Communities, regions and provinces of Belgium

From Academic Kids

Belgium is a federal state and is composed of three communities, three regions, and four linguistic regions. Two out of the three regions each comprise as well each five provinces, making a total of ten provinces. Belgium also comprises 589 municipalities. These are the five most important subdivisions of Belgium, as laid out into the Belgian constitution (as far as the first four subdivisions are concerned) and law (as far as the municipalities are concerned). Other less important subdivisions include for instance the electoral, judicial and police districts, as well as the new inter-municipal police zones (lower level then the police districts).

Four of these five most important subdivisions have geographical boundaries: the regions, the linguistic regions, the provinces and the municipalities. The division by communities, on the other hand, is neither territorial nor demographic. Belgian official communities do not refer directly to groups of people but rather to a division of the political linguistic and cultural competencies of the country (although people from a linguistic demographic non-institutional community often identify themselves with the institutions).

Although these communities have no exclusive territory, they do have a precise and legally established area where they can exert their competencies: the Flemish Community is competent in the Flemish and Brussels regions; the French-speaking Community in the Walloon and Brussels regions, and the German Community only in a small part of the province of Liège (Wallonia), bordering with Germany.

The three regions are the Brussels-Capital Region, the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region.

The three communities are:

The four linguistic regions are the French language region, the Dutch-language region, the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital and the German-language region (which has language facilities for French-speakers).

Brussels-Capital Region

Main article: Brussels-Capital Region

The Brussels-Capital Region (Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest in Dutch, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale in French, Die Region Brüssel-Hauptstadt in German) or Brussels Region is centrally located and completely surrounded by the province of Flemish Brabant and thus by the Flemish Region. With a surface area of 162 km² (0.53% of Belgium) it is the smallest of the three regions. It contains Brussels, which acts both as federal and regional capital, and in total 19 municipalities. The population breakdown in the region is as follow : 85% french-speaking, 15% flemish. Its official languages are both Dutch and French. The Brussels Capital Region contains only one administrative district, the Brussels Capital District. However, for many administrative and juridical purposes (e.g. electoral purpose), it forms a district with surrounding Flemish areas (something considered by some as contrary to the Belgian Constitution). However, this often creates disfunctions in the public service, e.g. whenever mono-lingual French-speaking civil servants or policemen operate in the mono-lingual Flemish municipalities.

Although many believe that the capital of Belgium is the City of Brussels municipality, the Belgian Constitution makes it clear that the capital of Belgium is Brussels in the broad meaning of the term (cf. Art. 194 and 166 of the Constitution). In practice, the functions, buildings and civil servants of all national Belgian institutions can be found all over the Brussels region and not only in the city of Brussels. In the same logic, the significant dedicated national funds for those capital functions are shared between all 19 municipalities of the Brussels region. Among the national institutions outside the city of Brussels, one can find many buildings of national ministeries, including the main building of the ministery of pensions, the military headquarters (in Evere), the national telecommunications company. Finally, also the particular name of the Brussels region, with the explicite 'capital' in it, is a very symbolic proof of the ambitions from the main local politicians, and of the recognition for that capital function in Belgian legislation.

This Brussels region does not belong to any of the provinces. Within the region, 99% of the provincial competencies are assumed by the Brussels regional institutions. Remaining is only a provincial governor and some aides.

Within Brussels, the two communities have their own institutions that act as "intermediary levels" of government and public service, sitting below the community institutions, and above the municipal institutions:


See also: Municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region

Flemish Region

Main article: Flanders

The Flemish Region or Flanders (Vlaams Gewest or Vlaanderen in Dutch) occupies the northern part of Belgium. It has a surface area of 13522 km² (44.29% of Belgium) and is divided into 5 provinces which contain a total of 308 municipalities.

The official language is Dutch. French may be used for administrative purpose in a limited number of the so-called "municipalities with linguistic facilities" around the Brussels Capital Region and on the border with Wallonia.

Brussels is part of Flanders, but only for all its Flemish inhabitants and local institutions (which indeed live in both the Flemish region and the Brussels region). It is also the official capital of Flanders. The Flemish Region has no institutions on its own. Its competencies were transferred to the unified Flemish institutions that combine both regional and community competencies. As a result, the Flemish region (nor the Flemish Community) has not a single civil servant of its own, no legislative council etc. Since, the unified institutions exert all their power and competencies (see also: Vlaams Parlement). And, as the Flemings from Brussels are just as well Flemings as the others, it was a purely internal choice of the Flemish Community in Belgium to establish its capital in Brussels.

West Flanders has a surface area of 3151 km² (23.30% of Flanders; 10.33% of Belgium), and is divided into eight administrative districts which contain 64 municipalities.
East Flanders has a surface area of 2991 km² (22.12% of Flanders; 9.81% of Belgium), and is divided into six administrative districts which contain 65 municipalities.
Antwerp has a surface area of 2860 km² (21.15% of Flanders; 9.38% of Belgium), and is divided into three administrative districts which contain 70 municipalities.
Flemish Brabant has a surface area of 2106 km² (15.57% of Flanders; 6.91% of Belgium), and is divided into two administrative districts which contain 65 municipalities.
Limburg has a surface area of 2414 km² (17.85% of Flanders; 7.92% of Belgium), and is divided into three administrative districts which contain 44 municipalities.

See also: List of Flemish municipalities

Walloon Region

Main article: Wallonia

The Walloon Region or Wallonia (Région Wallonne or Wallonie in French) occupies the southern part of Belgium. It has a surface area of 16844 km² (55.18% of Belgium) and is also divided into 5 provinces which contain a total of 262 municipalities. Its capital is Namur.

The official languages are French and German (only in nine eastern municipalities near the German border, which were "given" to Belgium after WWI), though Dutch may be used for administrative purpose in the so-called municipalities with linguistic facilities on the border with Wallonia.

Hainaut has a surface area of 3800 km² (22.56% of Wallonia; 12.44% of Belgium), and is divided into seven administrative districts which contain 69 municipalities.
Walloon Brabant has a surface area of 1093 km² (6.49% of Wallonia; 3.58% of Belgium), and contains only one administrative district with 27 municipalities.
Namur has a surface area of 3664 km² (21.75% of Wallonia; 11.99% of Belgium), and is divided into three administrative districts which contain 38 municipalities.
Liege has a surface area of 3844 km² (22.82% of Wallonia; 12.58% of Belgium), and is divided into four administrative districts which contain 84 municipalities.
Luxembourg has a surface area of 4443 km² (26.38% of Wallonia; 14.54% of Belgium), and is divided into five administrative districts which contain 44 municipalities.

See also: List of Walloon municipalities

Template:Belgium provincesde:Politische Gliederung Belgiens fr:Provinces de Belgique nl:Belgische provincies pl:Podział administracyjny Belgii pt:Subdivisões da Bélgica

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