the Kingdom of Belgium
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a Western European country that lies on the North Sea and borders the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France. The country is 30,689 km² in size and has a population of more than 11.5 million inhabitants (over 6.5 million in the Flemish Region, 3.6 million in the Walloon Region and 1.2 million in the Brussels-Capital Region ). The main city is Brussels, the capital of Belgium and also the administrative centre of the European Union and NATO.
three official languages
The country has three official languages: about sixty percent of the population speaks Dutch, especially in Flanders, 40 percent speak French, especially in Wallonia and Brussels, and less than one percent speak German in the East Cantons. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the country has, through a succession of state reforms, led to a complex political system, in which in principle land-based competences – such as economy, employment and infrastructure – lie with the Regions (Flemish, Walloon and Brussels) and personal matters – such as education, culture and welfare – in the Communities (Flemish, French and German-speaking), with an umbrella federal government for the entire territory, responsible for, among other things, defence, justice and social security.
the pioneers in the Industrial Revolution
Belgium was created after the Belgian Revolution in 1830 when it seceded from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, to which it had belonged since 1815. After independence, the young nation became one of the pioneers in the Industrial Revolution, mainly through the development of heavy industry in Wallonia. The development of Flanders lagged until the economic centre of gravity started to shift to the north from the 1960s onwards. This is also the period of the definition of the language border, the first steps in the federalization of the country, and of the independence of the Belgian colony of Congo and the mandate areas of Rwanda and Burundi. Belgium grew into the world’s 26th economy, became one of the wealthiest, most developed and most globalized countries in the world, building an extensive welfare state with its free market economy and limited government interference.