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Belgium | Euro Palace Casino Blog

belgium | Euro Palace Casino Blog

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Belgium also has some 40 miles 60 km of shoreline on the North Sea. Belgium generally is a low-lying country, with a broad coastal plain extending in a southeasterly direction from the North Sea and the Netherlands and rising gradually into the Ardennes hills and forests of the southeast, where a maximum elevation of 2, feet metres is reached at Botrange.

The Ardennes region is part of the Hercynian orogenic belt of mountain ranges, which reaches from western Ireland into Germany and was formed roughly to million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era.

The Ardennes is a plateau cut deeply by the Meuse River and its tributaries. Its higher points contain peat bogs and have poor drainage; these uplands are unsuitable as cropland.

A large depression, known east of the Meuse River as the Famenne and west of it as the Fagne, separates the Ardennes from the geologically and topographically complex foothills to the north.

The principal feature of the area is the Condroz, a plateau more than 1, feet metres in elevation comprising a succession of valleys hollowed out of the limestone between sandstone crests.

Its northern boundary is the Sambre-Meuse valley , which traverses Belgium from south-southwest to northeast. About half of it remains wooded; in the south lies a small region of iron ore deposits.

The area is dissected by the Dender, Senne, Dijle, and other rivers that enter the Schelde Escaut River ; it is bounded to the east by the Herve Plateau.

The Brussels region lies within the Central Plateaus. Bordering the North Sea from France to the Schelde is the low-lying plain of Flanders, which has two main sections.

Maritime Flanders, extending inland for about 5 to 10 miles 8 to 16 km , is a region of newly formed and reclaimed land polders protected by a line of dunes and dikes and having largely clay soils.

Interior Flanders comprises most of East and West Flanders and has sand-silt or sand soils. At an elevation of about 80 to feet 25 to 90 metres , it is drained by the Leie, Schelde, and Dender rivers flowing northeastward to the Schelde estuary.

Several shipping canals interlace the landscape and connect the river systems. Lying between about and feet 50 and metres in elevation, the Kempenland contains pastureland and is the site of a number of industrial enterprises; it forms an irregular watershed of plateau and plain between the extensive Schelde and Meuse drainage systems.

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Van der Wee Arthur J. Nov 5, See Article History. Page 1 of Learn More in these related Britannica articles: In Belgium the work of Cuypers finds its counterpart in that of Jozef Schadde, architect of the Antwerp stock exchange —80 and the station in Brugge.

In the southern provinces throughout the 16th to 18th centuries Brussels, headed by viceroys, remained the centre of court patronage, while…. Large windows, with rectangular leaded lights, are again typical of a northern climate.

Ceilings are beamed or plastered, and…. The Belgian police system features a federal police force, which brought together the former gendarmerie and the national criminal investigation unit, and numerous local police forces, each of which is responsible to a mayor.

More About Belgium 40 references found in Britannica articles Assorted References alcohol consumption In alcohol consumption: Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: Additionally, a small German-speaking Community , numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.

The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual French and Dutch , although French is the dominant language of the population.

Historically, Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries , a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that also included parts of northern France and western Germany.

From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture.

Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", [10] a reputation strengthened by both world wars.

The country emerged in following the Belgian Revolution when it seceded from the Netherlands. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution [11] [12] and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.

This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms , resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from to Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased; there is significant separatism particularly among the Flemish ; controversial language laws exist such as the municipalities with language facilities ; [14] and the formation of a coalition government took 18 months following the June federal election , a world record.

Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission , the Council of the European Union , and the European Council , as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels.

Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium is a developed country , with an advanced high-income economy.

The country achieves very high standards of living , life quality , [17] healthcare , [18] education , [19] and is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index.

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 divided the region into Middle and West 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.

Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries. The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish Spanish Netherlands and the Austrian Habsburgs Austrian Netherlands and comprised most of modern Belgium.

This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in , after the defeat of Napoleon.

In , the Belgian Revolution led to the separation of the Southern Provinces from the Netherlands and to the establishment of a Catholic and bourgeois, officially French-speaking and neutral, independent Belgium under a provisional government and a national congress.

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 19th century.

French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie. It progressively lost its overall importance as Dutch became recognized as well.

This recognition became official in and in the parliament accepted a Dutch version of the Constitution. In , this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo.

The opening months of the war were known as the Rape of Belgium due to German excesses. Belgium assumed control of the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi modern-day Rwanda and Burundi during the war, and in the League of Nations mandated them to Belgium.

In the aftermath of the First World War, Belgium annexed the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy in , thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.

German forces again invaded the country in May , and 40, Belgians, over half of them Jews, were killed during the subsequent occupation and The Holocaust.

From September to February the Allies liberated Belgium. The latter has now become 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.

Belgium has three main geographical regions; the coastal plain in the northwest and the central plateau both belong to the Anglo-Belgian Basin, and the Ardennes uplands in the southeast to the Hercynian orogenic belt.

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 plateaux of the Ardennes are more rugged and rocky with caves and small gorges. The climate is maritime temperate with significant precipitation in all seasons Köppen climate classification: Cfb , like most of northwest Europe.

The average precipitation per month varies between 54 millimetres 2. However, due to consistent efforts by the various levels of government in Belgium, the state of the environment in Belgium is gradually improving.

This led to Belgium being ranked as one of the top 10 countries 9 out of in terms of environmental protection trends, and to Belgium being ranked in as the 24th country out of for environmental protection.

Belgium moreover has one of Europe's highest waste recycling rates. In particular, the Flemish region of Belgium has the highest waste diversion rate in Europe.

Almost 75 percent of the residential waste produced there is reused, recycled, or composted. The territory of Belgium is divided into three Regions, two of which, the Flemish Region and Walloon Region , are in turn subdivided into provinces ; the third Region, the Brussels Capital Region , is neither a province nor a part of a province.

Belgium is a constitutional , popular monarchy and a federal parliamentary democracy. The bicameral federal parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives.

The former is made up of 50 senators appointed by the parliaments of the communities and regions and 10 co-opted senators.

Prior to , most of the Senate's members were directly elected. The Chamber 's representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts.

Belgium has compulsory voting and thus maintains one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world.

The King currently Philippe is the head of state , though with limited prerogatives. He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government.

The Council of Ministers is composed of no more than fifteen members. With the possible exception of the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers is composed of an equal number of Dutch-speaking members and French-speaking members.

The Court of Cassation is the court of last resort, with the Court of Appeal one level below. Belgium's political institutions are complex; most political power is organized around the need to represent the main cultural communities.

Christian Democrats , Liberals , and Social Democrats. A string of Christian Democrat coalition governments from was broken in after the first dioxin crisis , a major food contamination scandal.

The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from to 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.

Restrictions on withholding euthanasia were reduced and same-sex marriage legalized. The government promoted active diplomacy in Africa [56] and opposed the invasion of Iraq.

Verhofstadt's coalition fared badly in the June elections. For more than a year, the country experienced a political crisis.

On that day a new government , led by Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme , the actual winner of the federal elections of June , was sworn in by the king.

On 15 July Leterme announced the resignation of the cabinet to the king, as no progress in constitutional reforms had been made.

A few hours later, the new government under Prime Minister Yves Leterme was sworn in. On 22 April , Leterme again offered the resignation of his cabinet to the king [66] after one of the coalition partners, the OpenVLD , withdrew from the government, and on 26 April King Albert officially accepted the resignation.

By 30 March this set a new world record for the elapsed time without an official government, previously held by war-torn Iraq. The federal election coinciding with the regional elections resulted in a further electoral gain for the Flemish nationalist N-VA, although the incumbent coalition composed of Flemish and French-speaking Social Democrats, Liberals, and Christian Democrats maintains a solid majority in Parliament and in all electoral constituencies.

It is the first time N-VA is part of the federal cabinet, while the French-speaking side is represented only by the MR, which achieved a minority of the public votes in Wallonia.

Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Habsburg courts, [70] 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.

While the people in Southern Belgium spoke French or dialects of French, and most Brusselers adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in making Dutch an equal language in the education system.

Based on the four language areas defined in —63 the Dutch, bilingual, French and German language areas , consecutive revisions of the country's constitution in , , and established a unique form of a federal state with segregated political power into three levels: The constitutional language areas determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the empowered institutions for specific matters.

The overlapping boundaries of the Regions and Communities have created two notable peculiarities: Conflicts about jurisdiction 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. 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.

It controls substantial parts of public health, home affairs and foreign affairs. Communities exercise their authority only within linguistically determined geographical boundaries, originally oriented towards the individuals of a Community's 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, and so on.

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.

They supervise the provinces, municipalities and intercommunal utility companies. 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.

The treaty-making power of the Regions' and Communities' Governments is the broadest of all the Federating units of all the Federations all over the world.

Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe , Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbours.

With virtually defenceless borders, Belgium has traditionally sought to avoid domination by the more powerful nations which surround it through a policy of mediation.

The Belgians have been strong advocates of European integration. The Belgian Armed Forces have about 47, active troops. The operational commands of the four components are subordinate to the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Ministry of Defence , which is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training , and to the Chief of Defence.

The effects of the Second World War made collective security a priority for Belgian foreign policy. This mission was the first in a long line of UN missions which the Belgians supported.

Belgium's strongly globalized economy [88] and its transport 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 Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs.

The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: Since , through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union , Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union.

Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution , in the early 19th century. The and 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.

As of [update] , the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to Unemployment rates of 8. By October , this had grown to 8. Belgium switched to the euro in , with the first sets of euro coins being minted in Belgium experiences some of the most congested traffic in Europe.

In , commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams.

There is a large economic gap between Flanders and Wallonia. Wallonia was historically wealthy compared to Flanders, mostly due to its heavy industries , but the decline of the steel industry post-World War II led to the region's rapid decline, whereas Flanders rose swiftly.

Since then, Flanders has been prosperous, among the wealthiest regions in Europe, whereas Wallonia has been languishing.

As of , the unemployment rate of Wallonia is over double that of Flanders. The divide has played a key part in the tensions between the Flemish and Walloons in addition to the already-existing language divide.

Pro-independence movements have gained high popularity in Flanders as a consequence. Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history.

The 16th 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.

Bakelite was developed in — by Leo Baekeland. In , he started a series of conferences, the Solvay Conferences on Physics and Chemistry, which have had a deep impact on the evolution of quantum physics and chemistry.

Pierre Deligne in and Jean Bourgain in The most densely inhabited area is Flanders. Brussels has 1,, inhabitants in the Capital Region's 19 municipalities , three of which have over , residents.

The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian , , French , , Dutch , , Moroccan 80, , Portuguese 43, , Spanish 42, , Turkish 39, and German 37, Of these, , 6.

Since the modification of the Belgian nationality law in more than 1. The largest group of immigrants and their descendants in Belgium are Moroccans.

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well. French-speaking Belgians are often referred to as Walloons, although the French speakers in Brussels are not Walloons.

Total Dutch speakers are 6. Roughly 23, more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community. Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France.

Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment. Walloon , considered either as a dialect of French or a distinct Romance language , [] [] is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people.

Walloon is divided into four dialects, which along with those of Picard , [] are rarely used in public life and have largely been replaced by French.

Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism , counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics.

Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium's majority religion; being especially strong in Flanders. According to the Eurobarometer , Non religious people comprised the Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position.

In the early s there were approximately 42, Jews in Belgium. The Jewish Community of Antwerp numbering some 18, is one of the largest in Europe, and one of the last places in the world where Yiddish is the primary language of a large Jewish community mirroring certain Orthodox and Hasidic communities in New York, New Jersey, and Israel.

In addition most Jewish children in Antwerp receive a Jewish education. This is particularly the case in eastern Wallonia and areas along the French border.

The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with , people. The Turks are the third largest group, and the second largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering , The Belgians enjoy good health.

According to estimates, the average life expectancy is Death in Belgium is mainly due to heart and vascular disorders, neoplasms , disorders of the respiratory system and unnatural causes of death accidents, suicide.

Non-natural causes of death and cancer are the most common causes of death for females up to age 24 and males up to age Healthcare in Belgium is financed through both social security contributions and taxation.

Health insurance is compulsory. Health care is delivered by a mixed public and private system of independent medical practitioners and public, university and semi-private hospitals.

Health care service are payable by the patient and reimbursed later by health insurance institutions, but for ineligible categories of patients and services so-called 3rd party payment systems exist.

For the first time in Belgian history, the first child was euthanized following the 2 year mark of the removal of the euthanization age restrictions.

The child had been euthanized due to an incurable disease that was inflicted upon the child. Although there may have been some support for the euthanization there is a possibility of controversy due to the issue revolving around the subject of assisted suicide.

Education is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age for Belgians. 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 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.

Despite its political and linguistic divisions , 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.

Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art , the Early Netherlandish , [] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting [] and major examples of Romanesque , Gothic , Renaissance and Baroque architecture [] 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.

The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art.

Belgian contributions to architecture also continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, including the work of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde , who were major initiators of the Art Nouveau style.

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.

Contemporary popular music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel have achieved global fame.

Nowadays, singer Stromae has been a musical revelation in Europe and beyond, having great success. In the heavy metal scene, bands like Machiavel , Channel Zero and Enthroned have a worldwide fan-base.

The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry a worldwide fame.

Belgian cinema has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen. Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: Originated in and revived in the s, the Gentse Feesten have become a modern tradition.

Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide. Contrary to their name, french fries are claimed to have originated in Belgium, although their exact place of origin is uncertain.

The national dishes are " steak and fries with salad", and " mussels with fries ". Since the s, sports clubs and federations are organized separately within each language community.

Belgians hold the most Tour de France victories of any country except France. Philippe Gilbert is the world champion. Another modern well-known Belgian cyclist is Tom Boonen.

With five victories in the Tour de France and numerous other cycling records, Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx is regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

Belgium hosted the European Football Championships , and co-hosted the European Championships with the Netherlands. 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.

Belgium also has a strong reputation in, motocross with the rider Stefan Everts. The Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The flag's official proportions of The Brussels region is the de facto capital, but the City of Brussels municipality is the de jure capital.

Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third.

Of all these, the Belgae are the strongest Politics of Belgium and Belgian federal government. Philippe King of the Belgians since Charles Michel Prime Minister since Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium.

Foreign relations of Belgium. Science and technology in Brussels , Science and technology in Flanders , and Science and technology in Wallonia.

This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.

Distribution of languages of Belgium Dutch. Belgium portal Brussels portal. Witt, Constanze Maria May Barbarians on the Greek Periphery? Retrieved 6 June 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 Flanders.

The ten municipalities with the highest reported income are: Archived from the original on 27 August Retrieved 15 July For a web source on this topic, see e.

Retrieved on 7 June The French word 'ducasse' refers also to a procession; the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'.

Discrimination in the EU in Retrieved 19 December Retrieved 24 October Retrieved 1 April Retrieved 13 August United Nations Development Programme.

Retrieved 14 September Belgian House of Representatives. Retrieved 10 September Archived from the original on 9 June Retrieved 18 June Archived from the original on 2 October Retrieved 21 June Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia.

Archived from the original on 31 October The capital of Belgium, Brussels, is an enclave within Flanders. Archived from the original PDF on 26 June The country is divided into three 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.

Archived from the original PDF on 31 October Brussels is a kind of enclave within Flanders—it has no direct link with Wallonia. Rezension zu Review of Cook, Bernard: A History in German.

FH-Zeitung journal of the Fachhochschule. Retrieved 24 May Howell's original phrase "the cockpit of Christendom" became modified afterwards, as shown by: Napier University's Business School.

Archived from the original on 11 May Cockpit of Europe, Belgium, as the scene of so many battles between the Powers of Europe. International models of peace and reconciliation—Diversity and civil society".

Retrieved 12 August The Age of Imperialism Section 2. Archived from the original PDF on 25 September Retrieved 16 August Retrieved 5 June Retrieved 8 December Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire Hardcover ed.

Facts on File, New York. Studies in Modern European History, Vol. Peter Lang Pub, New York. The University Press, Cambridge. Retrieved 15 December Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands".

Retrieved 9 June Retrieved 25 February Belgium and the February Revolution.

A string of Christian Democrat coalition governments from was broken in after the first dioxin crisisa major food contamination scandal. Without including this post, the share of the federal government raging bull casino 200 free spins would be only It is the first time N-VA is si center stuttgart casino of the federal cabinet, while the French-speaking side is represented only by the MR, which achieved a minority of the public votes in Wallonia. They are home to wild boar, deer and lynx and hide a number of friendly villages, lots of castles and a few other notable sights. Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history. While the people in Southern Belgium spoke French or dialects of French, and most Brusselers adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in making Dutch rinaldo fußball equal language in the education system. This recognition became official in and in the parliament accepted a Dutch version of the Constitution. This section needs to be updated. The French word 'ducasse' refers also to a Tutan Keno - Play for Free Online with No Downloads the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'. Retrieved 22 May Retrieved 5 June But this is getting rare so be prepared for a supplement.

This recognition became official in and in the parliament accepted a Dutch version of the Constitution.

In , this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo. The opening months of the war were known as the Rape of Belgium due to German excesses.

Belgium assumed control of the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi modern-day Rwanda and Burundi during the war, and in the League of Nations mandated them to Belgium.

In the aftermath of the First World War, Belgium annexed the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy in , thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.

German forces again invaded the country in May , and 40, Belgians, over half of them Jews, were killed during the subsequent occupation and The Holocaust.

From September to February the Allies liberated Belgium. The latter has now become 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.

Belgium has three main geographical regions; the coastal plain in the northwest and the central plateau both belong to the Anglo-Belgian Basin, and the Ardennes uplands in the southeast to the Hercynian orogenic belt.

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 plateaux of the Ardennes are more rugged and rocky with caves and small gorges. The climate is maritime temperate with significant precipitation in all seasons Köppen climate classification: Cfb , like most of northwest Europe.

The average precipitation per month varies between 54 millimetres 2. However, due to consistent efforts by the various levels of government in Belgium, the state of the environment in Belgium is gradually improving.

This led to Belgium being ranked as one of the top 10 countries 9 out of in terms of environmental protection trends, and to Belgium being ranked in as the 24th country out of for environmental protection.

Belgium moreover has one of Europe's highest waste recycling rates. In particular, the Flemish region of Belgium has the highest waste diversion rate in Europe.

Almost 75 percent of the residential waste produced there is reused, recycled, or composted. The territory of Belgium is divided into three Regions, two of which, the Flemish Region and Walloon Region , are in turn subdivided into provinces ; the third Region, the Brussels Capital Region , is neither a province nor a part of a province.

Belgium is a constitutional , popular monarchy and a federal parliamentary democracy. The bicameral federal parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives.

The former is made up of 50 senators appointed by the parliaments of the communities and regions and 10 co-opted senators. Prior to , most of the Senate's members were directly elected.

The Chamber 's representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts. Belgium has compulsory voting and thus maintains one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world.

The King currently Philippe is the head of state , though with limited prerogatives. He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government.

The Council of Ministers is composed of no more than fifteen members. With the possible exception of the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers is composed of an equal number of Dutch-speaking members and French-speaking members.

The Court of Cassation is the court of last resort, with the Court of Appeal one level below. Belgium's political institutions are complex; most political power is organized around the need to represent the main cultural communities.

Christian Democrats , Liberals , and Social Democrats. A string of Christian Democrat coalition governments from was broken in after the first dioxin crisis , a major food contamination scandal.

The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from to 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.

Restrictions on withholding euthanasia were reduced and same-sex marriage legalized. The government promoted active diplomacy in Africa [56] and opposed the invasion of Iraq.

Verhofstadt's coalition fared badly in the June elections. For more than a year, the country experienced a political crisis. On that day a new government , led by Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme , the actual winner of the federal elections of June , was sworn in by the king.

On 15 July Leterme announced the resignation of the cabinet to the king, as no progress in constitutional reforms had been made. A few hours later, the new government under Prime Minister Yves Leterme was sworn in.

On 22 April , Leterme again offered the resignation of his cabinet to the king [66] after one of the coalition partners, the OpenVLD , withdrew from the government, and on 26 April King Albert officially accepted the resignation.

By 30 March this set a new world record for the elapsed time without an official government, previously held by war-torn Iraq.

The federal election coinciding with the regional elections resulted in a further electoral gain for the Flemish nationalist N-VA, although the incumbent coalition composed of Flemish and French-speaking Social Democrats, Liberals, and Christian Democrats maintains a solid majority in Parliament and in all electoral constituencies.

It is the first time N-VA is part of the federal cabinet, while the French-speaking side is represented only by the MR, which achieved a minority of the public votes in Wallonia.

Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Habsburg courts, [70] 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.

While the people in Southern Belgium spoke French or dialects of French, and most Brusselers adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in making Dutch an equal language in the education system.

Based on the four language areas defined in —63 the Dutch, bilingual, French and German language areas , consecutive revisions of the country's constitution in , , and established a unique form of a federal state with segregated political power into three levels: The constitutional language areas determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the empowered institutions for specific matters.

The overlapping boundaries of the Regions and Communities have created two notable peculiarities: Conflicts about jurisdiction 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. 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.

It controls substantial parts of public health, home affairs and foreign affairs. Communities exercise their authority only within linguistically determined geographical boundaries, originally oriented towards the individuals of a Community's 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, and so on.

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.

They supervise the provinces, municipalities and intercommunal utility companies. 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.

The treaty-making power of the Regions' and Communities' Governments is the broadest of all the Federating units of all the Federations all over the world.

Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe , Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbours.

With virtually defenceless borders, Belgium has traditionally sought to avoid domination by the more powerful nations which surround it through a policy of mediation.

The Belgians have been strong advocates of European integration. The Belgian Armed Forces have about 47, active troops. The operational commands of the four components are subordinate to the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Ministry of Defence , which is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training , and to the Chief of Defence.

The effects of the Second World War made collective security a priority for Belgian foreign policy. This mission was the first in a long line of UN missions which the Belgians supported.

Belgium's strongly globalized economy [88] and its transport 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 Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs.

The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: Since , through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union , Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union.

Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution , in the early 19th century.

The and 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.

As of [update] , the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to Unemployment rates of 8. By October , this had grown to 8.

Belgium switched to the euro in , with the first sets of euro coins being minted in Belgium experiences some of the most congested traffic in Europe.

In , commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams.

There is a large economic gap between Flanders and Wallonia. Wallonia was historically wealthy compared to Flanders, mostly due to its heavy industries , but the decline of the steel industry post-World War II led to the region's rapid decline, whereas Flanders rose swiftly.

Since then, Flanders has been prosperous, among the wealthiest regions in Europe, whereas Wallonia has been languishing.

As of , the unemployment rate of Wallonia is over double that of Flanders. The divide has played a key part in the tensions between the Flemish and Walloons in addition to the already-existing language divide.

Pro-independence movements have gained high popularity in Flanders as a consequence. Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history.

The 16th 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.

Bakelite was developed in — by Leo Baekeland. In , he started a series of conferences, the Solvay Conferences on Physics and Chemistry, which have had a deep impact on the evolution of quantum physics and chemistry.

Pierre Deligne in and Jean Bourgain in The most densely inhabited area is Flanders. Brussels has 1,, inhabitants in the Capital Region's 19 municipalities , three of which have over , residents.

The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian , , French , , Dutch , , Moroccan 80, , Portuguese 43, , Spanish 42, , Turkish 39, and German 37, Of these, , 6.

Since the modification of the Belgian nationality law in more than 1. The largest group of immigrants and their descendants in Belgium are Moroccans.

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well. French-speaking Belgians are often referred to as Walloons, although the French speakers in Brussels are not Walloons.

Total Dutch speakers are 6. Roughly 23, more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community. Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France.

Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment. Walloon , considered either as a dialect of French or a distinct Romance language , [] [] is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people.

Walloon is divided into four dialects, which along with those of Picard , [] are rarely used in public life and have largely been replaced by French.

Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism , counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics.

Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium's majority religion; being especially strong in Flanders. According to the Eurobarometer , Non religious people comprised the Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position.

In the early s there were approximately 42, Jews in Belgium. The Jewish Community of Antwerp numbering some 18, is one of the largest in Europe, and one of the last places in the world where Yiddish is the primary language of a large Jewish community mirroring certain Orthodox and Hasidic communities in New York, New Jersey, and Israel.

In addition most Jewish children in Antwerp receive a Jewish education. This is particularly the case in eastern Wallonia and areas along the French border.

The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with , people. The Turks are the third largest group, and the second largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering , The Belgians enjoy good health.

According to estimates, the average life expectancy is Death in Belgium is mainly due to heart and vascular disorders, neoplasms , disorders of the respiratory system and unnatural causes of death accidents, suicide.

Non-natural causes of death and cancer are the most common causes of death for females up to age 24 and males up to age Healthcare in Belgium is financed through both social security contributions and taxation.

Health insurance is compulsory. Health care is delivered by a mixed public and private system of independent medical practitioners and public, university and semi-private hospitals.

Health care service are payable by the patient and reimbursed later by health insurance institutions, but for ineligible categories of patients and services so-called 3rd party payment systems exist.

For the first time in Belgian history, the first child was euthanized following the 2 year mark of the removal of the euthanization age restrictions.

The child had been euthanized due to an incurable disease that was inflicted upon the child. Although there may have been some support for the euthanization there is a possibility of controversy due to the issue revolving around the subject of assisted suicide.

Education is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age for Belgians. 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 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.

Despite its political and linguistic divisions , 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.

Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art , the Early Netherlandish , [] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting [] and major examples of Romanesque , Gothic , Renaissance and Baroque architecture [] 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.

The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art. Belgian contributions to architecture also continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, including the work of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde , who were major initiators of the Art Nouveau style.

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.

Contemporary popular music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel have achieved global fame.

Nowadays, singer Stromae has been a musical revelation in Europe and beyond, having great success. In the heavy metal scene, bands like Machiavel , Channel Zero and Enthroned have a worldwide fan-base.

The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry a worldwide fame.

Belgian cinema has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen. Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: Originated in and revived in the s, the Gentse Feesten have become a modern tradition.

Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide.

Contrary to their name, french fries are claimed to have originated in Belgium, although their exact place of origin is uncertain.

The national dishes are " steak and fries with salad", and " mussels with fries ". Since the s, sports clubs and federations are organized separately within each language community.

Belgians hold the most Tour de France victories of any country except France. Philippe Gilbert is the world champion.

Another modern well-known Belgian cyclist is Tom Boonen. With five victories in the Tour de France and numerous other cycling records, Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx is regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

Belgium hosted the European Football Championships , and co-hosted the European Championships with the Netherlands. 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.

Belgium also has a strong reputation in, motocross with the rider Stefan Everts. The Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The flag's official proportions of The Brussels region is the de facto capital, but the City of Brussels municipality is the de jure capital.

Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third.

Of all these, the Belgae are the strongest Politics of Belgium and Belgian federal government. Philippe King of the Belgians since Charles Michel Prime Minister since Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium.

The Low Countries interior design In interior design: Northern Europe ironwork In metalwork: Belgium and Holland tapestry In tapestry: Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.

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Thank you for your feedback. Sign up for our Demystified newsletter and get this free guide. The airport is the base of the national airline Brussels Airlines.

However, if you are really stuck, it is not unusual for taxi drivers to take credit cards. Flights to airports in neighbouring countries might be worth considering, especially to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which has a direct rail link to Brussels , also making stops at Antwerp and Mechelen.

For all high-speed trains, you need to book in advance for cheap fares, either online or using a travel agency. There are no regularly scheduled sleeper trains anymore.

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. Plan your trip with the Deutsche Bahn timetable [18].

It has all domestic and international connections across Europe. You can get to Belgium from all over Europe on Eurolines [20] coaches.

Due to the Bosnian war in the '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 [21] runs three times per week from various destinations in Bosnia and Hercegovina to Belgium and the Netherlands, Off-season approx. Being such a small country 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 [24] , 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.

Antwerp, Brussels and Bruges are located at min train ride from Ghent, with several trains each hour until late. 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.

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 ICE and some Thalys tickets allow free same-day transfers by domestic trains to any other Belgian station.

Both in Lille and Brussels the staff are very helpful and willing to smile. Destinations are listed at stations in the language of the locality.

If travelling from a French-speaking area to Antwerp, it will be listed as 'Anvers', from a Flemish-speaking area 'Antwerpen'. The exception is Brussels, where destinations are listed in both languages.

Only a limited number of international trains and trains to Brussels National Airport are announced in English in the major stations. Announcements on board trains reflect the official language of the region that the train passes through.

In Flanders, all announcements will be in Dutch; similarly in Wallonia, all announcements will be in French. In Brussels, announcements will be in French and Dutch.

On personal request, train staff will help you in French or Dutch, and often also in English, regardless of the region.

When travelling during rush hour, delays between larger cities are to be expected minutes. Nevertheless, delays of more than 30 minutes are extremely rare.

Rush hour trains between major cities and around major cities tend to be very crowded, although standing places are normally available.

Normal fares on Belgian trains are cheap compared to Germany or the UK, with no need nor a possibility to pre-book or reserve.

Seating places can not be reserved on national trains. Trains can get very full during the rush hours, so you might need a 1st class ticket to get a seat at those times, although they also don't garantee seating places.

It's very rare to get train tickets in travel agancies but you can easily buy normal tickets online [26] , on the SNCB application or in stations.

Almost all stations have ticket dispensers only cards and sometimes coins accepted and the bigger ones also have staffed offices cards and cash accepted.

But this is getting rare so be prepared for a supplement. There are many options to buy a ticket so why taking the risk to be charged or to be fined.

Normal tickets are sold for a designated day, so there is no extra validation when you step on a train. There are several possibilities to keep the ticket price low.

It's valid for a year and can be shared with one line per person or given to other people without any restrictions.

A similar ticket for people of 26 or older is called the Rail Pass , also allowing 10 trips within a year.

Also other discount passes for frequent travellers are available. When using these passes make sure you have filled in the line before you get on the train strictly speaking: 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. Another cheap alternative are the weekend tickets.

For example, different options to get a rountrip ticket to Bruges from Brussels any station within Brussels zone: Go Pass 1 yrs: The terms and conditions are however only available in Dutch or French.

The website also offers a searchable timetable, with real time delay information, and a fare calculator [29]. You can also find a map of Belgian railways and stations [30].

As in other European countries, timetables usually change on the second Sunday in December. Those changes are usually limited to introducing a few new train stations and adding a few regular lines.

Next major changes are planned for december , with the new timetable usually being available a few months before [31]. Buses cover the whole country, along with trams and metro in the big cities.

Most routes cover short distances, but it is possible to go from city to city by bus. However, this is much slower and only slightly cheaper than taking a train.

There is also the Kusttram Coast Tramway [32] , which runs for 68 km along almost the whole Flemish seaside from Adinkerke, near the French border, to Knokke-Heist, near the Dutch border.

As such, it is the most convenient way to travel from Oostende to Zeebrugge. Trams run every 10 minutes during the summer and every 20 minutes during the winter.

Note that local transport is provided by different companies: Tickets are cheaper when bought at ticket machines. Most tourists won't 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 centre of Brussels is only about by m long.

Antwerp is much bigger, but a ride on a horse-pulled coach gives a better view than the subway. Belgium has a dense network of modern toll-free motorways, but some secondary roads are poorly maintained.

The only place where you have to pay toll is the Liefkenshoektunnel in Antwerp. This tunnel is a good alternative to circumvent the often congested Kennedytunnel.

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.

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.

Exits will be marked with the word 'Uit' out in Flemish areas, 'Sortie' in French areas and 'Ausfahrt' in German-speaking ones. 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.

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.

Also Belgian roads are always in a state of disrepair. Expect good lighting and bad driving. Belgium traffic is extremely congested, with Brussels and Antwerp ranking number one and two on the list of most congested cities in the world.

Also smaller cities and even rural areas, especially in Flanders, may have a surprising congestion rate.

Belgian traffic is notorious hectic. When stopped by the police you can be obliged to pay the fine immediately, and failing so will result in the impoundment of your car.

Drink driving of only small amounts comes with serious penalties, such as Euros on the spot fine for 0. 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.

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.

The best place for hitchhikers.

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