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Flanders refers to a region in Belgium. The Flemish region, also known as Flanders, is located at the northern part of Belgium occupying an area of approximately 5,221 square miles (approximately 44% of Belgium) and inhabited mainly by the Dutch speaking community. The region is divided into five provinces with a total of 300 municipalities. Dutch is the official language of the Flemish region although French is also used as an administrative language. The region has around 7.9 million inhabitants (68.5% of the Belgian population).
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Brief history of Flanders
The county of Flanders was formed in 862 as a feudal fiefdom of the Kingdom of the West Franks (replaced by the Kingdom of France). In the 12th century, the western districts of the county came under French rule, while the other parts fell under the department of Hainaut. Flanders became part of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830.
When the region was conquered by Julius Ceasar, he considered it a less economically developed part of Gallia Belgica. When the Roman Empire was formed, the entire Gallia Belgica which included the future countries of Brabant and Flanders became an administrative province.
Geography and administrative divisions of Flanders
Flanders is the northern part of Belgium. It shares its southern border with Wallonia while the rest of the border is shared with France to the west, the Netherlands to the north and east, and the North Sea. Brussels is an enclave of the Flemish Region. Flanders is entirely located in the blue banana. The three largest cities in the region are Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp (the largest city with a population of around 500,000 people).
Although Brussels is part of the Flemish Community, it is not part of the Flemish Region. Flanders is divided into 5 provinces, namely Antwerp, Limburg, East Flanders, West Flanders and Flemish Brabant. The provinces are further divided into 22 arrondissements and 308 municipalities or towns. The Flemish Community includes both Brussels-capital and the Flemish regions.
Flemish political parties have historically reflected the looting of the Flemish Community. The traditional political parties have been the Socialist Party-differently, Open Vld, and the Christian Democrats and Flemish. However, other political parties were founded in the region, including the Nationalist People’s Union and the Flemish Bloc. Some inhabitants of Flanders consider it more than a geographical region and support its independence. However, the majority of the people oppose the call for independence.
Flanders had a total GDP of £ 165,847 billion in 2004 and the GDP per capita at PPP was 23% above the EU average. The region has a higher per capita level and salaries than Wallonia. The Flemish Region is considered to be the first region in continental Europe to have undergone the industrial revolution. The region’s economy is export-oriented, with the main exports being food products and automobiles. Antwerp has the largest diamond market in the world, with diamonds representing 10% of Belgian exports.
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