About Belgium

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What is Belgium?

Belgium is a federal monarchy in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters as well as those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.  It is bordered by the North Sea, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg.

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Who lives there?

Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups: the Dutch-speaking, mostly Flemish community, and the French-speaking. Additionally, there is a small group of German-speakers that are officially recognized. 

The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region. A German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of government.

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When did it all start?

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.

From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, the area of Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, causing it to be dubbed the "Battlefield of Europe," a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.

 

Wars

Belgium (neutral country) has been invaded twice by Germany in World War I and World War II.  In World War I, approximately 16 million people where killed, almost 10 million of them died in Belgium. 

Until the Belgian independance in 1830, the region of Belgium was occupied by the Romans, several times by France, Austria and Spain.

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Politics

The Politics of Belgium is softly speaking very complex.  The chamber election in 2010 caused a crisis and the government formation took 541 days, a world record.  In short, the French-speaking part of Belgium voted for the left winged Socialists and the Flemisch-speaking part voted for the right winged Nationalists.  The Socialists defend the unity and the Nationalists want to seperate and split the country.  So, there is a possibility that Belgium as we know it will cease to exist.

Here's a great animation of how things works in Belgium:

 

Things we would like to erase

 

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Congo Free State

The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa that was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians.  Under false pretences and with the help of Henry Morton Stanley, he procured the region by convincing the international community that he was involved in humanitarian and philanthropic work.  The state included the entire area of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo and existed from 1885 to 1908. Leopold's reign in the Congo eventually earned infamy due to the increasingly brutal mistreatment of the local people and plunder of natural resources. Leopold extracted ivory, rubber, and minerals in the upper Congo basin for sale on the world market, even though his nominal purpose in the region was to uplift the local people and develop the area. Under Leopold II's administration, the Congo Free State became one of the greatest international scandals of the early 20th century. Leopold was never prosecuted, although excess deaths are believed to number up to 10 million.  Also, a remarkable fact is that Leopold had never set a foot in Congo in his life. 

But, the colonization had a good side too. Belgium had a great deal in the development of education and health care of former Congo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State

The Dutroux Case

Belgian criminal, serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, child molester, torturer, pedophile.

Due to flaws, the amateurism and the incompetence of the Belgian criminal justice system, it took long before he got caught.

In the past, this man was already a convicted sex offender.  The police was tipped about the activities of the psychopath and failed to find 2 girls imprisoned in his basement while doing a home search, even after they heard their cries.  After this, he continued kidnapping children.  2 Children starved to death in his basement while he was in prison for theft.  His wife was aware the children where locked up, she fed their dog but not the girls.  When he got caught another 2 locked up children where saved.  In 1997, about 8 months after his arrest he managed to escape for a few hours.  The trial began in 2004 and he was sentenced to life.  His wife was sentenced for 30 years and has been released in 2012 after 16 years of prison...

The scandals in this case has caused a reorganisation of the Belgium's law enforcement agencies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Dutroux

 

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