During the 1960’s, Belgium’s growth reached its maximum peak within the century. This was thanks to many factors.

(Kegels, 2015)

In this graph we can visually represent the growth rate of the GDP per capita throughout the second half of the XX th century. As we can see, the Real GDP per capita grew a lot between 1961 and 1964 before it started to fall.

  • It recovered during the second half of the decade, until it reached its peak in the period 1968-1969. However, this peak led to a drastic fall, which was probably caused due to several economic factors, the main one being the oil crisis.
  • During the 1980’s, as can be seen in the article regarding this economic period, the Economy of Belgium tried to recover from the downfall, which is the reason why there are a lot of fluctuations but without great deviations from the trend.

In 1993 we can see that the growth decreases greatly, which is probably related to the tense social climate at the time, due to the modification of the Belgian Constitution. After this downfall, the growth rate has recovered, with the exception of the year 2009, which is exactly one year after the 2008 crisis which affected most States.

Firstly, output growth accelerated; labor and capital became really efficient; investment increased, starring a boom in this decade; and the openness of the economy, which led to a high level of exports, also contributed to this golden period.

Regarding the last factor, the performance on international markets led to a division of Belgian sectors: the open sector, which was the manufacturer sector and was dedicated to the transformation of raw materials, and the sheltered sector, which included construction, transport and services sectors.

Moreover, there was an increase in government spending which led to a higher control by the government. The Belgian State expected to control that high level of spending. However, it was forced to borrow through the School Pact of 1958.

A main characteristic of this period is the high dynamism of the Belgian economy. This was thanks to its membership of the EEC, which supposed an abolition of all the barriers that the country had had to face in previous periods.

Besides, there was an exponential increase of foreign investment in Flanders, leading to an increase in output and income in this region. The opposite happened with Wallonia, which was hardly damaged by the Belgian adherence to the ECSC. This was because the organization forced Belgium to reduce the production of coal.

In 1959, the Expansion Laws were created in order to stimulate inward and domestic investment through the guarantee of loans and interest subsidies among other facts.

In relation to the labor market, there were an increase in negotiations between trade unions and employers. Consequently, there was an increase in social security development. Furthermore, all the factors explained before contributed to a decrease in unemployment, something which enhanced the bargain power of employees, who achieved an increase in wages.

Captura de pantalla 2018-12-11 15.13.47

(Centre for Economic Policy Research, 1996)

In this graph we can see the division between the open and sheltered sectors of the economy, and we can see that the growth rate of output during the golden sixties affected both sectors, but had a greater impact in the Open one.

  • The most interesting fact about this graph is how the Open sector is severely changed when other States were affected by a specific event. As an example, if we look at the years of the oil crisis, more specifically at the years 1974-1976, we can see that the Sheltered sector had minor fluctuations while the Open sector suffered greatly, reaching its worse economic growth rate in the period.

In conclusion, we can say that thanks to these factors, the economy of Belgium excelled during this period. However, it does not imply that the economy of the country continued with this growth trend, as demonstrated by the analysis of the graphs. For further information: 2.3. OIL CRISIS


  1. Kegels, B. B. (2015). Labour productivity growth in Belgium . Brussels: Federal Planning Bureau. Obtenido de https://www.plan.be/admin/uploaded/201510021314080.WP_1506_11090.pdf
  2. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press


  1. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press


During the 1930’s, Belgium suffered an economic depression in which economic growth was very low, due to a very small variation in output. However, the most important factor was that Belgium’s adherence to gold started having negative consequences, which led to the abandonment of this system. This was due to two facts: The crack of the stock market of 1929 and that Britain left the Gold Standard earlier than Belgium.

It did have certain good structural factors which aided future economic growth: the development of human capital (through an increase in scholarization), and the incorporation of the socialist government in 1935, which tried to apply policies to regulate the situation, and a stable foreign exchange position.

The 1940’s in Belgium, more known as the Belgian miracle, are characterized by the good economic position of the country. This good position meant that Belgium hardly needed aid from the Marshall Plan (initially).  

Domestic production was really high, due to the fact that it satisfied the postwar demand through the sale of coal, metal, glass or cement (among other resources).

(Public domain)

In order not to lose control over the currency, the interest rate was high. This also prevented  industrial borrowing.

During this decade, energy and labor costs (both wages and Social Security costs) for firms started increasing. The recovery of the rest of Europe from World War Two meant that Belgium’s demand started falling, and its economy could not face this increasing costs.

(Pahissa, 2018)

However, over 1950 (the silver fifties), the country needed to ask for direct aid in order to finance consumption and production and to maintain social peace. This aid ended up going almost entirely to  the coal sector, because it favored the economy in the short-term and kept the population satisfied, and did not go to long-term economic measures such as financing investment.


The 1950’s were a time of economic splendor for Belgium (not as big as during the 1960’s), since the economy started opening up more to trade, savings increased, and the first international Belgian companies started emerging and investing in the Congo.

However, the region of Wallonia started losing economic stability due to the downfall of the coal industry, and the government was not able to attend to economic matters since it had to deal with the royal and scholar question during this decade, which could explain why the economy did not grow as much as it did during the 1960’s.


  1. Pahissa, E. (2018, May 25). MEJORA TU COMPETITIVIDAD DE LA MANO DE UNA STARTUP: NUEVOS MODELOS COLABORATIVOS EN ENTORNOS INDUSTRIALES. Retrieved from Amec: http://www.amec.es/evento/mejora-competitividad-la-mano-una-startup-nuevos-modelos-colaborativos-entornos-industriales/


  1. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press


  1. Murphy, A. B., Van der Wee, H. F., Doucy, A. J., Lamberts, E. L., Materné, J. M., Van Molle, L., & Britannica, T. E. (2018, December 10). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from Belgium: https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgium/Belgium-and-World-War-I


The United Nations is a cooperation international organization created in 1945 to which Belgium joined since its creation date. It was created in San Francisco and nowadays is headquartered in New York City. Its main purposes are ‘peace and security, development, human rights, humanitarian assistance, disarmament and international law’. (United Nations, 1945)

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Nations.svg       800px-Emblem_of_the_United_Nations.svg

           (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2018)

               (United Nations flag and emblem)

One of the most powerful bodies within this organization is the Security Council, with ‘primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.’ This organ is composed by fifteen State members, being five of them permanent. Belgium has been one of the non-permanent members of the Security Council many times. Moreover, Belgium has had representatives in several committees of the General Assembly.  (United Nations, 1945)

As a sign of its commitment to the principles and values ​​of the organization, Belgium is very focused in everything which concerns human rights. For this reason, the State was elected on 2015 to occupy the position in the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2016-2018.

Regarding the economic part of the organization, Belgium is one of the main contributors to the budget of the United Nations with a contribution of 21,511,757 $ in 2018 representing the 0.998% of the whole budget, reaching the 18th position as largest contributor.

unSomething remarkable is the inactivity of Belgium in peacekeeping operations. After the intervention in Korea in 1950, it did not operate any more until 1990 in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, where ten Belgian members of the blue helmets were killed.


(Boyle, 2014)

As a conclusion, Belgium is a quite responsible State which has always tried to fulfill with the main objectives of the United Nations and with its duties within the organization, as it has shown several times along History.


  1. Boyle, R. (2014, 11 25). Belgian peacekeepers to return home from Lebanon. Retrieved from The Bulletin: https://www.google.es/searchq=belgium+in+peacekeeping+operations&rlz=1C1WPZA_enES716ES718&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjorWI3pDfAhXJsqQKHRGuCtQQ_AUIDigB&biw=1366&bih=608#imgrc=9SBmgSWAXCHrAM
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, December 10). United Nations. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations


  1. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, December 10). United Nations. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations
  2. New York UN. (n.d.). Belgium in the UN. Retrieved from Permanent Mission of Belgium to the UN: https://newyorkun.diplomatie.belgium.be/belgium-at-the-un/belgium-in-the-un


  1. United Nations. (1945). Chapter V: The Security Council. June: 26. Retreived from United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-v/index.html


Belgium has become a very important State regarding International Law for its active participation in many International Organizations.

Before Brussels became the headquarters to the European Union, Belgium was also a relevant Member State of NATO, Euratom, and the ECSC.


NATO: The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created through the ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. Belgium was one of its 10 founding members. To this day, Belgium has continued supporting the NATO and its core objectives, which include the promotion of peace and stability among its members, through the handling of crisis, the mutual defense of its members, and the cooperation in the area of international protection.

Its headquarters were originally established in London, but they were transferred to Paris in 1952. However, since France withdrew from the military structure in 1966, the headquarters is settled in Belgium.

  • ECSC. The European Coal and Steel Community was created in 1951 through the Treaty of Paris and Belgium was one of its original members. All of the members of the Benelux joined the ECSC. Its main objective was: ‘to supervise its members reduction of their excess production of coal as that mineral was replaced by petroleum as an industrial fuel’ since 1962. However, its original objective was ‘to create a common market for coal and steel’ for its Member States. (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016)

Given the importance of the coal industry in Belgium, it originally was one of the members which generated a lot of output, which was specially notorious after the Second World War. However, it forced the region of Wallonia to decrease the production of coal during the 1960’s, which damaged the economy of the region.

  • Euratom 2_0
    (European Commission)

    Euratom: The European Atomic Energy Community was created in 1957 through the Euratom Treaty. It was established by the ECSC. It is an International Organization which establishes a common market for nuclear resources. Since nowadays it is regulated by the EU organs, Belgium also plays an important role in the organization, and it was one of its founding members. It also tries to ensure the ‘secure access to nuclear materials and technology for peaceful uses and research.’ (Institute for Government, n.d.)

  • EEC: The European Economic Community was also created in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome. All the topics which this organization is  involved in are related to economy. Among its objectives we can point out the establishment of a common market, fixing a common tariff, and a shared agricultural policy. After the signature of the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, this organization was renamed as the European Commission (EC). This year, The ECSC, Euratom and EC (previously ECC) became components of the new EU.


  1. European Commission. (n.d.). Euratom. Retrieved December 2018, from European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/euratom#Article
  2. NATO. (n.d.). Retrieved from North Atlantic Treaty Organization: https://www.nato.int/


  1. Leboutte, R. (2017). 14 Coal Mining, Foreign Workers and Mine Safety: Steps towards European Integration, 1946-85. In A. Croll, Towards a Comparative History of Coalfield Societies. Routledge.


  1. Institute for Government. (n.d.). Euratom. Retrieved December 2018, from Institute for Government: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/euratom


  1. Institute for Government. (n.d.). Euratom. Retrieved December 2018, from Institute for Government: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/euratom
  2. Gabel, M. (2018, September). European Community. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/topic/European-Community-European-economic-association
  3. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2016, March 15). European Coal and Steel Community. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/topic/European-Coal-and-Steel-Community


Flanders was well known for its textile sector, and became a major exporter of textile goods. However it became outshined during the industrial revolution by the incredible peak of Wallonia’s economy.

While Wallonia’s economy grew, its Flemish counterpart started having slower growth rates in output and yielded decreasing levels of benefit. Its inflection point came when Wallonia’s economy started its downfall.

Flanders was able to adapt to change and technological evolution, and managed to take the reins of Belgian economy. Its rise to power began with the transition to Service economies. As strategic planning and communication infrastructure began taking importance in the business world, Flanders was considered as a key localization for trade.



This has to do with Belgian geography more than with the economic progress of its regions. Flanders is located in an area which favors the movement of people and goods. Its terrain is plane which allows for great terrestrial transport; its shore gives access to the North sea, and for that reason the region of Flanders has four of the most influential harbors in Western Europe (Antwerp; Ghent; Zeebrugge; Ostend).



The previous photo clearly shows that the region of Flanders is closer to sea level and less mountainous than the region of Wallonia, which geographically coincides with the Ardennes.


(Jacobsen, Willeghems, Gellynck, & Buysse, 2014) The map shows that Flanders is close to the sea: it flows directly into the sea.

This strategic location has attracted foreign multinationals, something which has helped improve Flemish economy vastly. Since Belgium’s economy is focused on the production of semi-finished goods, Flanders’ main activities are: the chemical sector, the automobile sector, and the aforementioned textile sector.




  1. Jacobsen, R., Willeghems, G., Gellynck, X., & Buysse, J. (2014, April). Figure 1. Retrieved from Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Map-of-Belgium-Flanders-is-the-northern-part_fig1_263285449
  2. Ginkgomaps. (n.d.). Belgium. Retrieved from Ginkgo Maps: http://www.ginkgomaps.com/maps_belgium.html


  1. Berentsen, W. H., Danta, D., Diem, A., Hoffman, G., Malmström, V., Poulsen, T. M., . . . ZumBrunnen, C. (2000). Bélgica. In W. H. Berentsen, D. Danta, A. Diem, G. Hoffman, V. Malmström, T. M. Poulsen, . . . C. ZumBrunnen, Europa Contemporánea: Un análisis geográfico (pp. 345-354). Barcelona: Ediciones Omega, S.A.







The European Union is an integration International Organization which derives from the ECSC, Euratom and the EC, and originated to promote peace, stability and cooperation among European States. Its implications have been vast, since it has implied the establishment of an area of free movement of people, capital, and labor, and the creation of the Eurozone, an area in which States share a common currency, among other things.

(Public domain)


As a member, Belgium received in 2017 7.3 million € from the EU, and its contribution to the EU was of 2.9 million €. It became part of the Euro-zone in 1999, and its commercial structure has been transformed radically since it became a member of the EU.


However, this article focuses on the implications the EU has had in Belgium, more specifically in Brussels. Brussels is known globally for being the headquarters to the European Union. The impact that this has had in the region of Brussels is immense.

Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union. Its main organs are situated there. Given these characteristics, it is logical that it is a very cosmopolitan city and metropoli.

(Public domain)

As a curiosity, we can see that both the old (second flag) and new flag (first flag) of Brussels share the color palette of the EU flag (navy blue and yellow), which helps symbolize that Brussels is its de facto capital

If we look at its labor structure, we can see that Brussels has followed the tendency of tertiarization of the economy, since nowadays, as of 2016, 90.5% of its economic structure is associated to third sector activities. The population of the Brussels-Capital region in 2015 was of 1,175,173 residents, of which the 33% had a different nationality from the Belgian one.

Specifically in the Brussels-Capital region, 14.5% of those jobs were related to public administration, 9.3% were related to commerce, and 7.5% to administrative and support services. This is a consequence of Brussels being de facto capital of the EU and being a capital of the State. However, if we account for the percentage of workers which work in international institutions, it corresponds to 16.7% of the employment of the region, which is equivalent to 121,000 job positions.


(Public domain)

Some of the buildings of the  European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Council are located in Brussels, which is why we say that Brussels is the European Union’s de facto capital.

This data allows us to see numerically the impact that the EU has had not only in Brussels, but in the region of Brussels. Thanks to the installation of headquarters in Brussels, its economy has developed and transformed, which has also modified the economic progress of Belgium.


  1.  Brussels.info. (s.f.). European Institutions in Brussels. Obtenido de Brussels.info: https://www.brussels.info/institutions/
  2. Commissioner Brussels. (n.d.). BRUSSELS-EUROPE, THE FIGURES 2016. Retrieved from Commissioner Brussels: http://www.commissioner.brussels/i-am-an-expat/news/item/625-brussels-europe-in-figures
  3. McNally, P. (2016, January 13). Brussels by numbers: Facts and figures for a truly international city. Retrieved from The Bulletin: https://www.thebulletin.be/brussels-numbers-facts-and-figures-truly-international-city
  4. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (21 de September de 2018). Brussels and the European Union. Obtenido de Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brussels_and_the_European_Union


Belgium was one of the countries which, with Britain, initiated the industrialization process. Since it industrialized so fast, Belgium had periods of great economic growth before World War One and during the interwar period.

This was mainly reflected in the economic development of the region of Wallonia. It became a structural pillar of Belgian economy, since the region had most of the materials necessary for the industrial sector to prosper, such as coal, glass and steel mines.

(Mattes-Harris, 2010)


(Coal miners in Wallonia XIXth century. Photo: Rosewood Scrub Historical Society. Picture Ipswich, Ipswich City Council).



However, the substitution of coal by other energy sources such as petrol, initiated the downfall of Wallonia. Wallonia ceased to be the hub of Belgian trade, leaving the road free to other areas such as Flanders.

Nowadays, it has progressed thanks to EU aids, its capacity to attract foreign companies, and the evolution of the axis composed by the cities of Charleroi, Namur, and Liège (Charleroi-Namur-Liège). Out of these three we should highlight the city of Charleroi and the evolution of the area surrounding the Aeropole airport.

Nonetheless, in a world of constant evolution and change, having a great initial phase of progress does not guarantee eternal economic growth. The previous conditions considered as  prosperity warranting have become outdated and archaic. If one does not adapt to the modern world, it will be replaced by those who do.


  1. Mattes-Harris, A. (2010, November 11). Proud legacy of Queensland’s coal mining heyday. Retrieved from Dvision 10 News: https://councillordavidpahlkenews.com/2010/11/11/proud-legacy-of-queenslands-coal-mining-heyday-2/


  1. Berentsen, W. H., Danta, D., Diem, A., Hoffman, G., Malmström, V., Poulsen, T. M., . . . ZumBrunnen, C. (2000). Bélgica. In W. H. Berentsen, D. Danta, A. Diem, G. Hoffman, V. Malmström, T. M. Poulsen, . . . C. ZumBrunnen, Europa Contemporánea: Un análisis geográfico (pp. 345-354). Barcelona: Ediciones Omega, S.A.




Before the Second World War, Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands had thought about the creation of a common policy, but it did not crystallize. During the war, these three States took the idea of cooperation more seriously in order to rebuild the countries.


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– Logo and flag: (Public domain)// Map: ( Информационна агенция “КРОСС”, 2012)

          From left to right, the three members of the Benelux, the flag, and the logo

Benelux was created in 1944 in London, where the representatives of the three States were exiled, through the signature of the treaty of the London Customs Convention, which established the Benelux Customs Union.

Four years later, in 1948, Benelux entered into force. That year was the beginning of the period of European integration for the three States, which was the main purpose of the union, as well as fortifying the relations among them.

Benelux is an economic and customs union headquartered in Brussels. Additionally, Benelux constitutes a common social and financial policy among the three states.

As a result of the instruments with which the Ministers Committee which forms Benelux has been provided, each decision it takes binds States immediately. The Committee can take decisions in fields in which it has certain competences, and these competences are settled in the Union Treaty.

In 1958, the customs union led to a EU Benelux Treaty which dealt with more depth in the economic cooperation among its members. And in 2008, a new Treaty of Benelux, by which the current Benelux Union was created, was ratified.

This union among States has been considered as one of the predecessors of the European Union, along with the creation of the ECSC and the Euratom.

The video explains some relevant aspects of Benelux.


  1. Информационна агенция “КРОСС”. (5 de September de 2012). Денят 5-ти СЕПТЕМВРИ в историята. Obtenido de InfoBulgaria: http://infobulgaria.info/news.php?itm=17350


  1. Canal Historia. (n.d.). TRATADO DEL BENELUX. Retrieved from Canal Historia: https://canalhistoria.es/hoy-en-la-historia/tratado-del-benelux/
  2. Santiago. (2008, Agosto 22). Benelux. Retrieved from Geografía la guía: https://geografia.laguia2000.com/geografia-regional/europa/union-europea/benelux
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, December 5). Benelux. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benelux



Like most European countries, Belgium initiated a colonization process during the reign of Leopold II, which resulted in the colonization of three African territories: The Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. They all reached their independence throughout the 1960’s.

1084px-Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo_in_Africa.svg-588fc6713df78caebc3e1394  Captura de pantalla 2018-12-08 15.28.18(4)

                                     (Johnson, 2018)            (ThoughtCo.com; Newsela, 2017)

Belgium’s Colonial Possesions

Looking back, we can say that Belgium treated its colonies in a very paternalistic manner. It took advantage of these territories for economic purposes given the vast amount of raw materials that could be found there.

We will now speak of the colonization and decolonization of The Congo, which was the most relevant colony of Belgium. Its independence affected Belgium politically and economically.

In spite of the fact that some African and Asiatic colonies had initiated a decolonization process, The Congo’s independence was something unforeseen by Belgium. The reason for this was that Belgium and The Congo had a narrow economic relationship. Despite that, the Belgian government had not taken care of the social needs of its citizens (as an example, we can talk about their educational needs; very few citizens were schooled), which led to their wish for independence.

In 1956, the Movement National Congolaise was created. Its main objective was the independence of The Congo. In 1960, a meeting was set in Brussels in order to establish elections in The Congo and allow for the independence of the colony. Its outcome was the presidency of Kasavubu and the establishment of Lumumba as Prime Minister.

Captura de pantalla 2018-12-08 15.48.30    Patrice Lumumba was captured by the army chief Mobutu and handed over to Tshombe in Katanga Province

                                       (Public Domain)                    (Black History Heroes, 2011)

Movement National Congolaise flag and its leader: Prime Minister Lumumba

The ministry of Lumumba was very important for the History of The Congo. During the time he was in office the country started dividing itself, with the creation of independent regions such as Katanga and Zaire. Lumumba, however fought for a unified Congo. He was killed for that reason.

Nowadays, Burundi and Rwanda exist as independent States. The Congo, which later turned into Zaire, is now known as The Democratic Republic of Congo. It must not be confused with its neighboring territory, the Republic of the Congo, which previously was a French colony. In this article we have only talked about the Belgian colony.


  1. Black History Heroes. (2011, February). Patrice Émery Lumumba: First Prime Minister of the Congo. Retrieved from Black History Heroes: http://www.blackhistoryheroes.com/2011/02/patrice-lumumba-first-prime-minister-of.html
  2. ThoughtCo.com; Newsela. (2017, October 24). Belgian Colonialism in Africa. Retrieved from NEWSELA: https://mrquesinberry.weebly.com/uploads/8/8/5/0/88505898/lib-belgian-colonialism_-_grade_8.pdf
  3. Johnson, B. (2018, April 26). Why Are There Two Congos in Africa. Retrieved from ThoughtCo.: https://www.thoughtco.com/why-two-congos-in-africa-3555011


  1. Witte, E., Craeybeckx, J., & Meynen, A. (2009). Decolonisation, Relations with Zaïre-Congo and Foreign Affairs. In J. Craeybeckx, & A. Meynen, Political History of Belgium From 1830 Onwards (pp. 393-396; 399-400). Brussels: Academic and Scientific Publishers nv.


  1. TeleSUR – HR. (2018, June 30). Se cumplen 58 años de la independencia del Congo. Retrieved December 2018, from TeleSUR HD: https://www.telesurtv.net/news/independencia-congo-belga-aniversario-20180630-0006.html
  2. Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre. (2018, September 25). Crisis del Congo. Retrieved November 2018, from Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_del_Congo
  3. Wikipedia,la enciclopedia libre. (2018, December 5). Congo Belga. Retrieved December 2018, from Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Belga




The unity of Belgium has been put to question by several affairs. One of them, and perhaps the most important one, is the linguistic issue. Belgium is a State which has a vast cultural diversity. This is reflected in the several languages which are spoken inside its territory (German, French and Dutch).



                         (Jansson, 2016)                        (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2018)

As we can see, according to the graph obtained from Britannica, practically half of the population speaks Flemish or Dutch, 36.4 percent French, and only around 1% of the population speaks German, which makes sense, given the small size of the German-speaking part of Belgium. Other languages are spoken in Belgium, the most important one being Luxembourgish, which is spoken in the area of Wallonia which borders with the County of Luxembourg (the State), which is also called the region of Luxembourg.

This linguistic diversity has been the source of many conflicts. It mainly originated with the fact that French was, for a long time, the only official language of the country. Those regions of Belgium which did not speak French were thought to have a lower social status.

The constant rejection of Flemish identity and the Dutch language led to a very separated Belgium. Society started splitting into completely separate social structures.

By the time Dutch started the path of officialization (at the end of the XIX th century), it was too late to mend historical differences. Walloons kept rejecting the establishment of Dutch at an official level, partly because of the social division, and partly because they felt threatened. While the Flemish had been forced to acquire knowledge of both languages, Walloons had never felt the need to learn Dutch. This could allow Flanders’ inhabitants to have better access to administrative positions.

Although the evolution of the linguistic conflict has seen different periods, the crucial event was the modification of the Constitution of 1831 (for further information see: 3.2. BELGIUM: FROM CENTRALIZATION TO DECENTRALIZATION.).

Nowadays, the federalization of Belgium has distanced linguistic communities even more, through the delegation of competences and the decentralization of the Belgian government.

This video explains why Belgium is so divided.


  1. Jansson, B. (2016, December 27). What is Wallonia? Belgium’s Unusual Federal System. Retrieved from Political Geography Now: https://www.polgeonow.com/2016/12/what-is-wallonia-in-belgium.html
  2. . Encyclopædia Britannica. (2018, December 3). Ethnic groups and languages. (Britannica, Encyclopædia) Retrieved December 2018, from Encyclopædia Britannica:                                                  https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgium/Ethnic-groups-and-languages


  1. Benz, W., Graml, H., Henke, K.-D., Loth, W., Raulff, H., Robel, G., & Woller, H. (1986). Los Estados del Benelux. In W. Benz, H. Graml, K.-D. Henke, W. Loth, H. Raulff, G. Robel, & H. Woller, Historia Universal Siglo XX: el siglo XX; II. Europa después de la segunda guerra mundial 1945-1982. Tomo 1 (pp. 150-154). España: Siglo XXI de España Editores, S.A.

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