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Flanders
Flanders
(Dutch: Vlaanderen [ˈvlaːndərə(n)] ( listen), French: Flandre [flɑ̃dʁ], German: Flandern, [flɑndɛɹn]) is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium, although there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history. It is one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. The demonym associated with Flanders
Flanders
is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders
Flanders
is Brussels,[1] although Brussels
Brussels
Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders
Flanders
life such as (Flemish) culture and education. In historical contexts, Flanders
Flanders
originally refers to the County of Flanders
Flanders
(Flandria), which around AD 1000 stretched from the Strait of Dover to the Scheldt
Scheldt
estuary. The core of historical Flanders
Flanders
is situated within modern-day Flanders
Flanders
and corresponds to the provinces West Flanders
West Flanders
and East Flanders, but it sometimes stretched into what is now France
France
and the Netherlands. Nevertheless, during the 19th and 20th centuries it became increasingly commonplace to use the term "Flanders" to refer to the entire Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, stretching all the way to the River Meuse, as well as cultural movements such as Flemish
Flemish
art. In accordance with late 20th century Belgian state reforms the area was made into two political entities: the " Flemish
Flemish
Community" (Dutch: Vlaamse Gemeenschap) and the "Flemish Region" (Dutch: Vlaams Gewest). These entities were merged, although geographically the Flemish
Flemish
Community, which has a broader cultural mandate, covers Brussels, whereas the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
does not. Flanders
Flanders
has figured prominently in European history. During the late Middle Ages, cities such as Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp
Antwerp
and Brussels
Brussels
made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy. Belgium
Belgium
was one of the centres of the 19th century industrial revolution but Flanders
Flanders
was at first overtaken by French-speaking Wallonia. In the second half of the 20th century, however, Flanders' economy modernised rapidly, and today Flanders
Flanders
is significantly more wealthy than its southern counterpart and in general one of the wealthiest regions in Europe and the world.[2] Geographically, Flanders
Flanders
is generally flat, and has a small section of coast on the North Sea. Much of Flanders
Flanders
is agriculturally fertile and densely populated, with a population density of almost 500 people per square kilometer (1,200 per square mile). It touches France
France
to the west near the coast, and borders the Netherlands
Netherlands
to the north and east, and Wallonia
Wallonia
to the south. The Brussels
Brussels
Capital Region is an (officially bilingual) enclave within the Flemish
Flemish
Region. Flanders
Flanders
has exclaves of its own: Voeren
Voeren
in the east is between Wallonia
Wallonia
and the Netherlands
Netherlands
and Baarle-Hertog
Baarle-Hertog
in the north consists of 22 exclaves surrounded by the Netherlands.

Contents

1 Terminology

1.1 In Belgium 1.2 In Belgium
Belgium
and neighbouring countries 1.3 Dutch-speaking part of Belgium

2 History

2.1 Early history 2.2 Historical Flanders 2.3 Low Countries

2.3.1 Beeldenstorm 2.3.2 The Eighty Years' War and its consequences 2.3.3 Southern Netherlands
Netherlands
(1581–1795) 2.3.4 French Revolution and Napoleonic France
France
(1795–1815) 2.3.5 United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands
(1815–1830)

2.4 Kingdom of Belgium

2.4.1 Rise of the Flemish
Flemish
Movement 2.4.2 World War I
World War I
and its consequences 2.4.3 Right-Wing Nationalism in the interbellum and World War II 2.4.4 Flemish
Flemish
autonomy

3 Government and politics

3.1 Politics 3.2 Flemish
Flemish
independence

4 Geography

4.1 Administrative divisions

5 Climate 6 Economy

6.1 Infrastructure

7 Demographics

7.1 Religion 7.2 Education 7.3 Healthcare

8 Culture

8.1 Language and literature

8.1.1 Languages

8.2 Media 8.3 Sports 8.4 Music

9 See also 10 Notes 11 References

Terminology[edit] In Belgium[edit] The term "Flanders" has several main meanings:

The " Flemish
Flemish
community" or " Flemish
Flemish
nation", i.e. the social, cultural and linguistic, scientific and educational, economical and political community of the Flemings. It comprises 6.5 million Belgians (60%) who consider Dutch to be their mother tongue. The political subdivisions of Belgium: the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
(competent in mainly economic matters) and the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
(competent in mainly cultural matters). The first does not comprise Brussels
Brussels
(which forms a Region on itself), whereas the latter does comprise the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Brussels. The political institutions that govern both subdivisions: the operative body " Flemish
Flemish
Government" and the legislative organ "Flemish Parliament". The two westernmost provinces of the Flemish
Flemish
Region, West Flanders
West Flanders
and East Flanders, forming the central portion of the historic County of Flanders.

In Belgium
Belgium
and neighbouring countries[edit]

A feudal territory that existed from the 8th century (Flandria) until its absorption by the French First Republic. Until the 1600s, this county also extended over parts of France
France
and the Netherlands. Main article: County of Flanders

One of the regions conquered by the French in Flanders, namely French Flanders
Flanders
in the Nord department. French Flanders
French Flanders
can be divided into two smaller regions: Walloon Flanders
Walloon Flanders
and Maritime Flanders (Westhoek). The first region was predominantly French-speaking already in the 1600s, the latter became so in the 20th century. The city of Lille
Lille
identifies itself as "Flemish", and this is reflected, for instance, in the name of its local railway station TGV
TGV
Lille
Lille
Flandres. Main article: French Flanders

The region conquered by the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
in Flanders, now part of the Dutch province of Zeeland. Main article: Zeelandic Flanders

Dutch-speaking part of Belgium[edit] The significance of the County of Flanders
County of Flanders
and its counts eroded through time, but the designation remained in a very broad sense. In the Early modern period, the term Flanders
Flanders
was associated with the southern part of the Low Countries: the Southern Netherlands. During the 19th and 20th centuries, it became increasingly commonplace to refer to the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium
Belgium
as "Flanders". The linguistic limit between French and Dutch was recorded in the early '60's, from Kortrijk
Kortrijk
to Maastricht. Now, Flanders
Flanders
extends over the northern part of Belgium, including Belgian Limburg (corresponding closely to the medieval County of Loon), and the Belgian parts of the medieval Duchy of Brabant. The ambiguity between this wider area and that of the County (or the Belgian parts thereof), still remains. In most present-day contexts however, in general the term Flanders
Flanders
is taken to refer to either the political, social, cultural, and linguistic community (and the corresponding official institution, the Flemish
Flemish
Community), or the geographical area, one of the three institutional regions in Belgium, namely the Flemish
Flemish
Region. In the history of art and other fields, the adjectives Flemish
Flemish
and Netherlandish
Netherlandish
are commonly used to designate all the artistic production in this area before about 1580, after which it refers specifically to the southern Netherlands. For example, the term " Flemish
Flemish
Primitives", now outdated in English but used in French, Dutch and other languages, is a synonym for "Early Netherlandish painting", and it is not uncommon to see Mosan art
Mosan art
categorized as Flemish
Flemish
art. In music the Franco- Flemish
Flemish
School is also known as the Dutch School. Within this Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, French has never ceased to be spoken by some citizens and Jewish groups have been speaking Yiddish
Yiddish
in Antwerp
Antwerp
for centuries. Today, Flanders' minority residents include 170 nationalities[a] — the largest groups speaking French, English, Berber, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish, Italian and Polish. History[edit] Main article: History of Flanders Early history[edit] Main article: Belgae The area, roughly encompassing the later geographical meanings of Flanders, was considered to be in the northern and less economically developed part of Gallia Belgica. Under the Roman empire
Roman empire
this became an administrative province, but much of modern Belgium
Belgium
eventually became part of Germania Inferior. These were the most northerly continental provinces of the Roman empire. Linguistically, the tribes in this area were under Celtic influence in the south, and Germanic influence in the east, but there is disagreement about what language was spoken locally, which may even have been an intermediate "Nordwestblock" language related to both. By the first century BC Germanic languages
Germanic languages
had become prevalent. In the future county of Flanders, the main Belgic
Belgic
tribe in Roman times was the Menapii, but also on the coast were the Marsacii and Morini. In the central part of modern Belgium
Belgium
were the Nervii
Nervii
and in the east were the Tungri. The Tungri
Tungri
especially were thought to have links to Germanic tribes east of the Rhine. Another notable group were the Toxandrians
Toxandrians
who appear to have lived in the Kempen region, in the northern parts of both the Nervian and Tungrian provinces. The Roman provinces of the Menapii, Nervii
Nervii
and Tungri
Tungri
therefore correspond roughly with the medieval counties of Flanders, Brabant and Loon, and the modern Flemish provinces of East and West Flanders
West Flanders
(Menapii), Brabant and Antwerp (Nervii), and Belgian Limburg (Tungri). Historical Flanders[edit] Main article: County of Flanders Created in the year 862 as a feudal fief in West Francia, the County of Flanders
Flanders
was divided when its western districts fell under French rule in the late 12th century. The remaining parts of Flanders
Flanders
came under the rule of the counts of neighbouring Hainaut in 1191. The entire area passed in 1384 to the dukes of Burgundy, in 1477 to the Habsburg
Habsburg
dynasty, and in 1556 to the kings of Spain. The western districts of Flanders
Flanders
came finally under French rule under successive treaties of 1659 (Artois), 1668, and 1678. During the late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent, Bruges
Bruges
and Ypres) made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy. Ghent, Bruges, Ypres and the Franc of Bruges
Bruges
formed the Four Members, a form of parliament that exercised considerable power in Flanders.[3] Increasingly powerful from the 12th century, the territory's autonomous urban communes were instrumental in defeating a French attempt at annexation (1300–1302), finally defeating the French in the Battle of the Golden Spurs
Battle of the Golden Spurs
(11 July 1302), near Kortrijk. Two years later, the uprising was defeated and Flanders
Flanders
remained part of the French Crown. Flemish
Flemish
prosperity waned in the following century, however, owing to widespread European population decline following the Black Death
Black Death
of 1348, the disruption of trade during the Anglo-French Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
(1337–1453), and increased English cloth production. Flemish
Flemish
weavers had gone over to Worstead
Worstead
and North Walsham in Norfolk in the 12th century and established the woolen industry. The County of Flanders
County of Flanders
started to take control of the neighbouring County of Brabant during the life of Louis II, Count of Flanders (1330-1384), who fought his sister-in-law Joanna, Duchess of Brabant for control of it. The titles were eventually more clearly united under Philip the Good
Philip the Good
(1396 – 1467), Duke of Burgundy. The County of Loon, approximately the modern Flemish
Flemish
province of Limburg, remained independent under the lordship of the Archbishop of Liège until the French Revolution, but surrounded by the Burgundians. Low Countries[edit] Main article: Low Countries Beeldenstorm[edit] In 1500, Charles V was born in Ghent. He inherited the Seventeen Provinces (1506), Spain (1516) with its colonies and in 1519 was elected Holy Roman Emperor.[4] The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, issued by Charles V, established the Low Countries
Low Countries
as the Seventeen Provinces (or Spanish Netherlands
Netherlands
in its broad sense) as an entity separate from the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
and from France. In 1556 Charles V abdicated due to ill health (he suffered from crippling gout).[5] Spain and the Seventeen Provinces
Seventeen Provinces
went to his son, king Philip II of Spain. Over the first half of the 16th century Antwerp
Antwerp
grew to become the second-largest European city north of the Alps
Alps
by 1560. Antwerp
Antwerp
was the richest city in Europe at this time.[6] According to Luc-Normand Tellier "It is estimated that the port of Antwerp
Antwerp
was earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Americas."[7]

The Sack of Antwerp
Antwerp
in 1576, in which about 7,000 people died

Meanwhile, Protestantism had reached the Low Countries. Among the wealthy traders of Antwerp, the Lutheran beliefs of the German Hanseatic traders found appeal, perhaps partly for economic reasons. The spread of Protestantism in this city was aided by the presence of an Augustinian
Augustinian
cloister (founded 1514) in the St. Andries quarter. Luther, an Augustinian
Augustinian
himself, had taught some of the monks, and his works were in print by 1518. The first Lutheran martyrs came from Antwerp. The Reformation resulted in consecutive but overlapping waves of reform: a Lutheran, followed by a militant Anabaptist, then a Mennonite, and finally a Calvinistic movement. These movements existed independently of each other. Philip II, a devout Catholic and self-proclaimed protector of the Counter-Reformation, suppressed Calvinism
Calvinism
in Flanders, Brabant and Holland (what is now approximately Belgian Limburg was part of the Bishopric of Liège
Bishopric of Liège
and was Catholic de facto). In 1566, the wave of iconoclasm known as the Beeldenstorm
Beeldenstorm
was a prelude to religious war between Catholics and Protestants, especially the Anabaptists. The Beeldenstorm
Beeldenstorm
started in what is now French Flanders, with open-air sermons (Dutch: hagepreken) that spread through the Low Countries, first to Antwerp
Antwerp
and Ghent, and from there further east and north. In total it lasted not even a month. The Eighty Years' War and its consequences[edit] Subsequently, Philip II sent the Duke of Alba to the Provinces to repress the revolt. Alba recaptured the southern part of the Provinces, who signed the Union of Atrecht, which meant that they would accept the Spanish government on condition of more freedom. But the northern part of the provinces signed the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
and settled in 1581 the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Spanish troops quickly started fighting the rebels, but before the revolt could be completely defeated, a war between England and Spain had broken out, forcing Philip's Spanish troops to halt their advance. Meanwhile, the Spanish armies had already conquered the important trading cities of Bruges
Bruges
and Ghent. Antwerp, which was then the most important port in the world, also had to be conquered. On 17 August 1585, Antwerp
Antwerp
fell. This ended the Eighty Years' War for the (from now on) Southern Netherlands. The United Provinces (the Northern Netherlands) fought on until 1648 – the Peace of Westphalia.

Winter scene by Sebastian Vrancx, 1622

While Spain was at war with England, the rebels from the north, strengthened by refugees from the south, started a campaign to reclaim areas lost to Philip II's Spanish troops. They managed to conquer a considerable part of Brabant (the later Noord-Brabant
Noord-Brabant
of the Netherlands), and the south bank of the Scheldt
Scheldt
estuary (Zeelandic Flanders), before being stopped by Spanish troops. The front line at the end of this war stabilized and became the current border between present-day Belgium
Belgium
and the Netherlands. The Dutch (as they later became known) had managed to reclaim enough of Spanish-controlled Flanders
Flanders
to close off the river Scheldt, effectively cutting Antwerp off from its trade routes. First the fall of Antwerp
Antwerp
to the Spanish and later also the closing of the Scheldt
Scheldt
were causes of a considerable emigration of Antverpians.[b] Many of the Calvinist merchants of Antwerp
Antwerp
and also of other Flemish
Flemish
cities left Flanders
Flanders
and emigrated to the north. A large number of them settled in Amsterdam, which was at the time a smaller port, of significance only in the Baltic trade. In the following years Amsterdam
Amsterdam
was rapidly transformed into one of the world's most important ports. Because of the contribution of the Flemish
Flemish
exiles to this transformation, the exodus is sometimes described as "creating a new Antwerp". Flanders
Flanders
and Brabant, due to these events, went into a period of relative decline from the time of the Thirty Years War.[8] In the Northern Netherlands
Netherlands
however, the mass emigration from Flanders
Flanders
and Brabant became an important driving force behind the Dutch Golden Age. Southern Netherlands
Netherlands
(1581–1795)[edit]

1609 map of the county of Flanders

Although arts remained at a relatively impressive level for another century with Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens
(1577–1640) and Anthony van Dyck, Flanders
Flanders
experienced a loss of its former economic and intellectual power under Spanish, Austrian, and French rule, with heavy taxation and rigid imperial political control compounding the effects of industrial stagnation and Spanish-Dutch and Franco-Austrian conflict. The Southern Netherlands
Netherlands
suffered severely under the War of the Spanish Succession, but under the reign of empress Maria-Theresia these lands economically flourished again. Influenced by the Enlightenment, the Austrian emperor Joseph II was the first sovereign who has been in the Southern Netherlands
Netherlands
since king Philip II of Spain left them in 1559. French Revolution and Napoleonic France
France
(1795–1815)[edit] In 1794 the French Republican Army started using Antwerp
Antwerp
as the northernmost naval port of France,[8] which country officially annexed Flanders
Flanders
the following year as the départements of Lys, Escaut, Deux-Nèthes, Meuse-Inférieure
Meuse-Inférieure
and Dyle. Obligatory (French) army service for all men aged 16–25 was one of the main reasons for the people's uprising against the French in 1798, known as the Boerenkrijg (Peasants' War), with the heaviest fighting in the Campine
Campine
area. United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands
(1815–1830)[edit] After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the 1815 Battle of Waterloo in Waterloo, Brabant, sovereignty over the Austrian Netherlands
Netherlands
Belgium
Belgium
minus the East Cantons
East Cantons
and Luxembourg – was given by the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
(1815) to the United Netherlands
Netherlands
(Dutch: Verenigde Nederlanden), the state that briefly existed under Sovereign Prince William I of Orange Nassau, the latter King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, after the French Empire was driven out of the Dutch territories. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands
was born. The Protestant King of the Netherlands, William I rapidly started the industrialisation of the southern parts of the Kingdom. The political system that was set up however, slowly but surely failed to forge a true union between the northern and the southern parts of the Kingdom. The southern bourgeoisie mainly was Roman Catholic, in contrast to the mainly Protestant north; large parts of the southern bourgeoisie also primarily spoke French rather than Dutch. In 1815 the Dutch Senate was reinstated (Dutch: Eerste Kamer der Staaten Generaal). The nobility, mainly coming from the south, became more and more estranged from their northern colleagues. Resentment grew both between the Roman Catholics from the south and the Protestants from the north and among the powerful liberal bourgeoisie from the south and their more moderate colleagues from the north. On 25 August 1830 (after the showing of the opera 'La Muette de Portici' of Daniel Auber
Daniel Auber
in Brussels) the Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
sparked off and became a fact. On 4 October 1830, the Provisional Government (Dutch: Voorlopig Bewind) proclaimed the independence, which was later confirmed by the National Congress that issued a new Liberal Constitution and declared the new state a Constitutional Monarchy, under the House of Saxe-Coburg. Flanders
Flanders
now became part of the Kingdom of Belgium, which was recognized by the major European Powers on 20 January 1831. The de facto dissidence was finally recognized by the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands
on 19 April 1839. Kingdom of Belgium[edit] Further information: History of Belgium In 1830, the Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
led to the splitting up of the two countries. Belgium
Belgium
was confirmed as an independent state by the Treaty of London of 1839, but deprived of the eastern half of Limburg (now Dutch Limburg), and the Eastern half of Luxembourg (now the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg). Sovereignty over Zeelandic Flanders, south of the Westerscheldt
Westerscheldt
river delta, was left with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was allowed to levy a toll on all traffic to Antwerp
Antwerp
harbour until 1863.[8][9] Rise of the Flemish
Flemish
Movement[edit] Main article: Flemish
Flemish
Movement The Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
was not well supported in Flanders
Flanders
and even on 4 October 1830, when the Belgian independence was eventually declared, Flemish
Flemish
authorities refused to take orders from the new Belgian government in Brussels. Only after Flanders
Flanders
was subdued with the aid of a large French military force one month later, under the leadership of the Count de Pontécoulant, did Flanders
Flanders
become a true part of Belgium. The French-speaking bourgeoisie showed very little respect for the Dutch-speaking part of the population.[clarification needed] French became the only official language in Belgium
Belgium
and all secondary and higher education in the Dutch language
Dutch language
was abolished. In 1834, all people even remotely suspected of being " Flemish
Flemish
minded" or calling for the reunification of the Netherlands
Netherlands
were prosecuted and their houses looted and burnt. Flanders, until then a very prosperous European region,[clarification needed] was not considered worthwhile for investment and scholarship. A study in 1918 demonstrated that in the first 88 years of its existence, 80% of the Belgian GNP was invested in Wallonia. This led to a widespread poverty in Flanders, forcing roughly 300.000 Flemish
Flemish
to emigrate to Wallonia to start working there in the heavy industry. All of these events led to a silent uprising in Flanders
Flanders
against the French-speaking domination. But it was not until 1878 that Dutch was allowed to be used for official purposes in Flanders
Flanders
(see language legislation in Belgium), although French remained the only official language in Belgium. In 1873, Dutch became the official language in public secondary schools. In 1898 Dutch and French were declared equal languages in laws and Royal orders. In 1930 the first Flemish
Flemish
university was opened. The first official translation of the Belgian constitution in Dutch was not published until 1967.

Koksijde, a memorial to soldiers killed in World War I

World War I
World War I
and its consequences[edit] Flanders
Flanders
(and Belgium
Belgium
as a whole) saw some of the greatest loss of life on the Western Front of the First World War, in particular from the three battles of Ypres. Flemish
Flemish
feeling of identity and consciousness grew through the events and experiences of war. The occupying German authorities took several Flemish-friendly measures. More importantly, the experiences of many Dutch-speaking soldiers on the front led by French-speaking officers catalysed Flemish
Flemish
emancipation. The French-speaking officers often gave orders in French only, followed by "et pour les Flamands, la même chose!", meaning "and for the Flemish, the same thing!" (which did not help the Flemish
Flemish
conscripts, who were mostly uneducated farmers and workers unable to have understood what had been said in French).[10] The resulting suffering is still remembered by Flemish organizations during the yearly Yser
Yser
pilgrimage in Diksmuide
Diksmuide
at the monument of the Yser
Yser
Tower. Right-Wing Nationalism in the interbellum and World War II[edit] Main articles: Flemish
Flemish
National Union, Verdinaso, Dietsland, and Cyriel Verschaeve During the interbellum and World War II, several right-wing fascist and/or national-socialistic parties emerged in Belgium, the Flemish ones being energized by the anti- Flemish
Flemish
discrimination of the Wallonians[clarification needed]. Since these parties were promised more rights for the Flemings
Flemings
by the German government during World War II, many of them collaborated with the Nazi regime. After the war, collaborators (or people who were Zwart, "Black" during the war) were prosecuted and punished, among them many Flemish
Flemish
Nationalists whose main political goal had been the emancipation of Flanders. As a result, up until this day Flemish
Flemish
Nationalism is often associated with right-wing and sometimes fascist ideologies. Flemish
Flemish
autonomy[edit] Main articles: State reform in Belgium, 2007–2011 Belgian political crisis, and Partition of Belgium After World War II, the differences between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking Belgians became clear in a number of conflicts, such as the Royal Question, the question whether King Leopold III should return (which most Flemings
Flemings
supported but not the Walloons) and the use of Dutch in the Catholic University of Leuven. As a result, several state reforms took place in the second half of the 20th century, which transformed the unitary Belgium
Belgium
into a federal state with communities, regions and language areas. This resulted also in the establishment of a Flemish Parliament
Flemish Parliament
and Government. During the 1970s, all major political parties split into a Dutch and French-speaking party. Several Flemish
Flemish
parties still advocate for more Flemish
Flemish
autonomy, some even for Flemish
Flemish
independence (see Partition of Belgium), whereas the French-speakers would like to keep the current state as it is. Recent governments (such as Verhofstadt I Government) have transferred certain federal competences to the regional governments. On 13 December 2006, a spoof news broadcast by the Belgian Francophone public broadcasting station RTBF
RTBF
declared that Flanders
Flanders
had decided to declare independence from Belgium. The 2007 federal elections showed more support for Flemish
Flemish
autonomy, marking the start of the 2007–2011 Belgian political crisis. All the political parties that advocated a significant increase of Flemish autonomy gained votes as well as seats in the Belgian federal parliament. This was especially the case for Christian Democratic and Flemish
Flemish
and New Flemish
Flemish
Alliance (N-VA) (who had participated on a shared electoral list). The trend continued during the 2009 regional elections, where CD&V and N-VA
N-VA
were the clear winners in Flanders, and N-VA
N-VA
became even the largest party in Flanders
Flanders
and Belgium
Belgium
during the 2010 federal elections, followed by the longest-ever government formation after which the Di Rupo I Government
Di Rupo I Government
was formed excluding N-VA. Eight parties agreed on a sixth state reform which aim to solve the disputes between Flemings
Flemings
and French-speakers. The 2012 provincial and municipal elections however continued the trend of N-VA
N-VA
becoming the biggest party in Flanders. However, sociological studies show no parallel between the rise of nationalist parties and popular support for their agenda. Instead, a recent study revealed a majority in favour of returning regional competences to the federal level [11] Government and politics[edit]

Kris Peeters, former Minister-President of Flanders, promoting Flanders
Flanders
in Action

Main article: Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium Both the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
and the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
are constitutional institutions of the Kingdom of Belgium, exercising certain powers within their jurisdiction, granted following a series of state reforms. In practice, the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
and Region together form a single body, with its own parliament and government, as the Community legally absorbed the competences of the Region. The parliament is a directly elected legislative body composed of 124 representatives. The government consists of up to a maximum of eleven members and is presided by a Minister-President, currently Geert Bourgeois
Geert Bourgeois
(New Flemish
Flemish
Alliance) leading a coalition of his party (N-VA) with Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams
Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams
(CD&V) and Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Open VLD). The area of the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
is represented on the maps above, including the area of the Brussels-Capital Region
Brussels-Capital Region
(hatched on the relevant map). Roughly, the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
exercises competences originally oriented towards the individuals of the Community's language: culture (including audiovisual media), education, and the use of the language. Extensions to personal matters less directly associated with language comprise sports, health policy (curative and preventive medicine), and assistance to individuals (protection of youth, social welfare, aid to families, immigrant assistance services, etc.)[12] The area of the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
is represented on the maps above. It has a population of more than 6 million (excluding the Dutch-speaking community in the Brussels
Brussels
Region, grey on the map for it is not a part of the Flemish
Flemish
Region). Roughly, the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
is responsible for territorial issues in a broad sense, including economy, employment, agriculture, water policy, housing, public works, energy, transport, the environment, town and country planning, nature conservation, credit, and foreign trade. It supervises the provinces, municipalities, and intercommunal utility companies.[13] The number of Dutch-speaking Flemish people
Flemish people
in the Capital Region is estimated to be between 11% and 15% (official figures do not exist as there is no language census and no official subnationality). According to a survey conducted by the Université catholique de Louvain
Université catholique de Louvain
in Louvain-la-Neuve
Louvain-la-Neuve
and published in June 2006, 51% of respondents from Brussels
Brussels
claimed to be bilingual, even if they do not have Dutch as their first language.[14][15] They are governed by the Brussels
Brussels
Region for economics affairs and by the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
for educational and cultural issues.

The Flemish
Flemish
Parliament

As mentioned above, Flemish
Flemish
institutions such as the Flemish Parliament and Government, represent the Flemish Community
Flemish Community
and the Flemish
Flemish
Region. The region and the community thus de facto share the same parliament and the same government. All these institutions are based in Brussels. Nevertheless, both types of subdivisions (the Community and the Region) still exist legally and the distinction between both is important for the people living in Brussels. Members of the Flemish Parliament
Flemish Parliament
who were elected in the Brussels
Brussels
Region cannot vote on affairs belonging to the competences of the Flemish Region. The official language for all Flemish
Flemish
institutions is Dutch. French enjoys a limited official recognition in a dozen municipalities along the borders with French-speaking Wallonia, and a large recognition in the bilingual Brussels
Brussels
Region. French is widely known in Flanders, with 59% claiming to know French according to a survey conducted by the Université catholique de Louvain
Université catholique de Louvain
in Louvain-la-Neuve
Louvain-la-Neuve
and published in June 2006.[16][17] Politics[edit] Main articles: Politics of Flanders
Politics of Flanders
and Political parties in Flanders Historically, the political parties reflected the pillarisation (verzuiling) in Flemish
Flemish
society. The traditional political parties of the three pillars are Christian-Democratic and Flemish
Flemish
(CD&V), the Open Flemish
Flemish
Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld) and the Socialist Party – Differently (sp.a). However, during the last half century, many new political parties were founded in Flanders. One of the first was the nationalist People's Union, of which the right nationalist Flemish
Flemish
Block (now Flemish Interest) split off, and which later dissolved into the now-defunct Spirit or Social Liberal Party, moderate nationalism rather left of the spectrum, on the one hand, and the New Flemish
Flemish
Alliance (N-VA), more conservative but independentist, on the other hand. Other parties are the leftist alternative/ecological Green party; the short-lived anarchistic libertarian spark ROSSEM
ROSSEM
and more recently the conservative-right liberal List Dedecker, founded by Jean-Marie Dedecker, and the socialist Workers' Party. Particularly the Flemish
Flemish
Block/ Flemish
Flemish
Interest has seen electoral success roughly around the turn of the century, and the New Flemish Alliance during the last few elections, becoming even the largest party in the 2010 federal elections. Flemish
Flemish
independence[edit]

Border crossing sign near Menen.

Main article: Flemish
Flemish
Movement For some inhabitants, Flanders
Flanders
is more than just a geographical area or the federal institutions ( Flemish Community
Flemish Community
and Region). Supporters of the Flemish
Flemish
Movement even call it a nation and pursue Flemish independence, but most people (approximately 75%) living in Flanders say they are proud to be Belgian and opposed to the dissolution of Belgium. 20% is even very proud, while some 25% are not proud and 8% is very not proud. Mostly students claim to be proud of their nationality, with 90% of them staying so. Of the people older than 55, 31% claim to be proud of being a Belgian. Particular opposition to secession comes from women, people employed in services, the highest social classes and people from big families. Strongest of all opposing the notion are housekeepers - both housewives and house husbands.[18] In 2012, the Flemish
Flemish
government drafted a "Charter for Flanders" (Handvest voor Vlaanderen)[19] of which the first article says "Vlaanderen is een deelstaat van de federale Staat België en maakt deel uit van de Europese Unie." (" Flanders
Flanders
is a component state of the federal State of Belgium
Belgium
and is part of the European Union"). Though interpreted by many Flemish
Flemish
nationalists as a statement, this phrase is merely a quotation from the Belgian constitution and has no further legal value whatsoever. Geography[edit] Further information: Geography of Belgium

The Sonian Forest

Flanders
Flanders
shares its borders with Wallonia
Wallonia
in the south, Brussels
Brussels
being an enclave within the Flemish
Flemish
Region. The rest of the border is shared with the Netherlands
Netherlands
(Zeelandic Flanders, North Brabant
North Brabant
and Limburg) in the north and east, and with France
France
(French Flanders) and the North Sea in the west. Voeren
Voeren
is an exclave of Flanders
Flanders
between Wallonia
Wallonia
and the Netherlands, while Baarle-Hertog
Baarle-Hertog
in Flanders
Flanders
forms a complicated series of enclaves and exclaves with Baarle-Nassau
Baarle-Nassau
in the Netherlands. Germany, although bordering Wallonia
Wallonia
and close to Voeren
Voeren
in Limburg, does not share a border with Flanders. The German-speaking Community of Belgium, also close to Voeren, does not border Flanders
Flanders
either. (The commune of Plombières, majority French speaking, lies between them.) Flanders
Flanders
is a highly urbanised area, lying completely within the Blue Banana. Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges
Bruges
and Leuven
Leuven
are the largest cities of the Flemish
Flemish
Region. Antwerp
Antwerp
has a population of more than 500,000 citizens and is the largest city, Ghent
Ghent
has a population of 250,000 citizens, followed by Bruges
Bruges
with 120,000 citizens and Leuven
Leuven
counts almost 100,000 citizens.[citation needed] Brussels
Brussels
is a part of Flanders
Flanders
as far as community matters are concerned, but does not belong to the Flemish
Flemish
Region. Flanders
Flanders
has two main geographical regions: the coastal Yser
Yser
basin plain in the north-west and a central plain. The first consists mainly of sand dunes and clayey alluvial soils in the polders. Polders are areas of land, close to or below sea level that have been reclaimed from the sea, from which they are protected by dikes or, a little further inland, by fields that have been drained with canals. With similar soils along the lowermost Scheldt
Scheldt
basin starts the central plain, a smooth, slowly rising fertile area irrigated by many waterways that reaches an average height of about five metres (16.4 ft) above sea level with wide valleys of its rivers upstream as well as the Campine
Campine
region to the east having sandy soils at altitudes around thirty metres.[c] Near its southern edges close to Wallonia
Wallonia
one can find slightly rougher land richer of calcium with low hills reaching up to 150 m (490 ft) and small valleys, and at the eastern border with the Netherlands, in the Meuse
Meuse
basin, there are marl caves (mergelgrotten). Its exclave around Voeren
Voeren
between the Dutch border and the Walloon province of Liège attains a maximum altitude of 288 m (945 ft) above sea level.[20][21] Administrative divisions[edit] Main articles: Provinces of Belgium
Belgium
and List of municipalities of the Flemish
Flemish
Region

The present-day Flemish Region
Flemish Region
covers 13,522 km2 (5,221 sq mi) and is divided into five provinces, 22 arrondissements and 308 cities or municipalities.

Province Capital city Administrative arrondissements Municipalities Population (1 January 2016)[citation needed] Area Density

1   Antwerp
Antwerp
(Antwerpen) Antwerp
Antwerp
(Antwerpen) Antwerp, Mechelen, Turnhout 70 1,824,136 2,867 km² 636/km²

2  Limburg (Limburg) Hasselt Hasselt, Maaseik, Tongeren 44 863,425 2,414 km² 358/km²

3   East Flanders
East Flanders
(Oost-Vlaanderen) Ghent
Ghent
(Gent) Aalst, Dendermonde, Eeklo, Ghent, Oudenaarde, Sint-Niklaas 65 1,486,722 2,991 km² 497/km²

4   Flemish
Flemish
Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant) Leuven Halle-Vilvoorde, Leuven 65 1,121,693 2,106 km² 533/km²

5   West Flanders
West Flanders
(West-Vlaanderen) Bruges
Bruges
(Brugge) Bruges, Diksmuide, Ypres, Kortrijk, Ostend, Roeselare, Tielt, Veurne 64 1,181,828 3,125 km² 378/km²

The province of Flemish
Flemish
Brabant is the most recent one, being formed in 1995 after the splitting of the province of Brabant. Most municipalities are made up of several former municipalities, now called deelgemeenten. The largest municipality (both in terms of population and area) is Antwerp, having more than half a million inhabitants. Its nine deelgemeenten have a special status and are called districts, which have an elected council and a college. While any municipality with more than 100,000 inhabitants can establish districts, only Antwerp
Antwerp
did this so far. The smallest municipality (also both in terms of population and area) is Herstappe (Limburg).[citation needed]

Brussels-Capital Region
Brussels-Capital Region
with the City of Brussels
Brussels
(one of 19 municipalities) in red

The Flemish Community
Flemish Community
covers both the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
and, together with the French Community, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels, an enclave within the province of Flemish
Flemish
Brabant, is not divided into any province nor is it part of any. It coincides with the Arrondissement of Brussels-Capital and includes 19 municipalities. The Flemish Government
Flemish Government
has its own local institutions in the Brussels-Capital Region, being the Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie (VGC), and its municipal antennae (Gemeenschapscentra, community centres for the Flemish
Flemish
community in Brussels). These institutions are independent from the educational, cultural and social institutions that depend directly on the Flemish
Flemish
Government. They exert, among others, all those cultural competences that outside Brussels
Brussels
fall under the provinces. Climate[edit] The climate is maritime temperate, with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb; the average temperature is 3 °C (37 °F) in January, and 21 °C (70 °F) in July; the average precipitation is 65 millimetres (2.6 in) in January, and 78 millimetres (3.1 in) in July). Economy[edit] Main articles: Economy of Belgium, Flemish
Flemish
Diamond, Science and technology in Flanders, and Agriculture in Flanders

The Port of Antwerp
Antwerp
is the second largest in Europe.

The A12 with a railway in the centre.

Total GDP of the Flemish Region
Flemish Region
in 2004 was €165,847 billion ( Eurostat
Eurostat
figures). Per capita GDP at purchasing power parity was 23% above the EU average. Flemish
Flemish
productivity per capita is about 13% higher than that in Wallonia, and wages are about 7% higher than in Wallonia.[22] Flanders
Flanders
was one of the first continental European areas to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the 19th century. Initially, the modernization relied heavily on food processing and textile. However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders
Flanders
was in severe crisis and there was famine in Flanders
Flanders
(1846–50). After World War II, Antwerp and Ghent
Ghent
experienced a fast expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. Flanders
Flanders
also attracted a large majority of foreign investments in Belgium. The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession. The steel industry remained in relatively good shape. In the 1980s and 90s, the economic centre of Belgium
Belgium
continued to shift further to Flanders
Flanders
and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish
Flemish
Diamond area.[23] Nowadays, the Flemish
Flemish
economy is mainly service-oriented. Belgium
Belgium
is a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, which evolved into the present-day European Union. In 1999, the euro, the single European currency, was introduced in Flanders. It replaced the Belgian franc
Belgian franc
in 2002. The Flemish
Flemish
economy is strongly export-oriented, in particular of high value-added goods.[24] The main imports are food products, machinery, rough diamonds, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, clothing and accessories, and textiles. The main exports are automobiles, food and food products, iron and steel, finished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products, and non-ferrous metals. Since 1922, Belgium
Belgium
and Luxembourg have been a single trade market within a customs and currency union—the Belgium–Luxembourg Economic Union. Its main trading partners are Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States, and Spain.[25][citation needed] Antwerp
Antwerp
is the number one diamond market in the world, diamond exports account for roughly 1/10 of Belgian exports. The Antwerp-based BASF plant is the largest BASF-base outside Germany, and accounts on its own for about 2% of Belgian exports. Other industrial and service activities in Antwerp
Antwerp
include car manufacturing, telecommunications, photographic products. Flanders
Flanders
is home to several science and technology institutes, such as IMEC, VITO, Flanders DC and Flanders
Flanders
DRIVE. Infrastructure[edit] Main article: Transport in Belgium Flanders
Flanders
has developed an extensive transportation infrastructure of ports, canals, railways and highways. The Port of Antwerp
Antwerp
is the second-largest in Europe, after Rotterdam.[26] Other ports are Bruges-Zeebrugge, Ghent
Ghent
and Ostend, of which Bruges
Bruges
and Ostend are located at the Belgian coast. Whereas railways are managed by the federal National Railway Company of Belgium, other public transport (De Lijn) and roads are managed by the Flemish
Flemish
region. The main airport is Brussels
Brussels
Airport, the only other civilian airport with scheduled services in Flanders
Flanders
is Antwerp
Antwerp
International Airport, but there are two other ones with cargo or charter flights: Ostend- Bruges
Bruges
International Airport and Kortrijk-Wevelgem International Airport, both in West Flanders. Demographics[edit] Further information: Demographics of Belgium, Flemish
Flemish
people, and List of cities in Flanders The highest population density is found in the area circumscribed by the Brussels-Antwerp-Ghent- Leuven
Leuven
agglomerations that surround Mechelen and is known as the Flemish
Flemish
Diamond, in other important urban centres as Bruges
Bruges
and Kortrijk
Kortrijk
to the west, and notable centres Turnhout
Turnhout
and Hasselt
Hasselt
to the east. On 1 January 2015, the Flemish Region had a population of 6,444,127 and about 15% of the 1,175,173 people in the Brussels
Brussels
Region are also considered Flemish.[a][27][citation needed]

A typical church, present in all villages in Flanders

Religion[edit] Further information: Religion in Belgium The (Belgian) laicist, or secularist, constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the various governments in general respect this right in practice. Since independence, Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics, since the 20th century in Flanders
Flanders
mainly via the Christian trade union ACV and the Christian Democratic and Flemish
Flemish
party (CD&V). According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion,[28] about 47 percent of the Belgian population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church, while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5 percent.[citation needed] A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered more religious than Wallonia, showed that 55% considered themselves religious, and 36% believed that God created the world.[29] Jews have been present in Flanders
Flanders
for a long time, in particular in Antwerp. More recently, Muslims have immigrated to Flanders, now forming the largest minority religion with about 3.9% in the Flemish Region and 25% in Brussels.[30] The largest Muslim group is the Moroccans, while the second largest is the Turks.

Arenberg Château, part of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the oldest university in Belgium
Belgium
and the Low Countries.

Education[edit] Further information: Education in Flanders Education is compulsory from the ages of six to 18, but most Flemings continue to study until around 23. Among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in 1999, Flanders
Flanders
had the third-highest proportion of 18- to 21-year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education. Flanders
Flanders
also scores very high in international comparative studies on education. Its secondary school students consistently rank among the top three for mathematics and science. However, the success is not evenly spread: ethnic minority youth score consistently lower, and the difference is larger than in most comparable countries.[a] Mirroring the historical political conflicts between the freethought and Catholic segments of the population, the Flemish
Flemish
educational system is split into a secular branch controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, and a subsidised religious—mostly Catholic—branch. For the subsidised schools, the main costs such as the teacher's wages and building maintenance completely borne by the Flemish
Flemish
government. Subsidised schools are also free to determine their own teaching and examination methods, but in exchange, they must be able to prove that certain minimal terms are achieved by keeping records of the given lessons and exams. It should however be noted that—at least for the Catholic schools—the religious authorities have very limited power over these schools, neither do the schools have a lot of power on their own. Instead, the Catholic schools are a member of the Catholic umbrella organisation VSKO. The VSKO determines most practicalities for schools, like the advised schedules per study field. However, there's freedom of education in Flanders, which doesn't only mean that every pupil can choose his/her preferred school, but also that every organisation can found a school, and even be subsidised when abiding the different rules. This resulted also in some smaller school systems follow 'methodical pedagogies' (e.g. Steiner, Montessori, or Freinet) or serve the Jewish and Protestant minorities. During the school year 2003–2004, 68.30% of the total population of children between the ages of six and 18 went to subsidized private schools (both religious schools or 'methodical pedagogies' schools).[31] The big freedom given to schools results in a constant competition to be the "best" school. The schools get certain reputations amongst parents and employers. So it's important for schools to be the best school since the subsidies depend on the number of pupils. This competition has been pinpointed as one of the main reasons for the high overall quality of the Flemish
Flemish
education. However, the importance of a school's reputation also makes schools more eager to expel pupils that don't perform well. Resulting in the ethnic differences and the well-known waterfall system: pupils start high in the perceived hierarchy, and then drop towards more professional oriented directions or "easier" schools when they can't handle the pressure any longer. Healthcare[edit] Further information: Healthcare in Belgium

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2012)

Healthcare is a federal matter, but the Flemish Government
Flemish Government
is responsible for care, health education and preventive care. Culture[edit] Main articles: Dutch language, Flemish, Flemish
Flemish
people, and Flemish Movement At first sight, Flemish
Flemish
culture is defined by the Dutch language
Dutch language
and its gourmandic mentality, as compared to the more Calvinistic Dutch culture. Dutch and Flemish
Flemish
paintings enjoyed more equal international admiration. Language and literature[edit]

Statue of Gezelle in Bruges, by sculptor Jules Lagae

The standard language in Flanders
Flanders
is Dutch; spelling and grammar are regulated by a single authority, the Dutch Language Union
Dutch Language Union
(Nederlandse Taalunie), comprising a committee of ministers of the Flemish
Flemish
and Dutch governments, their advisory council of appointed experts, a controlling commission of 22 parliamentarians, and a secretariate.[32][33] The term Flemish
Flemish
can be applied to the Dutch spoken in Flanders; it shows many regional and local variations.[34] The biggest difference between Belgian Dutch and Dutch used in the Netherlands
Netherlands
is in the pronunciation of words. The Dutch spoken in the north of the Netherlands
Netherlands
is typically described as being "sharper", while Belgian Dutch is "softer". In Belgian Dutch, there are also fewer vowels pronounced as diphthongs. When it comes to spelling, Belgian Dutch language
Dutch language
purists historically avoided writing words using a French spelling, or searched for specific translations of words derived from French, while the Dutch prefer to stick with French spelling, as it differentiates Dutch more from the neighbouring German. For example, the Dutch word "punaise" (English: Drawing pin) is derived directly from the French language. Belgian Dutch language purists have lobbied to accept the word "duimspijker" (literally: thumb spike) as official Dutch, though the Dutch Language Union
Dutch Language Union
never accepted it as standard Dutch. Other proposals by purists were sometimes accepted, and sometimes reverted again in later spelling revisions. As language purists were quite often professionally involved in language (f.e. as a teacher), these unofficial purist translations are found more often in Belgian Dutch texts. The earliest example of literature in non-standardized dialects in the current area of Flanders
Flanders
is Hendrik van Veldeke's Eneas Romance, the first courtly romance in a Germanic language
Germanic language
(12th century). With a writer of Hendrik Conscience's stature, Flemish
Flemish
literature rose ahead of French literature in Belgium's early history.[35][36] Guido Gezelle not only explicitly referred to his writings as Flemish
Flemish
but used it in many of his poems, and strongly defended it:

Original from kleengedichtjes (1860?)[37][38]

Gij zegt dat ’t vlaamsch te niet zal gaan: ’t en zal! dat ’t waalsch gezwets zal boven slaan:' ’t en zal! Dat hopen, dat begeren wij: dat zeggen en dat zweren wij: zoo lange als wij ons weren, wij: ’t en zal, ’t en zal, ’t en zal!

Translation . For explanations, continue along It shan't! This we hope, for this we hanker: this we say and this we vow: as long as we fight back, we: It shan't, It shan't, It shan't! </poem>

The distinction between Dutch and Flemish
Flemish
literature, often perceived politically, is also made on intrinsic grounds by some experts such as Kris Humbeeck, professor of Literature at the University of Antwerp.[39][40] Nevertheless, most Dutch-language literature read (and appreciated to varying degrees) in Flanders
Flanders
is the same as that in the Netherlands.[41] Influential Flemish
Flemish
writers include Ernest Claes, Stijn Streuvels
Stijn Streuvels
and Felix Timmermans. Their novels mostly describe rural life in Flanders in the 19th century and at beginning of the 20th. Widely read by the older generations, they are considered somewhat old-fashioned by present-day critics. Some famous Flemish
Flemish
writers of the early 20th century wrote in French, including Nobel Prize winners (1911) Maurice Maeterlinck and Emile Verhaeren. They were followed by a younger generation, including Paul van Ostaijen
Paul van Ostaijen
and Gaston Burssens, who activated the Flemish
Flemish
Movement.[39] Still widely read and translated into other languages (including English) are the novels of authors such as Willem Elsschot, Louis Paul Boon
Louis Paul Boon
and Hugo Claus. The recent crop of writers includes the novelists Tom Lanoye
Tom Lanoye
and Herman Brusselmans, and poets such as the married couple Herman de Coninck and Kristien Hemmerechts. Languages[edit] At the creation of the Belgian state, French was the only official language. Historically Flanders
Flanders
was a Dutch-speaking region. For a long period, French was used as a second language and, like elsewhere in Europe, commonly spoken among the aristocracy. There is still a French-speaking minority in Flanders, especially in the municipalities with language facilities, along the language border and the Brussels periphery (Vlaamse Rand), though many of them are French-speakers that migrated to Flanders
Flanders
in recent decades. In French Flanders, French is the only official language and now the native language of the majority of the population, but there is still a minority of Dutch-speakers living there. French is also the primary language in the officially bilingual Brussels
Brussels
Capital Region, (see Francization of Brussels). Many Flemings
Flemings
are also able to speak French, children in Flanders generally get their first French lessons in the 5th primary year (normally around 10 years). But the current lack of French outside the educational context makes it hard to maintain a decent level of French. As such, the proficiency of French is declining. Flemish pupils are also obligated to follow English lessons as their third language. Normally from the second secondary year (around 14 years old), but the ubiquity of English in movies, music, IT and even advertisements makes it easier to learn and maintain the English language. This makes the Flemish people
Flemish people
very proficient in English (in Europe, only Sweden and Malta have a better knowledge of English as a second language).[42] Media[edit] Further information: Television in Belgium The public radio and television broadcaster in Flanders
Flanders
is VRT, which operates the TV channels één, Canvas, Ketnet, OP12
OP12
and (together with the Netherlands) BVN. Flemish
Flemish
provinces each have up to two TV channels as well. Commercial television broadcasters include vtm and Vier
Vier
(VT4). Popular TV series are for example Thuis and F.C. De Kampioenen. The five most successful Flemish
Flemish
films were Loft (2008; 1,186,071 visitors), Koko Flanel (1990; 1,082,000 tickets sold), Hector (1987; 933,000 tickets sold), Daens (1993; 848,000 tickets sold) and De Zaak Alzheimer (2003; 750,000 tickets sold). The first and last ones were directed by Erik Van Looy, and an American remake is being made of both of them, respectively The Loft (2012) and The Memory of a Killer. The other three ones were directed by Stijn Coninx. Newspapers are grouped under three main publishers: De Persgroep with Het Laatste Nieuws, the most popular newspaper in Flanders, De Morgen and De Tijd. Then Corelio with De Gentenaar, the oldest extant Flemish newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad
Het Nieuwsblad
and De Standaard. Lastly, Concentra publishes Gazet van Antwerpen
Gazet van Antwerpen
and Het Belang van Limburg. Magazines include Knack and HUMO. Sports[edit]

Kim Clijsters
Kim Clijsters
was WTA Player of the Year in 2005 and 2010

Further information: Sport in Belgium Association football
Association football
(soccer) is one of the most popular sports in both parts of Belgium, together with cycling, tennis, swimming and judo.[43] In cycling, the Tour of Flanders
Tour of Flanders
is considered one of the five "Monuments". Other " Flanders
Flanders
Classics" races include Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent–Wevelgem. Eddy Merckx
Eddy Merckx
is regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time, with five victories in the Tour de France
France
and numerous other cycling records.[44] His hour speed record (set in 1972) stood for 12 years. Jean-Marie Pfaff, a former Belgian goalkeeper, is considered one of the greatest in the history of football (soccer).[45] Kim Clijsters
Kim Clijsters
(as well as the French-speaking Belgian Justine Henin) was Player of the Year twice in the Women's Tennis Association
Women's Tennis Association
as she was ranked the number one female tennis player. Kim Gevaert
Kim Gevaert
and Tia Hellebaut
Tia Hellebaut
are notable track and field stars from Flanders. The 1920 Summer Olympics
1920 Summer Olympics
were held in Antwerp. Jacques Rogge
Jacques Rogge
has been president of the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
since 2001. The Flemish
Flemish
government agency for sports is Bloso. Music[edit] Further information: Music of Belgium Flanders
Flanders
is known for its music festivals, like the annual Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland and Pukkelpop. The Gentse Feesten
Gentse Feesten
are another very large yearly event. The best-selling Flemish
Flemish
group or artist is the (Flemish-Dutch) group 2 Unlimited, followed by (Italian-born) Rocco Granata, Technotronic, Helmut Lotti
Helmut Lotti
and Vaya Con Dios. The weekly charts of best-selling singles is the Ultratop 50. Kvraagetaan by the Fixkes
Fixkes
holds the current record for longest time at #1 on the chart. See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Flanders.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Flanders.

Burgundian Netherlands Count of Flanders Flemish
Flemish
Movement Flemish
Flemish
Parliament Flemish
Flemish
Primitives Seventeen Provinces Wallonia

Brussels
Brussels
portal Belgium
Belgium
portal European Union
European Union
portal

Notes[edit]

^ a b c The relation between nationality, genetic ethnicity, native and mainly spoken language(s) (within a group of same ethnicity and age, in presence of elders, in ethnically mixed groups), and minority group identification, can be complex: Dutch nationals constituting one of the largest groups of foreigners, share the standard language with Flemish
Flemish
locals but their accent is enough to immediately distinguish them. The majority of immigrants from certain other countries, had belonged to a minority or disadvantaged group there. Children born in Belgium
Belgium
from residents of foreign nationality, very often acquired Belgian citizenship. Regardless nationality, according to Belgian Law, if for obligatory education inscribed to a school located in the Flemish
Flemish
Region, the lessons will be in Dutch language; among schools in Brussels, one may as well opt for one teaching in French. The determining of statistical samples and interpretation of publicized figures can easily lead to false assumptions or conclusions. ^ An Antverpian, derived from Antverpia, the Latin name of Antwerp, is an inhabitant of this city; the term is also the adjective expressing that its substantive is from or in that city or belongs to it. ^ The altitude of Mechelen, approximately in the middle of the central plain forming the large part of Flanders, is 7 m (23 ft) above sea level. Already closer to the higher southern Wallonia, the more eastern Leuven
Leuven
and Hasselt
Hasselt
reach altitudes up to about 40 m (130 ft)

References[edit]

^ "Discover Flanders". Flanders.be.  ^ "Belgium". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 21 June 2015.  ^ Philip the Good: the apogee of Burgundy by Richard Vaughan, p201 ^ William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (NY, 1874), p 116 ^ William Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (NY, 1874), p 456 ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 163.  ^ Luc-Normand Tellier (2009). "Urban world history: an economic and geographical perspective". PUQ. p.308. ISBN 2-7605-1588-5 ^ a b c " Antwerp
Antwerp
– History". Find it in Flanders. Tourism Flanders & Brussels, Flanders
Flanders
House, London, UK. Retrieved 2 January 2007.  ^ "Kingdom of Belgium
Belgium
map (politically outdated)". Planet Ware. Retrieved 15 May 2007.  ^ Leclerc, Jacques (TLFQ member) (16 June 2011). "Histoire de la Belgique et ses conséquences linguistiques". L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde (in French). Trésor de la langue française au Québec (TLFQ), Département de Langues, linguistique et traduction, Faculté des Lettres, Laval University, Quebec, Canada. Retrieved 21 July 2011. Et pour les Flamands, la même chose!  — Note: This quote in French language
French language
"Et pour ...!" has become a coined expression in Belgium, and as such published abroad. E.g.: Meylaerts, Reine (KUL). ""Et pour les Flamands, la même chose" : quelle politique de traduction pour quelles minorités linguistiques ?" (Pdf). journal des traducteurs (Translators' Journal), vol. 54, n° 1, 2009, p. 7-21 (in French). Consortium Érudit 2011, Quebec, Canada. Retrieved 21 July 2011.  ^ Peter De Lobel (25 January 2016). "Staatshervorming richting België wint aan politieke steun" [State reform towards Belgium
Belgium
is gaining political support]. De Standaard
De Standaard
(in Dutch).  ^ "The Communities". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.  ^ "The Regions". .be Portal. Belgian Federal Government. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.  ^ (in French) Report of study by the Université Catholique de Louvain Archived 23 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine. ^ (in Dutch) Article at Taaluniversum.org summarising report ^ (in French) Report of study by Université Catholique de Louvain Archived 23 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine. ^ (in Dutch) Taaluniversum.org, summarising report ^ "Drie op vier Vlamingen zijn trotse Belgen". knack.be.  ^ "Handvest voor Vlaanderen" (pdf). vlaamsparlement.be.  ^ Ir. Jan Strubbe in collaboration with Frank Mostaert and Ir. Koen Maeghe. "Flood management in Flanders
Flanders
with special focus on navigable waterways" (PDF). Ministry of the Flemish
Flemish
Community, department Environment and Infrastructure (Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium, Flanders Hydraulics Research, Administratie Waterwegen en Zeewezen). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2007. Flanders
Flanders
is covered by the three major catchment basins (Yser, Scheldt and Meuse). This rather lowlying nearly flat region (2 to 150 m (6.6 to 492.1 ft)altitude above sea-level) ...  ^ Myriam Dumortier; Luc De Bruyn; Maarten Hens; Johan Peymen; Anik Schneiders; Toon Van Daele; Wouter Van Reeth; Gisèle Weyembergh; Eckhart Kuijken (2006). Biodiversity Indicators 2006 – State of Nature in Flanders
Flanders
(Belgium) (PDF). Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels. ISBN 90-403-0251-0. Retrieved 15 May 2007. The altitude ranges from a few meters above sea-level in the Polders to 288 m (945 ft) above sea-level in the south eastern exclave.  ^ (in Dutch) Onze Waalse collega’s kunnen niet volgen, 29 May 2005, Het Nieuwsblad ^ Vanhaverbeke, Wim. "Het belang van de Vlaamse Ruit vanuit economisch perspectief The importance of the Flemish
Flemish
Diamond from an economical perspective" (in Dutch). Netherlands
Netherlands
Institute of Business Organization and Strategy Research, University of Maastricht. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2007.  ^ "Flanders: export-driven economy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-01-26.  ^ Dean., Amory, (2014). Flemish. [Place of publication not identified]: Lulu Com. ISBN 1291768084. OCLC 922551185.  ^ "Focus on the port". Port of Antwerp. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2009.  ^ "Statistics Belgium". Federal Public Service Economy.  ^ "Belgium". International Religious Freedom Report 2004. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2007.  ^ 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
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. ^ (in Dutch) Jan Hertogen, In België wonen 628.751 moslims, Indymedia, September 12, 2008 ^ "Education in Flanders" (PDF). A broad view of the Flemish educational landscape. Ministry of the Flemish
Flemish
Community. 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2009.  ^ "De Taalunie – Wie zijn wij?" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Taalunie. Retrieved 19 February 2011.  ^ "De Taalunie – Werkwijze en beleid" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Taalunie. Retrieved 17 February 2011.  ^ Hoeksema, Jack. "College 4 – 1830 Belgische onafhankelijkheid, Noord-Zuidverschillen, Dialecten en de rijksgrens, Frans-Vlaanderen" (ppt) (in Dutch). University of Groningen
University of Groningen
(host site). Retrieved 19 February 2011.  ^ " Hendrik Conscience
Hendrik Conscience
(biography)" (in Dutch). Letterkundig Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2011.  ^ Couttenier, Piet (1999). "Nationale beelden in de Vlaamse literatuur van de negentiende eeuw". Nationalisme in België. Identiteiten in beweging 1780–2000. (Deprez, Kas; Vos, Louis – red.) (in Dutch). Houtekiet, Antwerpen/Baarn (online by dbnl). pp. 60–69. Retrieved 21 February 2011.  ^ Guido Gezelle: volledig dichtwerk (in Dutch (West Flemish
Flemish
dialect)). Lannoo Uitgeverij. 1999. p. 320. Retrieved 18 February 2011. CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link) ^ Gezelle, Guido. "Driemaal XXXIII Kleengedichtjes – Gij zegt dat 't vlaamsch te niet zal gaan" [Three times XXXIII Little Poems – Thou sayst Flemish
Flemish
will fade away] (PDF). Dichtwerken (deel 1 en 2) [Poems (Part 1 and 2)] (ed. Baur, Frank) (in Dutch). Veen, Amsterdam
Amsterdam
(1949, 3rd print – online by dbnl). Part 2, p. 505. Retrieved 19 February 2011.  ^ a b de Ridder, Matthijs (doctoral candidate University of Antwerp) (22 May 2009). "Inleiding tot een proefschrift over de activistische tegentraditie in de Vlaamse letteren ('Introduction to a dissertation on the activist tradition in Flemish
Flemish
literature') (descriptive title)" (in Dutch). Mededelingen van het Centrum voor Documentatie & Reëvaluatie (a republishing Blog about French and Dutch Literature). Retrieved 21 February 2011.  ^ Polis, Harold (ed. red. at Meulenhoff/Manteau) (25 June 2004). "Vlamingen en Nederlanders moeten hun verschillen leren aanvaarden". Taalschrift (in Dutch). Nederlandse Taalunie
Nederlandse Taalunie
(Ed. 77). ISSN 1570-5560. Retrieved 21 February 2011.  ^ " Flanders
Flanders
(Belgium)" (PDF). Frankfurter Buchmesse.  ^ Mick Van Loon (October 28, 2014). "Examens Frans, Engels en Duits moeten moeilijker worden volgens minister Crevits. Raar, want er is geen problem" [Exams for French, English and German must become more difficult according to Minister Crevits. Weird, because there is no problem] (in Dutch).  ^ George Wingfield (2008). Charles F. Gritzner, ed. Belgium. Infobase Publishing. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-7910-9670-3.  ^ Majendie, Matt (18 April 2005). "Great, but there are greater". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 September 2007. [the Author's] top five [cyclists] of all time: 1 Eddy Merckx, 2 Bernard Hinault, 3 Lance Armstrong, 4 Miguel Indurain, 5 Jacques Anquetil  ^ "Goalkeeping Greats" Goalkeepersaredifferent.com. Retrieved on 29 June 2008

v t e

  Flanders
Flanders
topics

Territories

Modern Belgium

Flemish
Flemish
Region Flemish
Flemish
Community

Neighbouring and historical regions

Margravate County French Flanders Zeelandic Flanders Romance Flanders

Local regions

Flemish
Flemish
Ardennes Campine Denderstreek Hageland Haspengouw Pajottenland Meetjesland Westhoek Waasland ...

Provinces (and cities)

West Flanders
West Flanders
(Bruges) East Flanders
East Flanders
(Ghent) Antwerp
Antwerp
(Antwerp) Flemish
Flemish
Brabant (Leuven) Limburg (Hasselt)

See also

Brussels List of municipalities Flemish
Flemish
Diamond

Politics

Flemish
Flemish
Parliament Flemish
Flemish
Government Community Commission (Brussels) Political parties Minister-President

Symbols and history

Anthem Coat of arms Day of the Flemish
Flemish
Community

Guldensporenslag De Leeuw van Vlaanderen

Flag

Other topics

Flemish
Flemish
Movement Language Literature Painting People Education Science and technology Transport Agriculture

Coordinates: 51°00′N 4°30′E / 51.000°N 4.500°E / 51.000; 4.500

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 246181

.