Main events in Modern History


In short: Under command of King Albert I the Belgian army halt the enemy at the river Yser near by the North Sea during the first World War (1914-1918). The second World War (1940-1945), king Leopold III decided to capitulate 18 days after the German invasion (May 1940).

Although the great powers forced Belgium to remain neutral when it became independent, it couldn’t escape World War I (1914-1918). The Belgian army under the command of King Albert I (1909 – 1934) was too small a match for the Germans, it nevertheless could manage to halt the enemy at the river Yser. Belgium suffered greatly during the war. The Yser region was laid waste.

The years after the war were very difficult. The international economic crisis affected the country. When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the dangers posed by that country rose again. From 1936 onwards Belgium took a neutral stance, just as it had done before the 1914 – 1918 war, but Germany invaded again on May 10th, 1940. After 18 days king Leopold III (1934 – 1951) decided to capitulate. This decision provoked a rupture with the government. After the war the royal question dominated politics. In 1951 Leopold III abdicated in favour of his son Baudouin I. This king reigned until his death in 1993. On August 9th, 1993 his brother Albert II became the sixth King of the Belgians.

The actual king of the Belgians is king Philippe[; born 15 April 1960. He is the seventh King, having ascended the throne on 21 July 2013, following his father, King Albert II’s abdication. He married Countess Mathilde d’Udekem d’Acoz,  now Queen Mathilde, with whom he has four children, Elisabeth, Emmanuël, Gabriel and Eléonore. Princess Elisabeth is first in the line of succession.

King Albert II

Koning Phillip I, koningin Mathilde, prinses Elisabeth, prins Emmanuel, prins Gabriël and prinses Eléonore

A federal state

Belgium has a Dutch, a French and a German speaking part. The communities form a federal state

The question of relations between the communities has played a highly important part in recent Belgian history. Following four state reforms Belgium was transformed into a federal state. Belgium is now a federal state comprising three communities, three regions, and four language areas. For each of these subdivision types, the subdivisions together make up the entire country; in other words, the types overlap.

The language areas were established by the Second Gilson Act (1963). The division into language areas was included in the Belgian Constitution in 1970. Through constitutional reforms in the 1970s and 1980s, regionalisation of the unitary state led to a three-tiered federationfederal, regional, and community governments were created, a compromise designed to minimize linguistic, cultural, social, and economic tensions.

Taalgebieden en provincies

The political scene is also dominated by economic problems and increased internationalisation. Belgium played an important role in the creation of the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union, the Benelux and the European Union. As a member of the United Nations, and in the service of world peace, Belgium often sends its troops on peace missions or sends its observers to areas over the world.

Recent data

Belgium has a population of about 11,3 million people. The capital of the country is Brussels. The city is also capital of the EU and the location of the headquarters of the NATO. Belgium is member of the Eurozone (currency = Euro).

Most recent information via:

Geographical size – population – gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in PPS

Capital: Brussels

Geographical size: 30 528 km2

Population: 11 311 117 (2016)

Population as % of total EU: 1.7 % (2016)

Gross domestic product (GDP): € 421.611 billion (2016)

Official EU language(s): Dutch, French and German

Political system: federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

EU member country since: 1 January 1958

Seats in the European Parliament: 21

Currency: Euro. Member of the eurozone since 1 January 1999

Schengen area member: : Yes, Schengen Area member since 26 March 1995.

Information in other languages:

(French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Bahasa)

Belgium has a literacy rate of 99%

The life expectancy is 78.6

85% of Belgians live in towns and cities

Nearly 80% of the population of Belgium is Roman Catholic but there are several other religions in the country, all of which receive government subsidies

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