Friday, October 29, 2010

The Kingdom of Belgium

The Kingdom of Belgium is a constitutional monarchy and was put together in 1830 - 1831 by the international powers as a political compromise. It has a population of 10.5 million and is about the size of Maryland. The capital city Brussels is also the capital of the European Union and is home to NATO

The country has one of the largest debts in Europe running at about 99% of its GDP. Belgium is getting ready to assume the presidency of the EU for the next six months. The EU’s main goal is creating an ever closer union in Europe yet, at times, it seems that the country may break apart due to the tensions between Flanders and Wallonia.

Flanders makes up the northern part of the country and Wallonia is in the south. Flemish (Dutch) is spoken in Flanders and French is spoken in Wallonia. There is a small German speaking region in eastern Wallonia. Brussels is officially bilingual, but most people speak French, even though Brussels is in Flanders. Each of the three regions has its own government.

There is a movement in Flanders to break away from Wallonia. Wallonia has about 1/3rd of the population but 46% of the unemployment, with another 40% working for the government. Since Wallonia accounts for only 24% of the country’s GDP, Flanders is tired of supporting Wallonia. Plus it seems that the people in Flanders tend to be more bilingual than those in the south.

My Belgium itinerary consists of Ghent, Bruges and Brussels; all in Flanders.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting.
    I did not know this about Belgium.

    Thank you.