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Name of the stateless nation: Vlaanderen

State or states this nation belongs to: Belgium

Flanders map

1. Physical and human environment


Area   13,522 km2

Altimetric zones (% of total surface)
Lower than 200 m   100%
201-600 m 
601-1,000 m 
1,001-2,000 m 
Higher than 2,000 m 

Biogeographical regions (% of total surface)
Alpine  7%
Mediterranean 93%

Land use (% of total surface)
Inner waters and wetlands
Forests and open spaces 28%
Agricultural land 45%
Urban and artificial areas 26%



The historical definition of "Flanders" has changed through the ages. There existed a County of Flanders which is now split into different countries and provinces. In our days, Flanders also includes some of the ancient provinces and, despite the importance of the historic remembrance of the old Flanders, the national Flemish consciousness started and grew up over the 19th and 20th centuries fuelled by the linguistic and cultural claims of the Dutch speaking community in the newly created Belgian state.

1830: Belgian independence
Belgian independence had catastrophic consequences for the Dutch language in Belgium. French was the only official language, and schools in the language of the people, Dutch, were abolished. Yet a border ran through this new artificial unitary state, with Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south. Geographically, Brussels lay in the Flemish part but was bilingual.

The struggle for the Dutch language
During the entire 19th century and until well into the 20th century, the emancipation of the Flemish people centred on the struggle to put the Dutch language on an equal footing with French, whereas the Belgian State conducted an active Frenchification policy. This cultural imperialism led to the rise of the Flemish Movement, an emancipatory movement which was devoted to obtaining an equal position for the Dutch language in public life. Little by little language laws appeared as of the end of the 19th century, which gradually made administrative services, education and jurisprudence in Flanders use the Dutch language.

A fixed language border
The first language law dates back to 1873. The introduction of the general plural voting right for men (1893) paved the way for the so-called Equality Law of 1898, which caused Dutch to become Belgium’s second official language. However, the Walloons did not want an official bilingual status for Belgium. Instead, a compromise was agreed upon in 1932:  Flanders became officially monolingually Dutch-speaking, Wallonia French-speaking and Brussels bilingual. The language border was established in 1963. The Belgian Constitution was only translated into Dutch in 1967.

Political self- government
During the 20th century the language flamingantism shifted to a struggle for more political self-rule. Since 1970, Belgium has experienced five state reforms which eventually transformed the country into a federal State with three Communities (the Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities) and three Regions (the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels Regions). The Flemish have been trying to bring about a sixth state reform aimed at granting the federated entities greater tax autonomy, as well as their own responsibility not only for income and expenditure but also for labour market policy, health care, justice and other matters.



2 Government

Capital city
Brussels (although administratively it is not part of the Flamish region)

Name of President / Prime Minister / Other  
Geert Bourgeois (Minister-President)

Political status as part of the State   Autonomous federated region

Competences attributed / recognized by the State

Government of Flanders's competences

Flanders has competence on for economic policy, foreign trade, health care, energy distribution, housing, agriculture, environment, public works and transport, employment policy, culture and education, science and innovation.
Maximum autonomy of the Government of Flanders
Flanders has maximum autonomy in many domains. That’s because the Government of Flanders and the federal government are on equal footing and their powers do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy domain and in principle, interference by another government is out of the question.

Political institutions
Flemish government.
Flemish parliament

External representation
Autonomous foreign policy
Since the state reform of 1993, the Government of Flanders can conclude treaties with foreign partners for each of its domestic competences. Within its policy domains, Flanders concludes direct international treaties with foreign partners. Flanders has its own diplomatic representatives. It also has about one hundred representatives worldwide specialised in international entrepreneurship, agriculture and tourism that promote exchanges between other countries and Flanders.
Diplomatic representatives in Germany, France, the EU, U.K., The Netherlands, Poland, South- Africa, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia

Territorial and local organization (counties, provinces, districts, municipal bodies, etc.)
5 Provinces
308 communities

Main Political Parties
New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), nationalist, centre-right
Socialist Party (SPa), Social democrats, left
Green party (Groen), ecologist, left
Christian Democrats (CD&V: Christen Democratisch & Vlaams), centre-right
Liberals (Open VLD), centre-right
Vlaams Belang, extreme - right
Political parties having (or having had in the past) representatives at the national level
Open VLD
Vlaams Belang
LDD (conservative liberals)

Nationwide political parties having (or having had in the past) representatives at the local level
Vlaams Belang
Nationalist organizations of civil society
Vlaamse Volksbeweging (VVB) – Flemish Peoples Mouvement
Algemeen Nederlands Verbond
Overlegcentrum voor Vlaams Verenigingen


3. Population

Total population 6,306,600

Density  466/km2

Age structure
0-19  19.5%
20-64  62.2%
over 65 18.3%

Urban population 
In the capital city
In other major cities

Annual growth  0.84‰

Net migration rate  4.28‰

Life expectancy
Men: 78.3 years
Women: 83.2 years

4. Languages

Spoken languages
French (in Brussels region and in Flemish area around Brussels)
Language areas (whether vernacular or not)

Number and percentage of speakers of each vernacular language over the total population

Official languages and languages recognized by the authorities
In the territory of the nation
French (official in the Brussels region)

Vernacular languages of the nation which are official in or recognized by the state

National vernacular languages official or recognized outside the state (by other states and/or by international organizations)

Use of vernacular languages
In public administration


in justice

in school

in place names (toponymy)

in cultural production (books, movies)

in the media and the internet

Speakers of other languages
Romanian: 65,432
Arabic: 23,398
Portuguese: 6,947
Bulgarian: 5,257
Chinese: 4,541
Polish:  4,300
Other languages: 31,143

5. Transport infrastructure

Three international airports: Zaventem (Brussel Internationaal), Antwerpen and Oostende

916 km

Dual carriageways
914 km

Toll motorways
1.3 km (Liefkeshoektunnel)

Conventional rail
1,550 km (estimate)

High speed railways
87 km

1,085 km

Density of transport infrastructure
Roads and motorways      
135 km / 1,000 km2
23 km / 100,000 inhabitants

121 km / 1,000 km2
26 km / 100,000 inhabitants

 Trading ports (more than 1 million tons per year)
Antwerpen, Gent, Zeebrugge


6. Education and culture

Educational attainment of the adult population (%; aged 16 and over):

No attainment at all 0%
Primary no data
Lower secondary 29%
Upper secondary 34%
Tertiary 32%

Culture (expenditure per person / year) €359.80



Cinema, theatre:

Museums, libraries, etc.

Other cultural goods or services

Other data

Theatre shows: 7,942

Dance performances: 875

Books published: 1,075,439

Musical works published: no data available

 Films shown: 13,829

7. Armed and police forces in its territory (Number of troops and police officers)

Air force

State police
National police
Local police

8. Economy

Currency  Euro (EUR)

GDP (in million €) 202,594

Annual growth GDP   1%

GDP per capita (€)  29,200

Composition of GDP
Agriculture  2%, Industry  21%, Services  77%

Inflation rate  1.8%

Unemployment rate  4.3%

Energy balance (thousands of TOE) and energy import coverage rate  -3,968 (29.70%)

Energy production (thousands of TOE) no data available

Natural gas  33%

Petroleum products  0%

Coal  10%

Nuclear  48%

Renewables  9%


Energy consumption (thousands of TOE)

Natural gas  24%

Petroleum products  49%

Coal  7%

Nuclear  12%

Renewables  3.8%


Imports (mill €)  286,000
Main suppliers: the Netherlands, Germany, France

Exports (mill €)  283,700
Main customers: the Netherlands, Germany, France

Trade balance (+ mill €) and import coverage rate (%) -2,300 (98.95%)

9. National symbols



The Vlaamse Leeuw, the Flemish Lion, with black claws and tongue, represents Flanders. This symbol was used in the Middle Ages by the counts of Flanders. It is endorsed by the separatists and autonomists. The official flag of the province of Flanders has a black lion with red claws and tongue. This last version was officially adopted in 1990.
The flag of Flanders is also used by the Flemish Movement. This variant, without red claws, is often used as well. It is known as the strijdvlag ("battle flag") and is not an official symbol. You often see it at biking races, the Tour of Flanders particularly.



Coat of arms





National anthem

The Vlaamse Leeuw/Flemish Lion is the official anthem and the flag of the Flemish Community. The song dates back to 1847; the lyrics were written by the playwright Hyppoliet van Peene, set to music by Karel Miry and based on ‘De leeuw van Vlaanderen’, the novel by Hendrik Conscience. The Flemish Lion already existed as the official flag of Flanders in the 12th century. The Flemish Lion is a symbol for the Flemish nation, just like other nations have their symbols that deserve respect


Zij zullen hem niet temmen, de fiere Vlaamse Leeuw,
Al dreigen zij zijn vrijheid met kluisters en geschreeuw.
Zij zullen hem niet temmen, zolang een Vlaming leeft,
Zolang de Leeuw kan klauwen, zolang hij tanden heeft.
Zij zullen hem niet temmen, zolang een Vlaming leeft,
Zolang de Leeuw kan klauwen, zolang hij tanden heeft.

De tijd verslindt de steden, geen tronen blijven staan.
De legerbenden sneven: een volk zal nooit vergaan.
De vijand trekt te velde, omringd van doodsgevaar.
Wij lachen met zijn woede, de Vlaamse Leeuw is daar!
Zij zullen hem niet temmen, zolang een Vlaming leeft,
zolang de Leeuw kan klauwen, zolang hij tanden heeft,
zolang de Leeuw kan klauwen, zolang hij tanden heeft.


National Day

11 July


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Centre Maurits Coppieters