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

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

Capital Brussels
50°51′N 4°21′E / 50.85°N 4.35°E / 50.85; 4.35
Largest metropolitan area Brussels Capital Region
Official language(s) Dutch, French, German
Demonym Belgian
Government Federal parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy[1]
 -  King Albert II
 -  Prime Minister Yves Leterme
Independence
 -  Declared from the Netherlands 4 October 1830 
 -  Recognized 19 April 1839 
EU accession 25 March 1957
Area
 -  Total 30,528 km2 (139th)
11,787 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 6.4
Population
 -  1.1.2010 estimate 10,827,519[2] (76th)
 -  2001 census 10,296,350 
 -  Density 354.7/km2 (33rd)
918.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $389.793 billion[3] (29th)
 -  Per capita $36,415[3] (18th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $506.183 billion[3] (20th)
 -  Per capita $47,289[3] (14th)
Gini (2000) 33 (medium) (33rd)
HDI (2007) 0.953[4] (very high) (17th)
Currency Euro ()1 (EU)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .be
Calling code 32
1 Before 1999: Belgian franc.
2 .The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.^ The king also sought as much as possible to remove from the domain of politics every irritating question, believing that a union of the different parties was most for the advantage of the state.

^ Belgium became the fourth European Union member state to allow same-sex couples equal rights in adoption, after Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
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The Kingdom of Belgium (pronounced /ˈbɛldʒəm/ ( listen), BEL-jəm) is a country in northwest Europe. .It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts its headquarters, as well as those of other major international organizations, including NATO.^ Such a large conspiracy could not long remain a secret and in August 1915, Cavell and 35 other members of her organization were arrested.
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^ Belgium became the fourth European Union member state to allow same-sex couples equal rights in adoption, after Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
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[5] .Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 sq mi) and has a population of about 10.7 million.^ (SFC, 9/24/04, p.A1) 2005 Jan 1, Belgium was forecast for 2.5% GDP growth with a population at 10.4 million and GDP per head at $36,430.
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^ The area comprises 2,945,503 hectares, or about 11,373 English sq.

^ It was later estimated that the population of Congo dropped by 10 million people during the period of Leopold’s rule and its immediate aftermath.
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.Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Flemish and the French-speakers, mostly Walloons, plus a small group of German-speakers.^ (G. E.) Literature Belgian literature, taken in the widest sense of the term, falls into three groups, consisting of works written respectively in Flemish, Walloon and French.

^ Belgium became a nation and combined French and Flemish-speaking lands.
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^ (HN, 11/17/98) 1918 Nov 21, Two German ammunition trains exploded in Hamont, Belgium and 1,750 died.
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.Belgium's two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia.^ Cools had worked for more regional autonomy for Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half of Belgium, and the Dutch-speaking Flanders.
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^ The Greens suffered a huge defeat in both Dutch-speaking Flanders and Wallonia.
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^ [See Feb 22] (AP, 3/22/99) 1604 Sep 20, After a two-year siege, the Spanish retook Ostend [NW Belgium], the Netherlands, from the Dutch.
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.The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region.^ Belgium became a nation and combined French and Flemish-speaking lands.
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^ (AP, 11/5/07) 2007 Nov 7, In Belgium politicians of the Flemish majority, 60% of the population, made a bid to abolish the bilingual rights of 150,000 French speakers living in suburbs near Brussels.
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^ Cools had worked for more regional autonomy for Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half of Belgium, and the Dutch-speaking Flanders.
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[6] A small German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia.[7] .Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political and cultural conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.^ From this date until the Belgian revolt of 1830, the history of Holland and Belgium is that of two portions of one political entity, but in the relations of those two portions were to be found from the very outset fundamental causes 183v tending to disagreement and separation.

^ A provisional government was formed at Brussels, which declared Belgium to be an independent state, and summoned a national congress to establish a system of government.

[8][9]
.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.^ For the explanation of the English form of the name it may be mentioned that Belgium was a canton of what had been the Nervian country in the time of the Roman occupation.

^ Dec 1944 - Jan 1945 Brief German reoccupation of parts of the provinces of Liège and Luxembourg.

^ Although the name Belgium only came into general use with the foundation of the modern kingdom in 1830, its derivation from ancient times is clear and incontrovertible.

[10][11] .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.^ It was formerly part of the Low Countries or Netherlands .

^ Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain made the transition.
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^ Belgium became the fourth European Union member state to allow same-sex couples equal rights in adoption, after Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
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From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. .From the 16th century until the Belgian revolution in 1830, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the battleground of Europe[12]—a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.^ From this date until the Belgian revolt of 1830, the history of Holland and Belgium is that of two portions of one political entity, but in the relations of those two portions were to be found from the very outset fundamental causes 183v tending to disagreement and separation.

^ The Belgian revolution owed its success to the union of the Catholic and Liberal parties; and the king had been very careful to maintain the alliance between them.

^ Louis Gachard (1800-1885) wrote many valuable works on 16th century history; Mgr.

.Upon its independence, Belgium eagerly participated in the Industrial Revolution[13][14] and, during the course of the twentieth century, possessed several colonies in Africa.^ It remains to consider the literature written by Belgians in French during the 19th century, and its rapid development since the revolution of 1831.

[15] .The second half of the 20th century was marked by the rise of communal conflicts between the Flemings and the Francophones fuelled by cultural differences on the one hand and an asymmetrical economic evolution of Flanders and Wallonia on the other hand.^ Cools had worked for more regional autonomy for Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half of Belgium, and the Dutch-speaking Flanders.
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.These still-active conflicts have caused far-reaching reforms of the formerly unitary Belgian state into a federal state.^ Belgian subjects; but it was far otherwise with his policy of internal reform.

^ These losses of territory held by a brother people are still felt as a grievance by many Belgians.

^ The other provinces followed and, on the 1th of January 1790, the whole formed themselves into an independent state, under the name of the " Belgian United States."

Contents

History

The Seventeen Provinces (orange, brown and yellow areas) and the Bishopric of Liège (green)
.In the 1st century BC, the Romans defeated the local tribes and created the province of Gallia Belgica.^ Beginning with the Belgae and the Gallia Belgica of the Romans , the use of the adjective to distinguish the inhabitants of the south Netherlands can be traced through all stages of subsequent history.

^ BC The Eburons, A Belgian tribe under the command of their King Ambiorix, won a victory against the Roman Legion.
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.A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings.^ Although their action may have been justified under the rules of war, the Germans seriously blundered when they shot Edith Cavell.
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^ BC The Eburons, A Belgian tribe under the command of their King Ambiorix, won a victory against the Roman Legion.
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A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire. .The Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and Western Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor.^ Aug 1795 Belgian territory is divided into nine departments 1 Oct 1795 Belgian departments annexed by France .

^ He was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned by the Pope.
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^ Mar 1917 In preparation for a possible division into two separate autonomous or independent polities, Belgium was divided into two administrative regions: Flandern, capital Brussels and Wallonien, capital Namur.

.Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries.^ Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries.

.Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.^ The determined hostility Y of the Dutch rendered the promising scheme futile, and after a precarious struggle for existence, Charles VI., in order to gain the assent of the United Provinces and Great Britain to the Pragmatic Sanction , suppressed the Company in 1731.

[16]
.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").^ It was formerly part of the Low Countries or Netherlands .

^ PPY g provinces were again doomed for a number of years to be the battle-ground of the contending forces, and it was on Belgic soil that Marlborough won the great victories of Ramillies (1706) and of Oudenarde (1708), by which he was enabled to drive the French armies out of the Netherlands and to carry the war into French territory.

^ (D. C. B.) History 1 The political severance of the northern and southern Netherlands may be conveniently dated from the opening of the year 1579.

.The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium.^ Jan 1790 United Belgian (or Netherlands) States (United States of Belgium or United Belgian States [ Republiek der Verenigde Nederlandse Staten ]); Luxembourg remains under Austrian rule.

^ But the most striking feature in Belgium, where so much is modern, utilitarian and ugly, is found in the older cities with their relics of medieval greatness, and their record of ancient fame.

^ May 1713 As a consequence of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Spanish Netherlands passes to the Archdukes of Austria (Austrian Netherlands)(also see Luxembourg ).

.This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries.^ May 1713 As a consequence of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Spanish Netherlands passes to the Archdukes of Austria (Austrian Netherlands)(also see Luxembourg ).

.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.^ Sep 1814 End of French rule.

^ Map of Bishopric of Liège (to 1794) .

^ The battle of Jemappes (7th of November) made the French masters of the southern portion of the Austrian Netherlands; the battle of Fleurus (26th of June 1794) by put an end to the rule of the Habsburgs over the Belgic Belgian subjects, and in his choice of measures and men his aim was to secure the prosperity of his new kingdom by a policy of unification.

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.^ A provisional government was formed at Brussels, which declared Belgium to be an independent state, and summoned a national congress to establish a system of government.

^ Oct 1830 The Provisional Government of Belgium proclaims independence from the Netherlands (Belgium).

^ Oct 1830 Part of independent Belgium.

.Since the installation of Leopold I as king in 1831, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.^ He deduced that forced labor was being used by King Leopold II of Belgium to extract native wealth.
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^ (SC, 2/26/02) 1885 May 2, The Congo Free State was established by King Leopold II of Belgium.
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^ Jul 21, Belgium became independent as Leopold I was proclaimed King of the Belgians.
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.Although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced in 1893 (with plural voting until 1919) and for women in 1949. The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party and the Liberal Party, with the Belgian Labour Party emerging towards the end of the century.^ In order to emerge victorious in such a struggle the Liberal party had need of all their strength, but a split took place between the sections known as the doctrinaires and the progressists, on the question of an extension of the franchise, and at the election of 1884 the Catholics carried all before them at the polls.

^ The Belgian revolution owed its success to the union of the Catholic and Liberal parties; and the king had been very careful to maintain the alliance between them.

^ The result of the voting is, 16,000 Catholic votes, 9000 Liberal, 4500 Socialist, and 2500 Catholic-Democrat.

.French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie.^ Hitherto French had been the official language of the states.

It progressively lost its overall importance as Dutch became recognized as well. .This recognition became official in 1898 and in 1967 a Dutch version of the Constitution was legally accepted.^ Under the constitution of the Kingdom of Belgium there was initially no official language, but French was legally authoritative; French and Dutch became official jointly from 8 Aug 1898, joined by German from 23 Oct 1991.

[17]
.The Berlin Conference of 1885 ceded control of the Congo Free State to King Leopold II as his private possession.^ (SC, 2/26/02) 1885 May 2, The Congo Free State was established by King Leopold II of Belgium.
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^ King Leopold II ascended to the throne.
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^ He deduced that forced labor was being used by King Leopold II of Belgium to extract native wealth.
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.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.^ (SC, 2/26/02) 1885 May 2, The Congo Free State was established by King Leopold II of Belgium.
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^ The personal interest taken by Leopold II. in the exploration and commercial development of the equatorial regions of Africa had led, in the creation of the Congo Free State, to results which had originally g ?

^ It was later estimated that the population of Congo dropped by 10 million people during the period of Leopold’s rule and its immediate aftermath.
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.In 1908 this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo.^ In April of the same year the Belgian chambers authorized the king to be the chief of the state founded by the Association, which had already taken the name of Etat Independant du Congo.

^ (HN, 2/13/01)(MC, 2/13/02) 1903 Jun 29, The British government officially protested Belgian atrocities in the Congo.
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^ The mintage of Belgian money is carried out by a directeur de la fabrication who is nominated by and responsible to the government.

[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.^ (HNQ, 7/24/98) 1914 Aug 3, Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France at the onset of World War I. The German plan for victory in France was known as the Schlieffen Plan, and was based on a quick strike and the capture of Paris.
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^ While the greater part of western and northern Belgium is devoid of the picturesque, the Ardennes and the Fagnes districts of " Between Sambre and Meuse " and Liege contain much pleasant and some romantic scenery.

^ (ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97) 1940 May 28, During World War II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
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.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.^ Togo made a mandate of League of Nations .

^ Although their action may have been justified under the rules of war, the Germans seriously blundered when they shot Edith Cavell.
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^ (ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97) 1940 May 28, During World War II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
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.In the aftermath of the First World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.^ Nov 1918 -c.16 Nov 1918 Central Soldiers' Council seizes power in Brussels 20 Sep 1920 Eupen-Malmedy, and Moresnet formally annexed.

^ Eupen and Malmedy 12 Aug 1919 - 10 Jun 1925 .

^ (ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97) 1940 May 28, During World War II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
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.The country was again invaded by Germany in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg offensive and occupied until its liberation in 1945 by the Allies.^ (ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97) 1940 May 28, During World War II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
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^ May 1940 - 3 Sep 1944 Germany occupies Belgium and administers it together with Nord and Pas de Calais departments of France.

^ (WSJ, 8/1/95, p.A-8)(WSJ, 4/29/96, p.C-1)(HN, 5/10/02) 1940 May 17, Germany occupied Brussels, Belgium, and began the invasion of France.
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.The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis;[19] Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later.^ In April of the same year the Belgian chambers authorized the king to be the chief of the state founded by the Association, which had already taken the name of Etat Independant du Congo.

^ (SC, 5/25/02) 1960 A rebel movement freed Zaire, then known as the Belgian Congo, from Belgium.
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^ Belgium was undisturbed by the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), and during the long peace which followed enjoyed considerable prosperity.

.After World War II, Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg.^ Jan 1790 United Belgian (or Netherlands) States (United States of Belgium or United Belgian States [ Republiek der Verenigde Nederlandse Staten ]); Luxembourg remains under Austrian rule.

^ A provisional government was formed at Brussels, which declared Belgium to be an independent state, and summoned a national congress to establish a system of government.

^ The 1582 Gregorian (or New World) calendar was adopted by this time in Belgium, most of the German Roman Catholic states and the Netherlands.
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.Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter is now the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament.^ (HN, 5/2/98) 1865 A Latin Monetary Union was established amongst France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Greece, but quickly weakened as members pursued their own economic policies.
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^ The union between Belgium and the new state was declared to be purely personal, but its European headquarters were in Brussels, its officials, in the course of time, became almost exclusively Belgian, and financially and commercially the connexion between the two countries became increasingly close.

^ King William now did his utmost to avoid a rupture, and sent the prince of Orange to Antwerp to promise that Belgium should have a separate administration; but it was too late.

Government and politics

Prime Minister Yves Leterme
.The federal bicameral parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives.^ The citizen in order to possess a vote for the election of representatives to the chambers was to be of a minimum age of twenty-five years, and of thirty years for the election of senators and provincial and communal councillors.

^ The government was to consist of the king, the senate and the chamber of representatives.

^ Ministers were to be appointed by him, but be responsible to the cham bers The legislature was composed of two chambers - g P the senate and the chamber of deputies.

.The former is made up of 40 directly elected politicians and 21 representatives appointed by the 3 Community parliaments, 10 co-opted senators and the children of the king, as senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote.^ The composition of the elected bodies for the years 1894-1895 was: - for the chamber of representatives 1,354,891 electors with 2,085,605 votes, for the senate and provincial councils 1,148,433 electors with 1,856,838 votes.

^ Judges of appeal are appointed by the king for life from lists of eligible barristers prepared by the senate and the courts.

^ The citizen in order to possess a vote for the election of representatives to the chambers was to be of a minimum age of twenty-five years, and of thirty years for the election of senators and provincial and communal councillors.

.The Chamber's 150 representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts.^ The composition of the elected bodies for the years 1894-1895 was: - for the chamber of representatives 1,354,891 electors with 2,085,605 votes, for the senate and provincial councils 1,148,433 electors with 1,856,838 votes.

^ The citizen in order to possess a vote for the election of representatives to the chambers was to be of a minimum age of twenty-five years, and of thirty years for the election of senators and provincial and communal councillors.

^ The following has been accepted as a clear definition of what proportional representation is:- " Each electoral district has the number of its members apportioned in accordance with the total strength of each party or political programme in that district.

Belgium is one of the few countries that has compulsory voting and thus holds one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world.[20]
.The King (currently Albert II) is the head of state, though with limited prerogatives.^ CVP (acting Head of State) 9 Aug 1993 - Albert II (b.

^ (SC, 2/26/02) 1885 May 2, The Congo Free State was established by King Leopold II of Belgium.
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^ PL (acting Head of State) 17 Dec 1865 - 17 Dec 1909 Léopold II (b.

.He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government.^ The government was to consist of the king, the senate and the chamber of representatives.

^ Ministers were to be appointed by him, but be responsible to the cham bers The legislature was composed of two chambers - g P the senate and the chamber of deputies.

^ He is also charged with the executive power which he delegates to a cabinet composed of ministers g P chosen from the party representing the majority in the chamber.

.The numbers of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers are equal as prescribed by the constitution.^ He offered to resign after realizing it would be impossible to resolve deep divisions over increased autonomy for French- and Dutch-speaking Belgians.
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^ Cools had worked for more regional autonomy for Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half of Belgium, and the Dutch-speaking Flanders.
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[21] The judicial system is based on civil law and originates from the Napoleonic code. .The Court of Cassation is the court of last resort, with the Court of Appeal one level below.^ The courts of law in their order are Cour de Cassation, Cour d'Appel, Cour de Premiere Instance, and the Juge de Paix courts, one for each of the 342 cantons.

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.^ (WSJ, 3/31/08, p.B4) 2008 Mar 18, Five Belgian parties sealed a deal for a coalition government under Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, ending a political limbo which threatened to split the linguistically divided country.
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.The major parties in each Community, though close to the political centre, belong to three main groups: the right-wing Liberals, the socially conservative Christian Democrats and the Socialists forming the left-wing.^ (AFP, 6/10/07) 2007 Jun 11, Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt's Liberal-Socialist coalition government resigned, a day after conservatives, led by Christian Democrats, posted big gains in general elections.
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^ The seats would, therefore, be apportioned as follows: four Catholic, two Liberal, one Socialist and one Catholic-Democrat.

^ Catholic , Liberal and Socialist, but the presence of Catholic-Democrats or some other new faction may increase the total to four or even five.

Further notable parties came into being well after the middle of last century, mainly around linguistic, nationalist, or environmental themes and recently smaller ones of some specific liberal nature.
A string of Christian Democrat coalition governments from 1958 was broken in 1999 after the first dioxin crisis, a major food contamination scandal.[22][23] .A 'rainbow coalition' emerged from six parties: the Flemish and the French-speaking Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens.^ Belgium became a nation and combined French and Flemish-speaking lands.
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[24] .Later, a 'purple coalition' of Liberals and Social Democrats formed after the Greens lost most of their seats in the 2003 election.^ The seats would, therefore, be apportioned as follows: four Catholic, two Liberal, one Socialist and one Catholic-Democrat.

^ PM Guy Verhofstadt and his center-left coalition of free-market liberals and socialists won the elections.
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^ (AFP, 6/10/07) 2007 Jun 11, Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt's Liberal-Socialist coalition government resigned, a day after conservatives, led by Christian Democrats, posted big gains in general elections.
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[25] .The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from 1999 to 2007 achieved a balanced budget, some tax reforms, a labour-market reform, scheduled nuclear phase-out and instigated legislation allowing more stringent war crime and more lenient soft drug usage prosecution.^ (SFC, 6/16/99, p.B3)(SFC, 6/17/99, p.C3) 1999 Jul 12, In Belgium a new coalition government under Guy Verhofstadt took office.
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^ (AP, 5/10/07) 2007 Jun 10, Belgians voted in legislative elections widely expected to hand defeat to PM Guy Verhofstadt, dashing his hopes for a third term after eight years in office.
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^ Some of the criteria included: maximum budget deficits of 3% of GDP, a cap on government debt of 60% of GDP. The European economic and monetary union (EMU) was scheduled to start with a new "Euro" currency.
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Restrictions on withholding euthanasia were reduced and same-sex marriage legalized. The government promoted active diplomacy in Africa[26] and opposed the invasion of Iraq.[27] .Verhofstadt's coalition fared badly in the June 2007 elections.^ PM Guy Verhofstadt and his center-left coalition of free-market liberals and socialists won the elections.
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^ (AFP, 6/10/07) 2007 Jun 11, Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt's Liberal-Socialist coalition government resigned, a day after conservatives, led by Christian Democrats, posted big gains in general elections.
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.For more than a year, the country has experienced a political crisis.^ The peace effective has not varied much since 1870, but the total paper strength is 75,000 more than in that year.

^ Dec 1, The head of Belgium's Flemish Christian Democrats abandoned efforts to form a coalition government, after more than five months of fruitless talks, plunging the country further into crisis.
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^ Though the population of Belgium was 3,400,000 and that of Holland only a little more than 2,000,000 the two countries had equal representation in the second chamber of the states-general.

[28] This crisis was such that many observers speculated on a possible partition of Belgium. .From 21 December 2007 until 20 March 2008 the temporary Verhofstadt III Government was in office.^ CVP 12 Jul 1999 - 20 Mar 2008 Guy Verhofstadt (b.

^ (SFC, 6/16/99, p.B3)(SFC, 6/17/99, p.C3) 1999 Jul 12, In Belgium a new coalition government under Guy Verhofstadt took office.
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.This coalition of the Flemish and Francophone Christian Democrats, the Flemish and Francophone Liberals together with the Francophone Social Democrats was an interim government until 20 March 2008. On that day a new government, led by Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, the actual winner of the federal elections of June 2007, was sworn in by the king.^ (AP, 12/20/08) 2008 Dec 30, Belgium's Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy reached agreement on a new coalition government of five parties, opening the way for his nomination as prime minister by King Albert II. A new government took office that is nearly a replica of the quarrelsome alliance of Christian Democrats, Liberals and Socialists that quit earlier this month in a bank bailout scandal.
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^ (AFP, 6/10/07) 2007 Jun 11, Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt's Liberal-Socialist coalition government resigned, a day after conservatives, led by Christian Democrats, posted big gains in general elections.
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^ (WSJ, 3/31/08, p.B4) 2008 Mar 18, Five Belgian parties sealed a deal for a coalition government under Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, ending a political limbo which threatened to split the linguistically divided country.
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.On 15 July 2008 Leterme announced the resignation of the cabinet to the king, as no progress in constitutional reforms had been made.^ Jul 15, Belgium PM Yves Leterme offered King Albert the resignation of his government after he acknowledged he would not make a deadline for a constitutional reform deal despite months of talks.
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^ The constitution expressly declared that the king has no powers except those formally assigned to him.

[29] In December 2008 he once more offered his resignation to the king after a crisis surrounding the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas.[30] At this juncture, his resignation was accepted and Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy was sworn in as Prime Minister on December 30, 2008.[31]
.After Herman Van Rompuy was designated the first permanent President of the European Council on 19 November 2009, he offered the resignation of his government to King Albert II on 25 November 2009. A few hours later, the new government under Prime Minister Yves Leterme was sworn.^ A few weeks later, on the 10th of February, Joseph II. died, his end hastened by chagrin at the utter failure of his wellmeant efforts, and was succeeded by Leopold II .

^ (AP, 12/20/08) 2008 Dec 30, Belgium's Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy reached agreement on a new coalition government of five parties, opening the way for his nomination as prime minister by King Albert II. A new government took office that is nearly a replica of the quarrelsome alliance of Christian Democrats, Liberals and Socialists that quit earlier this month in a bank bailout scandal.
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^ Jul 15, Belgium PM Yves Leterme offered King Albert the resignation of his government after he acknowledged he would not make a deadline for a constitutional reform deal despite months of talks.
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Communities and regions

Communities:
     Flemish Community / Dutch language area          Flemish & French Community / bilingual language area      French Community / French language area     German-speaking Community / German language area
Regions:
     Flemish Region / Dutch language area     Brussels-Capital Region / bilingual language area     Walloon Region / French and German language areas
.Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Habsburgian courts,[32] in the 19th century it was necessary to speak French to belong to the governing upper class, and those who could only speak Dutch were effectively second-class citizens.^ The earlier writers of the century were content to follow French tradition.

^ Antwerp was the only important place that remained in the hands of the Dutch, and the army on retreating from Brussels had fallen back on this town.

^ He offered to resign after realizing it would be impossible to resolve deep divisions over increased autonomy for French- and Dutch-speaking Belgians.
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Late that century, and continuing into the 20th century, Flemish movements evolved to counter this situation. .While the Walloons and most Brusselers adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in imposing Dutch as Flanders' official language.^ Hitherto French had been the official language of the states.

^ Dutch) as well as French for official usage.

^ This was the object he had in view in his attempt to make Dutch, except in the Walloon districts, the official language for all public and judicial acts, and a knowledge of Dutch a necessary qualification for every person entering the public service.

.Following World War II, Belgian politics became increasingly dominated by the autonomy of its two main language communities.^ The union between Belgium and the new state was declared to be purely personal, but its European headquarters were in Brussels, its officials, in the course of time, became almost exclusively Belgian, and financially and commercially the connexion between the two countries became increasingly close.

^ After World War II, he was a prominent figure in the neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial movements.
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^ (ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97) 1940 May 28, During World War II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
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Intercommunal tensions rose and the constitution was amended in order to minimise the conflict potentials.
Based on the four language areas defined in 1962–63 (the Dutch, bilingual, French and German language areas), 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:[33][34]
  1. The federal government, based in Brussels.
  2. The three language communities:
  3. The three regions:
The constitutional language areas determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the empowered institutions for specific matters. Although this would allow for seven parliaments and governments, when the Communities and Regions were created in 1980, Flemish politicians decided to merge both. .Thus the Flemings just have one single institutional body of parliament and government is empowered for all except federal and specific municipal matters.^ The rate of interest on all the loans extant is 3%, except on one loan of 219,959,632 francs, which pays only 21%.

[35] .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.^ (G. E.) Literature Belgian literature, taken in the widest sense of the term, falls into three groups, consisting of works written respectively in Flemish, Walloon and French.

^ Belgium became a nation and combined French and Flemish-speaking lands.
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^ Adenes le Rois , Jean Froissart , Jean Lemaire des Belges and others - are included in the general history of French Literature .

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.[13]
The Federal State's authority includes justice, defence, federal police, social security, nuclear energy, monetary policy and public debt, and other aspects of public finances. State-owned companies include the Belgian Post Group and Belgian Railways. .The Federal Government is responsible for the obligations of Belgium and its federalized institutions towards the European Union and NATO. It controls substantial parts of public health, home affairs and foreign affairs.^ Belgium became the fourth European Union member state to allow same-sex couples equal rights in adoption, after Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
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^ (SFC, 3/7/96, p.A12) 1992 Nov 4, Belgium ratifies the Treaty on the European Union.
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[36] The budget—without the debt—controlled by the federal government amounts to about 50% of the national fiscal income. The federal government employs ca. 12% of the civil servants.[37]
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.).[38]
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.^ The ministers represent departments for finance , foreign affairs, colonies, justice, the interior, science and arts, war, railways, posts and telegraphs, agriculture , public works, and industry and labour.

They supervise the provinces, municipalities and intercommunal utility companies.[38]
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.[36] .Each level of government can be involved in scientific research and international relations associated with its powers.^ Through the efforts in Africa of H. M. Stanley a rudimentary state was created, and through the efforts of King Leopold in Europe the International Association was recognized during 1884-1885 by the powers as an independent state.

[39][39] .The treaty-making power of the Region's and Communities' Governments is the broadest of all the Federating units of all the Federations all over the world.^ (HN, 5/5/98) 1839 Oct, The London Treaty, in which all the European powers guaranteed Belgian neutrality, was signed.
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^ The provinces are governed by a governor nominated by the king, the canton is a judicial division for marking the limit of the jurisdiction of each juge de paix, and the commune is the administrative unit, possessing self-government in all local matters.

[40][41][42]

Geography, climate and environment

Polders along the Yser river
.Belgium shares borders with France (620 km), Germany (167 km), Luxembourg (148 km) and the Netherlands (450 km).^ Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain made the transition.
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^ (MC, 7/16/02) 1914 July 27, Germany informed Belgium and Luxembourg of its intention to pass its troops through their countries.
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^ On the outbreak of war between France and Germany in 1870, Belgium saw the difficulty and danger of her position, and lost no time in providing for contingencies.

Its total area, including surface water area, is 33,990 square kilometers; 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.^ Westward the chain lies buried beneath the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of Belgium and the north of France, but it reappears in the west of England and Ireland .

^ The same description applies more or less to the north-east, but in the south of Hainaut and the greater part of Brabant the general level of the country is about 300 ft.

The Paris Basin reaches a small fourth area at Belgium's southernmost tip, Belgian Lorraine.[43]
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. .Extending westward into France, this area is eastwardly connected to the Eifel in Germany by the High Fens plateau, on which the Signal de Botrange forms the country's highest point at 694 metres (2,277 ft).^ Belgium lies upon the northern side of an ancient mountain chain which has long been worn down to a low level and the remnants of which rise to the surface in the Ardennes, and extend eastward into Germany , forming the Eifel and Westerwald, the Hunsriick and the Taunus .

[44][45]
Wooded landscape in the Ardennes
The climate is maritime temperate with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb). The average temperature is lowest in January at 3 °C (37.4 °F) and highest in July at 18 °C (64.4 °F). The average precipitation per month varies between 54 millimetres (2.1 in) in February or April, to 78 mm (3.1 in) in July.[46] .Averages for the years 2000 to 2006 show daily temperature minimums of 7 °C (44.6 °F) and maximums of 14 °C (57.2 °F) and monthly rainfall of 74 mm (2.9 in); these are about 1 °C and nearly 10 millimetres above last century's normal values, respectively.^ The following table gives the total births and deaths in certain years since 1880: These figures show that the births were 23,674 more in 1904 than in 1880, while the deaths were nearly 4000 fewer, with a.

^ The coal mines of Belgium give employment to nearly 150,000 persons, and for some years the average output has exceeded 22,000,000 tons.

[47]
Phytogeographically, Belgium is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom.[48] According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Belgium belongs to the ecoregion of Atlantic mixed forests.[49]
Because of its high population density, its location in the centre of Western Europe and inadequate political effort, Belgium faces serious environmental problems. A 2003 report suggested Belgian natural waters (rivers and groundwater) to have the lowest water quality of the 122 countries studied.[50] .In the 2006 pilot Environmental Performance Index, Belgium scored 75.9% for overall environmental performance and was ranked lowest of the EU member countries, though it was only 39th of 133 countries.^ Though the population of Belgium was 3,400,000 and that of Holland only a little more than 2,000,000 the two countries had equal representation in the second chamber of the states-general.

[51]

Economy

Steelmaking along the Meuse River at Ougrée, near Liège
Belgium's strongly globalized economy[52] and its transportation infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world's 15th largest trading nation in 2007.[53][54] The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP and high exports per capita.[55] Belgium's main imports are food products, machinery, rough diamonds, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, clothing and accessories, and textiles. .Its main exports are automobiles, food products, iron and steel, finished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products and nonferrous metals.^ The chief metal industry of the country is represented by the iron and steel works of Charleroi and Liege.

.The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind.^ (G. E.) Literature Belgian literature, taken in the widest sense of the term, falls into three groups, consisting of works written respectively in Flemish, Walloon and French.

[13][56] .One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies.^ Belgium became the fourth European Union member state to allow same-sex couples equal rights in adoption, after Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.
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^ (SFC, 3/7/96, p.A12) 1992 Nov 4, Belgium ratifies the Treaty on the European Union.
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.Since 1922, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market within a customs and currency union: the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union.^ The trade of Belgium has more than trebled as regards both imports and exports since 1870.

.Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 19th century.^ (SFEC, 11/21/99, p.T11) c1807 Englishmen William and John Cockerill brought the Industrial Revolution to continental Europe around 1807 by developing machine shops in Liege, Belgium, transforming the country’s coal, iron and textile industries much as it had done in Britain.
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^ It remains to consider the literature written by Belgians in French during the 19th century, and its rapid development since the revolution of 1831.

[57] Liège and Charleroi rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century in the SambreMeuse valley, the sillon industriel and made Belgium one of the top three most industrialized nations in the world from 1830 to 1910.[58] However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis, and the region experienced famine from 1846–50.
.After World War II, Ghent and Antwerp experienced a rapid expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries.^ (ON, 3/07, p.2)(AP, 5/26/97) 1940 May 28, During World War II, the Belgian army surrendered to invading German forces.
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^ All commerce and industry was at a standstill; grass grew in the streets of Bruges and Ghent; and the trade of Antwerp was transferred to Amsterdam .

^ After World War II, he was a prominent figure in the neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial movements.
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The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession; it was particularly prolonged in Wallonia, where the steel industry had become less competitive and experienced serious decline.[59] In the 1980s and 90s, the economic centre of the country continued to shift northwards and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish Diamond area.[60]
By the end of the 1980s, Belgian macroeconomic policies had resulted in a cumulative government debt of about 120% of GDP. As of 2006, the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to 90.30% of GDP.[61] In 2005 and 2006, real GDP growth rates of 1.5% and 3.0%, respectively, were slightly above the average for the Euro area. Unemployment rates of 8.4% in 2005 and 8.2% in 2006 were close to the area average.[62]
From 1832 until 2002, Belgium's currency was the Belgian franc. .Belgium switched to the euro in 2002, with the first sets of euro coins being minted in 1999. While the standard Belgian euro coins designated for circulation show the portrait of King Albert II, this does not happen for commemorative coins, where designs are freely chosen.^ At later dates definite proposals for immediate annexation were considered but not adopted, the king showing a strong disinclination to cede the state, while among the mass of the Belgians the disinclination to annex was equally strong.

Demographics

Main areas and places in Belgium
.In the beginning of 2007 nearly 92% of the Belgian population were Belgian citizens, and around 6% were citizens from other European Union member countries.^ The union between Belgium and the new state was declared to be purely personal, but its European headquarters were in Brussels, its officials, in the course of time, became almost exclusively Belgian, and financially and commercially the connexion between the two countries became increasingly close.

The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan (80,579), Spanish (42,765), Turkish (39,419) and German (37,621).[63][64]

Urbanization

Brussels, the capital of Belgium and largest metropolitan area in the country.
.Almost all of the Belgian population is urban—97% in 2004.[65] The population density of Belgium is 342 per square kilometre (886 per square mile)—one of the highest in Europe, after that of the Netherlands and some microstates such as Monaco.^ The Dutch and Belgian provinces of the Netherlands had for one hundred and thirty years passed through totally different experiences, and had drifted farther and farther apart from one another in character, in habits, in ideas and above all in religion.

.The most densely inhabited area is the Flemish Diamond, outlined by the AntwerpLeuvenBrusselsGhent agglomerations.^ In music , there are royal conservatoires at Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Liege.

^ Georges Eekhoud, born at Antwerp on the 27th of May 1854, was in some ways the most passionately Flemish of the whole group.

^ In succession Ypres, Mechlin, Ghent, Brussels, and finally Antwerp (17th of August 1585) fell into his hands.

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.^ These, in their order of interest, are Bruges , Antwerp, Louvain , Brussels , Ghent , Ypres , Courtrai , Tournai , Fumes, Oudenarde and Liege.

^ All commerce and industry was at a standstill; grass grew in the streets of Bruges and Ghent; and the trade of Antwerp was transferred to Amsterdam .

^ The hierarchy of the Church of Rome in Belgium is composed of the archbishop of Malines , and the bishops of Liege, Ghent, Bruges, Tournai and Namur.

Brussels houses 1,018,804 in the Capital Region's 19 municipalities, two of which have over 100,000 residents.[66]

Languages

Official languages:     Dutch (~59%)     French (~40%)     German (~1%)
.Belgium has three official languages, which are in order of speaker population: Dutch, French and German.^ Hitherto French had been the official language of the states.

^ Dutch) as well as French for official usage.

^ The number of foreigners resident in Belgium in 1900 with their nationalities were Germans, 42,079; English, 5096; French, 85,735; Dutch, 54,49 1; Luxemburgers, 9762; and all other nationalities, 14,411.

A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well.
.As no census exists, there are no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium's three official languages or their dialects.^ There are no lakes in Belgium, but otherwise it is exceedingly well watered, being traversed by the Meuse for the greater part of its course, as well as by the Scheldt and the Sambre.

^ With regard to the languages spoken by the people of Belgium the following comparative table gives the return for the three censuses of 1880, 1890 and 1900: Constitution and Government.

However, various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may provide suggested figures. .An estimated 59%[67] of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often colloquially referred to as "Flemish"), and French is spoken by 40% of the population.^ (G. E.) Literature Belgian literature, taken in the widest sense of the term, falls into three groups, consisting of works written respectively in Flemish, Walloon and French.

^ The Dutch garrison capitulated on the 23rd of December, and on the 31st the town was handed over to the Belgians, and the French troops withdrew across the frontier.

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.[68][69] .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.^ Belgian people, Flemings and Walloons alike, were perhaps more devoted to the Catholic faith than any other in Europe.

Roughly 23,000 more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.[7][70]
Bilingual signs in Brussels.
.Both the Dutch spoken in Belgium and the Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France.^ (G. E.) Literature Belgian literature, taken in the widest sense of the term, falls into three groups, consisting of works written respectively in Flemish, Walloon and French.

^ The idea that Holland was the predominant partner in the kingdom of the Netherlands was firmly rooted in the north and naturally provoked in the south the feeling that Belgium was being exploited for the benefit of the Dutch.

^ The earlier Flemish authors are treated under DUTCH Literature ; the revival of Flemish Literature since the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands in 1830, and Walloon Literature , are each separately noticed.

.Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment.^ These losses of territory held by a brother people are still felt as a grievance by many Belgians.

Walloon, once the main regional language of Wallonia, is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people. Wallonia's dialects, along with those of Picard,[71] are not used in public life.

Education

.Education is compulsory from six to eighteen for Belgians, but many continue to study until about 23 years of age.^ A deputy must be twenty-five years of age, and the members of both houses must be of Belgian nationality , born or naturalized.

^ A senator sits for eight years unless a dissolution is ordered, and no one is eligible until he is forty years of age.

^ The property qualification was removed and every Belgian was given one vote on attaining twenty-five years of age and after one year's residence in his commune .

Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third-highest proportion of 18–21 year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%.[72] Though an estimated 98% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy.[71][73] The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium's education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[74] There are differences between the education systems in the Flemish, French and the German-speaking Communities. The Flemish Community scores relatively higher than the German-speaking and French Communities.[75]
.Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal and the Catholic parties, the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment.^ The Belgian revolution owed its success to the union of the Catholic and Liberal parties; and the king had been very careful to maintain the alliance between them.

^ It remains to consider the literature written by Belgians in French during the 19th century, and its rapid development since the revolution of 1831.

^ The Catholic party also strove to mitigate the principle of obligatory military service by encouraging the system of volunteering and by a reduction of the time of active service and of the number with the colours.

.The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities.^ The state subsidized all the communal schools, Catholic and unsectarian alike.

^ Primary education was dealt with in 1895 by a law, which made religious instruction obligatory, and extended state support to all schools that satisfied certain conditions.

^ In November 1879 it was calculated that there were but 240,000 scholars in the secularized schools against 370,000 in the Catholic schools.

[76]

Religion

.Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics.^ For the explanation of the English form of the name it may be mentioned that Belgium was a canton of what had been the Nervian country in the time of the Roman occupation.

^ The canals of Belgium are scarcely less numerous or important than those of Holland, especially in Flanders, where they give a distinctive character to the country.

[77] .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.^ The constitution provides for absolute liberty of conscience and there is no state religion, but the people are almost to a man Roman Catholics.

^ The Belgian constitution stipulates for " freedom of conscience , of education, of the press and also of the right of meeting," but the sovereign must be a member of the Church of Rome .

^ Though the population of Belgium was 3,400,000 and that of Holland only a little more than 2,000,000 the two countries had equal representation in the second chamber of the states-general.

During the reign of Albert I and Baudouin, the monarchy has had a reputation of deeply rooted Catholicism.
Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position. Belgium's concept of "recognized religions"[78] set a path for Islam to follow to acquire the treatment of Jewish and Protestant religions. While other minority religions, such as Hinduism, do not yet have such status, Buddhism took the first steps toward legal recognition in 2007.[76][79][80] According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion,[81] about 47% of the population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church, while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5%. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered to be a more religious region than Wallonia, showed that 55% considered themselves religious and that 36% believed that God created the world.[82]
According to the Eurobarometer Poll in 2005,[83] 43% of Belgian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 29% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".
.It is estimated that between 3% to 4% of the Belgian population is Muslim (98% Sunni) (350,000 to 400,000 people).^ Of Belgians living abroad it is estimated that 400,000 reside in France, 15,000 in Holland, 12,000 in Germany and 4600 in Great Britain .

^ Though the population of Belgium was 3,400,000 and that of Holland only a little more than 2,000,000 the two countries had equal representation in the second chamber of the states-general.

[84][85] The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi. The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with 264,974 people. The Turks are the third-largest group, and the second-largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering 159,336.[86] There is also a small Hindu population.[citation needed] Moreover about 10,000 Sikhs are also present in Belgium.[87]

Science and technology

Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history. The sixteenth century Early Modern flourishing of Western Europe included cartographer Gerardus Mercator, anatomist Andreas Vesalius, herbalist Rembert Dodoens and mathematician Simon Stevin among the most influential scientists.
.The quickly developed and dense Belgian railway system caused major companies like La Brugeoise et Nivelles (now the BN division of Bombardier Transportation) to develop specific technologies, and the economically important very deep coal mining in the course of the First Industrial Revolution has required highly reputed specialized studies for mining engineers.^ It remains to consider the literature written by Belgians in French during the 19th century, and its rapid development since the revolution of 1831.

Chemist Ernest Solvay and engineer Zenobe Gramme (École Industrielle de Liège) gave their names to the Solvay process and the Gramme dynamo, respectively, in the 1860s. Bakelite was developed in 1907–1909 by Leo Baekeland. Georges Lemaître (Catholic University of Leuven) is credited with proposing the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe in 1927. Three Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine were awarded to Belgians: Jules Bordet (Université Libre de Bruxelles) in 1919, Corneille Heymans (University of Ghent) in 1938 and Albert Claude (Université Libre de Bruxelles) together with Christian De Duve (Université Catholique de Louvain) in 1974. Ilya Prigogine (Université Libre de Bruxelles) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.[88]

Culture

Despite its political and linguistic divisions that have been varied over the centuries, the region corresponding to today's Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had tremendous influence on European art and culture.
Nowadays, to a certain extent, cultural life is concentrated within each language Community, and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced.[13][89][90] .Since the 1970s, there are no bilingual universities in the country except the Royal Military Academy, no common media[91] and no single large cultural or scientific organization in which both main communities are represented.^ Numbers of malcontents left the country and organized themselves as a military force in Holland.

^ There is no payment or other privilege, except a pass on the state railways, attached to the rank of senator.

^ For education in the arts, there is the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp, and besides this famous school of painting there are eighty-four academies for teaching drawing throughout the kingdom.

The forces that once held the Belgians together—Roman Catholicism and economic and political opposition to the Dutch—are no longer strong.[92]

Fine arts

Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art, the Early Netherlandish,[93] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting[94] and major examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture[95] are milestones in the history of art. .While the 15th century's art in the Low Countries is dominated by the religious paintings of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, the 16th century is characterized by a broader panel of styles such as Peter Breughel's landscape paintings and Lambert Lombard's representation of the antique.^ Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries.

[96] Though the Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck flourished in the early 17th century in the Southern Netherlands,[97] it gradually declined thereafter.[98][99] .During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many original romantic, expressionist and surrealist Belgian painters emerged, including James Ensor, Constant Permeke, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte.^ It remains to consider the literature written by Belgians in French during the 19th century, and its rapid development since the revolution of 1831.

The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the 1950s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art.[100][101] 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.^ The best work of the Belgian romanticists is in the rich and picturesque prose of the 16th century romance of Charles de Coster (see DE Coster ), and in the melancholy and semi-philosophical writings of the moralist Octave Pirmez .

^ The mintage of Belgian money is carried out by a directeur de la fabrication who is nominated by and responsible to the government.

^ It was chiefly the work of the ministry of M. de Burlet, who succeeded to the place of M. Beernaert in March 1894.

[102][103]
.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.^ It was formerly part of the Low Countries or Netherlands .

[104] In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was an emergence of major violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps, Eugène Ysaÿe and Arthur Grumiaux, while Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846. The composer César Franck was born in Liège in 1822. Contemporary music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel have achieved global fame. In rock/pop music, Telex, Front 242, K's Choice, Hooverphonic, Zap Mama, Soulwax and dEUS are well known.[105]
.Belgium has produced several well-known authors, including the poet Emile Verhaeren and novelists Hendrik Conscience, Georges Simenon, Suzanne Lilar and Amélie Nothomb.^ The most powerful of the Belgian poets, Emile Verhaeren , is the most daring in his technical methods of expressing bizarre sensation, and has been called the " poet of paroxysm ."

^ The unconscious self, or rather the sub-conscious self," says Emile Verhaeren, " recognized in the verse and prose of Maeterlinck its language or rather its stammering attempt at language."

.The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1911. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé is the best known of Franco-Belgian comics, but many other major authors, including Peyo (The Smurfs), André Franquin, Edgar P. Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry on a par with the U.S.A. and Japan.^ Many of the Belgian poets adhere to the classical form.

^ Adenes le Rois , Jean Froissart , Jean Lemaire des Belges and others - are included in the general history of French Literature .

^ Charles Potvin (1818-1902), a poet and a dramatist, is best known by a patriotic Histoire des lettres en Belgique, forming vol.

Belgian cinema, has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen.[106] 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.[107] In the 1980s, Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts produced important fashion trendsetters, known as the Antwerp Six.[108]

Folklore

The Gilles of Binche, in costume, wearing wax masks
Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: the country has a comparatively high number of processions, cavalcades, parades, 'ommegangs' and 'ducasses',[109] 'kermesse' and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious or mythological background. The Carnival of Binche with its famous Gilles and the 'Processional Giants and Dragons' of Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons are recognized by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[110] Other examples are the Carnival of Aalst; the still very religious processions of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Virga Jesse Basilica 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.[111]

Sports

Association football and cycling are the most popular sports in Belgium. With five victories in the Tour de France and numerous other cycling records, Belgian Eddy Merckx ranks #1 as the greatest cyclist of all time.[112] His hour speed record (set in 1972) stood for twelve years. Jean-Marie Pfaff, a former Belgian goalkeeper, is considered one of the greatest in the history of football.[113] Belgium is currently bidding with the Netherlands to host the 2018 World Cup.[114] Both countries previously hosted the UEFA European Football Championship in 2000. Belgium hosted the 1972 European Football Championships.
Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin both were Player of the Year in the Women's Tennis Association as they were ranked the number one female tennis player. The Spa-Francorchamps motor-racing circuit hosts the Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix. .The Belgian driver, Jacky Ickx, won eight Grands Prix and six 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished twice as runner-up in the Formula One World Championship.^ It does not, however, satisfy the Socialists, whose formula is one man, one vote.

Belgium also has a strong reputation in motocross; world champions include Roger De Coster, Joël Robert, Georges Jobé, Eric Geboers, Joël Smets and Stefan Everts.
Sporting events annually held in Belgium include the Memorial Van Damme athletics competition, the Belgian Grand Prix Formula One, and a number of classic cycle races such as the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The 1920 Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp, Belgium.
Brussels waffles, commonly known as Belgian waffles outside of Belgium. Many different types of waffle are popular in Belgium.

Cuisine

Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide.[115] Belgium is famous for waffles and french fries. Contrary to their name, french fries also originated in Belgium. The name "french fries" actually refers to the manner in which the potato is cut. To "french" means to cut into slivers. The national dishes are "steak and fries with salad", and "mussels with fries".[116][117][118]
Brands of Belgian chocolate and pralines, like Callebaut, Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Guylian, Galler and Godiva, are world renowned and widely sold.
Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer. The Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has consistently been rated the world's best beer.[119] The biggest brewer in the world by volume is Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Leuven.[120]

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace Global Peace Index[121] 15 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 17 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 21 out of 180
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 18 out of 133

Notes

  1. ^ CIA – The World Factbook – Government of Belgium
  2. ^ "Total population as of 1 January". Eurostat. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&language=en&pcode=tps00001&tableSelection=1&footnotes=yes&labeling=labels&plugin=1. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Belgium". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=124&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=64&pr.y=12. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ Human Development Report 2009. The United Nations. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Leclerc, Jacques, , membre associé du TLFQ (2007-01-18). "Belgique • België • Belgien—Région de Bruxelles-Capitale • Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest" (in French). L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Host: Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Université Laval, Quebec. http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/EtatsNsouverains/bruxelles-capitale.htm. Retrieved 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. http://www.belgium.or.kr/page60.html. Retrieved 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. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwPxLurr. Retrieved 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). http://www.ncata.org/doc/Oct99.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "The country is divided into three increasingly autonomous regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north; mostly French-speaking Brussels in the center as an enclave within Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, including the German-speaking Cantons de l'Est)." 
    * Van de Walle, Steven, lecturer at University of Birmingham Institute of Local Government Studies, School of Public Policy. "Language Facilities in the Brussels Periphery" (PDF). KULeuven—Leuvens Universitair Dienstencentrum voor Informatica en Telematica. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwPxLurr. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "Brussels is a kind of enclave within Flanders—it has no direct link with Wallonia." 
  7. ^ a b "The German-speaking Community". The German-speaking Community. http://www.dglive.be/EN/Desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-1263/2264_read-27181/. Retrieved 2007-05-05.  The (original) version in German language (already) mentions 73,000 instead of 71,500 inhabitants.
  8. ^ Morris, Chris (2005-05-13). "Language dispute divides Belgium". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4545433.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  9. ^ Petermann, Simon, Professor at the University of Liège, Wallonia, Belgium—at colloquium IXe Sommet de la francophonie—Initiatives 2001—Ethique et nouvelles technologies, session 6 Cultures et langues, la place des minorités, Bayreuth (2001-09-25). "Langues majoritaires, langues minoritaires, dialectes et NTIC" (in French). http://www.initiatives.refer.org/Initiatives-2001/_notes/sess604.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  10. ^ Bunson, Matthew (1994). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire (Hardcover 352pp ed.). Facts on File, New York. p. 169. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/0 8160 2135 X [Paperback 512pp, ISBN 0-8160-3182-7; Revised edition (2002), Hardcover 636pp, ISBN 0-8160-4562-3]|0 8160 2135 X [Paperback 512pp, ISBN 0-8160-3182-7; Revised edition (2002), Hardcover 636pp, ISBN 0-8160-4562-3]]]. 
  11. ^ 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. http://www3.iath.virginia.edu/Barbarians/Essays/ethnic_main.html. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  12. ^ Haß, Torsten, Head of the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences) of Kehl Library, Kehl, Germany (2003-02-17). "Rezention zu (Review of) Cook, Bernard: Belgium. A History ISBN 0-8204-5824-4" (in German). FH-Zeitung (journal of the Fachhochschule). http://www.fh-kehl.de/zeitung/rezensionen/2003/cook,belgium.htm. Retrieved 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. http://www.napier.ac.uk/warpoets/Hydraissues/Hyn01/hyn01a03.html. Retrieved 2007-05-24. —and as such coined for Belgium:
       Wood, James (1907). "Nuttall Encyclopaedia of General Knowledge—Cockpit of Europe". http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Wood-NuttallEncyclopaedia/c/cockpitofeurope.html. Retrieved 2007-05-24. "Cockpit of Europe, Belgium, as the scene of so many battles between the Powers of Europe."  (See also The Nuttall Encyclopaedia)
  13. ^ a b c d Fitzmaurice, John, at the Secretariat-General of the European Commission, taught at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (1996). "New Order? International models of peace and reconciliation—Diversity and civil society". Democratic Dialogue Northern Ireland's first think tank, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/dd/report9/report9d.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  14. ^ "Belgium country profile". EUbusiness, Richmond, UK. 2006-08-27. http://www.eubusiness.com/Belgium/belgium-country-profile/. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  15. ^ Karl, Farah (text); Stoneking, James (course) (1999). "Chapter 27. The Age of Imperialism (Section 2. The Partition of Africa)" (PDF). World History II. Appomattox Regional Governor's School (History Department), Petersburg, VA, USA. http://www.args.k12.va.us/academics/history/Stoneking/chapters/world2/world27.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  16. ^ Edmundson, George (1922). "Chapter II: Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands". History of Holland. The University Press, Cambridge. Republished: Authorama. http://www.authorama.com/history-of-holland-4.html. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  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). http://www.unrisd.org/UNRISD/website/document.nsf/ab82a6805797760f80256b4f005da1ab/ec506a59176be044c1256e9e003077c3/$FILE/Deschou.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  18. ^ Meredith, Mark (2005-06-06). The State of Africa (Hardcover 608pp ed.). Free Press. pp. 95–96(?). ISBN 0-7432-3221-6. 
  19. ^ The Congolese Civil War 1960–1964
  20. ^ Franklin, Mark N., Trinity College, Connecticut (2001). "The Dynamics of Electoral Participation—Table 10.1 Average turnout in free elections to the lower house in 40 countries, 1961–1999" (PDF). pp.  32. http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/cache/papers/cs/25027/http:zSzzSzwww2.trincoll.eduzSz~mfranklizSzParticipation.pdf/franklin01dynamics.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  21. ^ "Belgium—Constitution—Title III Powers, Chapter II The Senate, Article 72 [King's Descendants] ; and Title III, Chapter III King and Federal Government, Section I The King ; and Section II The Federal Government, Article 99 [Composition of Government]". International Constitutional Law. Institut für öffentliches Recht, University of Berne, Switzerland. 1994-02-17. http://www.servat.unibe.ch/law/icl/be00000_.html. Retrieved 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. http://www.fed-parl.be/gwuk0004.htm. Retrieved 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. http://www.fed-parl.be/gwuk0006.htm#E11E6. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  22. ^ Tyler, Richard (1999-06-08). "Dioxin contamination scandal hits Belgium: Effects spread through European Union and beyond". World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/belg-j08.shtml. Retrieved 2007-05-25. —Follow-up on occasion of 2nd dioxin crisis: α
  23. ^ School of Food Biosciences, University of Reading, UK (1999-06-16). "Food Law News—EU : CONTAMINANTS—Commission Press Release (IP/99/399) Preliminary results of EU-inspection to Belgium". Press release. http://www.foodlaw.rdg.ac.uk/news/eu-99-40.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  24. ^ "Belgium's "rainbow" coalition sworn in". BBC News. 1999-07-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/392004.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  25. ^ "La Chambre des représentants—Composition (Composition of the Chamber of Representatives)" (in French) (PDF). The Chamber of Representatives of Belgium. 2006-03-09. http://www.lachambre.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/pri/fiche/10F.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  26. ^ "Rwanda". tiscali.reference. Tiscali UK. http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0019846.html. Retrieved 2007-05-27.  The article shows an example of Belgium's recent African policies.
  27. ^ "Belgian demand halts NATO progress". CNN News. 2003-02-16. http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/02/16/sprj.irq.nato.belgium.ap/. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  28. ^ "Time-line Belgium". BBC-News. 2009-01-05. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1002141.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-16. "2007 September – Belgium without a government for 100 days." 
  29. ^ BBC news, july 15th, 2008
  30. ^ [1] Belgium Prime Minister offers resignation over banking deal
  31. ^ Belgian king asks Van Rompuy to form government Reuters
  32. ^ Johannes Kramer (1984) (in German). Zweisprachigkeit in den Benelux-ländern. Buske Verlag. p. 69. ISBN 3871185973. "Zur prestige Sprache wurde in den Spanischen Niederlanden ganz eindeutig das Französische. Die Vertreter Spaniens beherrschte normalerweise das Französische, nicht aber das Niedderländische; ein beachtlicher Teil der am Hofe tätigen Adligen stammte aus Wallonien, das sich ja eher auf fie spanische Seite geschlagen hatte als Flandern und Brabant. In dieser Situation war es selbstverständlich, dass die flämischen Adligen, die im Laufe der Zeit immer mehr ebenfalls zu Hofbeamten wurden, sich des Französischen bedienen mussten, wenn sie als gleichwertig anerkannt werden wollten. [Transl.: The prestigious language in the Spanish Netherlands was clearly French. The Spain's representatatives usually mastered French but not Dutch; a notable part of the nobles at the court came from Wallonia, which had taken party for the Spanish side to a higher extent than Flanders and Brabant. It was therefore evident within this context that the Flemish nobility, of which a progessively larger number became servants of the court, had to use French, if it wanted to get acknowledged as well.]" 
  33. ^ Willemyns, Roland, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Germanic Languages (2002). "The Dutch-French Language Border in Belgium" (PDF). Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 23 (1&2): 36–49. doi:10.1080/01434630208666453. http://www.multilingual-matters.net/jmmd/023/0036/jmmd0230036.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  34. ^ Each municipality of the Kingdom is part of one of the four language areas (taalgebieden in Dutch, Sprachgebiete in German), occasionally called linguistic regions (régions linguistiques in French). See the three legal versions of the Constitution:
    * "Titel I: Het federale België, zijn samenstelling en zijn grondgebied" (in Dutch). De Belgische Grondwet. Belgian Senate. 2007-05-15 last update of web page. http://www.senate.be/doc/const_nl.html#t1. Retrieved 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 België omvat vier taalgebieden" 
    * "Titel I: Das föderale Belgien, seine Zusammensetzung und sein Staatsgebiet" (in German). Die Verfassung Belgiens. Belgian Senate. 2007-05-15 last update of web page. http://www.senate.be/deutsch/const_de.html#t1. Retrieved 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 Belgien umfaßt vier Sprachgebiete" 
    * "Titre Ier: De la Belgique fédérale, de ses composantes et de son territoire" (in French). La Constitution Belge. Belgian Senate. 2007-05-15 last update of web page. http://www.senate.be/doc/const_fr.html#t1. Retrieved 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. http://www.fed-parl.be/gwuk0001.htm#E12E1. Retrieved 2007-05-31. "Art. 4 Belgium has four linguistic regions" 
  35. ^ 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, while about Regional matters only in the latter.
  36. ^ a b "The Federal Government's Powers". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=navigationBanner.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=indexPage&navId=6188. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  37. ^ Charles-Etienne Lagasse (2003). Les nouvelles institutions politiques de la Belgique et de l'Europe. Namur: Erasme. p. 289. ISBN 2-87127-783-4. "In 2002, 58.92% of the fiscal income was going to the budget of the federal government, but more than one third was used to pay the interests of the public debt. Without including this post, the share of the federal government budget would be only 48.40% of the fiscal income. There are 87,8% of the civil servants who are working for the Regions or the Communities and 12,2% for the Federal State." 
  38. ^ a b "The Communities". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=navigationBanner.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=indexPage&navId=2686. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  39. ^ a b "The Regions". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=navigationBanner.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=indexPage&navId=2690. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  40. ^ Charles-Etienne Lagasse (May 17–18, 2004). "Federalism in Russia, Canada and Belgium: experience of comparative research" (in French). Kazan Institute of Federalism. http://www.kazanfed.ru/en/actions/konfer8/6/. "La Belgique constitue ainsi le seul exemple clair du transfert d’une partie de la compétence « affaires étrangères » à des entités fédérées. (Transl.: Belgian is the only example of a transfer of a part of the power "foreign policy" to federating units" 
  41. ^ C.E. Lagasse (in French). Les nouvelles institutions de la Belgique et de l'Europe. p. 603. "[Le fédéralisme belge] repose sur une combinaison unique d'équipollence, d'exclusivité et de prolongement international des compétences. (Transl.: [Belgian federalism] is based on a unique combination of equipollent and exclusiv powers prolonged ont the international scene.)" 
  42. ^ Philippe Suinen (October 2000). "Une Première mondiale" (in French). Le Monde Diplomatique. http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2000/10/SUINEN/14406.html. "Dans l’organisation de ces autonomies, la Belgique a réalisé une « première » mondiale: afin d’éviter la remise en cause, par le biais de la dimension internationale, de compétences exclusives transférées aux entités fédérées, les communautés et régions se sont vu reconnaître une capacité et des pouvoirs internationaux. (Transl.: Belgian was the first country who gave the treaty-making policy to the Federating units)" 
  43. ^ "Belgium—The land—Relief". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, IL, USA. © 2007. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9109741/Belgium#24981.toc. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  44. ^ "Geography of Belgium". 123independenceday.com. http://www.123independenceday.com/belgium/geography.html. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  45. ^ "Life—Nature" (PDF 3.8 MB). Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. 2005. http://kp.org.pl/n2k/pdf/15.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  46. ^ "Climate averages—Brussels". EuroWEATHER/EuroMETEO, Nautica Editrice Srl, Rome, Italy. http://www.euroweather.net/english/climate/city_EBBR/id_GT/meteo_brussels%20belgium. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  47. ^ "Kerncijfers 2006—Statistisch overzicht van België" (in Dutch) (PDF 1.8 MB). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy—Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. pp. 9–10. http://statbel.fgov.be/pub/d0/p007y2006_nl.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  48. ^ Takhtajan, Armen, 1986. Floristic Regions of the World. (translated by T.J. Crovello & A. Cronquist). University of California Press, Berkeley.
  49. ^ Atlantic mixed forests (PA0402), World Wildlife Fund, 2001.
  50. ^ Pearce, Fred (2003-03-05). "Sewage-laden Belgian water worst in world". New Scientist. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3458. Retrieved 2006-05-09. 
  51. ^ Pilot 2006 Environmental Performance Index – Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network
  52. ^ Belgium ranked first in the KOF Index of Globalization 2009 ETH Zürich, ed. "KOF Index of Globalization". http://globalization.kof.ethz.ch/. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  53. ^ "Rank Order – Exports". CIA – The 2008 world factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2078rank.html. Retrieved 2008-10-05. "15[th]: Belgium $322,200,000,000 (2007 est.)" 
  54. ^ "Rank Order – Imports". CIA – The 2008 world factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2087rank.html. Retrieved 2008-10-05. "15[th]: Belgium $323,200,000,000 (2007 est.)" 
  55. ^ "Belgian economy". Belgium. Belgian Federal Public Service (ministry) of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. http://www.diplomatie.be/en/belgium/belgiumdetail.asp?TEXTID=49019. Retrieved 2009-06-12. "Belgium is the world leader in terms of export per capita and can justifiably call itself the 'world's largest exporter'." 
  56. ^ "Wallonia in 'decline' thanks to politicians". Expatica Communications BV. 2005-03-09. http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=48&story_id=17824. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  57. ^ "Industrial History Belgium". European Route of Industrial Heritage. http://en.erih.net/index.php?pageId=114. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  58. ^ Jean-Pierre Rioux (1989) (in French). La révolution industrielle. Paris: Seuil. p. 105. ISBN 2-02-000651-0. 
  59. ^ "Background Note: Belgium". US Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. April 2007. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2874.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  60. ^ Vanhaverbeke, Wim. "Het belang van de Vlaamse Ruit vanuit economisch perspectief The importance of the Flemish Diamond from an economical perspective" (in Dutch). Netherlands Institute of Business Organization and Strategy Research, University of Maastricht. http://edata.ub.unimaas.nl/www-edocs/loader/file.asp?id=264. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  61. ^ "The World Factbook—(Rank Order—Public debt)". CIA. 2007-04-17. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2186rank.html. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  62. ^ "Key figures". National Bank of Belgium. http://www.nbb.be/pub/00_00_00_00_02/?l=en&t=ho. Retrieved 2007-05-19. 
  63. ^ Perrin, Nicolas, UCLouvain, Study Group of Applied Demographics (Gédap) (April 2006). "European Migration Network—Annual Statistical Report on migration and asylum in Belgium (Reference year 2003)—section A. 1) b) Population by citizenship & c) Third country nationals, 1 January 2004" (PDF). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Interior—Immigration Office. pp. 5–9. http://www.dofi.fgov.be/nl/statistieken/belgian%20migration%20point/punt%208%20Belgian%20Statistical%20Report%20on%20Asylum%20and%20Migration%202003.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  64. ^ Ecodata
  65. ^ "Quelques résultats des précédents recensements—Indicateurs de logement (1991)" (in French switchable to Dutch). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy—Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. © 1998/2007. http://statbel.fgov.be/census/previous_fr.asp. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  66. ^ "Structuur van de bevolking—België / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest / Vlaams Gewest / Waals Gewest / De 25 bevolkingsrijkste gemeenten (2000–2006)" (in Dutch) (asp). Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy—Directorate-general Statistics Belgium. © 1998/2007. http://statbel.fgov.be/figures/d21_nl.asp#2. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  67. ^ Native speakers of Dutch living in Wallonia and of French in Flanders are relatively small minorities that furthermore largely balance one another, hence counting all inhabitants of each unilingual area to the area's language can cause only insignificant inaccuracies (99% can speak the language). Dutch: Flanders' 6.079 million inhabitants and about 15% of Brussels' 1.019 million are 6.23 million or 59.3% of the 10.511 million inhabitants of Belgium (2006); German: 70,400 in the German-speaking Community (which has language facilities for its less than 5% French-speakers) and an estimated 20,000–25,000 speakers of German in the Walloon Region outside the geographical boundaries of their official Community, or 0.9%; French: in the latter area as well as mainly in the rest of Wallonia (3.414 − 0.093 = 3.321 million) and 85% of the Brussels inhabitants (0.866 million) thus 4.187 million or 39.8%; together indeed 100%.
  68. ^ Flemish Academic Eric Corijn (initiator of Charta 91), at a colloquium regarding Brussels, on 2001-12-05, states that in Brussels there is 91% of the population speaking French at home, either alone or with another language, and there is about 20% speaking Dutch at home, either alone (9%) or with French (11%)—After ponderation, the repartition can be estimated at between 85 and 90% French-speaking, and the remaining are Dutch-speaking, corresponding to the estimations based on languages chosen in Brussels by citizens for their official documents (ID, driving licenses, weddings, birth, sex, and so on); all these statistics on language are also available at Belgian Department of Justice (for weddings, birth, sex), Department of Transport (for Driving licenses), Department of Interior (for IDs), because there are no means to know precisely the proportions since Belgium has abolished 'official' linguistic censuses, thus official documents on language choices can only be estimations. For a web source on this topic, see e.g. General online sources: Janssens, Rudi
  69. ^ "Belgium Market background". British Council. http://www.britishcouncil.org/eumd-information-background-belgium.htm. Retrieved 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.
  70. ^ "Citizens from other countries in the German-speaking Community". The German-speaking Community. http://www.dglive.be/EN/Desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-1408/2267_read-27184/. Retrieved 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. http://www.aber.ac.uk/cgi-bin/user/merwww/index.pl?rm=lang_detail;id=112;lang=1. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
    * Leclerc, Jacques , membre associé du TLFQ (2006-04-19). "Belgique • België • Belgien—La Communauté germanophone de Belgique" (in French). L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Host: Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Université Laval, Quebec. http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/AXL/europe/belgiqueger.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  71. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005). "Languages of Belgium". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th edition. SIL International Dallas, Texas, USA. http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=BE. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  72. ^ "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. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d05/tables/dt05_388.asp. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  73. ^ "I. Monitoring Human Development: Enlarging peoples's choices... —5. Human poverty in OECD, Eastern Europe and the CIS" (PDF). Human Development Indicators. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2000. pp. 172–173. http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2000/en/pdf/hdr_2000_back1.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  74. ^ http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/42/8/39700724.pdf
  75. ^ "Microsoft Word - FINALTEXT_ENG.doc" (PDF). http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/57/60/36324368.pdf. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  76. ^ a b De Ley, Herman (2000). "Humanists and Muslims in Belgian Secular Society (Draft version)". Centrum voor Islam in Europe (Centre for Islam in Europe), Ghent University. http://www.flwi.ugent.be/cie/CIE/deley10.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  77. ^ See for example Belgium entry of the Catholic Encyclopedia
  78. ^ "2001 Annual Report on Human Rights in Belgium" (PDF). http://www.hrwf.net/belgium/ext/human_rights_in_belgium_2001.pdf. 
  79. ^ 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. http://www.uni-oldenburg.de/politis-europe/download/Belgium.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-08. "In many respects, the Catholic Roman Church remains in a very advantageous situation. The long and troublesome process that eventually lead to the recognition of Islam is also illustrative of the ambiguity of the relations between the Belgian State and religions. For 25 years, Islam has been maintained in an unfair position in comparison to other religions." 
  80. ^ "België gaat plat op zijn buik voor China (Belgium bends over backwards for China)" (in Dutch). Metro (Belgian newspaper). 2007-05-10. p. 2. http://www.metrotime.be/digipapernl.html?pag=2&kdate=2007-05-10. Retrieved 2007-05-10. "[Upon the Dalai Lama for the second time in two years canceling a visit to Belgium after being informed by the Belgian government of Peking's diplomatic pressure, quote newspaper:] Uittredend Senaatsvoorzitster Anne-Marie Lizin reageert teleurgesteld: 'Gezien het belang van de vergadering waaraan u wilde deelnemen en gezien de redenen van uw beslissing, betreur ik dat ik u niet kan ontvangen in ons land, een land dat openstaat voor iedereen, ongeacht de religieuze overtuiging, en dat net een eerste stap heeft gezet in de erkenning van het'[sic] 'boeddhistische filosofie'. (Lawfully resigning at the end of the government's legislation, President of the Senat Anne-Marie Lizin reacts disappointedly: 'In view of the importance of the meeting you wanted to attend and in view of the reasons of your decision, I regret not being able to receive you in our country, a country open for everyone regardless of religious conviction, and which has just set a first step towards the recognition of the Buddhist philosophy.')"  Alternative urls:α, β, pdf 1.1 MB:γ
  81. ^ "Belgium". International Religious Freedom Report 2004. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 2004. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35444.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  82. ^ 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].
  83. ^ "Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005 – page 11" (PDF). http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  84. ^ The many faces of Islam, TIME
  85. ^ 'Belgian Malcolm X' seeks office
  86. ^ Voor het eerst meer Marokkaanse dan Italiaanse migranten
  87. ^ Dutch newspaper on Sikhs celebrating Maghi in Brussels
  88. ^ "Rembert Dodoens: iets over zijn leven en werk—Dodoens' werken" (in Dutch). Plantaardigheden—Project Rembert Dodoens (Rembertus Dodonaeus). Balkbrug: Stichting Kruidenhoeve/Plantaardigheden. Revised 20 December 2005. http://plantaardigheden.nl/dodoens/over_dodoens/leven_en_werk.htm#dodoens. Retrieved 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. http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Stevin.html. Retrieved 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. http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowPDF&ProduktNr=223979&Ausgabe=225203&ArtikelNr=13462. Retrieved 2007-05-11. "The importance of A. Vesalius' publication 'de humani corporis fabrica libri septem' cannot be overestimated."  (*) Free abstract for pay-per-view article by De Broe, Marc E.; De Weerdt, Dirk L.; Ysebaert, Dirk K.; Vercauteren, Sven R.; De Greef, Kathleen E.; De Broe Luc C. (1999). "The Low Countries – 16th/17th century" (PDF). American Journal of Nephrology 19 (2): 282–9. doi:10.1159/000013462. PMID 10213829. http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Aktion=ShowPDF&ArtikelNr=13462&Ausgabe=225203&ProduktNr=223979&filename=13462.pdf. 
    * Midbon, Mark, University of Wisconsin–Madison (2000-03-24). "'A Day Without Yesterday': Georges Lemaitre & the Big Bang". Commonweal, republished: Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC). pp. 18–19. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0022.html. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  89. ^ "Belgium—Arts and cultural education". Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 8th edition. Council of Europe / ERICarts. 2007. http://www.culturalpolicies.net/web/belgium.php?aid=831. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  90. ^ "Belgique". European Culture Portal. European Commission. 2007. http://ec.europa.eu/culture/portal/sites/members/belgium_en.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  91. ^ Adrien Gonthier (2003). "Frontière linguistique, frontière politique, une presse en crise" (in French). Le Monde Diplomatique. http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2003/05/GONTHIER/10142. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  92. ^ Mumford, David (2008). The World Today Series. Western Europe/2007. NY Times. ISBN 1-887985-89-1. 
  93. ^ "Low Countries, 1000–1400 AD". Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2007. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/07/euwl/ht07euwl.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  94. ^ "Low Countries, 1400–1600 AD". Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2007. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/08/euwl/ht08euwl.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  95. ^ Several examples of major architectural realisations in Belgium belong to UNESCO's World Heritage List: "Belgium". Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. UNESCO. http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/be. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  96. ^ Hendrick, Jacques (1987) (in French). La peinture au pays de Liège. Liège: Editions du Perron. p. 24. ISBN 287114026X. 
  97. ^ Guratzsch, Herwig (1979) (in German). Die große Zeit der niederländische Malerei. Freiburg im Beisgau: Verlag Herder. p. 7. 
  98. ^ "Low Countries, 1600–1800 AD". Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2007. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/09/euwl/ht09euwl.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  99. ^ "Art History: Flemish School: (1600–1800)—Artists: (biography & artworks)". World Wide Arts Resources. 2006-02-05. http://wwar.com/masters/movements/flemish_school.html. Retrieved 2007-05-10. —A general presentation of the Flemish artistic movement with a list of its artists, linking to their biographies and artworks
  100. ^ "Belgian Artists: (biographies & artworks)". World Wide Arts Resources. 2006-02-05. http://wwar.com/masters/nationalities/belgian.html. Retrieved 2007-05-10. —List of Belgian painters, linking to their biographies and artworks
  101. ^ Baudson, Michel (1996). "Panamarenko". Flammarion (Paris), quoted at presentation of the XXIII Bienal Internacional de São Paulo. http://www1.uol.com.br/bienal/23bienal/universa/iueopa.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  102. ^ Brussels, capital of Art Nouveau (page 1), "ib. (page2)". Senses Art Nouveau Shop, Brussels. 2007. http://www.senses-artnouveau.com/brussels.php?page=2. Retrieved 2007-05-11.  (for example)
  103. ^ "Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)". UNESCO's World Heritage List. UNESCO. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1005. Retrieved 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." 
  104. ^ "Western music, the Franco-Flemish school". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-15698/Western-music. Retrieved 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." 
  105. ^ Two comprehensive discussions of rock and pop music in Belgium since the 1950s:
    * "The Timeline—A brief history of Belgian Pop Music". The Belgian Pop & Rock Archives. Flanders Music Centre, Brussels. March 2007. http://houbi.com/belpop/timeline.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
    * "Belgian Culture—Rock". Vanberg & DeWulf Importing. © 2006. http://www.belgianexperts.com/rock.php. Retrieved 2007-05-11. 
  106. ^ 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.
  107. ^ A review of the Belgian cinema can be found at "Cinema". .be Federal Portal. Federal government of Belgium. 2007. http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?languageParameter=en&pageid=contentPage&docId=6879. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  108. ^ "Fashion and the ‘Antwerp Six’". Fashion Worlds, Dorset, UK. © 2004. http://fashionworlds.blogspot.com/2000_01_16_fashionworlds_archive.html. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  109. ^ The Dutch word 'ommegang' is here used in the sense of an entirely or mainly non-religious procession, or the non-religious part thereof—see also its article on the Dutch-language Wikipedia; the Processional Giants of Brussels, Dendermonde and Mechelen mentioned in this paragraph are part of each city's 'ommegang'. The French word 'ducasse' refers also to a procession; the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'.
  110. ^ "Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium and France". UNESCO. http://www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/05eur_uk.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  111. ^ "Folklore estudiantin liégeois" (in French). University of Liège. http://www.ulg.ac.be/cms/c_36320/photographies-folklore-etudiant?hlText=Saint+Nicolas&hlMode=any&hlText=Saint+Nicolas&hlMode=any&hlText=Saint+Nicolas&hlMode=any. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  112. ^ Majendie, Matt (2005-04-18). "Great, but there are greater" (stm). BBC Sport. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/3925265.stm. Retrieved 2007-09-20. "[the Author's] top five [cyclists] of all time: 1 Eddy Merckx, 2 Bernard Hinault, 3 Lance Armstrong, 4 Miguel Indurain, 5 Jacques Anquetil" 
  113. ^ "Goalkeeping Greats" Goalkeepersaredifferent.com. Retrieved on June 29, 2008
  114. ^ " Benelux trio to apply to host the 2018 World Cup, ESPN Soccernet Global, retrieved on May 22, 2008 from 2018 FIFA World Cup
  115. ^ "The Michelin stars 2007 in Belgium". Resto.be TM Dreaminvest. 2007. http://www2.resto.be/bib_new.cfm?langue=uk. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  116. ^ "Steak-frites". Epicurious. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/40035. Retrieved 2007-08-12.  Republished from Van Waerebeek, Ruth; Robbins, Maria (October 1996). Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook. Workman Publishing. ISBN 1-56305-411-6 (Paperback), ISBN 0-7611-0106-3 (Cloth). 
  117. ^ "Belgium". Global Gourmet. http://www.globalgourmet.com/destinations/belgium/backgrounder.html. Retrieved 2007-08-12.  Republished from Van Waerebeek, Ruth; Robbins, Maria (October 1996). Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook. Workman Publishing. ISBN 1-56305-411-6 (Paperback), ISBN 0-7611-0106-3 (Cloth). 
  118. ^ "Mussels". Visit Belgium. Official Site of the Belgian Tourist Office in the Americas. 2005. http://www.visitbelgium.com/mussels.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-12. —Note: Contrarily to what the text suggests, the season starts as early as July and lasts through April.
  119. ^ Whilst taste is highly subjective and individual, some international beer drinkers consider the Westvleteren 12 to be among their favourite beers. The majority of members of BeerAdvocate.com and RateBeer.com, two beer rating websites, consistently rate the Westvleteren 12 as their most enjoyable beer; the 8 and the Blonde also rank highly on both sites.
  120. ^ InBev (2007-04-24). "InBev dividend 2006: 0.72 euro per share—infobox: About InBev". Press release. http://www.inbev.com/press_releases/20070424.1.e.cfm. Retrieved 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." 
  121. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/home.php. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

References

General online sources

Bibliography

  • Arblaster, Paul (2005-12-23). A History of the Low Countries. Palgrave Essential Histories (Hardcover 312pp ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, New York. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/1-4039-4827-5 [Also edition (2005-12-23), Paperback 312pp, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, ISBN 1-4039-4828-3]|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 ed.). Berghahn Books, Oxford/New York. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/1-5718-1084-6 [Also newer edition (2006-06-29), Paperback 516pp, Berghahn Books, New York, ISBN 1-8454-5272-0]|1-5718-1084-6 [Also newer edition (2006-06-29), Paperback 516pp, Berghahn Books, New York, ISBN 1-8454-5272-0]]]. 
  • Cammaerts, Émile L. (1921) [1913]. A History of Belgium from the Roman Invasion to the Present Day (357pp ed.). 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, United States (c2002 or May 2004). Belgium: A History. Studies in Modern European History, Vol. 50 (Paperback 205pp ed.). Peter Lang Pub, New York. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/0-8204-5824-4 Ib. e-book (2004) NetLibrary, Boulder, CO, United States, ISBN 0-8204-7283-2 [Also print edition (2004-06-30 or 2005), ISBN 0-8204-7647-1]|0-8204-5824-4 Ib. e-book (2004) NetLibrary, Boulder, CO, United States, ISBN 0-8204-7283-2 [Also print edition (2004-06-30 or 2005), ISBN 0-8204-7647-1]]]. http://www.netlibrary.com/Details.aspx. 
  • de Kavanagh Boulger, Demetrius C. (2001-06-28 or 2006-03-30). The History of Belgium: Part 1. Cæsar to Waterloo. Elibron Classics (Paperback 493pp ed.). Adamant Media (Delaware corporation), Boston, MA, United States.. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/1-4021-6714-8 [Facsimile reprint of a 1902 edition by the author, London]|1-4021-6714-8 [Facsimile reprint of a 1902 edition by the author, London]]]. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1402167148/. Ib. (2001-06-28 or 2006-03-30) [1909]. Ib. Part 2. 1815–1865. Waterloo to the Death of Leopold I. Ib. (Paperback 462pp ed.). Ib. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/1-4021-6713-X [Facsimile reprint of a 1909 edition by the author, London]|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. Nations of the modern world (Paperback 284pp ed.). 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] (January 1993) [1987]. The Low Countries: History of the Northern and Southern Netherlands (3rd Rev. edition Paperback 64pp ed.). Flemish-Netherlands Foundation "Stichting Ons Erfdeel", Rekkem, Belgium. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/9-0708-3120-1 [several editions in English, incl. (1997) 7th ed.]|9-0708-3120-1 [several editions in English, incl. (1997) 7th ed.]]]. 

External links

See also: section References, subsection General online sources
Government
General information
Tourism
Other

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Belgium is a country in western Europe.

Contents

Belgians

  • Petit pays, petit esprit.
    • Leopold II of Belgium, commenting on the unwilligness of the parliament and people of Belgium to engage in colonial adventures.

About Belgium

  • He said when he left that he wanted to repair the relationship, and that is very crucial. We need their help in Iraq. The more we can entice others to help us, the less of a target we could be."
    • Barbara Boxer's response response to a question from CNN's Wolf Blitzer about what advice she would give President George W. Bush as he visited Belgium that day (February 20, 2005).

Television and movies

  • Paul: [of the Tutsi] You cannot seriously think that you can kill them all.
George: And why not? We are halfway there already.
  • My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with a low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery.
  • Rory: "Lorelai Gilmore". Nope, doesn't sound model-y enough. You need something that stands out more. How about "Waffle"? We could call you Waffle and say you're from Belgium.
  • Kirk: Another Armenia, Belgium ... the weak innocents who always seem to be located on a natural invasion route.
    • Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series.

Books

  • "Belgium" is the rudest word in the universe, which is "completely banned in all parts of the Galaxy, except in one part, where they could not possibly know what it means."

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Benelux : Belgium
noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:be-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Brussels
Government Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch
Currency Euro (EUR)
Area 30,510 km2
Population 10,414,336 (July 2009 est.)
Language Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 32%, German (official) less than 1%, 8% bilingual Dutch-French
Religion Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25% - most people aren't practising religious.
Electricity 230/50Hz (European plug)
Calling Code +32
Internet TLD .be
Time Zone UTC +1
Belgium (French: Belgique, Dutch: België, German: Belgien) [1] is a low-lying country on the North Sea coast in the Benelux. With the majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of the Belgian capital of Brussels, and as a member of the long-standing international Benelux community, Belgium sits at the crossroads of Western Europe. Its immediate neighbors are France to the southwest, Luxembourg to the southeast, Germany to the east and the Netherlands to the north.

Understand

Belgium is a densely populated country trying to balance the conflicting demands of urbanization, transportation, industry, commercial and intensive agriculture. It imports large quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactured goods, mostly to the EU.

History

Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830. It was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II and has many war graves near the battle zones, most of them are around Ieper (in English archaically rendered as Ypres, with Yperite another name for mustard gas due to intensive use there in WWI). It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.

Terrain

Flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, wooded hills and valleys of Ardennes Forest in southeast.

Climate

Temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy. Average annual temperature between 1976-2006 : 10° Celcius
 - Ostend (west, at the sea): jan 3°C - jul 16°C
 - Leopoldsburg (northeast, sandy soils): jan 2°C - jul 18°C
Rainfall and temperature
Rainfall and temperature

Electricity

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are CEE7/5 (protruding male earth pin) and accept either CEE 7/5 (Grounded), CEE 7/7 (Grounded) or CEE 7/16 (non-grounded) plugs. Older German-type CEE 7/4 plugs are not compatible as they do not accommodate the earth pin found on this type of outlet. However, most modern European appliances are fitted with the hybrid CEE 7/7 plug which fits both CEE 7/5 (Belgium & France) and CEE 7/4 (Germany, Netherlands, Spain and most of Europe) outlets.
Travellers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and other countries using 230V 50Hz which use different plugs simply require a plug adaptor to use their appliances in Belgium.
Travellers from the US, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V 60Hz may need a voltage converter. However, some laptops, mobile phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V so only require a simple plug adaptor. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.

Regions

Belgium consists of three regions, listed from North to South:
Cities and regions in Belgium
Cities and regions in Belgium
Flanders
The northern, Dutch-speaking region of the country. It is mostly flat and includes well known cities like Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.
Brussels
The bilingual capital region of the country and headquarters of the EU.
Wallonia
The southern, French-speaking region, incorporating a small German speaking region in the east near the German border.
  • Brussels - Belgium's capital and the unofficial capital of the EU. Nice historic centre and several museums of interest.
  • Antwerp - Belgium's second largest city, with a giant cathedral, medieval streets and artistic heritage
  • Ghent - Once one of Europe's largest cities, now a perfect mixture of Antwerp and Bruges: a cosy city with canals, yet with rich history and lively student population
  • Bruges - One of Europe's wealthiest cities in the 14th century, it's large and beautiful historic centre remains
  • Liège - largest city of Wallonia, along a wide river, industrial cityscape with hiking and resorts in the nearby hills
  • Dinant - Small city in a stunning natural setting, a popular spot for adventure sports such as canoeing and rock-climbing, best visited in winter
  • Leuven - a small city dominated by one of Europe's oldest universities. Beautiful historic centre and a lively nightlife.
  • Mechelen - a small medieval city with a nice historic district around the cathedral
  • Ypres - once one of the largest cities in the Low Countries, now best known for its destruction during the First World War, marked by memorials and cemeteries
  • Ardennes — the most sparsely populated in Benelux, this is a hilly countryside region covered with forests
  • Binche — for three days in February, the town is transported back to the 16th century for one of the most fantastic carnival festivals
  • Flanders Fields Country
  • Fondry des Chiens
  • Pajottenland — an area of green fields and small villages, some of which have been portrayed by artists such as Pieter Bruegel
  • Waterloo Battlefield — the Waterloo Battlefield where Napoleon lost the final battle that changed Europe's face forever

Get in

Belgium is a member of the Schengen Agreement. For EU, EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or Swiss citizens, an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Others will generally need a passport for entry.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: Not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union.
Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you travelling within the Schengen area or not, some airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
Keep in mind that the counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa.
As of January 2010 only the citizens of the following non-EU/EEA/Swiss countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area; note that they must not stay longer than three months in half a year and must not work while in the EU: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.
Note that
  • while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.
However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
Further note that
(*) Macedonian, Montenegrin and Serbian citizens need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel and
(**) Serbian citizens with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (Serbs residing in Kosovo) still do need a visa.

By plane

Brussels Airport (also known as Zaventem due to the town in which it is mainly located) is Belgium's main airport, IATA code BRU. It is not located in Brussels proper, but in surrounding Flanders. The airport is the base of the national airline Brussels Airlines [2], which was founded when SN Brussels Airlines and its low budget sister company Virgin Express merged in March 2007. All other full-service airlines use BRU, as well as budget carriers such as Vueling [3] and SkyEurope [4]. Check flight to Belgium [5].
There is a train (2.90 €) running every 15 minutes to Brussels centre taking 25 minutes, some of them continuing to Ghent and West-Flanders and a bus line number 12 and 11 (3 €) every 20 to 30 minutes to Place Luxembourg (European Parliament) district. The bus stops at NATO and Schuman (for the EU institutions) on its way to the centre. There are also two trains per hour to Leuven, taking 13 minutes. A taxi to the centre of Brussels costs around 20 € (as of 2004) when booked in advance, otherwise around 30 €. Taxis bleus: 02 268 0000, Taxi Brussels: 02 411 4142, Taxis verts: 02 349 4343.
There are two other airports in Belgium with scheduled flights. Ryanair [6] and Wizzair [7] fly to Charleroi airport [8] (aka "Brussels South", IATA code CRL), about 50km away from Brussels. You can get to Brussels Gare du Midi on the Ryanair coach in about an hour (€10.50 each way). If you're going to any other part of Belgium, ask at the Ryanair ticket desk for a combination bus+train ticket via Charleroi Sud station (€11 each way if bought in the airport, but more expensive in stations).
However, if you are really stuck, it is not unusual for taxi drivers to take credit cards. The price of a taxi ride to Brussels is a set fare (approximately €95 as of May 2006) and you can check with the taxi driver if he will accept your credit card(s) or not.
Antwerp Deurne airport [9] (IATA code ANR) has some business flights, including VLM [10]'s reasonably priced link to London City airport. Other airports include Oostende, Liège and Kortrijk, but they only handle freight and charter flights.
Flights to airports in neighbouring countries might be worth considering, especially to Amsterdam Schiphol which has a direct rail link to Brussels and Antwerp.

By train

There are direct trains between Brussels and:
  • Amsterdam, Luxembourg (normal trains, running every hour)
  • Paris, Köln/Cologne, Amsterdam (Thalys [11])
  • Lyon, Bordeaux, Paris-CDG airport and many other French cities (TGV Bruxelles-France [12]).
  • London (Eurostar [13]) all tickets from London allow you free onward travel within Belgium; all tickets to London include free travel from any Belgian trainstation to Brussels South, where Eurostar departs.
  • Frankfurt, Köln/Cologne (ICE [14])
  • Berlin, Hamburg (night train [15])
  • Zürich, Switzerland, via Luxembourg (normal trains, 2 daily)
They connect with domestic trains at Brussels' Gare du Midi/Zuidstation, and with all Eurostar or ICE and some Thalys tickets, you can finish your journey for free on domestic trains. For all high-speed and sleeper trains, you need to book in advance for cheap fares, either online or using a travel agency.
You might want to check the TGV connections to Lille too. The trains from the rest of France to Lille are more frequent and usually cheaper. There is a direct train connection from Lille Flandres to Ghent and Antwerp. If your TGV arrives in Lille Europe, it will take a 15 min walk to the Lille Flandres railway station.
Plan your trip with the Deutsche Bahn timetable [16]. It has all domestic and international connections across Europe.
Smoking is no longer allowed in Belgian trains.

By car

Major European highways like the E-19, E-17, E-40, E-411 and E-313 pass through Belgium.

By bus

You can get to Belgium from all over Europe on Eurolines [17] coaches. International busses have stopovers in Antwerpen, Brussels north-station, Leuven & Liege.
Due to the Bosnian war in the 1990'ies there are bus companies serving the Bosnian diaspora, which provide a cheap and clean way of getting to the other side of the European continent. Semi tours [18] runs three times per week from various destinations in Bosnia and Hercegovina to Belgium and the Netherlands, Off-season approx (159€) for a return ticket.

By ship

There are overnight ferries to/from Zeebrugge from Hull in England and Rosyth in Scotland, but they are not cheap. There's also a vehicle-only daytime service from Oostende to Ramsgate in England.
Map of Belgium
Map of Belgium

Get around

Being such a small country (300 km as its maximum distance), you can get anywhere in a couple of hours. Public transport is fast and comfortable, and not too expensive. Between larger cities, there are frequent train connections, with buses covering smaller distances. A useful site is InfoTEC [19], which has a door-to-door routeplanner for the whole country, covering all forms of public transport (including train, bus, subway and tram).
A look on the map may suggest that Brussels is a good starting point to explore Antwerp, Ghent, Brugge, Namur and Leuven on day trips. Antwerp is popular among those who want to be in a cosmopolitan place, and Ghent is tops with those who like a good mix of open-minded provincialism. Liège is beautiful, but too close to Germany to be a good base for day trips. Mechelen is considered boring by tourists, but has a very good brand new youth hostel next to a train station with trains to everywhere else every 30 mins.
To do some local sightseeing, especially in Flanders, a lot of infrastructure is available for cycling. Bikes can be rented virtually everywhere. In the country side of Wallonia, mountainbikes are available, and rafting is popular along the border with Luxembourg.

By train

Most of Belgium is well connected by train, run by NMBS (SNCB in French) [20] with most of the main routes passing through Antwerp, Namur or Brussels. This is where you'll arrive on international trains, and both can be reached by train from Brussels airport or by coach from Antwerp or Charleroi airport. Transfers are very easy. Note that all Eurostar & ICE and some Thalys tickets allow free same-day transfers by domestic trains to any other Belgian station. Also, there are Thalys trains from Paris directly to Ghent, Brugge and Oostende with no need to switch trains in Antwerp or Brussels. From London (by Eurostar) you need to switch in Brussels for Antwerp, Leuven or Ghent, but for Brugge, you can already switch in Lille (France) with no need to make the detour via Brussels. Both in Lille and Brussels the staff are very helpful and willing to smile.
The trains are punctual and mostly modern and comfortable.
Normal fares on Belgian trains are cheap compared to Germany or the UK, with no need nor a possibility to prebook or reserve. 2nd class fares don't go much higher than €20 for the longest domestic trips, and 1st class costs 50% extra. Trains can get very full during the rush hours, so you might need a 1st class ticket to get a seat at those times. You can buy normal tickets online [21] or in stations, but not usually in travel agencies. If you want to buy a ticket on the train, you have to warn the train conductor and a supplement may be charged. In the train station, you can pay with cash or credit card. Not buying a ticket can cost you up to €200. Return tickets are cheaper at the weekend.
Normal tickets are sold for a designated day, so there is no extra validation when you step on a train.
The cheapest option if you're planning several train trips is a Go Pass [22], which gives you 10 single 2nd class trips (including train changes if necessary) for €50. It's valid for a year and can be shared with or given to other people without any restrictions. The only problem is you have to be younger than 26, but there's a more expensive version for older people called a Rail Pass. This costs €73 for 2nd class or €112 for 1st. When using these passes make sure you have filled in the line before you get on the train (strictly speaking: before you enter the platform). The train conductor can be very picky when the pass is not correctly filled in. However, if you address train station staff before boarding, they will be glad to help you.
The NMBS website has a searchable timetable [23] with delay information, and a fare calculator [24]. You can also find a map of Belgian railroads and stations [25] and another one, more detailed, but not printable [26].
Please note that train schedules usually change around December 10. Those changes are usually limited to introducing a few new train stations and adding a few regular lines. No lines have been discontinued in a very long time.

By bus/tram

Buses cover the whole country, along with trams and metro in the big cities. Most routes cover short distances, but it's possible to go from city to city by bus. However, this is much slower and only slightly cheaper than taking a train. There's also the Kusttram [27], running along almost the whole Flemish seaside from France to the Netherlands - definitely worth a trip in summer!
Within cities, a normal ticket for one zone never costs more than €1.60, and there are various travelcards available. Note that local transport is provided by different companies - MIVB in Brussels, De Lijn in Flanders and TEC in Wallonia, and outside Brussels they don't accept each others' tickets.
Most tourists will not need the bus companies, as it is much more user-friendly to take trains between cities and go on foot inside them. Only Brussels and Antwerp have a subway, but even there you can make your way around on foot. The historic center of Brussels is only about 300 by 400 metres big. Antwerp's is much bigger, but there a ride on a horse-pulled coach gives a better view than the subway.

By car

Belgium has a dense network of modern toll-free motorways, but some secondary roads in Wallonia are poorly maintained. Signs are always in the local language only, except in Brussels, where they're bilingual. As many cities in Belgium have quite different names in Dutch and French, this can cause confusion. For example, Mons in French is Bergen in Dutch; Antwerp is called Antwerpen in Dutch and Anvers in French; Liège in French is Luik in Dutch and Lüttich in German, and so on. This even applies to cities outside Belgium; driving along a Flemish motorway, you may see signs for Rijsel, which is the French city of Lille or Aken, which is the German city of Aachen.
Drivers in Belgium should also be aware of the "priority from the right" rule. At road crossings, traffic coming from the right has the right of way unless otherwise indicated by signs or pavement markings. You're most likely to encounter such crossings in urban and suburban areas. Observant visitors will notice a lot of cars with dents along their right sides! Drive defensively and your car will avoid the same fate.
In Belgium the motorway signs are notoriously inconvenient, especially on secondary roads. There is no uniformity in layout and color, many are in bad state, placed in an awkward position or simply missing. A good roadmap (Michelin, De Rouck, Falk) or a GPS system is recommended.

Car Hire

Some hire cars come equipped with sat nav but it's a good idea to request this when you book your car. It's probably the most reliable way to get from A to B in Belgium. This way you will get to see some of the sites of Belgium, as flat as it may be, but architecture in the towns is something to be admired. You will be pleasantly surprised at just how clean the towns and villages of Belgium are. Drive through on any afternoon and you will see people caring for the street in front of their homes - a real, backdated village community feel.
Speed traps are positioned along roads frequently and drink driving of only small amounts comes with serious penalties, such as 125 Euros on the spot fine for 0.05 per cent and 0.08 per cent (the UK's legal limit). Over that amount of alcohol in your system and you face anything up to 6 months imprisonment and loss of driving licence for 5 years.

By thumb

The best place for hitchhikers. Just ask for a lift! Having cardboard signs with towns' names on it can really help to get a quick lift.
  • Leaving Brussels: Heading South (e.g. Namur) get to the underground station named 'DELTA'.
Next to it you have a huge 'park and ride' and a bus stop. Hitchhiking near the bus stop should get you a ride in less than 5 minutes during traffic hours.
  • Heading to Ghent/Bruges: Good spot near the Shopping Mall called 'Basilix' in Berchem-ste-Agathe. You can reach this place with the bus N°87.
An alternative spot to go to the north is in Anderlecht, near the Hospital Erasme (Underground station Erasme.)
  • Heading to Liège/Hasselt: Take the pre-metro to the station 'Diamant' in Schaerbeek. When leaving the station you should see a lot of outgoing cars just below you. Just walk and follow the roadsigns mentioning 'E40'. You should arrive in a small street giving access to a road joigning the E40 (the cars are leaving a tunnel at this point). Just hitchhike on the emergency lane at this point, in the portion near the tunnel. Cars should still be riding slowly at this point and see you are visible to them, so it's not that dangerous.
  • Leaving Louvain-la-neuve (university) to Brussels (north) or to Namur (south), stand at the roundabout next to exit/entrance "8a" near to "Louvain la neuve-centre" road signs. Quick lift guaranteed. Avoid exit 7 or 9, since they have far less traffic.
In Flames performs at Graspop 2008
In Flames performs at Graspop 2008
  • Graspop Metal Meeting, [28]. Yearly heavy metal festival held in the town of Dessel, in June.  edit
Atomium
Atomium
  • Carnival de Binche [29] - Three days in February the town of Binche is transported back to the 16th century for one of the most fantastic festivals of the year. Highlighted by music parades and fireworks, the climax of this event is when the Gilles appear on the Grand Place and throw oranges to the spectators. This infamous festivity has been classified as part of the world's cultural heritage by UNESCO along with its renowned Gilles.
  • Rock Werchter [30] - 3rd July - 6th July 2008, Werchter.
  • Dour festival [31] - "European Alternative Music Event" - 12-15 July 2007 - Dour.
  • Atomium built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair (Expo ’58), it is a 335 foot tall representation of an atomic unit cell. More precisely, it is symbolic of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Nine steel spheres 54 feet in diameter connect via tubes with elevators 105 feet long.
  • Gentse Feesten [32] - 18 July - 27 July 2009. Huge, ten day long street festival in the historical center of the city of Ghent. The biggest street festival in Europe, with theater, music in all genres, techno parties, and so on - Gentse Feesten
  • Activiteiten Gent & Antwerpen (Activiteiten Gent & Antwerpen), Rerum Novarumlaan 132 (Merksem), 0475 / 696 880, [33]. Great boattours around Ghent and Antwerp.  edit
  • 24 hours cycling, Louvain-La-Neuve Louvain-La-Neuve is in the Wallonia not far from Brussel, it's a small pedestrian city created in the 60's for the french-speakers students. Every year, in October, they organized a bicycle competition. Actually, the course is a pretext to enjoy the event... And to drink beers. This party is one of the most important consumption of beers of the whole Europe.
  • Belgian Beer Tour [34] - Belgian Beer Tour is a tour operator specializing in tours of Belgium breweries. It offers a great way for beer lovers to visit their favourite breweries and discover new ones. The tours cover a wide range of beers and appeals to connoisseurs and amateurs alike.

Talk

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. However, English is widely spoken by the younger generations. You will find that some older people do speak English but it is less likely.
Please note that although Belgium has three official languages, that does not mean that all of them are official everywhere. The only official language of Flanders is Dutch; Brussels has both Dutch and French as its official languages albeit the majority of its inhabitants are native French-speakers. The only official language of Wallonia is French, except for the eastern cantons (including the town of Eupen and its surroundings) where the official language is German.
  • Belgian chocolate: A long tradition has given Belgian chocolate a superior refinement process that is recognized worldwide.
  • Textiles in Bruges
  • Designer fashions in Antwerp
  • Jewelry in one of Antwerps many jewelry shops
  • Beer
Restaurants at rue des Bouchers, Brussels
Restaurants at rue des Bouchers, Brussels
Belgians like to eat. Belgium is famous for its good cuisine and people like to go to restaurants frequently. Best description for Belgian food would be "French food in German quantities".
General rules:
  • As anywhere in the world, avoid the tourist traps, where the touts are trying to get you in the restaurants. You will get average to bad quality food for average to high prices and they will try to get rid of you as soon as possible to make space for the next customer at busy times. An good example of this is the Famous "rue des Bouchers" in Brussels on the picture .
  • Belgium is a country which understands what eating is all about, and can be a real gastronomic paradise. You can have a decent meal in about every tavern, from small snacks to a complete dinner. Just pop into one of those and enjoy it.
  • If you want to eat really well for not too much money, ask the local people or the hotel manager (that is, supposing he does not have a brother restaurant-manager) to give some advice for a good restaurant.
  • Quality has it's price: since the introduction of the EURO, price for eating out in Belgium nearly doubled. Expensive food like lobster or turbot will always cost a lot of money at any restaurant. But you can also find some local and simple dishes, rather cheap and still very tasty (e.g. sausages, potatoes and spinach).
Moules et frites, Brussels
Moules et frites, Brussels
A number of dishes are considered distinctly Belgian specialities and should be on every visitor's agenda.
Mussels are a firm favorite and a side-dish of mosselen met friet (mussels and fries). The traditional way is to cook them in a pot with white wine and/or oignons and celery, then eat them up using only a mussel shell to scoop them out. The top season is September to April, and as with all shellfish it's best not to eat the closed ones. Belgium's mussels always come from nearby Holland. Imports from other countries are looked down at.
Stoofvlees is a traditional beef stew and is usually served with (you have guessed it already) friet.
Witloof met kaassaus / Chicons au gratin is a traditional gratin of chicory with ham and a cheesy bechamel sauce, usually served with potatoe mash or croquettes.
Konijn met bier : rabbit cooked in beer.
Despite the name, French fries (friet in Dutch, frites in French) are proudly claimed as a Belgian invention. Whether or not this is true, they certainly have perfected it — although not everybody agrees with their choice of mayonaise over ketchup as the preferred condiment (ketchup is considered to be "for kids"). Every village has at least one frituur/friterie, an establishment selling cheap take-away fries, with a huge choice of sauces and fried meat to go with them. The traditional thing to try is friet met stoofvlees , but don't forget the mayonaise on it .
Waffles (wafels in Dutch, gaufres in French) come in two types:
  • Gaufres de Bruxelles/Brusselse wafels : a light and airy variety.
  • a heavier variety with a gooey center known as Gaufres de Liège/Luikse wafels.
The latter are often eaten as a street/ take-away snack while shopping and therefore can be found at stands on the streets of the cities.
Last but not least, Belgian chocolate is famed around the world. Famous chocolatiers include Godiva, Leonidas, Guylian and Neuhaus, but arguably the best stuff can be found at tiny boutiques in the Flemish cities, too small to build worldwide brands. In nearly all supermarkets you can buy the brand Côte d'Or, generally considered the best 'every-day' chocolate (for breakfast or break) among Belgians.

International

As a small country in the centre of western Europe, the cuisine is influenced not only by the surrounding countries, but also by many others. This is also emphasized by many foreigners coming to this country to make a living here, for instance by starting a restaurant. You can find all types of restaurants:
  • French/Belgian: A traditional Belgian restaurant serves the kind of food you will also find in the best French restaurants. Of course there are local differences: at the coast (in France as well as in Belgium) you have a better chance to find some good seafood, like mussels, turbot, sole or the famous North Sea shrimp. In the southern woods of the Ardennes (remember the battle of the Bulge?), you are better off choosing game or local fish like trout.
  • English/Dutch: You won't find them in Belgium.
  • American: There are McDonald's or look-alikes in most every town. The Belgian variant is called "Quick". You may also find a local booth serving sausages, hot dogs or hamburgers. Try it: the meat tastes the same, but the bread is much better. Ketchup in this region is bland; made with less sugar (even the Heintz brand). Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Subway also have establishments. And what about real American restaurants? See the previous item.
  • Mexican: Only in the cities and rather costly for medium quality. ChiChi's (near Bourse) and Pablo's (near Port des Namur) serve Mexican American food, neither of which would be considered a good value by American standards. ChiChi's uses reconstituted meats. Pablo's uses higher quality meat, but you pay a premium for it.
  • Chinese: They have a long tradition of restaurants in Belgium. Rather cheap, but for an acceptable level of quality.
  • German: Maxburg in the Schuman area (next to Spicy Grill) makes a good schnitzel.
  • Greek/Spanish/Italian: Like all over the world, nice, rather cheap, with a good atmosphere and typical music (Greek: Choose meat, especially lamb) (Spanish: Choose paella and tapas) (Italian: Choose anything).
  • Japanese/Thai: You usually only find them in the cities and they are rather expensive. But they give you great quality. The prices and quality are both satisfying in a concentrated cluster of Thai restaurants near Bourse station. Avoid Phat Thai though if you don't want disruptions - as they let pan handlers and flower pushers enter and carry out their "work".
  • Arabic/Turkish/Moroccan: Rather cheap, with a variety of local dishes, especially with lamb, no fish or pork or beef.
  • And many, many others! Belgium offers a wide selection of international restaurants.

Drink

Water

Tap water is drinkable everywhere in Belgium.

Beer

Belgium is to beer what France is to wine, it is home to one of the greatest beer traditions in the world. Like other European countries in medieval times, beers were brewed in a huge variety of ways with many different ingredients, apart from the standard water, malted barley, hops and yeast many herbs and spices were used. This activity was often done by monasteries, each developing its particular sort. For some reason uniquely in Belgium many of these monasteries survived almost into modern times, and the process was handed over to a local commercial brewer if the monastery closed. These brewers would often augment the recipe and process slightly to soften the taste to make it more marketable but the variety survived in this way. These beers are called Abbey beers and there are hundreds and hundreds with a range of complex tastes unimaginable until you've tried them.
Less than 10 of the original monasteries still make beer, this according to traditional methods going back to the Middle Ages. These monasteries make Trappist ales and in order to carry this badge of honour the monastery has to abide to strict rules regarding only using the best natural ingredients and only traditional, non-mechanised brewing processes. These amazingly rich and complex beers are truly artisanal products in that sense, and can confidently be considered the best in the world.
Belgium offers an incredible diversity of beers. The most well known mass-produced ones are Stella Artois (tastes like heineken), Duvel (literally: the Devil, beware, 8.5%!), Leffe (a must try), Jupiler (plain standard beer), Hoegaarden (white beer). The names given to some beers are pretty imaginative: eg Verboden Vrucht (Forbidden Fruit), De Kopstoot (Head Butt), Judas and Delirium Tremens.
Warmly recommended are also Kriek (sweet and sour cherry beer) and, for the Christmas season, Stille Nacht (Silent night).
Plain blond draughts (4%-5,5%): Stella Artois, Jupiler, Maes, Cristal, Primus, Martens, Bavik.
Trappist ales (5%-10%): Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle.
Geuze: Belle-Vue, the lambic Mort Subite (Sudden Death), Lindemans, Timmermans.
White beers: Hoegaarden, Dentergemse, Brugse Witte.

Sleep

Belgium has many fine hotels. Capital Brussels has countless rather expensive business hotels catering to the European Union's bureaucrats, and while you can usually get a good room for under €100, prices can spike if there's a big EU shindig in town.
Arguably the best hotels in Belgium, though, are located in Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven and the rural Ardennes region of Belgium. Gent and Leuven are bustling college towns, Brugge is touristy yet still very authentic, medieval and quiet at night, with small guest houses and family businesses greatly outnumbering the few chain hotels.

Budget

If you are travelling in Flanders by bicycle or by foot, there is a list of 220 addresses where you can stay at private homes with bed and breakfast for no more than €17 per person per night, although you must also pay €9 for membership of this scheme. It is called Vrienden op de fiets [35].

Learn

The different stages of education are the same in all communities:
  • Basic education (Dutch: basisonderwijs; French: enseignement fondamental), consisting of
    • Pre-school (kleuteronderwijs; einseignement maternel): -6 years
    • Primary school (lager onderwijs; enseignement primaire): 6-12 years
  • Secondary school (secundair onderwijs; enseignement secondaire): 12-18 years
  • Higher education (hoger onderwijs; enseignement supérieure)
    • University (universiteit; université)
    • Polytechnic (hogeschool; haute école)
Education is organized by the regions (Dutch-speaking Flanders on the one hand, French and German speaking Wallonia on the other) and the small federal district of Brussels has schools run by both the Flemish and Walloon authorities. Both states recognize independent school networks, which cater to far more students than the state schools themselves. Most Belgian students go to a Flemish catholic school. However, every independent school needs to follow the official state curriculum, and catholicism in Flanders has long been extremely liberal anyway.

Work

Having one of the highest labour taxes in Europe, Belgium is struggling to reposition itself as a high-tech country. In that struggle, Flanders is quite ahead of Wallonia, in contrast to the previous decades, where Wallonia's steel industry was the main export of Belgium. Highly skilled people will have the most chance to find work, and knowing multiple languages (Dutch, French, English and perhaps German) is almost a standard requirement. Interim offices providing temporary jobs are flourishing in a search to avoid the high labour taxes.
Belgium has one of the highest tax rates in the world. An employer who pays a salary about €1500 a month actually pays another €1500 or more in taxes. Where does this money go to? It goes to the social network . People only pay a small charge for healthcare, for example. And the budget for education, arts and culture is enormous. The budget for defense is however very tiny.

Stay safe

Except for certain neighbourhoods in central Brussels and the outer edge of Antwerp (the port and docks), Belgium is a safe country. Belgians are somewhat shy and introverted, but generally helpful towards strangers.
For those landing in Charleroi and Liège, those are the regions that boast the highest crime rates in Southern Belgium. But if you keep an eye on your belongings, and don't wander alone at night, nothing really serious can happen to you.
Muslims and people of North African ancestry may experience mild resentment, a problem that is particularly acute in Brussels and Antwerp.
Always use your common sense, of course. Don't walk in empty streets in the middle of the night, showing off expensive equipment or jewelry.
Marijuana laws are quite lenient, with small amounts only punishable by fines.

Stay healthy

In the winter, like most other European countries, only influenza will cause you a considerable inconvenience. No inoculations are needed to enter or leave Belgium.

Contact

Belgium has a modern telephone system with nationwide cellular telephone coverage, and multiple internet access points in all cities, free in most libraries. Also in multiple gas stations, NMBS/SNCB train stations and diners on the highways there is Wi-Fi available.
  • Many cafés offer free WiFi nowadays, but don't write it on the door for whatever reason...
  • if you can't find any you can always fall back on Quick or McD which both offer free WiFi.

Get out

For party-minded people, Belgium can be heaven, when you connect Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven you can see that they all are in very short distance from each other. In this little region, you will find the most clubs, cafés, restaurants per square mile in the world. A good starting point is Leuven or Ghent because of the strong student/youth culture. You can expect a wide variety in music appreciation, going from jazz to the better electronic music. Just ask around for the better clubs and there you will most likely meet some music fanatics who can show you the better underground parties in this tiny country.
The government has a mostly liberal attitude towards bars, clubs and parties. They acknowledge the principle of "live and let live". As long as you don't cause public disturbance, vandalize property and get too drunk, the police will not intervene. This also one of the main principles of Belgian social life, as this sort of behaviour is generally considered offensive. Of course, in student communities this is more tolerated, but generally, you are most respected if you party as hard as you like- but with a sense of discretion and self-control.
Officially, drugs are not allowed. But as long as you respect the aforementioned principles, you are not likely to get into serious trouble. Beware though, that driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is not tolerated and traffic laws are strictly enforced in this matter. Especially in the weekends on main roads, you have a good chance of being stopped for an alcohol control.
This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

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Belgium may refer to:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

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BELGIUM (Fr. Belgique; Flem. Belgie), an independent, constitutional and neutral state occupying an important position in north-west Europe. It was formerly part of the Low Countries or Netherlands. Although the name Belgium only came into general use with the foundation of the modern kingdom in 1830, its derivation from ancient times is clear and incontrovertible. Beginning with the Belgae and the Gallia Belgica of the Romans, the use of the adjective to distinguish the inhabitants of the south Netherlands can be traced through all stages of subsequent history. During the Crusades, and in the middle ages, the term Belgicae principes is of frequent occurrence, and when in 1790 the Walloons rose against Austria during what was called the Brabant revolution, their leaders proposed to give the country the name of Belgique. Again in 1814, on the expulsion of the French, when there was much talk of founding an independent state, the same name was suggested for it. It was not till sixteen years later, on the collapse of the united kingdom of urnes re' A ?eltre' G'`h e n. s .Amand Troa hicnnc ? ' S 'e ' ',l0"0 t !rJ,GheJt,, seveld ?
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Topography, &c. - Belgium lies between 49° 30' and 51° 30' N., and 2° 32' and 6° 7' E., and on the land side is bounded by Holland on the N. and N.E., by Prussia and the grand duchy of Luxemburg on the E. and S.E., and by France on the S. Its land frontiers measure 793 m., divided as follows: - with Holland 269 m., with Prussia 60 m., with the grand duchy 80 m. and with France 384 m. In addition it has a sea-coast of 42 m. The western portion of Belgium, consisting of the two Flanders, Antwerp and parts of Brabant and Hainaut, is flat, being little above the level of the sea; and indeed at one point near Furnes it is 7 ft. below it. The same description applies more or less to the north-east, but in the south of Hainaut and the greater part of Brabant the general level of the country is about 300 ft. above the sea, with altitudes rising to more than 600 ft. South of the Meuse, and in the district distinguished by the appellation " Between Sambre and Meuse," the level is still greater, and the whole of the province of Luxemburg is above 500 ft., with altitudes up to 1650 ft. In the south-eastern part of the province of Liege there are several points exceeding 2000 ft. The highest of these is the Baraque de Michel close to the Prussian frontier, with an altitude of 2190 ft. The Baraque de Fraiture, north-east of La Roche, is over 2000 ft. While the greater part of western and northern Belgium is devoid of the picturesque, the Ardennes and the Fagnes districts of " Between Sambre and Meuse " and Liege contain much pleasant and some romantic scenery. The principal charm of this region is derived from its fine and extensive woods, of which that called St Hubert is the best known. There are no lakes in Belgium, but otherwise it is exceedingly well watered, being traversed by the Meuse for the greater part of its course, as well as by the Scheldt and the Sambre. The numerous affluents of these rivers, such as the Lys, Dyle, Dender, Ourthe, Ambleve, Vesdre, Lesse and Semois, provide a system of waterways almost unique in Europe. The canals of Belgium are scarcely less numerous or important than those of Holland, especially in Flanders, where they give a distinctive character to the country. But the most striking feature in Belgium, where so much is modern, utilitarian and ugly, is found in the older cities with their relics of medieval greatness, and their record of ancient fame. These, in their order of interest, are Bruges, Antwerp, Louvain, Brussels, Ghent, Ypres, Courtrai, Tournai, Fumes, Oudenarde and Liege. It is to them rather than to the sylvan scenes of the Ardennes that travellers and tourists flock.
The climate may be described as temperate and approximating to that of southern England, but it is somewhat hotter in summer and a little colder in winter. In the Ardennes, owing to the greater elevation, the winters are more severe.
Table of contents

Geology

Belgium lies upon the northern side of an ancient mountain chain which has long been worn down to a low level and the remnants of which rise to the surface in the Ardennes, and extend eastward into Germany, forming the Eifel and Westerwald, the Hunsriick and the Taunus. Westward the chain lies buried beneath the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of Belgium and the north of France, but it reappears in the west of England and Ireland. It is the " Hercynian chain " of Marcel Bertrand, and is composed entirely of Palaeozoic rocks. Upon its northern margin lie the nearly undisturbed Cretaceous and Tertiary beds which cover the greater part of Belgium. The latest beds which are involved in the folds of this mountain range belong to the Coal Measures, and the final elevation must have taken place towards the close of the Carboniferous period. The fact that in Belgium Jurassic beds are found upon the southern and not upon the northern margin indicates that in this region the chain was still a ridge in Jurassic times. In the Ardennes the rocks which constitute the ancient mountain chain belong chiefly to the Devonian System, but Cambrian beds rise through the Devonian strata, forming the masses of Rocroi, Stavelot, &c., which appear to have been islands in the Devonian sea. The Ordovician and Silurian are absent here, and the Devonian rests unconformably upon the Cambrian; but along the northern margin of the Palaeozoic area, Ordovician and Silurian rocks appear, and beds of similar age are also exposed farther north where the rivers have cut through the overlying Tertiary deposits. Carboniferous beds occur in the north of the Palaeozoic area. Near Dinant they are folded amongst the Devonian beds, but the most important band runs along the northern border of the Ardennes. In this band lie the coalfields of Liege, and of Mons and Charleroi. It is a long and narrow trough, which is separated from the older rocks of the Ardennes by a great reversed fault, the faille du midi. In the southern half of the trough the folding of the Coal Measures is intense; in the northern half it is much less violent. The structure is complicated by a thrust-plane which brings a mass of older beds upon the Coal Measures in the middle of the trough. Except along the southern border of the Ardennes, and at one or two points in the middle of the Palaeozoic massif, Triassic and Jurassic beds are unknown in Belgium, and the Palaeozoic rocks are directly and unconformably overlaid by Cretaceous and Tertiary deposits. The Cretaceous beds are not extensive, but the Wealden deposits of Bernissart, with their numerous remains of Iguanodon, and the chalk of the district about the Dutch frontier near Maastricht, with its very late Cretaceous fauna, are of special interest.
Exclusive of the Ardennes the greater part of Belgium is covered by Tertiary deposits. The Eocene, consisting chiefly of sands and marls, occupies the whole of the west of the country. The Oligocene forms a band stretching from Antwerp to Maastricht, and this is followed towards the north by a discontinuous strip of Miocene and a fairly extensive area of Pliocene. The Tertiary deposits are similar in general character to those of the north of France and the south of England. Coal and iron are by far the most important mineral productions of Belgium. Zinc, lead and copper are also extensively worked in the Palaeozoic rocks of the Ardennes.

Area and Population

The area comprises 2,945,503 hectares, or about 11,373 English sq. m., and the total population in December 1904 was 7,074,910, giving an average of 600 per sq. m..
The NineProvinces. Area inEnglish sq. m. Population atend of 1904. Population persq. m. 1904.
Antwerp. . 1093 888,980 813'3
Brabant . 1268 1,366,389 1077'59
Flanders E. 1158 1,078,507 931.35
Flanders W. 1249 845,732 677.8
Hainaut . 1437 1,192,967 830.18
Liege . 1117 863,254 772'8
Limburg . 931 255,359 274'28
Luxemburg . 1706 225,963 132.45
Namur . 1414 357,759 253
Total 11,373 7,074,910 622
Year. Total births. Total deaths. Excess of births.
1880 . 171,864 123,323 48,541
1895 . 183,015 125,148 57,867
1900 . 193,789 129,046 64,743
1904 191,721 119,506 72,215
The population was made up of 3,514,491 males and 3,560,419 females. The rate at which the population has increased is shown as follows: - From 1880 to 1890 the increase was at the rate annually of 54,931, from 1890 to 1900 at the rate of 62,421, and for the five years from 1900 to 1904 at the rate of 66,200. In 1831 the population of Belgium was 3,785,814, so that in 75 years it had not quite doubled. The following table gives the total births and deaths in certain years since 1880: These figures show that the births were 23,674 more in 1904 than in 1880, while the deaths were nearly 4000 fewer, with a. population that had increased from 52 to 7 millions. Of 191,721 births in 1904, 12,887 or 6 . 7% were illegitimate. Statistics of recent years show a slight increase in legitimate and a slight decrease in illegitimate births.
The emigration of Belgians from their country is small and reveals little variation. In 1900, 13,492 emigrated, and in 1904 the total rose only to 14,752. Of Belgians living abroad it is estimated that 400,000 reside in France, 15,000 in Holland, 12,000 in Germany and 4600 in Great Britain. The number of Belgians in the Congo State in 1904 was 1505. The number of foreigners resident in Belgium in 1900 with their nationalities were Germans, 42,079; English, 5096; French, 85,735; Dutch, 54,49 1; Luxemburgers, 9762; and all other nationalities, 14,411.
1880. 1890. 1900.
French only. . 2,230,316 2,485,072 2,574,805
Flemish only. . 2 ,4 8 5,3 8 4 2,744,271 2,822,005
German only . 39,550 32,206 28,314
French and Flemish . 423,752 700,997 801,587
French and German . 35,250 58,590 66,447
Flemish and German . 2,956 7,028 7,238
The three languages . 13,331 13,185 42,889
With regard to the languages spoken by the people of Belgium the following comparative table gives the return for the three censuses of 1880, 1890 and 1900: Constitution and Government. - The Belgian constitution, drafted by the national assembly in 1830-1831 after the provisional government had announced that " the Belgian provinces detached by force from Holland shall form an independent state," was published on the 7th of February 1831, and the modifications introduced into it subsequently, apart from the composition of the electorate, have been few and unimportant. The constitution originally contained one hundred and thirty-nine articles, and decreed in the first place that the government was to be " a constitutional, representative and hereditary monarchy." Having decided in favour of a monarchy, the provisional government first offered the throne to the duc de Nemours, son of Louis-Philippe, but this offer was promptly withdrawn on the discovery that Europe would not endorse it. It was then offered to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, widower of the princess Charlotte of England, and accepted by him. The prince was proclaimed on the 4th of June 1831 as Leopold I., king of the Belgians, and on the 21st of July 1831 he was solemnly inaugurated in Brussels. The succession is vested in the heirs male of Leopold I., and should they ever make complete default the throne will be declared vacant, and a national assembly composed of the two chambers elected in double strength will make a fresh nomination. In 1894" a new article numbered 61 was inserted in the constitution providing that " in default of male heirs the king can nominate his successor with the assent of the two chambers, and if no such nomination has been made the throne shall be vacant," when the original procedure of the constitution would be followed. The Belgian national assembly assumed that its constitution would extend over the whole of the Belgic or south Netherlands, but the powers decreed otherwise. The limits of Belgium are fixed by the London protocol of the 15th of October 1831 - also called the twenty-four articles - which cut off what is now termed the grand duchy of Luxemburg, and also a good portion of the duchy of Limburg. These losses of territory held by a brother people are still felt as a grievance by many Belgians. The Belgian constitution stipulates for " freedom of conscience, of education, of the press and also of the right of meeting," but the sovereign must be a member of the Church of Rome. The government was to consist of the king, the senate and the chamber of representatives. The functions of the king are those that appertain everywhere to the sovereign of a constitutional state. He is the head of the army and has the exclusive right of dissolving the chambers as preliminary to an appeal to the country.
The senate is composed of seventy-six elected members and twenty-six members nominated by the provincial councils.
A senator sits for eight years unless a dissolution is ordered, and no one is eligible until he is forty years of age. Half the seventy-six elected senators retire for re-election every four years. There is no payment or other privilege, except a pass on the state railways, attached to the rank of senator. The chamber of representatives contained one hundred and fifty-two members until 1899, when the number was increased to one hundred and sixty-six. Deputies are elected for four years, but half the house is re-elected every two years. A deputy must be twenty-five years of age, and the members of both houses must be of Belgian nationality, born or naturalized. A deputy receives an annual honorarium of 4000 francs and a railway pass. Down to 1893 the electorate was exceedingly small. Property and other qualifications kept the voting power in the hands of a limited class. This may be judged from the fact that in the year named there were only 137,772 voters out of a population of 6z millions. In April 1894 the new electoral law altered the whole system. The property qualification was removed and every Belgian was given one vote on attaining twenty-five years of age and after one year's residence in his commune. At the same time the principle of multiple votes for certain qualifications was introduced. The Belgian citizen on reaching the age of thirty-five, providing he is married or is a widower with legitimate offspring and pays five francs of direct taxes, gets a second vote. Two extra votes are given for qualifications of property, official status or university diplomas. The maximum voting power of any individual is three votes. In 1904 there were 1,581,649 voters, possessing 2,467,966 votes. This system of plural voting has proved a success. It does not, however, satisfy the Socialists, whose formula is one man, one vote. The final change in the system of parliamentary elections was made in 1899-1900, when proportional representation was introduced. Proportional representation aims at the protection of minorities, and its working out is a little intricate, or at all events difficult to describe. The following has been accepted as a clear definition of what proportional representation is:- " Each electoral district has the number of its members apportioned in accordance with the total strength of each party or political programme in that district. As a rule there are only the three chief parties, viz. Catholic, Liberal and Socialist, but the presence of Catholic-Democrats or some other new faction may increase the total to four or even five. The number of seats to be filled is divided by the number of parties or candidates, and then they are distributed in the proportion of the total followers or voters of each. The smallest minority is thus sure of one seat." An illustration may make this clearer. In an electoral district with 32,000 votes which returns eight deputies, four parties send up candidates, let us say, eight Catholics, eight Liberals, eight Socialists and one Catholic-Democrat. The result of the voting is, 16,000 Catholic votes, 9000 Liberal, 4500 Socialist, and 2500 Catholic-Democrat. The seats would, therefore, be apportioned as follows: four Catholic, two Liberal, one Socialist and one Catholic-Democrat.
The king has one right which other constitutional rulers do not possess. He can initiate proposals for new laws (projets de loi). He is also charged with the executive power which he delegates to a cabinet composed of ministers g P chosen from the party representing the majority in the chamber. Down to 1884 the Liberal party had held power with very few intervals since 1840. The Catholic party succeeded to office in 1884. The ministers represent departments for finance, foreign affairs, colonies, justice, the interior, science and arts, war, railways, posts and telegraphs, agriculture, public works, and industry and labour. The minister for war is generally a soldier, the others are civilians. Ministers may be members of either chamber and enjoy the privilege of being allowed to speak in both. Sometimes one minister will hold several portfolios at the same time, but such cases are rare.
The kingdom is divided into nine provinces which are subdivided into 342 cantons and 2623 communes. The provinces are governed by a governor nominated by the king, the canton is a judicial division for marking the limit of the jurisdiction of each juge de paix, and the commune is the administrative unit, possessing self-government in all local matters. For each commune of 5000 inhabitants or over, a burgomaster is appointed by the communal council which is chosen by the electors of the commune. As three years' residence is required these electors are fewer in number than those for the legislature. In 1902 there were 1,146,482 voters with 2,007,704 votes, the principles of multiple votes, with, however, a maximum of four votes and proportional representation, being in force for communal as for legislative elections.

Religion

The constitution provides for absolute liberty of conscience and there is no state religion, but the people are almost to a man Roman Catholics. It is computed that there are 10,000 Protestants (half English) and 5000 Jews, and that all the rest are Catholics. The government in 1904 voted nearly 7,000,000 francs in aid of the religious establishments of, and the benevolent institutions kept up by, the Roman Church. The grant to other cults amounted to 118,000 francs, but small as this sum may appear it is in due proportion to the relative numbers of each creed. The hierarchy of the Church of Rome in Belgium is composed of the archbishop of Malines, and the bishops of Liege, Ghent, Bruges, Tournai and Namur. The archbishop receives £800, and the bishops £600 apiece from the state yearly. The pay of the village cure averages £80 a year and a house. Besides the regular clergy there are the members of the numerous monastic and conventual houses established in Belgium. They are engaged principally in educational and eleemosynary work, and the development in such institutions is considerable.

Education

Education is compulsory by law, and is free for those who cannot pay for it. In the primary schools instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, history and geography is obligatory. In 1904 there were 7092 primary schools with 859,436 pupils of both sexes. Of these 807,383 did not pay. Primary education is supposed to continue till the age of fourteen, but in practice it stops at twelve for all who do not intend to pass through the middle schools, which is essential for all persons seeking state employment of any kind. The middle schools have one privilege. They can give a certificate qualifying scholars for a mastership in the primary ,schools, which are under the full control of the communes. These appointments are always bestowed on local favourites. The pay of a schoolmaster in a small commune is only £48, and in a large town £96, with a maximum ranging from go to £152 after twenty-four years' service. It is therefore clear that no very high qualifications could be expected from such a staff. The control of the state comes in to the extent of providing district inspectors who visit the schools once a year, and hold a meeting of the teachers in their district once a quarter. In each province there is a chief inspector who is bound to visit each school once in two years, and reports direct to the minister of public instruction. With regard to the middle schools, the government has reserved the right to appoint the teaching staff, and to prescribe the books that are to be used The results of the middle schools are fairly satisfactory. Still better are the Athenees Royaux, twenty in number, which are quite independent of the commune and subject to official control under the superior direction of the king. Mathematics and classics are taught in them and the masters are allowed to take boarders. The expenditure of the state on education amounts to about a million sterling. In 1860 the grants were only for little over one-eighth of the total in 1903. In 1900 3 1.94 % of the toal population was illiterate. Considerable progress in the education of the people is made visible by a comparison of the figures of three decennial censuses. In 1880 the illiterate were 42.25% and in 1890 37.63, so that there was a further marked improvement by 1900. Among the provinces Walloon Belgium is better instructed than Flemish, Luxemburg coming first, followed by Namur, Liege and Brabant in their order.
Higher instruction is given at the universities and in the schools attached thereto. Those at Ghent and Liege are state universities; the two others at Brussels and Louvain are free.
At Louvain alone is there a faculty of theology. The number of students inscribed for the academical year 1904-1905 at each university was Ghent 899, Liege 1983, Brussels 1082, and Louvain 2134, or a grand total of 6098. Liege is specially famed for the technical schools attached to it. There are also a large number of state-aided schools for special purposes; (1) for military instruction, there are the Ecole Militaire at Brussels, the school of cadets at Namur, and army schools at different stations, e.g. Bouillon, &c. For officers in the army, there are the Ecole de Guerre or staff college at Brussels with an average attendance of twenty, a riding school at Ypres where a course is obligatory for the cavalry and horse artillery, and for soldiers in the army there are regimental schools and evening classes for illiterate soldiers. (2) For education in the arts, there is the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp, and besides this famous school of painting there are eighty-four academies for teaching drawing throughout the kingdom. In music, there are royal conservatoires at Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Liege. Besides these there are sixty-nine minor conservatoires. (3) For commercial and professional education, there are 181 schools. The Commercial Institute of Antwerp deserves special notice as an excellent school for clerks. (4) Among special schools may be named the three schools of navigation at Antwerp, Ostend and Nieuport. Since the wreck of the training-ship " Comte de Smet de Naeyer " in 1906, it has been decided that a stationary training-ship shall be placed in the Scheldt like the " Worcester " on the Thames. Among the numerous learned societies may be mentioned the Belgian Royal Academy founded in 1769 and revived in 1818. For the encouragement of research and literary style the government awards periodical prizes which are very keenly contested.

Justice

The administration of justice is very fully organized, and in the Code Belge, which was carefully compiled between 1831 and 1836 from the old laws of the nine provinces leavened by the Code Napoleon and modern exigencies, the Belgians claim that they possess an almost perfect statute-book. The courts of law in their order are Cour de Cassation, Cour d'Appel, Cour de Premiere Instance, and the Juge de Paix courts, one for each of the 342 cantons. The Cour de Cassation has a peculiar judicial sphere. It works automatically, examining every judgment to see if it is in strict accord with the code, and where it is not the decision or verdict is simply annulled. There is only one judge in this court, but he has the assistance of a large staff of revisers. The Cour de Cassation never tries a case itself except when a minister of state is the accused. The president of this tribunal is the highest legal functionary in Belgium. There are three courts of appeal, viz, at Brussels, Ghent and Liege. At Brussels there are four separate chambers or tribunals in the appeal court. Judges of appeal are appointed by the king for life from lists of eligible barristers prepared by the senate and the courts. Judges can only be removed by the unanimous vote of their brother judges. There are twenty-six courts of first instance distributed among the principal towns of the kingdom, and in Antwerp, Ghent and Liege there are besides special tribunals for the settlement of commercial cases. Of course there is the right of appeal from the decisions of these tribunals as well as of the regular courts. Finally the 342 Juge de Paix courts resemble British county courts. Criminal cases are tried by (1) the Tribunaux de Police, (2) Tribunaux Correctionnels, (3) and the Cours d'Assises. The last are held as the length of the calendar requires. Capital punishment is retained on the statute, but is never enforced, the prisoner on whom sentence of death is passed in due form in open court being relegated to imprisonment for life in solitary confinement and perpetual silence. The chief prisons are at Louvain, Ghent and St Gilles (Brussels), and the last named serves as a house of detention. At Merxplas, near the Dutch frontier, is the agricultural criminal colony at which an average number of two thousand prisoners are kept employed in comparative liberty within the radius of the convict settlement.

Pauperism

For the relief of pauperism there are a limited number of houses of mendicity, in which inmates are received, Provinces and communes. and houses of refuge for night shelter. At the beguinages of Ghent and Bruges women and girls able to contribute a specified sum towards their support are given a home.
Year. Revenue. Expenditure.
1880.18 951903 . 394, 21 5,93 2 francs395,73 0 ,445632,416,810 „ 382,908,429 francs410,383,402 „627,975,568 „
from various revenues, return of capital, loans, &c. The followingare the principal items of expenditure (1903)
Service of debt 143,065,352 francs
Sovereign, senate, chamber, &c. 5,289,087
Departments, foreign office . 3,751,636
„ agriculture 12,253,957
railways . 165,086,019
finance . 34,479,674
industry . 19,905,589
war 63,972,473
public instruction 31,799,105
justice 27,168,032
Minor items . 4,179,046
Total 510,949,970

National Finance

The budget is submitted to the chambers by the minister of finance and passed by them. The revenue and expenditure were in the years stated as follows: - The revenue is made up from taxes, including customs, tolls, including returns from railway traffic, &c., and the balance comes The difference is made up of "special expenditure." The total debt in English money may be put at 126 millions sterling, which requires for interest, sinking fund and service about 5-1 millions sterling annually. The rate of interest on all the loans extant is 3%, except on one loan of 219,959,632 francs, which pays only 21%.

Army and National Defence

The army is divided into the regular army, the gendarmerie, and the garde civique. The Belgian regular army is thus composed: infantry, one regiment of carabiniers, one of grenadiers, three of chasseurs a pied, and fourteen of the line, all these regiments having 3 or 4 active and 3 or 4 reserve battalions apiece; cavalry, two regiments of guides, two of chasseurs a cheval, and four of lancers, all light cavalry; artillery, four horse, thirty field, and seventy siege batteries on active service; engineers, 140 officers and 2000 men. The train or commissariat has only 30 officers and 600 men on the permanent establishment. Belgium retains the older form of conscription, and has not adopted the system of " universal service." The annual levy is small and substitution is permitted. In 1904 the number inscribed for service was 64,042. Of these only 12,525 were enrolled in the army, and of that number 1421 were volunteers, who took an engagement on receipt of a premium. The effective strength of the army in 1904 with the colours was 3406 officers and 40,382 men. To this total has to be added the men on the active list, but either absent on leave or allowed to return to civil life, numbering 70,043. It is assumed that on mobilization these men are immediately available. The reserve consists of 181 officers and 58,014 men, so that the total strength of the Belgian army is 3587 officers and 168,439 men. The field force in war is organized in four infantry and two cavalry divisions, the total strength being about 10o,000. The peace effective has not varied much since 1870, but the total paper strength is 75,000 more than in that year. In the years 1900-1904 it increased by 8000 men. The gendarmerie is a mounted force composed of men picked for their physique and divided into three divisions. It numbers 67 officers and 3079 men, but has no reserve. It is in every sense a corps d'elite, and may be classed as first-rate heavy cavalry. The total strength of the garde civique in 1905 was 35,10 2, to which have to be added 8532 volunteers belonging to the corps of older formation, service in which counts on a par with the garde civique. Some of the latter regiments, especially the artillery, would rank with British volunteers, but the mass of the garde civique does not pretend to possess military value. It is a defence against sedition and socialism. The defence of Belgium depends on five fortified positions. The fortified position and camp of Antwerp represents the true base of the national defence. Its detached forts shelter the city from bombardment, and so long as sea communication is open with England, Antwerp would be practically impregnable. Liege with twelve forts and Namur with nine forts are the fortified tetes de Pont protecting the two most important passages of the Meuse. The forts are constructed in concrete with armoured cupolas. Termor de on the Scheldt and Diest on the Dender are retained as nominally fortified positions, but neither could resist a regular bombardment for more than a few hours, as their casemates are not bomb-proof.
The training camp of the Belgian army is at Beverloo in the province of Limburg, and at Braschaet not far from Antwerp are ranges for artillery as well as rifle practice. The Belgian officer is technically as well trained and educated as any in Europe, but he lacks practical experience in military service.

Mines and Industry

The principal mineral produced in Belgium is coal. This is found in the Borinage district near Mons and in the neighbourhood of Liege, but the working of an entirely new coal-field, which promises to attain vast dimensions, was commenced in 1906 in the Campine district of the province of Limburg. The coal mines of Belgium give employment to nearly 150,000 persons, and for some years the average output has exceeded 22,000,000 tons. Other minerals are iron, manganese, lead and zinc. The iron mines produce much less than formerly, and the want of iron is a grave defect in Belgian prosperity, as about £5,000,eoo sterling worth of iron has to be imported annually, chiefly from French Lorraine. The chief metal industry of the country is represented by the iron and steel works of Charleroi and Liege. Belgium is particularly rich in quarries of marble, granite and slate. Ghent is the capital of the textile industry, and all the towns of Flanders are actively engaged in producing woollen and cotton materials and in lace manufacture. The bulk of the population is, however, engaged in agriculture, and the extent of land under cultivation of all kinds is about 62 million acres.
Imports. Exports.
France ¢65,68¢,000 francs 346,670,000 francs
Germany .. 351,025,000 , 505,473,000 „
England 335,404,000 392,324,000 „
Holland .. 240,873,000 268,781,000 77
United States. . 222,301,000 „ 86,324,000 „
Russia 212,119,000 „ 26,671,000 „
Argentina 198,913,000 „ 41,508,000 „
British India 141,669,000 „ 25,860,000 „
Rumania 102,174,000 „ 3,949,000
Australia. 58,190,000 12,087,000 „
Congo State . 53,100,000 „ 14,049,000 „
Chin 8,770,000 „ 25,546,000 „

Commerce

The trade returns for 1904 were as follows: Imports General Commerce 4,426,400,000 francs Special Commerce (included in General Commerce).. 2,782,200,000 Exports General Commerce. 3,849,100,000 Special Commerce (included in General Commerce). 2,183,300,000 The general commerce includes goods in transit across Belgium, the special commerce takes into account only the produce and the consumption of Belgium itself. .The trade of Belgium has more than trebled as regards both imports and exports since 1870. The following table shows the amount of exports and imports between Belgium and the more important foreign states: - In the relative magnitude of the annual value of its commerce, excluding that in transit, Belgium stands sixth among the nations of the world, following Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France and Holland.^ Belgium Conferences, Conventions, Trade Shows and Meetings .
  • Belgium Conferences, Conventions, Trade Shows and Meetings 19 January 2010 8:48 UTC www.allconferences.com [Source type: News]

The principal imports are food supplies` and raw material such as cotton, wool, silk, flax, hemp and jute. Among minerals, iron ore, sulphur, copper, coal, tin, lead and diamonds are the most imported. The exports of greatest value are textiles, lace, coal, coke, briquettes, glass, machinery, railway material and fire arms.

Shipping and Navigation

Belgium has no state navy, although various proposals have been made from time to time to establish an armed flotilla in connexion with the defence of Antwerp. The state, however, possesses a certain number of steamers. In 1904 they numbered sixty-five of 99,893 tons. These steamers are chiefly employed on the passenger route between Ostend and Dover. The total number of vessels entering the only two ports of Belgium which carry on ocean commerce, namely Antwerp and Ostend, in 1904 was 7650 of a tonnage of 10,330,127. Among inland ports that of Ghent is the most important, 1127 ships of a tonnage of 786,362 having entered the port in 1904. The corresponding figures for ships sailing from the two ports first named were in the same year 7642 and tonnage 10,298,405. The figures from Ghent were 1128 and 787,173 tons. Whereas the lines of steamers from Ostend are chiefly with Dover and London, those from Antwerp proceed to all parts of the world.
A steam service was established in 1906 from Hull to Bruges by Zeebrugge and the ship canal.

Internal Communications

The internal communications of Belgium of every kind are excellent. The roads outside the province of Luxemburg and Namur are generally paved. In the provinces named, or in other words, in the region south of the Meuse, the roads are macadamized. The total length of roads is about 6000 m. When Belgium became a separate state in 1830 they were less than one-third of this total. There are about 2900 m. of railways, of which upwards of 2500 m. are state railways. It is of interest to note that the state railways derived a revenue of 249,355 francs (or nearly io,000) from the penny tickets for the admission of non-travellers to railway stations. Besides the main railways there are numerous light railways (chemins de fer vicinaux), of a total length approaching 2500 m. There are also electric and steam tramways in all the principal cities. The total of navigable waterways is given as 1360 m. Posts, telegraphs and telephones are exclusively under state management and form a government department.

Banks and Money

The principal banking institution is the Banque Nationale which issues the bank-notes in current use. In 904theaverage value of notes in circulation was 645,989,100 francs. The rate of discount was 3% throughout the whole of the year.
The mintage of Belgian money is carried out by a directeur de la fabrication who is nominated by and responsible to the government. The gold coins are for 10 and 20 francs, silver for half francs, francs, 2 francs and 5 francs. Nickel money is for 5, Io and 20 centimes, and the copper coinage has been withdrawn from circulation.

Authorities

- Annuaire statistique de la Belgique (1905); Beltjens and Godenne, La Constitution beige (Brussels, 1880); La Belgique illustree (Brussels, 1878-1882); Les Pandectes beiges (Brussels, 1898); Annales du parlement beige for each year; Belgian Life in Town and Country," Our Neighbours " Series (London, 1904). For geology see C. Dewalque, Prodrome d'une description geologique de la Belgique (Brussels, 1880); M. Mourlon, Geologie de la Belgique (Brussels, 1880-1881); F. L. Cornet and A. Briart, " Sur le relief du sol en Belgique apres les temps paleozo ques," Ann. Soc. Geol. Belg. vol. iv., 1877, pp. 71-115, pls. v.-xi. (see also other papers by the same authors in the same journal); J. Gosselet, L'Ardenne (Paris, 1888); M. Bertrand, " Etudes sur le bassin houiller du nord et sur le Boulonnais," Ann. des mines, ser. ix. vol. vi. (Mem.), pp. 569-635, 1894; C. Malaise, " Etat actuel de nos connaissances sur le silurien de la Belgique," Ann. Soc. Geol. Belg. vol. xxv., 1900-1901, pp. 179221; H. Forir, " Bibliographie des etages laekenien, ledien, wemmblien, asschien, tongrien, rupelien et bolderien et des depots tertiaires de la haute et moyenne Belgique," ibid. pp. 223 seq.
(D. C. B.) History 1 The political severance of the northern and southern Netherlands may be conveniently dated from the opening of the year 1579. By the signing of the league of Arras (5th of January) the Walloon " Malcontents " declared their adherence to the cause of Catholicism and their loyalty to the Spanish king, and broke away definitely from the northern provinces, who bound 1 See for earlier history Netherlands, Flanders, Brabant, Liege, &C.
themselves by the union of Utrecht (29th of January) to defend their rights and liberties, political and religious, against all foreign potentates. Brabant and Flanders were still indeed under the control of the prince of Orange, and through his influence accepted in 1582 the duke of Anjou as their sovereign. The French prince was actually inaugurated duke of Brabant at Antwerp (February 1582) and count of Flanders at Bruges (July), but his misconduct speedily led to his withdrawal from the Netherlands, and even before the assassination of Orange (July 1584) the authority of Philip had been practically restored throughout the two provinces. This had been achieved by the military skill and statesmanlike abilities of Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, appointed governor general on the death of Don John of Austria, on the prince of 1st of October 1578. Farnese first won by promises and blandishments the confidence of the Walloons, always jealous of the predominance of the " Flemish " provinces, and then proceeded to make himself master of Brabant and Flanders by force of arms. In succession Ypres, Mechlin, Ghent, Brussels, and finally Antwerp (17th of August 1585) fell into his hands. Philip had in the southern o f Netherlands attained his object, and Belgium was henceforth Catholic and Spanish, but at the expense of its progress and prosperity. Thousands of its inhabitants, and those the most enterprising and intelligent, fled from the Inquisition, and made their homes in the Dutch republic or in England. All commerce and industry was at a standstill; grass grew in the streets of Bruges and Ghent; and the trade of Antwerp was transferred to Amsterdam. On Parma's death (3rd of December 1592) the archduke Ernest of Austria was appointed governorgeneral, but he died after a short tenure of office (20th of February 1 595) and was at the beginning of 1596 succeeded by his younger brother the cardinal archduke Albert. Philip was now nearing his end, and in 1598 he gave his eldest daughter Isabel Albert in marriage to her cousin the archduke Albert, and erected the Netherlands into a sovereign state under their joint rule. The advent of the new sovereigns, of officially known as " the archdukes," though greeted ands the r" with enthusiasm in the Belgic provinces, was looked upon with suspicion by the Dutch, who were as firmly resolved as ever to uphold their independence. The chief military event of the early years of their reign was the battle of Nieuport (2nd of July 1600), in which Maurice of Nassau defeated the archduke Albert, and the siege of Ostend, which after a threeears' heroic defence was surrendered year Y (20th of September 1604) to the archduke's general, Spinola. The Dutch, however, being masters of the sea, kept the coast closely blockaded, and through sheer exhaustion the king of Spain and the archdukes were compelled to agree to a truce for twelve years (9th of April 1609) with the United Provinces " in the capacity of free states over which Albert and Isabel made no pretensions." During the period of the truce the archdukes, who were wise and statesmanlike rulers, did their utmost to restore prosperity to their country and to improve its internal condition. Unfortunately they were childless, and the instrument of cession of 1598 provided that in case they should die without issue, the Netherlands - should revert to the crown of p S ain. This reversion actually took place. Albert died in 1621, just before the 1633 renewal of the war with the Dutch, and Isabel in 1633. The Belgic provinces therefore passed under the rule of Philip IV., and were henceforth known as the Spanish Netherlands.
This connexion with the declining fortunes of Spain was disastrous to the well-being of the Belgian people, for during many years a close alliance bound together France and the United Provinces, and the Southern Netherlands were exposed to attack from both sides, and constantly suffered from the ravages of hostile armies. The cardinal arch- Peace of g duke Ferdinand, governor-general from 1634-1641, was a capable ruler, and by his military skill prevented in a succession III. 22 of campaigns the forces of the enemy from overrunning the country. On the 30th of January 1648, Spain concluded a separate peace at Minster with the Dutch, by which Philip IV. finally renounced all his claims and rights over the access to the ocean. Thus they remained for a long course of years without a sea-port, and in the many wars that broke out between Spain and France were constantly exposed, as an outlying Spanish dependency, to the first attack, and peace when it came was usually purchased at the cost of some part of Belgian territory. By the treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) Artois (except St Omer and Aire) and a number of towns in Flanders, Hainaut, and Luxemburg were ceded to France. Subsequent French conquests, confirmed by to the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1668), took away Lille, Douai, Charleroi, Oudenarde, Coutrai and Tournai. These were, indeed, partly restored to Belgium by the peace of Nijmwegen (1679); but on the other hand it lost Valenciennes, Nieuport, St Omer, Ypres and Charlemont, which were only in part recovered by the peace of Ryswick (1697).
The internal history of the Belgic provinces has little to record during this long period in which the ambition of Louis XIV. to possess himself of the Netherlands, in right of his wife the infanta Maria Theresa (see Spanish Succession), led to a series of invasions and desolating wars. The French king managed to incorporate a large slice of territory upon his northern frontier, but his main object was baffled by the steady resistance and able statesmanship of William III. of England and Holland. Meanwhile from 1692 onwards brighter prospects were opened out to the unfortunate Belgians by the nomination by the Spanish king of Maximilian Emanuel, elector of Bavaria, to be governorgeneral with well-nigh sovereign powers. The elector had himself a claim to the inheritance as the husband of an Austrian archduchess, whose mother, the infanta Margaret, was the younger sister of the French queen. Maximilian Emanuel was an able man, who did his utmost to improve the condition of the country.
of He attempted to promote trade and restore prosperity customs laws and other measures, and particularly by to the construction of canals to counteract the damage done to Belgian commerce by the closing of the Scheldt. The position of the elector was greatly strengthened by the partition treaty of the 19th of August 1698. Under this instrument the signatory powers - England, France and Holland - agreed that on the demise of Charles II. the crown prince of Bavaria under his father's guardianship should be sovereign of Spain, Belgium and Spanish America. Charles II. himself shortly afterwards by will appointed the Bavarian prince heir to all his dominions. The death of the i nfant heir a few months later (6th of February 16 99) unfortunately destroyed any prospects of a peaceable settlement of the Spanish Succession. Charles II. was persuaded to name as his sole successor, Philip duke of Anjou, the second son of the dauphin, and on his death (on the 1st November 1700) Louis XIV. took immediate steps to support his grandson's claims, in spite of his formal renunciation of such claims under the treaty of the Pyrenees. England and Holland were determined to prevent, however, at all costs the acquisition of Belgium by a French prince, and a coalition, known as the Grand Alliance, was formed between these two powers and the empire to uphold the claims of the archduke Charles, second son of the emperor.
One of the first steps of Louis was to take possession of the Netherlands. The hereditary feud between the houses of Austria and Bavaria induced the elector to take the side of France, and he was nominated by Philip V.
v icar eneral of the Netherlands. The unhappy Bel is successes. g PPY g provinces were again doomed for a number of years to be the battle-ground of the contending forces, and it was on Belgic soil that Marlborough won the great victories of Ramillies (1706) and of Oudenarde (1708), by which he was enabled to drive the French armies out of the Netherlands and to carry the war into French territory. At the general peace concluded at Utrecht (11th of April 1713) the long connexion between Belgium and Spain was severed, and this portion of the Burgundian inheritance of Charles V. placed under the sovereignty of the Habsburg claimant, who had, by the death of his brother, become the emperor Charles VI. The Belgic provinces now came for a full century to be known as the Austrian Netherlands. Yet such was the dread of The France and the enfeebled state of the country that Holland retained the privilege, which had been con- Nether- ceded to her during the war, of garrisoning the principal fortresses or Barrier towns, on the French frontier, and her right to close the navigation on the Scheldt was again ratified by a European treaty. The beginnings of Austrian sovereignty were marked by many collisions between the representatives of the new rulers and the States General, and provincial " states." Despite their troubled history and long subjection, the Belgic provinces still retained to an unusual degree their local liberties and privileges, and more especially the right of not being taxed, except by the express consent of the states. The marquis de Prie, who (as deputy for Prince Eugene) was the imperial governor from 1719 to 1726, encountered on the part of local authorities and town gilds vigorous resistance to his attempt to rule the Netherlands as an Austrian dependency, and he was driven to take strong measures to assert his authority. He selected as his victim a powerful popular leader at Brussels, Francis Anneesens, syndic of the gild of St Nicholas, who was Y g ? beheaded on the 19th of September 1719. His name is remembered in Belgian annals as a patriot martyr to the cause of liberty. The administration of de Prie was not, however, without its redeeming features. He endeavoured to create at Ostend a seaport, capable in some measure to take the place of Antwerp, and in 1722 a Chartered Company of Ostend was erected for the purpose of trading in the East and West Indiessee Ostend). The determined hostility Y of the Dutch rendered the promising scheme futile, and after a precarious struggle for existence, Charles VI., in order to gain the assent of the United Provinces and Great Britain to the Pragmatic Sanction, suppressed the Company in 1731. For sixteen years (1725-1741) the archduchess Mary Elizabeth, sister of the emperor, filled the post of governor-general. Her rule was marked by the restoration of the old form Arch_ of administration under the three councils, and was a period of general tranquillity. She died (1741) in Mary the Netherlands, and the empress-queen, Maria Theresa, who had succeeded under the Pragmatic Sanction to the Burgundian domains of her father about a year before, appointed her brother-in-law, Charles of Lorraine, to be governorgeneral in her aunt's place, and he retained that post, to the great advantage of Belgium, for nearly forty years. He was deservedly known as the " Good Governor." The first years of his administration were stormy. During the Austrian War of Succession the country was conquered by the French, and for two years Marshal Saxe bore the title of governor-general, but it was restored to Austria by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748). Belgium was undisturbed by the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), and during the long peace which followed enjoyed considerable prosperity. Charles of Lorraine thoroughly identified himself with the best interests of the country, and was the champion of its liberties, and though he had at times to make a stand against the imperialistic tendencies of the chancellor Kaunitz, he was able to rely on the steady support of the empress, who appreciated the wise and liberal policy of her brother-in-law. Although the Scheldt was still closed, Charles endeavoured by a large extension of the canal system to facilitate commercial intercourse, he encouraged agriculture, and was successful in restoring the prosperity of the country. He also did much for the advancement of learning, founding, among other institutions, United Provinces, and made many concessions ` to them. Among these was the closing of the Scheldt to all ships, a clause which was ruinous to the commerce of the Belgic provinces, by cutting them off from their only to the impoverished land by the introduction of new but visited Belgium in person and governor-general,g p showed a great and active interest in its affairs. Here as elsewhere in his dominions his intentions were excellent, but his reforming zeal outran discretion, and his hasty and self-opinionated interferences with treaty rights and traditional privileges ended in provoking opposition and disaster. Finding the United Provinces hampered by a war with England, he seized the opportunity to try to get rid of the impediments placed upon Belgian development by the Barrier and other treaties with Holland. He was able to compel the Dutch to withdraw their garrisons from the Barrier towns, but was wholly unsuccessful in his high-handed attempt to free the navigation of the Scheldt. These efforts to coerce the Dutch, though marred by partial failure, were, however, calculated to win for Joseph II. popularity with his Belgian subjects; but it was far otherwise with his policy of internal reform. He offended the states by seeking to sweep away many of their inherited privileges and to change the time-honoured, if somewhat obsolete, system of civil government. He further excited the religious feelings of the people against him, by his edict of Tolerance (1780), and his later attempts at the reform of clerical abuses, which were pronounced to be an infraction of the Joyous Entry (see Joyeuse Entree). Fierce opposition was aroused. Numbers of malcontents left the country and organized themselves as a military force in Holland. As the discontent became more general, the insurgents returned, took several forts, defeated the revo Austrians at Turnhout, and overran the country.
t. On the 11th of December 1789, the people of Brussels rose against the Austrian garrison, and compelled it to capitulate, and, on the 27th, the states of Brabant declared their independence. The other provinces followed and, on the 1th of January 1790, the whole formed themselves into an independent state, under the name of the " Belgian United States." A few weeks later, on the 10th of February, Joseph II. died, his end hastened by chagrin at the utter failure of his wellmeant efforts, and was succeeded by Leopold II.
The new emperor at once took steps to re-assert, if possible, his authority in Belgium without having recourse to armed force. He offered the states, if the people would return to their allegiance, the restoration of their ancient constitution and a general amnesty. This, however, provinces. The treaty of Campo Formio (1797) and the subsequent treaty of Luneville (1801) confirmed the conquerors in the possession of the country, and Belgium became an integral part of France, being governed on the same footing, receiving the Code Napoleon, and sharing in the fortunes of the Republic and the Empire. After the fall of Napoleon and the conclusion of the first peace of Paris (30th of May 1814) Belgium was indeed for some months placed under the administration of an Austrian governor-general, but it u f was shortly afterwards united with Holland to form the kingdom of the Netherlands. The sovereignty of the newly formed state was given to the prince of Orange, who mounted the throne (23rd of March 1815) under the title of William I. The congress of Vienna (31st of May 1815) determined the relations and fixed the boundaries of the kingdom; and the new constitution was promulgated on the 24th of August following, the king taking the oath at Brussels on the 27th of September.
From this date until the Belgian revolt of 1830, the history of Holland and Belgium is that of two portions of one political entity, but in the relations of those two portions were to be found from the very outset fundamental causes 183v tending to disagreement and separation. The Dutch and Belgian provinces of the Netherlands had for one hundred and thirty years passed through totally different experiences, and had drifted farther and farther apart from one another in character, in habits, in ideas and above all in religion. In the south the policy of Alva and Philip II. had been wholly successful, and the Belgian people, Flemings and Walloons alike, were perhaps more devoted to the Catholic faith than any other in Europe. On the other hand the incorporation of the country for two decades in the French republic and empire had left deep traces on a considerable section of the population, the French language was commonly spoken and was exclusively used in the law courts and in all public proceedings, and French political theories had made many converts. The Fundamental Law promulgated by William I. aroused strong opposition among both the Catholic and Liberal parties in Belgium. The large powers granted to the king under the new constitution displeased the Liberals, who saw in its provision only a disguised form of personal government. The principle of liberty of worship and of the press, which it laid down, was so offensive to the Catholics that the bishops condemned it publicly, and in the Doctrinal Judgment actually forbade their flocks to take the oath. The " close and complete union," which was stipulated under the treaty of 1814, began under unfavourable auspices. Nevertheless the difficulties might have been smoothed away in the course of time, had the Belgians felt that the Dutch were treating them in a fair and conciliatory spirit. This, despite the undoubtedly good intentions of the king, was far from being the case. Belgium was regarded too much in the light of an annexed territory, handed over to Holland as compensation for the losses sustained by the Dutch in the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The idea that Holland was the predominant partner in the kingdom of the Netherlands was firmly rooted in the north and naturally provoked in the south the feeling that Belgium was being exploited for the benefit of the Dutch. The grievances of the Belgians were indeed very substantial. The seat of government was in Holland, the king was a Dutchman by birth and training, and a Calvinistic protestant by religion. Though the population of Belgium was 3,400,000 and that of Holland only a little more than 2,000,000 the two countries had equal representation in the second chamber of the states-general. Practically in all important legislative measures affecting the interests of the two countries the Dutch government were able to command a small but permanent majority. The use of the term " the Dutch Government " is strictly accurate, for the great majority of the public offices were filled by northerners. In 1830, of the seven members of the ministry only one was a Belgian; in the home department out of 117 officials 11 only were Belgians; in the ministry of war 3 were Belgians out of 102; of the officers of the army 288 out of 1 9 67. All the public establishments, the Bank, the military schools, were Dutch. That such was the case must not be entirely charged to partiality, still less to deliberate unfairness on the part of William I. The conduct of the king proves that he had a most sincere regard for the welfare of his the Academy of Science, and he consistently restrained the undue intervention of the church in secular affairs, and placed restrictions upon the accumulation of property in the hands of religious bodies.
The death of Charles of Lorraine preceded only by a few months that of Maria Theresa, whose son Joseph II. not only appointed his sister, the archduchess Maria Christine, did not suit the views of the popular party, who, under the leadership of an advocate named Van der Noot, had possession of the reins of power, and were uplifted by their success. The terms offered in an imperial proclamation were rejected, and preparations were made to resist coercion by the levee en masse of a national army. When, however, in November 1790, a powerful Austrian force entered the country, there was practically little opposition to its advance. The popular leaders fled, the form of government, as it existed at the end of the reign of Maria Theresa, and an amnesty for past offences was proclaimed; a superficial pacification of the revolted provinces was effected, and Austrian rule re-established. It was destined to be short-lived. In 1792 the armies of revolutionary France assailed Austria at her weakest point by an invasion of Belgium. The battle of Jemappes (7th of November) made the French masters of the southern portion of the Austrian Netherlands; the battle of Fleurus (26th of June 1794) by put an end to the rule of the Habsburgs over the Belgic Belgian subjects, and in his choice of measures and men his aim was to secure the prosperity of his new kingdom by a policy of unification. This was the object he had in view in his attempt to make Dutch, except in the Walloon districts, the official language for all public and judicial acts, and a knowledge of Dutch a necessary qualification for every person entering the public service. That the fierce opposition which this attempt aroused in the Flemish-speaking provinces was ill recent years there has been a patriotic movement in these same provinces which has been successful in forcing the Belgian government to adopt Flemish (i.e. Dutch) as well as French for official usage. This Flemish movement is all in favour of establishing close relations with the sister people of the north. Moreover it cannot be gainsaid that Belgium during her union with Holland enjoyed a degree of prosperity that was quite remarkable. The mineral wealth of the country was largely developed, the iron manufactures of Liege made rapid advance, the woollen manufactures of Verviers received a similar impulse, and many large establishments were formed at Ghent and other places, where cotton goods were produced which rivalled those of England and surpassed those of France. The extensive colonial and foreign trade of the Dutch furnished them with markets, while the opening of the navigation of the Scheldt raised Antwerp once more to a place of high commercial importance. The government also did much in the way of improving the internal communications of the country, in repairing the roads and canals, in forming new ones, in deepening and widening rivers, and the like. Nor was the social and intellectual improvement of the people by any means neglected. A new university was formed at Liege, normal schools for the instruction of teachers were instituted, and numerous elementary schools and schools for higher instruction were established over the country. These measures for the furthering of education among the people on the part of a government mainly composed of Protestants were received with suspicion and disfavour by the priests, and still more the attempts subsequently made to regulate the education of the priests themselves. The establishment under the auspices of the king in 1825 of the Philosophical College at Louvain, and the requirement that every priest before ordination should spend two years in study there, gave great offence to the clerical party, and some of the bishops were prosecuted for the violence of their denunciations at this intrusion of the secular arm into the religious domain. With the view of terminating these differences the king in 1827 entered into a concordat with the pope, and an agreement was reached with regard to nominations to bishoprics, clerical education and other questions, which should have satisfied all reasonable men. But in 1828 the two extreme parties, the Catholic Ultramontanes and the revolutionary Liberals, in their common hatred to the Dutch regime, formed an alliance, the union, for the overthrow of the government. Petitions were sent in setting forth the Belgian grievances, demanding a separate administration for Belgium and a full concession of the liberties guaranteed by the constitution.
Matters were in this state when the news of the success of the July revolution of 1830 at Paris reached Brussels, at this time a city of refuge for the intriguing and discontented of almost every country of Europe. The first outbreak took place on the 25th of August, the anniversary of the king's accession. An opera called La Muette, which abounds in appeals to liberty, was played, and the audience were so excited that they rushed out into the street crying, " Imitons les Parisiens !" A mob speedily gathered together, who proceeded to destroy or damage a number of public buildings and the private residences of unpopular officials. The troops were few in number and offered no opposition to the mob, but a burgher guard was enrolled among the influential and middleclass citizens for the protection of life and property. The intelligence of these events in the capital soon spread through the provinces; and in most of the large towns similar scenes were enacted, beginning with plunderings and outrages, followed by the institution of burgher guards for the maintenance of peace. The leading men of Brussels were most anxious not to push matters to extremities. They demanded the dismissal of the. specially obnoxious minister, Van Maanen, and a separate administration for Belgium. The government, however, could not make up their minds what course to pursue, and by allowing things to drift ended by converting a popular riot into a national revolt. The heir apparent, the prince of Orange (see William of the Netherlands), was sent on a peaceful mission to Brussels, but furnished with such limited powers, as under the circumstances were utterly inadequate. He did his best to get at the real facts, and after a number of conferences with the leaders became so convinced that nothing but a separate administration of the two countries would restore tranquillity that he promised to use his influence with his father to bring about that object - on receiving assurances that the personal union under the house of Orange would be maintained. The king summoned an extraordinary session of the states-general, which met at the Hague on the 13th of September and was opened by a speech from the throne, which was firm and temperate, but by no means definite. The proceedings were dilatory, and the attitude of the Dutch deputies exceedingly exasperating. The result was that the moderate party in Belgium quickly lost their influence, and those in favour of violent measures prevailed. Meanwhile although the states were still sitting at the Hague, an army of 14,000 troops under the command of Prince Frederick, second son of the king, was gradually approaching Brussels. It was hoped that the inhabitants would welcome the prince and that a display of armed force would speedily restore order. After much unnecessary delay, at a time when prompt action was required, the prince on the 23rd of September entered Brussels and, with little opposition, occupied the upper or court portion of it, but when they attempted to advance into the lower town the troops found the streets barricaded and defended by citizens in arms. Desultory fighting between the soldiers and the insurgents continued for three days until, finding that he was making no headway, the prince ordered a retreat. The news spread like wildfire through the country, and the principal towns declared for separation. A provisional government was formed at Brussels, which declared Belgium to be an independent state, and summoned a national congress to establish a system of government. King William now did his utmost to avoid a rupture, and sent the prince of Orange to Antwerp to promise that Belgium should have a separate administration; but it was too late. Antwerp was the only important place that remained in the hands of the Dutch, and the army on retreating from Brussels had fallen back on this town. At the end of October an insurgent army had arrived before the gates, which were opened by the populace to receive them, and the troops, under General Chasse, retired within the citadel. The general ordered a bombardment of the town for two days, destroying a number of houses and large quantities of merchandize. This act served still further to inflame the minds of the Belgians against the Dutch.
A convention of the representatives of the five great powers met in London in the beginning of November, at the request of the king of the Netherlands, and both sides were brought to consent to a cessation of hostilities. On the of the 10th of November the National Congress, consisting of 200 deputies, met at Brussels and came to three important decisions: (I) the independence of the country - carried unanimously; (2) a constitutional hereditary monarchy - 174 votes against 13; (3) the perpetual exclusion of the Orange-Nassau family-161 votes against 28. On the 10th of December the conference of London proclaimed the dissolution of the kingdom of the Netherlands, but claimed the right of regulating the conditions under which it should take place. On the 28th of January 1831, the congress proceeded to the election of a king, and out of a number of candidates the choice fell on the duke of Nemours, second son of Louis Philippe, but he declined the office. The congress then elected Baron Surlet de Chokier to the temporary post of regent, and proceeded to considered and unwise, is shown by the fact that in ?' draw up a constitution on the British parliamentary pattern. The constitution expressly declared that the king has no powers except those formally assigned to him. Ministers were to be appointed by him, but be responsible to the cham bers The legislature was composed of two chambers - g P the senate and the chamber of deputies. Both cham bers were elected by the same voters, but senators required a property qualification, - the payment of at least 2000 florins in taxes. Senators and deputies received salaries. The franchise was for that time a low one - every one who paid at least 20 florins in taxes had a vote. The choice of a king was more difficult than that of drawing up a constitution. It was desirable that the new sovereign should be able to count upon the friendly support of the great powers, and yet not be actually a member of their reigning dynasties. It was from fear of arousing the susceptibilities of neighbouring states, especially Great Britain, that Louis Philippe had refused to sanction the election of his son. It was for this reason that the name of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, the widower of Princess Charlotte of England, had not been placed among the candidates in January. Overtures were, however, made to him, as soon as it was understood that, as the result of private negotiations at the London conference, the selection of this prince would be favourably received both by Great Britain and France. Leopold s i n ified his readiness to accept the crown after having of the g P g Belgians. first ascertained that he would have the support of the great powers in bringing about a satisfactory settlement with Holland on those points which he considered essential to the security and welfare of the new kingdom. The election took place on the 4th of June, when 152 votes out of 196, four being absent, determined that Leopold should be proclaimed king of the Belgians, under the express condition that he "would accept the constitution and swear to maintain the national independence and territorial integrity." Leopold made his public entry into Brussels, on the 21st, and subsequently visited other parts of the kingdom, and was everywhere received with demonstrations of loyalty and respect.
At this juncture news suddenly arrived that the Dutch were preparing to invade the country with a large army. It comprised 45,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry with 7 2 pieces of artillery, while Leopold could scarcely bring forward 25,000 men to oppose it. On the 2nd of August the whole of the Dutch army had crossed the frontier; Leopold collected his forces, such as they were, near Louvain in order to cover his capital. The two armies met on the 9th of August. The undisciplined Belgians, despite the personal efforts of their king, were speedily routed, and Leopold and his staff narrowly escaped capture. He, however, made good his retreat to the capital, and, on the advance of a French army, the prince of Orange did not deem it prudent to push on farther. A convention was concluded between him and the French general, in consequence of which he returned to Holland and the French likewise recrossed the frontier. Leopold now proceeded with vigour to strengthen his position and to' restore order and confidence. French officers were selected for the training and disciplining of the army, the civil list was arranged with economy and order, and reforms were introduced into the public service and system of administration. He kept on the best of terms, though a Protestant, with the Roman Catholic clergy and nobility, and his subsequent marriage with the daughter of the French king (9th of August 1832), and the contract that the children of the marriage should be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, did much to inspire confidence in his good intentions.
Meanwhile the conference in London had drawn up the project of a treaty for the separation of Holland and Belgium, which was declared " to be final and irrevocable." of Luxemburg was divided, but the king of Holland retained possession of the fortress of Luxemburg, and also received a portion of Limburg to compensate him for the part of Luxemburg assigned to Belgium. The district of Maestricht was likewise partitioned, but the fortress remained Dutch. The Scheldt was declared open to the commerce of both countries. The national debt was divided. The powers recognized the independence of Belgium, " as a neutral state." This agreement was ratified by the Belgian and French sovereigns on the 10th and 24th of November, by the British on the 6th of December, but the Austrian and Prussian and Russian governments, whose sympathies were with the " legitimate " King William rather than with a prince who owed his crown to a revolution, did not give their ratification till some five months later. Even then King William remained obdurate, refused to sign and continued to keep possession of Antwerp. After fruitless efforts on the part of the great powers to obtain his acquiescence, France and Great Britain resolved to have recourse to force. On the 5th of November their combined fleets sailed for the coast of Holland, and, on the 18th, a French army of 60,000 men, under the command of Marshal Gerard, crossed the Belgian frontier to besiege French Antwerp. The Dutch garrison capitulated on the 23rd of December, and on the 31st the town was handed over to the Belgians, and the French troops withdrew across the frontier. The Dutch, however, still held two forts, which enabled them to command the navigation of the Scheldt, and these they stubbornly refused to yield. Belgium therefore kept possession of Limburg and Luxemburg, except the fortress of Luxemburg, which as a fortress of the German confederation was, under the terms of the treaty of Vienna, garrisoned by Prussian troops. These territories were treated in every way as a part of Belgium, and sent representatives to the chambers. Great indignation was therefore felt at the idea of giving them up, when Holland (14th of March 1838) signified eT its readiness to accept the conditions of the treaty. The chambers argued that Belgium had been induced to agree to the twenty-four articles in 1832 in the hope of thereby at once terminating all harassing disputes, but as Holland refused then to accept them, the conditions were no longer binding and the circumstances were now quite changed. They urged that Luxemburg in fact formed an integral part of Belgium and that the people were totally opposed to a union with Holland. They offered to pay for the territory in dispute, but the treaty gave them no right of purchase, and the proposal was not entertained. Addresses were unanimously voted urging the king to resist separation, great excitement was g P ? g aroused throughout the country and preparations were made for war. But the firmness of the allied powers and their determination to uphold the conditions of the treaty compelled the king most reluctantly to submit to the inevitable. The treaty was signed in London on the 19th of April 1839. It saddled Belgium with a portion of Holland's debt, and a severe financial crisis followed.
The Belgian revolution owed its success to the union of the Catholic and Liberal parties; and the king had been very careful to maintain the alliance between them. This continued to be the character of the government till 1840, but by degrees it had been growing more and more conserva tive, and was giving rise to dissatisfaction. A ministry was formed on more liberal principles, but it clashed P P ?
with the Catholic aristocracy, who had the majority in the senate. A neutral ministry under M. Charles Nothomb was then formed. In 1842 it carried a new law of primary instruction, which aroused the dislike of the anti-clerical Liberals. The Nothomb ministry retired in 1845. In March 1846 the king formed a purely Catholic ministry, but it was fiercely attacked by the Liberals, who had for several years been steadily organizing.
A congress was summoned to meet at Brussels (14th of June 1846) composed of delegates from the different Liberal associations throughout the country. Three hundred and twenty delegates met and drew up an Act of Federation and a programme of The conditions were far less favourable to Belgium of g than had been hoped, and it was not without much heart-burning and considerable opposition, that the senate and chamber of deputies gave their assent to them. The treaty, which contained 24 articles, was signed on the 1 5th of November 1831. By these articles the grand-duchy reforms. The election of 1847 gave a majority to the Liberals and a purely Liberal ministry was formed, and from this date onwards it has been the constitutional practice in Belgium to choose a homogeneous ministry from the party which possesses a working majority in the chamber. In 1848 a new electoral law was passed, which lowered the franchise to 20 florins' worth of property and doubled the number of electors. Hence it came to pass that Belgium passed safely through the crisis of the French revolution of 1848. The extreme democratic and socialistic party made with French aid some spasmodic efforts to stir up a revolutionary movement, but they met with no popular sympathy; the throne of Leopold stood firmly based upon the trust and respect of the Belgian nation for the wisdom and moderation of their king.
The attention of the government was now largely directed to the stimulating of private industry and the carrying out of public works of great practical utility, such as the extension of railways and the opening up of other internal means of communication. Commercial treaties were also entered into with various countries with the view of providing additional outlets for industrial products. The king also sought as much as possible to remove from the domain of politics every irritating question, believing that a union of the different parties was most for the advantage of the state. In 1850 the question of middleclass education was settled. In 1852 the Liberal cabinet was overthrown and a ministry of conciliation was formed. A bill was passed authorizing the army to be raised to 10o,000 men including reserve. The elections of 1854 modified the parliamentary situation by increasing the strength of the Conservatives; the ministry resigned and a new one was formed, under Pierre de Decker, of moderate Catholics and Progressives. In 1857 the government of M. de Decker brought in a bill to establish " the liberty of charity," but in reality to place the administration of charities in the hands of the priesthood. This led to a violent agitation throughout the kingdom and the military had to be called out. Eventually the bill was withdrawn, the ministers resigned and a Liberal ministry was formed under M. Charles Rogier. In 1860 the communal octrois or duties on articles of food brought into the towns was abolished; in 1863 the navigation of the Scheldt was made free, and a treaty of commerce established with England. The elections of July 1864 gave a majority to the Liberals, and M. Rogier continued in office.
On the 10th of December 1865, King Leopold died, after a reign of thirty-four years. He was greatly beloved by his people, and to him Belgium owed much, for in difficult circum- Accession stances and critical times he had managed its affairs g if with great tact and judgment. He was succeeded by his eldest son Leopold II., who was immediately proclaimed king and took the oath to the constitution on the 17th of December. On the outbreak of war between France and Germany in 1870, Belgium saw the difficulty and danger of her position, and lost no time in providing for contingencies. A large war credit was voted, the strength of the army was raised and strong bodies of troops were moved to the frontier. The feeling of danger to Belgium also caused great excitement in England. The British government declared its intention to maintain the integrity of Belgium in accordance with the treaty of 1839, and it induced the two belligerent powers to agree not to violate the neutrality of Belgian territory. A considerable portion of the French army routed at Sedan did indeed seek refuge across the frontier; but they laid down their arms according to convention, and were duly " interned." In 1870 the Liberal party, which had been in power for thirteen years, was overthrown by a union of the Catholics with a number of Liberal dissentients to whom the policy of the government had given offence, and a Catholic cabinet, at the head of which was Baron Jules Joseph d'Anethan, took office. At the election of August 1870, the Catholics obtained a majority in both chambers. They increased their power considerably by reducing the voting qualification for electors to provincial councils to 20 frs., and to communal councils to 10 frs., and also by recognizing the importance of what was styled " the Flemish Movement." Hitherto French had been the official language of the states. The use of Flemish in public documents, in judicial procedure and in official correspondence was hereafter required in the Flemish provinces, and Belgium became officially bi-lingual. It was, as has been already pointed out, a reversion to the policy of the Dutch king, which in 1830 had been so strongly denounced by the leaders of the Belgian revolution, and its object was the same, i.e. to prevent frenchification of a population that was Teutonic by race and speech. In 1871 M. Malou had become the head of a cabinet of moderate Catholics, and he retained office till 1878. This was the period of the struggle between the pope and the Italian government, and the German Kulturkampf. The Belgian Ultramontanes agitated strongly in favour of the re-establishment of the temporal power and against the policy of Bismarck. Though discountenanced by the ministry, the violence of the Ultra-clericals compassed its downfall. They passed a law adopting the ballot in 1877, but at the election of the following year a Liberal majority was returned.
The new cabinet, under M. Frere-Orban, devoted itself solely to the settlement of the educational system. Hitherto since 1842 in all primary schools instruction by the clergy in the Catholic faith was obligatory,children belonging School g g law of to other persuasions being dispensed from attendance. 1879. In 1879 a bill was passed for the secularization of primary education; but an attempt was made to conciliate the clergy by Art. 4, which enacted - " religious instruction is relegated to the care of families and the clergy of the various creeds.
A place in the school may be put at their disposal where the children may receive religious instruction," at hours other than those set apart for regular education. The bill likewise provided for a rigorous inspection of the communal schools. The passing of this law was met by the clergy by uncompromising resistance. The bishops ordered that absolution be refused to teachers in the schools " sans Dieu," and to the parents who sent their children to them, and urged the establishment of private Catholic schools. All over Belgium the agitation spread, and the clergy, who were practically independent of state control, gained the victory. In November 1879 it was calculated that there were but 240,000 scholars in the secularized schools against 370,000 in the Catholic schools. In Flanders over 80% of the children attended the Catholic schools. The government appealed to the pope, but the Holy See declined to take any action, and so great was the embitterment that the Belgian minister at the Vatican and the papal nuncio at Brussels were recalled, and in 1880 the clergy refused to associate themselves with the fetes of the national jubilee. In order to emerge victorious in such a struggle the Liberal party had need of all their strength, but a split took place between the sections known as the doctrinaires and the progressists, on the question of an extension of the franchise, and at the election of 1884 the Catholics carried all before them at the polls. From 1884 up to the present time the clerical party have maintained their supremacy.
A Catholic administration under M. Malou at once took in hand the schools question. A law was passed, despite violent protests from the Liberals, which enacted that the communes might maintain the private Catholic schools established since 1879 and suppress unsectarian schools at their pleasure. They might retain at least one unsectarian or adopt one Catholic school, where 25 heads of families demanded it. The state subsidized all the communal schools, Catholic and unsectarian alike. Under this law in all districts under clerical control the unsectarian schools were abolished. In October 1884, M. Beernaert replaced M. Malou as prime minister, and retained that post for the following ten years. He had in 1886 a troublous and dangerous situation to deal with. Socialism had become a political force in the land. Socialism of a German type had taken deep root among the working men of the Flemish towns, especially at Ghent and Brussels; socialism of a French revolutionary type among the Walloon miners and factory hands. On the!18th of March 1886, a socialist rising suddenly burst out at Liege, on the occasion of the 18th of April the chamber adopted an electoral system until then unknown - le suffrage universel plural. The citizen in order to possess a vote for the election of representatives to the chambers was to be of a minimum age of twenty-five years, and of thirty years for the election of senators and provincial and communal councillors. For the four categories of elections a supplementary vote was given to (a) citizens who having attained the age of thirty-five years, and being married or widowers with children, paid at least 5 f. income tax, and (b) to citizens of the age of twenty-five years possessing real estate to the value of 2000 f. or Belgian state securities yielding an income of at least loo f. Two supplementary votes were bestowed upon citizens having certain educational certificates, or discharging functions or following professions implying their possession. This elaborate system was only carried into law after considerable and violent opposition in the sessions of 1894 and 1895. It was chiefly the work of the ministry of M. de Burlet, who succeeded to the place of M. Beernaert in March 1894.
The composition of the elected bodies for the years 1894-1895 was: - for the chamber of representatives 1,354,891 electors with 2,085,605 votes, for the senate and provincial councils 1,148,433 electors with 1,856,838 votes. The result of the first election in October 1894 was 94 to give the Catholic party an overwhelming majority. The old Liberal party almost disappeared, while the Walloon provinces returned a number of Socialists. In February 1896 M. de Burlet, being in bad health, transferred the direction of the government to M. Smet de Naeyer. The election of 1894 had given the Liberals a much smaller number of seats than they ought to have had according to the number of votes they polled, and a cry arose for the establishment of proportional representation. Both sides felt that reform was again necessary, but the Catholic majority disagreed among themselves as to the form it should take. In 1899 M. Smet de Naeyer gave place as head of the ministry to M. van den Peereboom. But the proposals of the latter met with organized obstruction on the part of the Socialist deputies, and after a few months' tenure of office he gave way to M. Smet de Naeyer once more. The new cabinet at once (August 1899) introduced a bill giving complete proportional representation in parliamentary elections to all the arrondissements. and it was passed despite the defection of a number of Catholic deputies led by M. Woeste. The election in May 1900 resulted in the return of a substantial (though reduced) Catholic majority in both chambers.
During this period of Catholic ascendancy social legislation was not neglected. .Among the enactments the following are the most important: - the institution of industrial and labour councils, composed of employers and social employes, and of a superior council, formed of officials, workmen and employers (1887); laws assisting the erection of workmen's dwellings and supervising the labour of women and children (1889); laws for ameliorating the system of Friendly Societies (1890); laws regulating workshops (1896); conferring corporate rights on trades' unions (1898); guaranteeing the security and health of working men during hours of labour (1899).^ Annual Mobile Regulations and Competition Law Conference .
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In 1900 laws were passed regulating the contract of labour, placing the workman on a footing of perfect equality with his employer, assuring the married woman free control of her savings, and organizing a system of old-age pensions. Primary education was dealt with in 1895 by a law, which made religious instruction obligatory, and extended state support to all schools that satisfied certain conditions. In 1899 there were in Belgium 6674 subsidized schools, having 775,000 scholars out of a total of 950,000 children of school age. Only 68,000 did not receive religious instruction. The Catholic party also strove to mitigate the principle of obligatory military service by encouraging the system of volunteering and by a reduction of the time of active service and of the number with the colours. In 1905 the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence was celebrated, and there was a great manifestation of loyalty to King Leopold II. for the wisdom and prudence shown by him during his long rein. Owin to disY g g g g 1 90 5. sensions among the Catholic and Conservative party on the subject of military service and the fortification of Antwerp, their majority in the chamber in 1904 fell from 26 to 20, that in the senate from 16 to 12. The partial election in 1906 reduced the majority in the chamber to 12, while the partial election in 1908 brought the majority down to 8. The Smet de Naeyer ministry which had held office since 1900 was defeated in April 1907 in a debate on the mining law over the proposal concerning the length of the working day. A new cabinet was formed on the 2nd of May following under the presidency of M. de Trooz, who had been minister of the interior under M. Smet de Naeyer, and who retained that portfolio in conjunction with the premiership. M. de Trooz died on the 31st of December 1907, and was succeeded by M. Schollaert, president of the chamber. The count of Flanders, brother of the king, died on the 17th of November 1905, leaving his son Albert heir to the throne.
The Congo question had meanwhile become an acute one in Belgium. The personal interest taken by Leopold II. in the exploration and commercial development of the equatorial regions of Africa had led, in the creation of the Congo Free State, to results which had originally g ? o not been anticipated. The Comite des Etudes du Haut Congo, formed in 1878 at the instance of the king and mainly financed by him had developed into the International Association of the Congo, of which a Belgian officer, Colonel M. Strauch, was president. Through the efforts in Africa of H. M. Stanley a rudimentary state was created, and through the efforts of King Leopold in Europe the International Association was recognized during 1884-1885 by the powers as an independent state. Declarations to this effect were exchanged between the Belgian government and the Association on the 23rd of February 1885. In April of the same year the Belgian chambers authorized the king to be the chief of the state founded by the Association, which had already taken the name of Etat Independant du Congo. The union between Belgium and the new state was declared to be purely personal, but its European headquarters were in Brussels, its officials, in the course of time, became almost exclusively Belgian, and financially and commercially the connexion between the two countries became increasingly close.
anniversary of the Paris Commune, and rapidly spread in other industrial centres of the Walloon districts. Thousands of workmen went on strike, demanding better wages and the suffrage. The ministry acted promptly and with vigour, the outbreak was suppressed by the employment of the military and order was restored. But as soon as this was accomplished the government opened a comprehensive enquiry into the causes of dissatisfaction, which served as the basis of numerous social laws, and led eventually to the establishment of universal suffrage and the substitution in Belgium of a democratic for a middle-class regime. It was not effected till several years had been spent in long parliamentary discussions, by demonstrations on the part of the supporters of franchise revision and by strikes of a political tendency. At last the senate and chamber declared, May 1892, that the time for a revision of certain articles of the constitution had come. As prescribed by the constitution, a dissolution took place and two new chambers were elected. The Catholics had a majority in both, but not enough to enable them to dispense with the assistance of the Liberals, the constitution requiring for every revision a two-thirds majority. The bills proposed for extending the franchise were all rejected (April 11th and 12th). Thereupon the council of the Labour party proclaimed a general strike. Fifty thousand workmen struck, in Brussels there were violent demonstrations, and the agitation assumed generally a dangerous aspect. Both the government and the opposition in the chambers saw that delay was impossible, and that revision must be carried out. Agreement was reached by the acceptance of a compromise proposed by M. Albert Nyssens, Catholic The Nys- deputy and professor of penal procedure and colnmercial law at the university of Louvain, and on the Y In 1889 King Leopold announced that he had by his will bequeathed the Congo state to Belgium, and in 1890 the Belgian government, in return for financial help, acquired the right of annexing the country under certain conditions. At later dates definite proposals for immediate annexation were considered but not adopted, the king showing a strong disinclination to cede the state, while among the mass of the Belgians the disinclination to annex was equally strong. It was not until terrible reports as to the misgovernment of the Congo created a strong agitation for reform in Great Britain, America and other countries responsible for having aided in the creation of the state, that public opinion in Belgium seriously concerned itself with the subject. The result was that in November 1907 a new treaty of cession was presented to the Belgian chambers, while in March 1908 an additional act modified one of the most objectionable features of the treaty - a clause by which the king retained control of the revenue of a vast territory within the Congo which he had declared to be his private property. A colonial law, also submitted to the chambers, secured for Belgium in case of annexation complete parliamentary control over the Congo state, and the bill for annexation was finally passed in September 1908.

Bibliography

Th. Juste, Histoire de la Belgique (2 vols., 18 53); La Revolution beige de 1830 (2 vols., 1872); Congres national de Belgique (2 vols., 1880); Memoirs of Leopold I. (2 vols., 1868); De Gerlache, Histoire du royaume des Pays-Bas (3 vols., 18 59); D. C. Boulger, The History of Belgium, part i. (1900); C. White, The Belgic Revolution of 1830 (2 vols., 1835); Moke and Hubert, Histoire de Belgique (jusque 1885) (1892); L. Hymans, Histoire parlementaire de la Belgique (1830-1899); Cinquante ans de liberte (4 vols., 1881); J. J. Thonissen, La Belgique sous le regne de Leopold I"' (4 vols., 18 551858); De Laveleye, Le Parti clerical en Belgique (1874); Vandervelde and Destree, Le Socialisme beige (1898); C. Woeste, Vingt ans de polemique (1890); Hamelius, Le Mouvement flamand (1894).
(G. E.) Literature Belgian literature, taken in the widest sense of the term, falls into three groups, consisting of works written respectively in Flemish, Walloon and French. The earlier Flemish authors are treated under DUTCH Literature; the revival of Flemish Literature since the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands in 1830, and Walloon Literature, are each separately noticed. The earlier French writers born on what is now Belgian territory - e.g. Adenes le Rois, Jean Froissart, Jean Lemaire des Belges and others - are included in the general history of French Literature. It remains to consider the literature written by Belgians in French during the 19th century, and its rapid development since the revolution of 1831.
Belgian writers were commonly charged with provincialism, but the prejudice against them has been destroyed by the brilliant writers of 1870-1880. It was also asserted that Belgian French literature lacked a national basis, and was merely a reflection of Parisian models. The most important section of it, however, has a distinctive quality of its own. Many of its most distinguished exponents are Flemings by birth, and their writings reflect the characteristic Flemish scenery; they have the sensuousness, the colour and the realism of Flemish art; and on the other hand the tendency to mysticism, to abstraction, is far removed from the lucidity and definiteness associated with French literature properly so-called. This profoundly national character disengaged itself gradually, and has been more strikingly evident since 1870. The earlier writers of the century were content to follow French tradition.
The events of 1830-1831 gave a great stimulus to Belgian letters, but the country possessed writers of considerable merit before that date. Adolphe Mathieu (1802-1876) belongs to the earlier half of the century, although the tenth and last volume of his Ouvres en vers was only printed in 1870. His later works show the influence of the Romantic revival. Auguste Clavareau (1787-1864), a mediocre poet, an imitator of the French and Dutch, produced some successful comedies, but he ceased to write plays before 1830. Edouard Smits (1789-1852) showed romantic tendencies in his tragedies of Marie de Bourgogne (1823), Elfrida (1825), and Jeanne de Flandre (1828). The first of these had a great success, partly no doubt because of its patriotic subject. For four years before 1830 Andre van Hasselt had been publishing his verses in the Sentinelle des Pays-Bas, and from 1829 onwards he was an ardent romanticist. A burst of literary and artistic activity followed the Revolution; and van Hasselt's house became a centre of poets, artists and musicians of the romantic school. The best work of the Belgian romanticists is in the rich and picturesque prose of the 16th century romance of Charles de Coster (see DE Coster), and in the melancholy and semi-philosophical writings of the moralist Octave Pirmez. The Poesies (1841) and the Chansons (1866) of Antoine Clesse (1816-1889), have been compared with the work of Beranger;"and the Catholic party found a champion against the liberals and revolutionists in the satirical poet, Benoit Quinet (b. 1819). Among the famous dramatic pieces of this epoch was the Andre Chenier (1843) of Edouard Wacken (1819-1861), who was a lyric rather than a dramatic poet; also the comedies of Louis Labarre (1810-1892) and of Henri Delmotte (1822-1884). Charles Potvin (1818-1902), a poet and a dramatist, is best known by a patriotic Histoire des lettres en Belgique, forming vol. iv. of the Belgian compilation, Cinquante ans de liberte (1882), and by his essays in literary history. Eugene van Bemmel (1824-1880) established an excellent historical tradition in his Histoire de la Belgique (1880), reproducing textually the original authorities, and also edited a Belgian Encyclopaedia (1873-1875), the Patria Belgiaa. Baron E. C. de Gerlache (1785-1871) wrote the history of the Netherlands from the ultramontane standpoint. The romanticists were attacked in an amusing satire, Les Voyages et aventures de M. Alfred Nicolas (1835), by Francois Grandgagnage (179.7-1877), who was a nationalist in the narrowest sense, and regarded the movement as an indefensible invasion of foreign ideas. The best of the novelists of this period, excluding Charles de Coster, was perhaps Estelle Ruelens (née Crevecoeur; 1821-1878); she wrote under the pseudonym of " Caroline Graviere." Her tales were collected by the bibliophile " P. L. Jacob " (Paris, 1873-1874) The whole of this literature derived more or less from foreign sources, and, with the exception of Charles de Coster and Octave Pirmez, produced no striking figures. De Coster died in 1879, and Pirmez in 1883, and the new movement in Belgian literature dates from the banquet given in the latter year to Camille Lemonnier whose powerful personality did much to turn " Young Belgium " into a national channel. Lemonnier himself cannot be exclusively claimed by any of the conflicting schools of young writers. He was by turns naturalist, lyrist and symbolist; and it has been claimed that the germs of all the later developments in Belgian letters may be traced in his work. The quinquennial prize of literature had been refused to his Un male, and the younger generation of artists and men of letters gave him a banquet which was recognized as a protest against the official literature, represented by Louis Hymans (1829-1884), Gustave Frederix (b. 1834), the literary critic of .L'Independance beige, and others. The centres around which the young writers were grouped were two reviews, L'Art moderne and La Jeune Belgique. L'Art moderne was founded in 1882 by Edmond Picard, who had as his chief supporters Victor Arnould and Octave Maus. The first editor of La Jeune Belgique was M. Warlomont (1860-1889), known under the pen-name of " Max Waller." This review, which owed much of its success to Waller's energy, defended the intense preoccupation of the new writers with questions of style, and became the depository of the Parnassian tradition in Belgium. It had among its early contributors Georges Eekhoud, Albert Giraud, Iwan Gilkin and Georges Rodenbach. Edmond Picard (b. 1836) was one of the foremost in the battle. He was well known as an advocate in Brussels, and made a considerable contribution to jurisprudence as the chief writer of the Pandectes beiges (1886-1890). His Pro arte (1886) was a kind of literary code for the young Belgian writers. His novels, of which La Forge Roussel (1881) is a good example, were succeeded in 1902-1903 by two plays, Jericho and Fatigue de vivre. Georges Eekhoud, born at Antwerp on the 27th of May 1854, was in some ways the most passionately Flemish of the whole group. He described the life of the peasants of his native Flanders with a bold realism, making himself the apologist of the vagabond and the outcast in a series of tragic stories: - Kees Doorik (1883), Kermesses (1883), Nouvelles Kermesses (1887), Le Cycle patibulaire (1892), Mes Communions (1895), Escal Vigor (1899) and La Faneuse d'amour (1900), &c. Nouvelle Carthage (1888) deals with modern Antwerp. In 1892 he produced a striking book on English literature entitled Au siècle de Shakespeare, and has written French versions of Beaumont and Fletcher's Philaster (1895) and of Marlow's Edward II. (1896).
The earlier work of " Young Belgium " in poetry was experimental in character, and was marked by extravagances of style and a general exuberance which provoked much hostile criticism. The young writers of 1870 to 1880 had not long to wait, however, for recognition both at home and in Paris, where many of them found hospitality in the pages of the Mercure de France from 1890 onwards. They divided their allegiance between the leaders of the French Parnassus and the Symbolists.
The most powerful of the Belgian poets, Emile Verhaeren, is the most daring in his technical methods of expressing bizarre sensation, and has been called the " poet of paroxysm." His reputation extends far beyond the limits of his own country.
Many of the Belgian poets adhere to the classical form. Albert Giraud (born at Louvain in 1860) was faithful to the Parnassian tradition in his Pierrot lunaire (1884), Pierrot narcisse (1891) and Hors du siècle (1886). In the earlier works of Iwan Gilkin (born at Brussels in 1858) the influence of Charles Baudelaire is predominant. He wrote Damnation de ?artiste (1890), Tenebres (1892), Stances dorees (1893), La Nuit (1897) and Promethee (1899). The poems of Valere Gille (born at Brussels in 1867), whose Cithare was crowned by the French Academy in 1898, belong to the same group. Emile van Arenberghe (born at Louvain in 1854) is the author of some exquisite sonnets. Fernand Severin (b. 1867) in his Poemes ingenus (I goo) aims at simplicity of form, and seems to have learnt the art of his musical verse direct from Racine. With Severin is closely associated Georges Marlow (b. 1872), author of L'Ame en exil (1895).
Georges Rodenbach (1855-1898) spent most of his life in Paris and was an intimate of Edmond de Goncourt. He produced some Parisian and purely imitative work; but the best part of his production is the outcome of a passionate idealism of the quiet Flemish towns in which he had passed his childhood and early youth. In his best known work, Bruges la Morte (1892), he explains that his aim is to evoke the town as a living being, associated with the moods of the spirit, counselling, dissuading from and prompting action.
The most famous of all modern Belgian writers, Maurice Maeterlinck, made his debut in a Parisian journal, the Pleiade, in 1886. He succeeded more nearly than any of his predecessors in expressing or suggesting ideas and emotions which might have been supposed to be capable of translation only in terms of music. " The unconscious self, or rather the sub-conscious self," says Emile Verhaeren, " recognized in the verse and prose of Maeterlinck its language or rather its stammering attempt at language." Maeterlinck was a native of Ghent, and the first poems of two of his fellow-townsmen also appeared in the Pleiade. These were Gregoire le Roy (b. 1862), author of La Chanson d'un soir (1886), and Mon Cc ur pleure d'autrefois (1889); and Charles van Lerberghe (b. 1861), author of a play, Les Flaireurs (1890) and a collection of Poemes (1897).
Max Elskamp (born at Antwerp in 1862) is the author of some volumes of religious poetry - Dominical (1892), Salutations, dont d'angeliques (1893), En symbole vers l'apostolat (1895) - for which he has devised as background an imaginary city. Eugene Demolder (b.1862) also created a mythical city as a setting for his prose conies in the Legende d'Yperdamme (1897).
Belgian literary activity extends also to historical research. Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove (1817-1891) wrote a Histoire de Flandre (7 vols., 1847-1855), and a number of monographs on separate points in Flemish and English history. Though an accurate historian, he allowed himself to be prejudiced by his extreme Catholic views. He was a vehement defender of Mary Stuart. Louis Gachard (1800-1885) wrote many valuable works on 16th century history; Mgr. Nameche (1810-1893) completed the 29th volume of his Cours d'histoire nationale before his death; Charles Piot (b. 1812) edited the correspondence of Cardinal de Granvelle; Alphonse Wauters (1818-1898), archivist of Brussels, published many archaeological works; and Charles Rahlenbeck (1823-1903) wrote enthusiastically of the history of Protestantism in Belgium. One of the most masterly writers of French in Belgium was the economist Emile de Laveleye. In aesthetics should be noted the historian of music, Francois Joseph Fetis (1784-1871); F. A. Gevaert (1828-1908), author of Histoire et theorie de la musique d'antiquite (2 vols., 1875-1881); and Victor Mahillon (b. 1841) for his work in acoustics and his descriptive catalogue (1893-1900) of the museum of musical instruments belonging to the Brussels conservatoire. In psychology Joseph Delboeuf (1831-1896) enjoyed a great reputation outside Belgium; Elisee Reclus (b. 1830), though a Frenchman by birth, completed his Geographic universelle (1875-1894) in exile at Brussels; and Ernest Nys has written many standard works on international law. In the history of literature an important work is compiled by Ferdinand van der Haeghen and others in the Bibliotheca Belgica (1880, &c.), comprising a description of all the books printed in the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries. The vicomte de Spoelberch de Lovenjoul (1836-1907) was well known in France as the author of [[[Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve|Sainte-Beuve]] inconnu (1901), La Genese d'un roman de Balzac (1901), Une Page perdue de H. de Balzac (1903), and of numerous bibliographical works.
See F. V. Goethals, Histoire des lettres, des sciences et des arts en Belgique (4 vols., 1840-1844); Fr. Masoin, Histoire de la literature frangaise en Belgique de 1815 a 1830 (1903); F. Nautet, Histoire des lettres beiges d'expression frangaise (3 vols., 1892 et seq.), written from the point of view of young Belgium, and by no means impartial; A. de Koninck, Bibliographie nationale brought down to 1880; Biographie rationale de Belgique (1866, &c.) in progress; see also articles by Emile Verhaeren in the Revue des revues (15th June 1896), by Albert Mockel in the Revue encyclopedique (24th July 1897); a collection of criticisms chiefly on Belgian writers by Eugene Gilbert, France et Belgique; etudes litteraires (1905); Frederic Faber, Histoire du theatre francais en Belgique (5 vols., 1878-1880). An excellent anthology of Belgian poets was published by K. Pol de Mont with the title of Modernites (1898). (E. G.)


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Belgium
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Belgium
  1. A country in Western Europe that has borders with the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France.

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  • Kingdom of Belgium. (Official name)

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  • IPA: /ˈbɛlgijum/
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Belgium
  1. Belgium (country)

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Provinces of Belgium (see wikipedia:Belgium) include:

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