, Paperback 284pp, Nations of the modern world, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, USA. OCLC 30112536. ISBN 0-8133-2386-X. 
  • Kossmann-Putto, Johanna A.; Kossmann Ernst H.; Deleu Jozef H. M., ed.; Fenoulhet Jane, translator [of: (1987). De Lage Landen : geschiedenis van de Noordelijke en Zuidelijke Nederlanden. Vlaams-Nederlandse Stichting Ons Erfdeel, Rekkem] [1987] (January 1993). The Low Countries: History of the Northern and Southern Netherlands, 3rd Rev. edition Paperback 64pp, Flemish-Netherlands Foundation "Stichting Ons Erfdeel", Rekkem, Belgium. ISBN 9-0708-3120-1 [several editions in English, incl. (1997) 7th ed.]. 

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