Federalism, Subnational Constitutions, and Minority Rights

By G. Alan Tarr; Robert F. Williams et al. | Go to book overview

9
A Dynamic Federalism
Built on Static Principles:
The Case of Belgium

Wouter Pas


LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY AND SOCIAL DIVISION

The kingdom of Belgium is a small but densely populated Western European State, with about 10 million inhabitants in a territory of not more than 30,000,000 square kilometres. It is one of the wealthiest states of Europe and one of the founding member-states of the European Communities as well as of the Council of Europe. The official languages are Dutch (or Netherlandic), French, and German. The Dutch-speaking region, commonly referred to as Flanders, forms the northern part of Belgium and has approximately 5.9 million Dutch-speaking inhabitants, called the Flemings or the Flemish. The southern part of Belgium, commonly referred to as Wallonia, has approximately 3.2 million French-speaking inhabitants, called the Walloons.1 In a small group of eastern municipalities, the German-speaking linguistic region, there are about 70,000 German-speaking inhabitants. In the bilingual region of Brussels—the capital of Belgium and the 18 surrounding municipalities—about 1 million inhabitants reside. On these four linguistic regions, three communities, and three regions are based the component autonomous entities of the Belgian state.

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