Belgium's History

Belgium is a relatively new country on the European stage, but before the Romans arrived on the scene the area was home to the Belgae a German/Celtic race. The Romans called their province Gallia Belgica which was overrun by Germanic tribes in the 5th Century and fell into the Dark Ages. Franks held sway over Belgium which was a tapestry of fiefdoms. Following the Eighty Years War of 1568-1648, Belgium remained a Hapsburg domain until the Revolutionary French Republic incorporated them in 1794. Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the Low Countries were joined under Dutch stewardship as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Belgians revolted in 1830, winning independence and invited a German Prince to become their King, Leopold I. Neutral Belgium was invaded by Germany in WWI and WWII so following the war the country abandoned neutrality and joined NATO and the European Union, both organisations headquartered in Brussels.

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Belgium is split linguistically between the Dutch Flemish north, French Walloon south, bilingual Brussels and a tiny German-speaking community in the east. Each has a measure of self government. Between August 2010 - October 2011 Belgain parties could not agree of forming a government yet life continued normally. Brussels is capital of the European Union and NATO, which both contribute to the economy. Belguim has a reputation for being duller than its racier Dutch neighbours but there is plenty to see in ancient Bruges and beyond. Belguim is home to Europe's tastiest chocolates and best beers. On 3 July 2013 King Albert II announced his abdication in favour of his son who became King Philippe on 21 July. Unlike most of the Eurozone, Belguim's economy is not in recession.

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