Benelux: An Economic Geography of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

Benelux: An Economic Geography of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

Benelux: An Economic Geography of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

Benelux: An Economic Geography of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

Excerpt

Despite their proximity to Great Britain and the key position that they hold both in the European Economic Community and in the wider context of Western Europe, the countries of Benelux—Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg—have received scant specific attention from geographical writing in English. Many texts have dealt with the three lands in conjunction with others in Europe, variously defined, and the detail accorded has necessarily been somewhat restricted. Here an attempt is made to remove from Benelux its mantle of a terra incognita , focusing on the economic aspects of the three countries in the belief that the principal characteristics of modern West European civilisation may be explained in economic terms. In order to understand the contemporary economic situation it is more useful to resort to a systematic rather than a regional treatment, and therefore the greater part of the book is given over to the consideration of major themes rather than areas. Chapters 3-6, which consider primary, secondary and tertiary activity, including transport, form the core of the book. They are preceded by introductory material which seeks to help explain some of the main economic patterns which follow. Particular attention is paid to social considerations which are often a cause of and a response to economic conditions. Rather than compress a comprehensive regional analysis into a single chapter, a typology of regions, identifying regions by their economic characteristics, has been constructed and a number of regions deemed typical of each category selected for closer examination. Although its aim is to identify regional problems, this chapter serves to highlight the contrasts which do exist between and within the Benelux countries and offers a useful counterpoint to the broader approach employed elsewhere in the book.

Foreign place-names always cause problems, but here the difficulty is compounded by the existence of three languages in the study area. In addition, the better-known towns have anglicised names. A number of conventions have therefore been employed both in the text and in the figures. Firstly, where an anglicised name exists this has been used; rather than Den Haag we have The Hague and instead of Bruxelles or Brussel, Brussels is preferred. Secondly, because many Belgian towns and administrative areas have both Flemish and French names, some bearing little resemblance to each other, viz. Waremme, Flemish Borgworm, the loca-

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