Belgians (Dutch: Belgen, French: Belges, German: Belgier) are people
identified with the Kingdom of Belgium, a federal state in Western
Belgium is a multinational state, this connection may be
residential, legal, historical, or cultural rather than ethnic.
Majority of Belgians, however, belong to two distinct ethnic groups or
communities (Dutch: gemeenschap or French: communauté) native to the
Flemings who speak Dutch in the north, on the border with the
Walloons who speak French and/or Walloon to the
south, on the border with France. There is also a substantial Belgian
diaspora, which has settled primarily in the United States,
2 Belgian culture
3 Relations between Belgian linguistic communities
3.2 Walloon (French-speaking)
3.3 German-speaking community
6 Notable Belgians
7 See also
The 1830 revolution led to the establishment of an independent country
under a provisional government and a national congress. The
name "Belgium" was adopted for the country, the word being derived
from Gallia Belgica, a
Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul
that, before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the
Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples.
The Latin name was revived in 1790 by the short-lived United Belgian
States which was created after a revolution against Austrian rule took
place in 1789. Since no adjective equivalent to "Belgian" existed at
the time, the French noun "Belgique" (or "Belgium") was adopted as
both noun and adjective; a phenomenon borrowed from Latin which was
still commonly used during the period. From the sixteenth century,
the Low Countries" or "Netherlands", were referred to as 'Belgica' in
Latin, as was the Dutch Republic.
Main article: Culture of Belgium
Relations between Belgian linguistic communities
Main article: Languages of Belgium
Belgians are primarily a nationality or citizen group, by jus soli
(Latin: right of the soil), also known as birthright citizenship,
and are not a homogeneous ethnic group.
Belgians are made
up of two main linguistic and ethnic groups; the Dutch-speakers
(called the Flemish) and the French-speakers (mostly Walloons), as
well as a third tiny but constitutionally recognized group from two
small German-speaking areas. These sometimes competing ethnic and
linguistic priorities are governed by constitutionally designated
"regions or communities", depending on the constitutional realm of the
topic, a complex and uniquely Belgian political construct. Since many
Belgians are at least bilingual, or even trilingual, it is common for
business, social and family networks to include members of the various
ethnic groups composing Belgium.
Brussels-Capital Region occupies a unique political and cultural
position since geographically and linguistically it is a bilingual
enclave within the unilingual
Flemish Region. Since the founding of
the Kingdom of
Belgium in 1830, the city of
Brussels has transformed
from being almost entirely Dutch-speaking into a multilingual city
with French as the majority language and lingua franca, a process that
has been labelled the Frenchification of Brussels".
Since the independence of
Belgium in 1830, the constitutional title of
the Belgian head of state is the "King of the Belgians" rather than
the "King of Belgium".
Map of the medieval County of Flanders.
Belgium the Flemish, about 60% of the population, form a
clearly distinguishable group, set apart by their language and
customs. However, when compared to the
Netherlands most of these
cultural and linguistic boundaries quickly fade, as the
the same language, similar or identical customs and (though only with
the southern part of today's Netherlands) traditional religion with
However, the popular perception of being a single polity varies
greatly, depending on subject matter, locality and personal
Flemings will seldom identify themselves as
being Dutch and vice versa, especially on a national level.
Main article: Walloons
Cheering crowds greet British troops entering Brussels, 1944
Belgian students at an event
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally
Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium,
important historical and anthropological criteria (religion, language,
traditions, folklore) bind
Walloons to the French people. More
generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon
Region. They may speak regional languages such as Walloon (with Picard
in the West and Lorrain in the South).
Though roughly three-quarters of Belgium's French speakers live in
Wallonia, it is important to note that French-speaking residents of
Brussels tend not to identify as Walloons.
Main article: German-speaking Community of Belgium
The German-speaking Community of
Belgium is one of the three
constitutionally recognized federal communities of Belgium.
Covering an area of less than 1,000 km2 within the province of
Liège in Wallonia, it includes nine of the eleven municipalities of
East Cantons and the local population numbers over
73,000 — less than 1% of the national total. Bordering the
Germany and Luxembourg, the area has its own parliament
and government at Eupen.
The German-speaking community is composed of the German-speaking parts
of the lands that were annexed in 1920 from Germany. In addition, in
Belgium there are also some other German-speaking areas
that belonged to
Belgium even before 1920, but they are not currently
considered officially part of the German-speaking community in
Baelen in Northeastern province of Liège
Arelerland (city of
Arlon and some of its nearby villages in
Southeastern province of Belgian Luxembourg). However, in these
German language is highly endangered due to the
adoption of French.
Main article: Religion in Belgium
Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium's majority religion,
with approximately 65% of the
Belgians declaring themselves to be
Catholics. However, by 2004, nationwide Sunday church attendance
was only about 4 to 8% (9% for Flanders only). A 2006 inquiry in
Flanders, long considered more religious than the
Brussels or Wallonia
regions in Belgium, showed 55% of its inhabitants calling themselves
religious, while 36% said that they believed that God created the
Main article: Demographics of Belgium
Belgium had a population of 10,839,905 people on 1 January 2010, an
increase of 601,000 in comparison to 2000 (10,239,085 inhabitants).
Between 1990 (9,947,782 inhabitants) and 2000 the increase was only
291,000. The population of Flanders,
Brussels on 1
January 2010 was 6,251,983 (57.7%), 3,498,384 (32.3%) and 1,089,538
Main article: List of Belgians
List of Belgians
^ "National Institute for Statistics". Bestat.economie.fgov.be.
Retrieved 12 December 2017.
^ Results American Fact Finder (US Census Bureau)
^ "Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses
(3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the
Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories,
Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National
Household Survey". 12.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
^ "Les Belges à l'étranger". Mo.be. Retrieved 12 December
^ "Migration Data Hub". Migrationinformation.org. Retrieved 12
^ "CBS StatLine - Bevolking; generatie, geslacht, leeftijd en
herkomstgroepering, 1 januari". Statline.cbs.nl. Retrieved 5 October
Germans with an immigrant background Archived 4 May 2009 at the
^ Panorama das relações belgo-brasileiras Archived 24 May 2008 at
the Wayback Machine.
^ Dobbelaere, Karel; Voyé, Liliane (1990). "From Pillar to
Postmodernity: The Changing Situation of Religion in Belgium" (PDF).
Oxford Journals, Oxford University Press: S1. Retrieved 25 February
^ Gooch, Brison Dowling (1963).
Belgium and the February Revolution.
Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, Netherlands. p. 112.
Retrieved 18 October 2010.
^ Bunson, Matthew (1994).
Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire (Hardcover
352pp ed.). Facts on File, New York. p. 169.
^ Footnote: The Celtic and/or Germanic influences on and origin(s) of
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. Archived from
the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
^ "un peu d'histoire: la révolution belgique". Canaris1790.be.
^ jus soli, definition from merriam-webster.com.
^ Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983), The Invention of Tradition, Sider 1993
Lumbee Indian Histories
^ Seidner,(1982), Ethnicity, Language, and Power from a
Psycholinguistic Perspective, pp. 2-3
^ Smith 1987 pp.21-22
^ Levinson, David (1998). Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference
Handbook. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press. p. 14.
^ Ramon Arango, Leopold III and the Belgian Royal Question, p.9.
^ Raymond Fusilier in Les monarchies parlementaires en Europe,
Editions ouvrières, Paris, 1960, p. 350, wrote the Belgian regime of
1830 was also inspired by the French Constitution of the Kingdom of
France (1791-1792), the
United States Declaration of Independence of
1776 and the old political traditions of both Walloon and Flemish
^ National minorities in Europe, W. Braumüller, 2003, page 20.
^ Nederlandse en Vlaamse identiteit, Civis Mundi 2006 by S.W.
Couwenberg. ISBN 90-5573-688-0. Page 62. Quote: "Er valt heel wat
te lachen om de wederwaardigheden van Vlamingen in Nederland en
Nederlanders in Vlaanderen. Ze relativeren de verschillen en
beklemtonen ze tegelijkertijd. Die verschillen zijn er onmiskenbaar:
in taal, klank, kleur, stijl, gedrag, in politiek, maatschappelijke
organisatie, maar het zijn stuk voor stuk varianten binnen één
taal-en cultuurgemeenschap." The opposite opinion is stated by L.
Beheydt (2002): "Al bij al lijkt een grondiger analyse van de
taalsituatie en de taalattitude in Nederland en Vlaanderen weinig
aanwijzingen te bieden voor een gezamenlijke culturele identiteit. Dat
er ook op andere gebieden weinig aanleiding is voor een gezamenlijke
culturele identiteit is al door Geert Hofstede geconstateerd in zijn
vermaarde boek Allemaal andersdenkenden (1991)." L. Beheydt, "Delen
Vlaanderen en Nederland een culturele identiteit?", in P. Gillaerts,
H. van Belle, L. Ravier (eds.), Vlaamse identiteit: mythe én
werkelijkheid (Leuven 2002), 22-40, esp. 38. (in Dutch)
^ Ethnic Groups Worldwide, a ready reference Handbook, David Levinson,
ORYX Press, (ISBN 1-57356-019-7), p. 13 : « Walloons
are identified through their residence in
Wallonia and by speaking
dialects of French. They, too, are descended from the original Celtic
inhabitants of the region and Romans and Franks who arrived later.
Walloons are mainly Roman catholic. »
^ Ethnic Groups Worldwide, a ready reference Handbook, David Levinson,
ORYX Press, ISBN 1-57356-019-7, p.13 : "Walloon culture was
heavely influenced by the French"
^ The Encyclopedia of the Peoples of the World, A Henri Holt Reference
Book, page 645 : « Culturally there is continuity between
the French and the Walloons, Wallon culture consisting mainly of
dialect literary productions. While historically most Wallons came
within France's cultural orbit
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved
11 June 2014.
^ Vieste, Associazione per i popoli minacciati - Sudtirolo,
Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker - Suedtirol, Lia por i popui
manacià, Society for Threatened Peoples (APM/GfbV/LPM/STP). Webdesign
Mauro di. "Gefaehrdete Vielfalt - Kleine Sprachen ohne Zukunft. Ueber
die Lage der Sprachminderheiten in der EU. Ein Ueberblick der
GfbV-Suedtirol. 8.11.2000". Gfbv.it. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
^ "Discrimination in the EU in 2012" (PDF),
383, European Union: European Commission, p. 233, 2012, retrieved
14 August 2013 The question asked was "Do you consider yourself
to be...?" With a card showing: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Other
Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and
Non-believer/Agnostic. Space was given for Other (SPONTANEOUS) and DK.
Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu did not reach the 1% threshold.
^ Inquiry by 'Vepec', 'Vereniging voor Promotie en Communicatie'
(Organisation for Promotion and Communication), published in Knack
magazine 22 November 2006 p. 14 (The
Dutch language term 'gelovig' was
translated in the text 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.
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