la Belgique

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Coordonnées : 50°50′N 4°00′E / 50.833°N 4.000°E / 50.833; 4.000

Royaume de Belgique

Devise :  « Eendracht maakt macht »  ( néerlandais )
« L'union fait la force »  ( français )
« Einigkeit macht stark »  ( allemand )
Hymne: 
" La Brabançonne "
( en anglais: "Le brabançon" )
Location of Belgium (dark green) – in Europe (green & dark grey) – in the European Union (green)
Localisation de la Belgique (vert foncé)

– en Europe  (vert & gris foncé)
– dans l' Union européenne  (vert)

Capitale
et plus grande ville
Bruxelles 50°51′N 4°21′E
 / 50.850°N 4.350°E / 50.850; 4.350
Langues officiellesnéerlandais
français
allemand
Religion
(2019 [1] )
Démonyme(s)
Gouvernement Monarchie constitutionnelle parlementaire fédérale [2]
•  Monarque
Philippe
Alexandre De Croo
Corps législatifParlement fédéral
Sénat
Chambre des représentants
Indépendance 
des Pays - Bas
• Déclaré
4 octobre 1830
•  Reconnu
19 avril 1839
Zone
• Le total
30 689 [3]  km 2 (11 849 milles carrés) ( 136e )
• L'eau (%)
0,71 (à partir de 2015) [4]
Population
• Estimation 2020
Neutral increase11 492 641 [5] ( 82e )
• Densité
376/km 2 (973,8/mi carré) ( 22e )
PIB  ( PPA )Estimation 2020
• Le total
575 808 000 000 $ [6] ( 36e )
• Par habitant
50 114 $ [6] ( 18e )
PIB  (nominal)Estimation 2020
• Le total
503 416 000 000 $ [6] ( 26 )
• Par habitant
43 814 $ [6] ( 16e )
Gini  (2020)Positive decrease 25,4 [7]
faible
IDH  (2019)Increase 0,919 [8]
très élevé  ·  17e
MonnaieEuro ( ) ( EUR )
Fuseau horaireUTC +1 ( CET )
• Été ( heure d'été )
UTC +2 ( CEST )
Côté conduitedroit
Indicatif d'appel+32
Code ISO 3166ÊTRE
TLD Internet.être
  1. Les proportions officielles du drapeau de 13:15 sont rarement vues; les proportions de 2:3 ou similaires sont plus courantes.
  2. La région bruxelloise est la capitale de fait , mais la commune de la Ville de Bruxelles est la capitale de droit . [9]
  3. Le domaine .eu est également utilisé, car il est partagé avec d'autres États membres de l'Union européenne.

La Belgique , [A] officiellement le Royaume de Belgique , [B] est un pays d' Europe occidentale . Il est bordé par les Pays - Bas au nord, l' Allemagne à l'est, le Luxembourg au sud-est, la France au sud-ouest et la mer du Nord au nord-ouest. Il couvre une superficie de 30 689 km 2 (11 849 milles carrés) et compte plus de 11,5 millions d'habitants, ce qui en fait le 22e pays le plus densément peuplé du monde et le 6e le plus densément peuplépays d'Europe, avec une densité de 376 par kilomètre carré (970/sq mi). La capitale et la plus grande ville est Bruxelles ; les autres grandes villes sont Anvers , Gand , Charleroi , Liège , Bruges , Namur et Louvain .

La Belgique est un État souverain et une monarchie constitutionnelle fédérale dotée d'un régime parlementaire . Son organisation institutionnelle est complexe et structurée à la fois sur des bases régionales et linguistiques. Il est divisé en trois très autonomes régions : [10] la Région flamande (Flandre) , dans le nord, la Région wallonne (Wallonie) dans le sud et la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale . [11] Bruxelles est la région la plus petite et la plus densément peuplée, ainsi que la région la plus riche en termes de PIB par habitant .

La Belgique abrite deux principales communautés linguistiques : la Communauté flamande néerlandophone , qui constitue environ 60 pour cent de la population, et la Communauté française , qui constitue environ 40 pour cent de la population. Une petite communauté germanophone , au nombre d'environ un pour cent, existe dans les cantons de l' Est . La Région de Bruxelles-Capitale est officiellement bilingue en français et en néerlandais [12] bien que le français soit la langue dominante. [13] La diversité linguistique de la Belgique et les conflits politiques connexes se reflètent dans son système de gouvernance complexe , composé de six gouvernements différents .

Le pays tel qu'il existe aujourd'hui a été créé à la suite de la Révolution belge de 1830 , lorsqu'il fit sécession des Pays - Bas , qui eux-mêmes n'existaient que depuis 1815. Le nom choisi pour le nouvel état est dérivé du mot latin Belgique , utilisé dans Jules César . " Guerres des Gaules ", pour décrire une région voisine dans la période autour de 55 avant notre ère. [14] La Belgique fait partie d'une région connue sous le nom de Pays-Bas , une région historiquement un peu plus grande que le groupe d'États du Benelux , car elle comprenait également des parties du nord de la France. Depuis le Moyen Age, sa situation centrale à proximité de plusieurs grands fleuves a fait de la région une région relativement prospère, liée commercialement et politiquement à ses plus grands voisins. La Belgique a également été le champ de bataille des puissances européennes, ce qui lui a valu le surnom de « champ de bataille de l'Europe », [15] une réputation renforcée au 20e siècle par les deux guerres mondiales .

La Belgique a participé à la révolution industrielle [16] [17] et, au cours du 20e siècle, possédait un certain nombre de colonies en Afrique . [18] Entre 1888 et 1908, Léopold II , roi de Belgique, a perpétré l'un des plus grands massacres de l'histoire de l'humanité dans l'État indépendant du Congo , qui était son domaine privé, et pas encore une colonie de la Belgique. Les estimations du nombre de morts sont contestées, mais des millions de personnes, une partie importante de la population, sont mortes à cause des exportations de caoutchouc et d'ivoire. [19]

La seconde moitié du XXe siècle a été marquée par des tensions croissantes entre les citoyens néerlandophones et francophones alimentées par les différences de langue et de culture et le développement économique inégal de la Flandre et de la Wallonie. Cet antagonisme persistant a conduit à plusieurs réformes de grande envergure , aboutissant à une transition d'un régime unitaire à un régime fédéral au cours de la période allant de 1970 à 1993. Malgré les réformes, les tensions entre les groupes sont restées, voire augmentées ; il existe un séparatisme important notamment chez les Flamands ; il existe des lois linguistiques controversées telles que les municipalités à facilités linguistiques ; [20]et la formation d'un gouvernement de coalition a pris 18 mois après les élections fédérales de juin 2010 , un record mondial. [21] Le chômage en Wallonie est plus du double de celui de la Flandre, en plein essor après la Seconde Guerre mondiale. [22]

La Belgique est l'un des six pays fondateurs de l' Union européenne et sa capitale, Bruxelles, abrite les sièges officiels de la Commission européenne , du Conseil de l'Union européenne et du Conseil européen , ainsi que l'un des deux sièges du Parlement européen. (l'autre étant Strasbourg ). La Belgique est également membre fondateur de la zone euro , de l' OTAN , de l' OCDE et de l' OMC , et fait partie de l'Union trilatérale Benelux et de l' espace Schengen . Bruxelles abrite le siège de nombreuses grandes organisations internationales telles que l'OTAN. [C]

La Belgique est un pays développé , avec une économie avancée à revenu élevé . Il a des niveaux de vie très élevés , une qualité de vie , [23] des soins de santé , [24] une éducation , [25] et est classé comme "très élevé" dans l' indice de développement humain . [26] Il se classe également parmi les pays les plus sûrs ou les plus pacifiques du monde. [27]

Histoire

Antiquité

La Gaule est divisée en trois parties, l'une habitée par les Belges, l'autre par les Aquitains, ceux qui dans leur langue s'appellent les Celtes, dans la nôtre les Gaules, la troisième.

(...) De tous ceux-là, les Belges sont les plus forts (...) .

Jules César , De Bello Gallico, Livre I, Ch. 1

Les Belges étaient les habitants de la partie la plus septentrionale de la Gaule , qui était beaucoup plus grande que la Belgique moderne. César a utilisé le mot latin « Belgique », pour désigner leur pays dans le nord de la Gaule, qui était maintenant une région du nord de la France. [28] La Belgique moderne correspond aux terres des Morini , Menapii , Nervii , Germani Cisrhenani , Aduatuci , et, autour d' Arlon , une partie du pays des Treveri . Tous, à l'exception des Treveri, formaient une "zone de transition" moins influencée par les celtes , au nord de la zone que César traitait comme "Belgique".

Après les conquêtes de César, Gallia Belgica devint le nom latin d'une grande province romaine couvrant la majeure partie du nord de la Gaule, y compris les Treveri. Les zones plus proches de la frontière du Rhin inférieur, y compris la partie orientale de la Belgique moderne, sont finalement devenues une partie de la province frontalière de Germania Inferior , qui a interagi avec les tribus germaniques en dehors de l'empire. Au moment où le gouvernement central est effondré dans l' Empire romain d' Occident , les provinces romaines de Belgica et Germania ont été habitées par un mélange d'une population romanisée et germanique -speaking Franks qui sont venus à dominer l'armée et la classe politique.

Moyen Âge

Au Vème siècle, la région passe sous la domination des rois francs mérovingiens , qui se sont probablement d'abord établis dans le nord de la France. Au VIIIe siècle, le royaume des Francs est gouverné par la dynastie carolingienne , dont le centre du pouvoir se situe autour de l'actuelle Belgique orientale. [29] Le royaume franc avait été divisé de plusieurs manières, mais le traité de Verdun en 843 a divisé l'empire carolingien en trois royaumes, dont les frontières ont eu un impact durable sur les frontières politiques médiévales. La plupart de la Belgique moderne était dans l' Empire du Milieu , plus tard connu sous le nom de Lotharingie , mais le comté côtier de Flandre , à l' ouest de laL'Escaut , est devenu une partie de la Francie occidentale , le prédécesseur de la France . En 870, dans le traité de Meerssen , les terres de la Belgique moderne sont toutes devenues une partie du royaume occidental pendant une période, mais en 880, dans le traité de Ribemont , la Lotharingie est revenue sous le contrôle durable de l' empereur romain germanique . Les seigneuries et évêchés le long de la « Marche » (frontière) entre les deux grands royaumes entretenaient entre eux des liens importants. Le comté de Flandre s'étendit sur l'Escaut jusqu'à l'empire et fut gouverné pendant plusieurs périodes par les mêmes seigneurs que le comté de Hainaut .

Aux XIIIe et XIVe siècles, l'industrie drapière et le commerce sont particulièrement florissants dans le Comté de Flandre et celui-ci devient l'une des régions les plus riches d'Europe. Cette prospérité a joué un rôle dans les conflits entre la Flandre et le roi de France. Célèbre, les milices flamandes ont remporté une victoire surprise à la bataille des Éperons d'or contre une forte force de chevaliers montés en 1302, mais la France a rapidement repris le contrôle de la province rebelle.

Pays-Bas bourguignons et habsbourgeois

Au 15ème siècle, le duc de Bourgogne en France a pris le contrôle de la Flandre, et à partir de là, ils ont unifié une grande partie de ce qui est maintenant le Benelux, les soi-disant Pays-Bas bourguignons . [30] « Belgique » et « Flandre » étaient les deux premiers noms communs utilisés pour les Pays-Bas bourguignons qui étaient le prédécesseur des Pays-Bas autrichiens, le prédécesseur de la Belgique moderne. [31] L'union, s'étendant techniquement entre deux royaumes, a donné à la région une stabilité économique et politique qui a conduit à une prospérité et une création artistique encore plus grandes.

Né en Belgique, l' empereur des Habsbourg Charles V était l'héritier des Bourguignons, mais aussi des familles royales d' Autriche , de Castille et d' Aragon . Avec la sanction pragmatique de 1549, il a donné aux dix - sept provinces plus de légitimité en tant qu'entité stable, plutôt qu'une simple union personnelle temporaire . Il augmenta également l'influence de ces Pays-Bas sur la principauté -évêché de Liège , qui continua d'exister comme une grande enclave semi-indépendante. [32]

Pays-Bas espagnols et autrichiens

La guerre de quatre-vingts ans (1568-1648) a été déclenchée par la politique du gouvernement espagnol envers le protestantisme , qui devenait populaire aux Pays-Bas. Les Provinces-Unies du nord rebelles ( Belgica Foederata en latin , les « Pays-Bas fédérés ») se sont finalement séparées des Pays-Bas du Sud ( Belgica Regia , les « Pays-Bas royaux »). Ces derniers ont été successivement dirigé par l' espagnol ( espagnol Pays - Bas ) et les autrichiens Habsbourgs ( Pays - Bas autrichiens) et comprenait la majeure partie de la Belgique moderne. Ce fut le théâtre de plusieurs conflits plus prolongés pendant une grande partie des 17e et 18e siècles impliquant la France, y compris la guerre franco-néerlandaise (1672-1678), la guerre de neuf ans (1688-1697), la guerre de succession d'Espagne ( 1701-1714), et une partie de la guerre de Succession d'Autriche (1740-1748).

La Révolution française et le Royaume des Pays-Bas

À la suite des campagnes de 1794 dans les guerres de la Révolution française , les Pays-Bas - y compris les territoires qui n'ont jamais été nominalement sous la domination des Habsbourg, tels que le prince-évêché de Liège - ont été annexés par la Première République française , mettant fin à la domination autrichienne dans la région. Une réunification des Pays-Bas en tant que Royaume-Uni des Pays-Bas a eu lieu lors de la dissolution du Premier Empire français en 1814, après l'abdication de Napoléon.

Belgique indépendante

Scène de la Révolution belge de 1830 (1834), par Gustaf Wappers

En 1830, la Révolution belge conduit à la séparation des Provinces du Sud des Pays-Bas et à l'établissement d'une Belgique indépendante catholique et bourgeoise, officiellement francophone et neutre, sous un gouvernement provisoire et un congrès national . [33] [34] Depuis l'installation de Léopold Ier comme roi le 21 juillet 1831, aujourd'hui célébrée comme la fête nationale de la Belgique, la Belgique est une monarchie constitutionnelle et une démocratie parlementaire , avec une constitution laïciste basée sur le code napoléonien . [35]Bien que le droit de vote ait été initialement restreint, le suffrage universel pour les hommes a été introduit après la grève générale de 1893 (avec vote plural jusqu'en 1919) et pour les femmes en 1949.

Les principaux partis politiques du XIXe siècle étaient le Parti catholique et le Parti libéral , le Parti travailliste belge émergeant vers la fin du XIXe siècle. Le français était à l'origine la seule langue officielle adoptée par la noblesse et la bourgeoisie . Il perdit progressivement son importance globale à mesure que le néerlandais devenait également reconnu. Cette reconnaissance est devenue officielle en 1898, et en 1967, le parlement a accepté une version néerlandaise de la Constitution . [36]

La Conférence de Berlin de 1885 a cédé le contrôle de l' État indépendant du Congo au roi Léopold II comme sa possession privée. À partir de 1900 environ, la communauté internationale s'inquiétait de plus en plus du traitement extrême et sauvage de la population congolaise sous Léopold II , pour qui le Congo était principalement une source de revenus provenant de la production d'ivoire et de caoutchouc. [37] De nombreux Congolais ont été tués par les agents de Léopold pour ne pas avoir respecté les quotas de production d'ivoire et de caoutchouc. [38] En 1908, ce tollé conduit l'État belge à assumer la responsabilité du gouvernement de la colonie, désormais appelée Congo belge . [39]Une commission belge en 1919 a estimé que la population du Congo était la moitié de ce qu'elle était en 1879. [38]

Des foules en liesse accueillent les troupes britanniques entrant à Bruxelles , le 4 septembre 1944

L'Allemagne a envahi la Belgique en août 1914 dans le cadre du plan Schlieffen pour attaquer la France , et une grande partie des combats sur le front occidental de la Première Guerre mondiale ont eu lieu dans l'ouest du pays. Les premiers mois de la guerre étaient connus sous le nom de Viol de Belgique en raison des excès allemands. La Belgique a pris le contrôle des colonies allemandes du Ruanda-Urundi (aujourd'hui Rwanda et Burundi ) pendant la guerre, et en 1924, la Société des Nations les a confiées à la Belgique. Au lendemain de la Première Guerre mondiale, la Belgique a annexé les districts prussiens deEupen et Malmedy en 1925, provoquant ainsi la présence d'une minorité germanophone.

Les forces allemandes envahissent à nouveau le pays en mai 1940 , et 40 690 Belges, dont plus de la moitié sont des Juifs, sont tués pendant l' occupation qui s'ensuit et l'Holocauste . De septembre 1944 à février 1945, les Alliés libèrent la Belgique. Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, une grève générale oblige le roi Léopold III à abdiquer en 1951, car de nombreux Belges estiment qu'il a collaboré avec l'Allemagne pendant la guerre. [40] Le Congo belge a obtenu son indépendance en 1960 lors de la crise congolaise ; [41] Le Ruanda-Urundi a suivi avec son indépendance deux ans plus tard. La Belgique rejoint l' OTAN en tant que membre fondateur et a formé le groupe de nations Benelux avec les Pays-Bas et le Luxembourg.

La Belgique est devenue l'un des six membres fondateurs de la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l'acier en 1951 et de la Communauté européenne de l'énergie atomique et de la Communauté économique européenne , créées en 1957. Cette dernière est aujourd'hui devenue l'Union européenne, pour laquelle la Belgique abrite les principales administrations et institutions. , y compris la Commission européenne , le Conseil de l' Union européenne et les sessions extraordinaires et en commission du Parlement européen .

Au début des années 1990, la Belgique a connu plusieurs grands scandales de corruption concernant notamment Marc Dutroux , Andre Cools , l' affaire Dioxine , le scandale Agusta et le meurtre de Karel Van Noppen .

Géographie

Carte du relief de la Belgique

La Belgique partage des frontières avec la France ( 620 km ), l' Allemagne ( 167 km ), le Luxembourg ( 148 km ) et les Pays - Bas ( 450 km ). Sa superficie totale, y compris la superficie de l'eau, est de 30 689 km 2 (11 849 milles carrés). Avant 2018, sa superficie totale était estimée à 30 528 km 2 (11 787 milles carrés). Cependant, lorsque les statistiques du pays ont été mesurées en 2018, une nouvelle méthode de calcul a été utilisée. Contrairement aux calculs précédents, celui-ci comprenait la zone allant de la côte à la laisse de basse mer, révélant que le pays avait une superficie de 160 km 2 (62 milles carrés) plus grande qu'on ne le pensait auparavant. [42][43] Sa superficie à elle seule est de 30 278 km 2 . [44] [ mise à jour nécessaire ] Il se situe entre les latitudes 49°30' et 51°30' N, et les longitudes 2°33' et 6°24' E. [45]

La Belgique compte trois grandes régions géographiques ; la plaine côtière au nord-ouest et le plateau central appartiennent tous deux au bassin anglo-belge, et les hautes terres ardennaises au sud-est à la ceinture orogénique hercynienne . Le bassin parisien atteint une petite quatrième zone à la pointe sud de la Belgique, la Lorraine belge . [46]

La plaine côtière se compose principalement de dunes de sable et de polders . Plus à l'intérieur des terres se trouve un paysage lisse et lentement irrigué par de nombreux cours d'eau, avec des vallées fertiles et la plaine sablonneuse du nord-est de la Campine ( Campine ). Les collines et les plateaux densément boisés des Ardennes sont plus accidentés et rocheux avec des grottes et de petites gorges . S'étendant vers l'ouest jusqu'en France, cette zone est reliée à l'est à l' Eifel en Allemagne par le plateau des Hautes Fagnes , sur lequel le Signal de Botrange forme le point culminant du pays à 694 m. [47] [48]

La Meuse entre Dinant et Hastière
Paysage des Hautes Fagnes près de la frontière allemande

Le climat est tempéré maritime avec des précipitations importantes en toutes saisons ( classification climatique de Köppen : Cfb ), comme la plupart du nord-ouest de l'Europe. [49] La température moyenne est la plus basse en janvier à 3 °C (37,4 °F) et la plus élevée en juillet à 18 °C (64,4 °F). Les précipitations moyennes par mois varient entre 54 mm (2,1 pouces) pour février et avril, à 78 mm (3,1 pouces) pour juillet. [50] Les moyennes pour les années 2000 à 2006 montrent des températures minimales quotidiennes de 7 °C (44,6 °F) et des maximales de 14 °C (57,2 °F) et des précipitations mensuelles de 74 mm (2,9 po); celles-ci sont respectivement d'environ 1 °C et de près de 10 millimètres au-dessus des valeurs normales du siècle dernier. [51]

Phytogéographiquement , la Belgique est partagée entre les provinces d'Europe atlantique et d'Europe centrale de la région circumboréale au sein du royaume boréal . [52] Selon le Fonds mondial pour la nature , le territoire de la Belgique appartient aux écorégions terrestres des forêts mixtes atlantiques et des forêts de feuillus d'Europe occidentale . [53] [54] La Belgique avait un score moyen de 1,36/10 pour l' indice d'intégrité du paysage forestier en 2018 , la classant au 163e rang mondial sur 172 pays. [55]

Provinces

Le territoire de la Belgique est divisé en trois Régions, dont deux, la Région flamande et la Région wallonne , sont à leur tour subdivisées en provinces ; la troisième Région, la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale , n'est ni une province ni une partie de province.

Province nom néerlandais nom français nom allemand Capitale Zone [3] Population
(1er janvier 2019) [5]
Densité ISO 3166-2:BE
[ citation nécessaire ]
Région flamande
 Anvers Anvers Anvers Anvers Anvers 2 876 km 2 (1 110 milles carrés) 1 857 986 647 / km 2 (1,680 / sq mi) VAN
 Flandre Orientale Oost-Vlaanderen Flandre orientale Flandre orientale Gand 3 007 km 2 (1 161 milles carrés) 1 151 064 504/km 2 (1 310/mi²) VOV
 Brabant Flamand Brabant flamand Flamand du Brabant Flämisch-Brabant Louvain 2 118 km 2 (818 milles carrés) 1 146 175 542/km 2 (1 400/mi²) VBR
 Limbourg Limbourg Limbourg Limbourg Hasselt 2 427 km 2 (937 milles carrés) 874 048 361/km 2 (930/mi carré) VLI
 Flandre occidentale Flandre occidentale Flandre occidentale Flandre occidentale Bruges 3 197 km 2 (1 234 milles carrés) 1 195 796 375/km 2 (970/mi carré) VWV
Région wallonne
 Hainaut Henegouwen Hainaut Hennegau Mons 3 813 km 2 (1 472 milles carrés) 1 344 241 353/km 2 (910/mi²) BLANC
 Liege Liège Liege Lüttich Liege 3 857 km 2 (1 489 milles carrés) 1 106 992 288/km 2 (750/mi²) WLG
 Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg Arlon 4 459 km 2 (1 722 milles carrés) 284 638 64/km 2 (170/mi²) WLX
 Namur Nom Namur Namur (Namur) Namur 3 675 km 2 (1 419 milles carrés) 494 325 135/km 2 (350/mi²) WNA
 Brabant wallon Brabant-waal Brabant wallon Brabant wallon Wavre 1 097 km 2 (424 milles carrés) 403 599 368/km 2 (950/mi²) WBR
Région de Bruxelles-Capitale
 Région de Bruxelles-Capitale Bruxelles Hoofdstedelijk Gewest Région de Bruxelles-Capitale Région Bruxelles-Hauptstadt Bruxelles ville 162,4 km 2 (62,7 sq mi) 1 208 542 7 442/km 2 (19 270/mi²) BBR
Le total Belgique Belgique Belge Bruxelles ville 30 689 km 2 (11 849 milles carrés) 11 431 406 373/km 2 (970/mi²)

Politique

La Belgique est un constitutionnel , la monarchie populaire et fédérale de la démocratie parlementaire . Le parlement fédéral bicaméral est composé d'un Sénat et d'une Chambre des représentants . Le premier est composé de 50 sénateurs nommés par les parlements des communautés et des régions et de 10 sénateurs cooptés . Avant 2014, la plupart des membres du Sénat étaient élus directement. Les 150 représentants de la Chambre sont élus au scrutin proportionnel dans 11 circonscriptions . La Belgique a le vote obligatoireet maintient ainsi l'un des taux de participation électorale les plus élevés au monde. [56]

Le roi (actuellement Philippe ) est le chef de l'État , mais avec des prérogatives limitées . Il nomme les ministres, dont un Premier ministre, qui ont la confiance de la Chambre des représentants pour former le gouvernement fédéral . Le Conseil des ministres est composé de quinze membres au plus. A l'exception peut-être du Premier ministre, le Conseil des ministres est composé d'un nombre égal de membres néerlandophones et de membres francophones. [57] Le système judiciaire est fondé sur le droit civil et trouve son origine dans le code napoléonien . La Cour de Cassationest le tribunal de dernier recours, avec les cours d'appel un niveau en dessous. [58]

Culture politique

Les institutions politiques belges sont complexes ; l'essentiel du pouvoir politique s'organise autour de la nécessité de représenter les principales communautés culturelles . [59] Depuis 1970 environ, les principaux partis politiques belges nationaux se sont divisés en composantes distinctes qui représentent principalement les intérêts politiques et linguistiques de ces communautés. [60] Les principaux partis de chaque communauté, bien que proches du centre politique, appartiennent à trois groupes principaux : les démocrates-chrétiens , les libéraux et les sociaux-démocrates . [61] D' autres partis notables ont vu le jour bien après le milieu du siècle dernier, principalement autour de linguistique, nationalistes, ou thèmes environnementaux et récemment plus petits d'une certaine nature libérale spécifique. [60]

Une série de gouvernements de coalition démocrate-chrétienne de 1958 a été rompue en 1999 après la première crise de la dioxine , un scandale majeur de contamination alimentaire . [62] [63] [64] Une « coalition arc-en-ciel » a émergé de six partis : les Libéraux, les Sociaux-démocrates et les Verts flamands et francophones. [65] Plus tard, une « coalition violette » de libéraux et de sociaux-démocrates s'est formée après que les Verts eurent perdu la plupart de leurs sièges aux élections de 2003 . [66]

Le gouvernement dirigé par le Premier ministre Guy Verhofstadt de 1999 à 2007 a atteint un budget équilibré, quelques réformes fiscales , une réforme du marché du travail, une élimination progressive du nucléaire et une législation autorisant des crimes de guerre plus stricts et des poursuites plus clémentes pour usage de drogues douces . Les restrictions sur le refus d' euthanasie ont été réduites et le mariage homosexuel légalisé. Le gouvernement a promu la diplomatie active en Afrique [67] et s'est opposé à l'invasion de l'Irak . [68] C'est le seul pays qui n'impose pas de restrictions d'âge pour l'euthanasie. [69]

La coalition de Verhofstadt s'en sort mal aux élections de juin 2007 . Pendant plus d'un an, le pays a connu une crise politique . [70] Cette crise est telle que de nombreux observateurs spéculent sur une éventuelle partition de la Belgique . [71] [72] [73] Du 21 décembre 2007 au 20 mars 2008, le gouvernement provisoire Verhofstadt III était en fonction. Cette coalition des flamands et démocrates - chrétiens francophones , les Flamands et les libéraux francophones ainsi que les sociaux - démocrates francophonesétait un gouvernement intérimaire jusqu'au 20 mars 2008. [74]

Ce jour-là, un nouveau gouvernement , dirigé par le démocrate-chrétien flamand Yves Leterme , l'actuel vainqueur des élections fédérales de juin 2007 , a prêté serment au roi. Le 15 juillet 2008, Leterme a annoncé la démission du cabinet au roi, car aucun progrès dans les réformes constitutionnelles n'avait été fait. [74] En décembre 2008, il a de nouveau offert sa démission au roi après une crise entourant la vente de Fortis à BNP Paribas . [75] A ce stade, sa démission est acceptée et les chrétiens-démocrates et flamands Herman Van Rompuy was sworn in as Prime Minister on 30 December 2008.[76]

After Herman Van Rompuy was designated the first permanent President of the European Council on 19 November 2009, he offered the resignation of his government to King Albert II on 25 November 2009. A few hours later, the new government under Prime Minister Yves Leterme was sworn in. On 22 April 2010, Leterme again offered the resignation of his cabinet to the king[77] after one of the coalition partners, the OpenVLD, withdrew from the government, and on 26 April 2010 King Albert officially accepted the resignation.[78]

The Parliamentary elections in Belgium on 13 June 2010 saw the Flemish nationalist N-VA become the largest party in Flanders, and the Socialist Party PS the largest party in Wallonia.[79] Until December 2011, Belgium was governed by Leterme's caretaker government awaiting the end of the deadlocked negotiations for formation of a new government. By 30 March 2011, this set a new world record for the elapsed time without an official government, previously held by war-torn Iraq.[80] Finally, in December 2011 the Di Rupo Government led by Walloon socialist Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was sworn in.[81]

The 2014 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. On 22 July 2014, King Philippe nominated Charles Michel (MR) and Kris Peeters (CD&V) to lead the formation of a new federal cabinet composed of the Flemish parties N-VA, CD&V, Open Vld and the French-speaking MR, which resulted in the Michel Government. It was the first time N-VA was part of the federal cabinet, while the French-speaking side was represented only by the MR, which achieved a minority of the public votes in Wallonia.[82]

En mai 2019, les élections fédérales dans la région flamande du nord de la Flandre, le parti d' extrême droite Vlaams Belang , ont enregistré des gains importants. Dans la partie sud francophone de la Wallonie, les socialistes étaient forts. Le parti nationaliste flamand modéré, la N-VA, est resté le plus grand parti au parlement. [83] En juillet 2019, le Premier ministre Charles Michel a été choisi pour occuper le poste de président du Conseil européen . [84] Son successeur Sophie Wilmès a été la première femme Premier ministre de Belgique. Elle dirige le gouvernement par intérim depuis octobre 2019. [85] L'homme politique du Parti libéral flamand Alexander De Crooest devenu le nouveau Premier ministre en octobre 2020. Les partis s'étaient mis d'accord sur le gouvernement fédéral 16 mois après les élections. [86]

Communautés et régions

Communautés :
  Communauté flamande / Zone de langue néerlandaise
  Communauté flamande et française / zone linguistique bilingue
  Communauté française / Zone de langue française
  Communauté germanophone / Zone de langue allemande
Régions:
  Région flamande / Zone de langue néerlandaise
  Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / espace bilingue
  Région wallonne / Zones linguistiques française et allemande

Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Habsburg courts,[87] 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.[88] Late that century, and continuing into the 20th century, Flemish movements evolved to counter this situation.[89]

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.[89] Following World War II, Belgian politics became increasingly dominated by the autonomy of its two main linguistic communities.[90] Intercommunal tensions rose and the constitution was amended to minimize the potential for conflict.[90]

Based on the four language areas defined in 1962–63 (the Dutch, bilingual, French and German language areas), consecutive revisions of the country's constitution in 1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993 established a unique form of a federal state with segregated political power into three levels:[91][92]

  1. The federal government, based in Brussels.
  2. The three language communities:
  3. The three regions:

The constitutional language areas determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the empowered institutions for specific matters.[93] Although this would allow for seven parliaments and governments when the Communities and Regions were created in 1980, Flemish politicians decided to merge both.[94] Thus the Flemings just have one single institutional body of parliament and government is empowered for all except federal and specific municipal matters.[D]

The overlapping boundaries of the Regions and Communities have created two notable peculiarities: the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region (which came into existence nearly a decade after the other regions) is included in both the Flemish and French Communities, and the territory of the German-speaking Community lies wholly within the Walloon Region. 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.[16]

Locus of policy jurisdiction

L'autorité de l'État fédéral comprend la justice, la défense, la police fédérale, la sécurité sociale, l'énergie nucléaire, la politique monétaire et la dette publique, ainsi que d'autres aspects des finances publiques. Les entreprises publiques comprennent le Groupe Poste belge et les Chemins de fer belges . Le gouvernement fédéral est responsable des obligations de la Belgique et de ses institutions fédérales envers l'Union européenne et l'OTAN. Il contrôle des pans importants de la santé publique, des affaires intérieures et des affaires étrangères. [95] Le budget—sans la dette—contrôlé par le gouvernement fédéral s'élève à environ 50 % du revenu fiscal national. Le gouvernement fédéral emploie environ 12% des fonctionnaires. [96]

Communities exercise their authority only within linguistically determined geographical boundaries, originally oriented towards the individuals of a Community's language: culture (including audiovisual media), education and the use of the relevant 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.).[97]

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.[98]

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.[95] Each level of government can be involved in scientific research and international relations associated with its powers. 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.[99][100][101]

Foreign relations

Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe, Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbors. With virtually defenseless 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. Both the European Union and NATO are headquartered in Belgium.

Armed forces

The Belgian Armed Forces have about 47,000 active troops. In 2019, Belgium's defense budget totaled €4.303 billion ($4.921 billion) representing .93% of its GDP.[102] They are organized into one unified structure which consists of four main components: Land Component, or the Army; Air Component, or the Air Force; Marine Component, or the Navy; Medical Component. The operational commands of the four components are subordinate to the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Ministry of Defense, which is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training, and to the Chief of Defense.[103]

The effects of the Second World War made collective security a priority for Belgian foreign policy. In March 1948 Belgium signed the Treaty of Brussels and then joined NATO in 1948. However, the integration of the armed forces into NATO did not begin until after the Korean War.[104] The Belgians, along with the Luxembourg government, sent a detachment of battalion strength to fight in Korea known as the Belgian United Nations Command. This mission was the first in a long line of UN missions which the Belgians supported. Currently, the Belgian Marine Component is working closely together with the Dutch Navysous le commandement de l' Amiral Benelux .

Économie

La Belgique fait partie d'une union monétaire, la zone euro (bleu foncé) et du marché unique de l' UE .
Une représentation proportionnelle des exportations belges, 2019

Belgium's strongly globalized economy[105] 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 2007.[106][107] The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP and high exports per capita.[108] Belgium's main imports are raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, and oil products. Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs.[44]

The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind.[16][109][E] One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies. Since 1922, through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union.[110]

Steelmaking along the Meuse at Ougrée, near Liège

Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 19th century.[111] Areas in Liège Province and around Charleroi rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century in the Sambre and Meuse valley and made Belgium one of the three most industrialized nations in the world from 1830 to 1910.[112][113] However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis, and the region experienced famine from 1846 to 1850.[114][115]

After World War II, Ghent and Antwerp experienced a rapid expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession; it was particularly prolonged in Wallonia, where the steel industry had become less competitive and experienced a serious decline.[116] In the 1980s and 1990s, the economic center of the country continued to shift northwards and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish Diamond area.[117]

By the end of the 1980s, Belgian macroeconomic policies had resulted in a cumulative government debt of about 120% of GDP. As of 2006, the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to 90.30% of GDP.[118] In 2005 and 2006, real GDP growth rates of 1.5% and 3.0%, respectively, were slightly above the average for the Euro area. Unemployment rates of 8.4% in 2005 and 8.2% in 2006 were close to the area average. By October 2010, this had grown to 8.5% compared to an average rate of 9.6% for the European Union as a whole (EU 27).[119][120] From 1832 until 2002, Belgium's currency was the Belgian franc. Belgium switched to the euro in 2002, with the first sets of euro coins being minted in 1999. The standard Belgian euro coins designated for circulation show the portrait of the monarch (first King Albert II, since 2013 King Philippe).

Despite an 18% decrease observed from 1970 to 1999, Belgium still had in 1999 the highest rail network density within the European Union with 113.8 km/1 000 km2. On the other hand, the same period, 1970–1999, has seen a huge growth (+56%) of the motorway network. In 1999, the density of km motorways per 1000 km2 and 1000 inhabitants amounted to 55.1 and 16.5 respectively and were significantly superior to the EU's means of 13.7 and 15.9.[121]

From a biological resource perspective, Belgium has a low endowment: Belgium's biocapacity adds up to only 0.8 global hectares in 2016,[122] just about half of the 1.6 global hectares of biocapacity available per person worldwide.[123] In contrast, in 2016, Belgians used on average 6.3 global hectares of biocapacity - their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they required about eight times as much biocapacity as Belgium contains. As a result, Belgium was running a biocapacity deficit of 5.5 global hectares per person in 2016.[122]

Belgium experiences some of the most congested traffic in Europe. In 2010, commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams.[124] Like in most small European countries, more than 80% of the airways traffic is handled by a single airport, the Brussels Airport. The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge (Bruges) share more than 80% of Belgian maritime traffic, Antwerp being the second European harbor with a gross weight of goods handled of 115 988 000 t in 2000 after a growth of 10.9% over the preceding five years.[121][125] In 2016, the port of Antwerp handled 214 million tons after a year-on-year growth of 2.7%.[126]

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 2007, 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. The separatist New Flemish Alliance(N-VA), par exemple, est le plus grand parti de Belgique. [127] [128] [129]

Science et technologie

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[130][131][132][133] and mathematician Simon Stevin among the most influential scientists.[134]

Chemist Ernest Solvay[135] and engineer Zenobe Gramme (École industrielle de Liège)[136] gave their names to the Solvay process and the Gramme dynamo, respectively, in the 1860s. Bakelite was developed in 1907–1909 by Leo Baekeland. Ernest Solvay also acted as a major philanthropist and gave its name to the Solvay Institute of Sociology, the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry which are now part of the Université libre de Bruxelles. In 1911, 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.[137] A major contribution to fundamental science was also due to a Belgian, Monsignor Georges Lemaître (Catholic University of Louvain), who is credited with proposing the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe in 1927.[138]

Three Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine were awarded to Belgians: Jules Bordet (Université libre de Bruxelles) in 1919, Corneille Heymans (University of Ghent) in 1938 and Albert Claude (Université libre de Bruxelles) together with Christian de Duve (Université catholique de Louvain) in 1974. François Englert (Université libre de Bruxelles) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013. Ilya Prigogine (Université libre de Bruxelles) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.[139] Two Belgian mathematicians have been awarded the Fields Medal: Pierre Deligne in 1978 and Jean Bourgain in 1994.[140][141] Belgium was ranked 22nd in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, up from 23rd in 2019.[142][143][144][145]

Demographics

Population density in Belgium by arrondissement.
Brussels, the capital city and largest metropolitan area of Belgium

As of 1 January 2020, the total population of Belgium according to its population register was 11,492,641.[5] The population density of Belgium is 376/km2 (970/sq mi) as of January 2019, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world, and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe. The most densely populated province is Antwerp, the least densely populated province is Luxembourg. As of January 2019, the Flemish Region had a population of 6,589,069 (57.6% of Belgium), its most populous cities being Antwerp (523,248), Ghent (260,341) and Bruges (118,284). Wallonia had a population of 3,633,795 (31.8% of Belgium) with Charleroi (201,816), Liège (197,355) and Namur (110,939), its most populous cities. The Brussels-Capital Region has 1,208,542 inhabitants (10.6% of Belgium) in the 19 municipalities, three of which have over 100,000 residents.[5]

In 2017 the average total fertility rate (TFR) across Belgium was 1.64 children per woman, below the replacement rate of 2.1; it remains considerably below the high of 4.87 children born per woman in 1873.[146] Belgium subsequently has one of the oldest populations in the world, with an average age of 41.6 years.[147]

Migration

As of 2007, nearly 92% of the population had Belgian citizenship,[148] and other European Union member citizens account for around 6%. The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan (80,579), Portuguese (43,509), Spanish (42,765), Turkish (39,419) and German (37,621).[149][150] In 2007, there were 1.38 million foreign-born residents in Belgium, corresponding to 12.9% of the total population. Of these, 685,000 (6.4%) were born outside the EU and 695,000 (6.5%) were born in another EU Member State.[151][152]

At the beginning of 2012, people of foreign background and their descendants were estimated to have formed around 25% of the total population i.e. 2.8 million new Belgians.[153] Of these new Belgians, 1,200,000 are of European ancestry and 1,350,000[154] are from non-Western countries (most of them from Morocco, Turkey, and the DR Congo). Since the modification of the Belgian nationality law in 1984 more than 1.3 million migrants have acquired Belgian citizenship. The largest group of immigrants and their descendants in Belgium are Moroccans.[155] 89.2% of inhabitants of Turkish origin have been naturalized, as have 88.4% of people of Moroccan background, 75.4% of Italians, 56.2% of the French and 47.8% of Dutch people.[154]


Languages

Estimated distribution of primary languages in Belgium
Dutch
59%
French
40%
German
1%
Bilingual signs in Brussels

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well.[156] As no census exists, there are no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium's three official languages or their dialects.[157] However, various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may provide suggested figures. An estimated 60% of the Belgian population are native speakers of Dutch (often referred to as Flemish), and 40% of the population speaks French natively. French-speaking Belgians are often referred to as Walloons, although the French speakers in Brussels are not Walloons.[F]

The total number of native Dutch speakers is estimated to be about 6.23 million, concentrated in the northern Flanders region, while native French speakers number 3.32 million in Wallonia and an estimated 870,000 (or 85%) in the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.[G][158] The German-speaking Community is made up of 73,000 people in the east of the Walloon Region; around 10,000 German and 60,000 Belgian nationals are speakers of German. Roughly 23,000 more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.[159][160][161][162]

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,[163][164] is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people. Walloon is divided into four dialects, which along with those of Picard,[165] are rarely used in public life and have largely been replaced by French.

Religion

Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism has had an important role in Belgium's politics.[166] However Belgium is largely a secular country as the constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right in practice. During the reigns of Albert I and Baudouin, the Belgian royal family had a reputation of deeply rooted Catholicism.[167]

Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium's majority religion; being especially strong in Flanders. However, by 2009 Sunday church attendance was 5% for Belgium in total; 3% in Brussels,[168] and 5.4% in Flanders. Church attendance in 2009 in Belgium was roughly half of the Sunday church attendance in 1998 (11% for the total of Belgium in 1998).[169] Despite the drop in church attendance, Catholic identity nevertheless remains an important part of Belgium's culture.[167]

According to the Eurobarometer 2010,[170] 37% of Belgian citizens responded that they believe there is a God. 31% answered that they believe there is some sort of spirit or life-force. 27% answered that they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life-force. 5% did not respond. According to the Eurobarometer 2015, 60.7% of the total population of Belgium adhered to Christianity, with Roman Catholicism being the largest denomination with 52.9%. Protestants comprised 2.1% and Orthodox Christians were the 1.6% of the total. Non-religious people comprised 32.0% of the population and were divided between atheists (14.9%) and agnostics (17.1%). A further 5.2% of the population was Muslim and 2.1% were believers in other religions.[171] The same survey held in 2012 found that Christianity was the largest religion in Belgium, accounting for 65% of Belgians.[172]

Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favorable position.[167] Belgium officially recognizes three religions: Christianity (Catholic, Protestantism, Orthodox churches and Anglicanism), Islam and Judaism.[173]

In the early 2000s, there were approximately 42,000 Jews in Belgium. The Jewish Community of Antwerp (numbering some 18,000) 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.[174] There are several Jewish newspapers and more than 45 active synagogues (30 of which are in Antwerp) in the country. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered to be a more religious region than Wallonia, showed that 55% considered themselves religious and that 36% believed that God created the universe.[175] On the other hand, Wallonia has become one of Europe's most secular/least religious regions. Most of the French-speaking region's population does not consider religion an important part of their lives, and as much as 45% of the population identifies as irreligious. This is particularly the case in eastern Wallonia and areas along the French border.

A 2008 estimate found that approximately 6% of the Belgian population (628,751 people) is Muslim. Muslims constitute 23.6% of the population of Brussels, 4.9% of Wallonia and 5.1% of Flanders. The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi. The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with 400,000 people. The Turks are the third largest group, and the second largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering 220,000.[155][176]

Health

University Hospital of Antwerp

The Belgians enjoy good health. According to 2012 estimates, the average life expectancy is 79.65 years.[44] Since 1960, life expectancy has, in line with the European average, grown by two months per year. 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 44.[177]

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.[177] The Belgian health care system is supervised and financed by the federal government, the Flemish and Walloon Regional governments; and the German Community also has (indirect) oversight and responsibilities.[177]

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.[178][179] Excluding assisted suicide, Belgium has the highest suicide rate in Western Europe and one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world (exceeded only by Lithuania, South Korea, and Latvia).[180]

Education

The Central Library of the KU Leuven University

Education is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age for Belgians.[181] Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third highest proportion of 18- to 21-year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%.[182] Though an estimated 99% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy.[165][183] The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium's education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[184] Education being organized separately by each, the Flemish Community scores noticeably above the French and German-speaking Communities.[185]

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.[186]

Culture

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.[16][187][188] Since the 1970s, there are no bilingual universities or colleges in the country except the Royal Military Academy and the Antwerp Maritime Academy.[189]

Fine arts

The Ghent Altarpiece: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (interior view), painted 1432 by van Eyck

Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art, the Early Netherlandish,[190] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting[191] and major examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture[192] 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.[193] Though the Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck flourished in the early 17th century in the Southern Netherlands,[194] it gradually declined thereafter.[195][196]

During the 19th and 20th centuries many original romantic, expressionist and surrealist Belgian painters emerged, including James Ensor and other artists belonging to the Les XX group, Constant Permeke, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte. The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the 1950s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art.[197][198] Multidisciplinary artists Jan Fabre, Wim Delvoye and the painter Luc Tuymans are other internationally renowned figures on the contemporary art scene.

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.[199][200]

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.[201] In the 19th and 20th centuries, there was an emergence of major violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps, Eugène Ysaÿe and Arthur Grumiaux, while Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846. The composer César Franck was born in Liège in 1822. 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 rock/pop music, Telex, Front 242, K's Choice, Hooverphonic, Zap Mama, Soulwax and dEUS are well known. In the heavy metal scene, bands like Machiavel, Channel Zero and Enthroned have a worldwide fan-base.[202]

Belgium has produced several well-known authors, including the poets Emile Verhaeren, Guido Gezelle, Robert Goffin and novelists Hendrik Conscience, Stijn Streuvels, Georges Simenon, Suzanne Lilar, Hugo Claus and Amélie Nothomb. The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1911. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé is the best known of Franco-Belgian comics, but many other major authors, including Peyo (The Smurfs), André Franquin (Gaston Lagaffe), Dupa (Cubitus), Morris (Lucky Luke), Greg (Achille Talon), Lambil (Les Tuniques Bleues), Edgar P. Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry a worldwide fame.[203] Additionally, famous crime author Agatha Christie created the character Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective, who has served as a protagonist in a number of her acclaimed mystery novels.

Belgian cinema has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen.[H] Other Belgian directors include André Delvaux, Stijn Coninx, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne; well-known actors include Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jan Decleir and Marie Gillain; and successful films include Bullhead, Man Bites Dog and The Alzheimer Affair.[204] Belgium is also home to a number of successful fashion designers Category:Belgian fashion designers. For instance, in the 1980s, Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts produced important fashion trendsetters, known as the Antwerp Six.[205]

Folklore

The Gilles of Binche, in costume, wearing wax masks

Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: the country has a comparatively high number of processions, cavalcades, parades, 'ommegangs' and 'ducasses',[I] 'kermesse' and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious or mythological background. The Carnival of Binche with its famous Gilles and the 'Processional Giants and Dragons' of Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons are recognized by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[206]

Other examples are the Carnival of Aalst; the still very religious processions of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Virga Jesse Basilica in Hasselt and Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk in Mechelen; 15 August festival in Liège; and the Walloon festival in Namur. Originated in 1832 and revived in the 1960s, the Gentse Feesten have become a modern tradition. A major non-official holiday is the Saint Nicholas Day, a festivity for children and, in Liège, for students.[207]

Cuisine

Moules-frites or mosselen met friet is a representative dish of Belgium.

Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide.[208] Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, waffles and french fries with mayonnaise. 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".[209][210][211][J]

Brands of Belgian chocolate and pralines, like Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas and Godiva are famous, as well as independent producers such as Burie and Del Rey in Antwerp and Mary's in Brussels.[212] Belgium produces over 1100 varieties of beer.[213][214] The Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has repeatedly been rated the world's best beer.[215][216][217] The biggest brewer in the world by volume is Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Leuven.[218]

Sports

Eddy Merckx, regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time

Since the 1970s, sports clubs and federations are organized separately within each language community.[219] Association football is the most popular sport in both parts of Belgium; also very popular are cycling, tennis, swimming, judo[220] and basketball.[221]

The Belgium national football team have been on the top spot of the FIFA World Rankings ever since September 2018 (first time reached this rank in November 2015).[222] Since the 1990s, the team have been the world's number one for the most years in history, only behind the records of Brazil and Spain.[223] The team's golden generations with the world class players in the squad, namely Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Jean-Marie Pfaff, Jan Ceulemans achieved the bronze medals at World Cup 2018, and silver medals at Euro 1980. Belgium hosted the Euro 1972, and co-hosted the Euro 2000 with the Netherlands.

Belgians hold the most Tour de France victories of any country except France. They have also the most victories on the UCI Road World Championships. Philippe Gilbert is the 2012 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.[224]

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. The Spa-Francorchamps motor-racing circuit hosts the Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix. The Belgian driver, Jacky Ickx, won eight Grands Prix and six 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished twice as runner-up in the Formula One World Championship. Belgium also has a strong reputation in, motocross with the riders Joël Robert, Roger De Coster, Georges Jobé, Eric Geboers and Stefan Everts among others.[225] Sporting events annually held in Belgium include the Memorial Van Damme athletics competition, the Belgian Grand Prix Formula One, and a number of classic cycle races such as the Tour of Flanders and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The 1920 Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp. The 1977 European Basketball Championship was held in Liège and Ostend.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Dutch: België [ˈbɛlɣijə] (About this soundlisten); French: Belgique [bɛlʒik] (About this soundlisten); German: Belgien [ˈbɛlɡi̯ən] (About this soundlisten)
  2. ^ Dutch: Koninkrijk België; French: Royaume de Belgique; German: Königreich Belgien
  3. ^ Belgium is a member of, or affiliated to, many international organizations, including ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CCC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G-10, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MONUSCO (observers), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNECE, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WADB (non-regional), WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO, ZC.
  4. ^ The Constitution set out seven institutions each of which can have a parliament, government and administration. 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.
  5. ^ The richest (per capita income) of Belgium's three regions is the Flemish Region, followed by the Walloon Region and lastly the Brussels-Capital Region. The ten municipalities with the highest reported income are: Laethem-Saint-Martin, Keerbergen, Lasne, Oud-Heverlee, Hove, De Pinte, Meise, Knokke-Heist, Bierbeek."Où habitent les Belges les plus riches?". trends.be. 2010. Archived from the original on 27 August 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  6. ^ Native speakers of Dutch living in Wallonia and of French in Flanders are relatively small minorities that furthermore largely balance one another, hence attributing all inhabitants of each unilingual area to the area's language can cause only insignificant inaccuracies (99% can speak the language). Dutch: Flanders' 6.079 million inhabitants and about 15% of Brussels' 1.019 million are 6.23 million or 59.3% of the 10.511 million inhabitants of Belgium (2006); German: 70,400 in the German-speaking Community (which has language facilities for its less than 5% French-speakers) and an estimated 20,000–25,000 speakers of German in the Walloon Region outside the geographical boundaries of their official Community, or 0.9%; French: in the latter area as well as mainly in the rest of Wallonia (3.321 million) and 85% of the Brussels inhabitants (0.866 million) thus 4.187 million or 39.8%; together indeed 100%.
  7. ^ Flemish Academic Eric Corijn (initiator of Charta 91), at a colloquium regarding Brussels, on 2001-12-05, states that in Brussels 91% of the population speaks French at home, either alone or with another language, and about 20% speaks Dutch at home, either alone (9%) or with French (11%)—After ponderation, the repartition can be estimated at between 85 and 90% French-speaking, and the remaining are Dutch-speaking, corresponding to the estimations based on languages chosen in Brussels by citizens for their official documents (ID, driving licenses, weddings, birth, sex, and so on); all these statistics on language are also available at Belgian Department of Justice (for weddings, birth, sex), Department of Transport (for Driving licenses), Department of Interior (for IDs), because there are no means to know precisely the proportions since Belgium has abolished 'official' linguistic censuses, thus official documents on language choices can only be estimations. For a web source on this topic, see e.g. General online sources: Janssens, Rudi
  8. ^ Notable Belgian films based on works by Flemish authors include: De Witte (author Ernest Claes) movie by Jan Vanderheyden and Edith Kiel in 1934, remake as De Witte van Sichem directed by Robbe De Hert in 1980; De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (Johan Daisne) André Delvaux 1965; Mira ('De teleurgang van de Waterhoek' by Stijn Streuvels) Fons Rademakers 1971; Malpertuis (aka The Legend of Doom House) (Jean Ray [pen name of Flemish author who mainly wrote in French, or as John Flanders in Dutch]) Harry Kümel 1971; De loteling (Hendrik Conscience) Roland Verhavert 1974; Dood van een non (Maria Rosseels) Paul Collet and Pierre Drouot 1975; Pallieter (Felix Timmermans) Roland Verhavert 1976; De komst van Joachim Stiller (Hubert Lampo) Harry Kümel 1976; De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (Hendrik Conscience) Hugo Claus (a famous author himself) 1985; Daens ('Pieter Daens' by Louis Paul Boon) Stijn Coninx 1992; see also Filmarchief les DVD!s de la cinémathèque (in Dutch). Retrieved on 7 June 2007.
  9. ^ The Dutch word 'ommegang' is here used in the sense of an entirely or mainly non-religious procession, or the non-religious part thereof—see also its article on the Dutch-language Wikipedia; the Processional Giants of Brussels, Dendermonde and Mechelen mentioned in this paragraph are part of each city's 'ommegang'. The French word 'ducasse' refers also to a procession; the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'.
  10. ^ Contrarily to what the text suggests, the season starts as early as July and lasts through April.

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Bibliography

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(Several editions in English, incl. (1997) 7th ed.)

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