Nation profile

Flanders
Vlaanderen

General information
Population
7,600,000 inhabitants (2015)
Area
13.682 km²
Institutions
Flemish Parliament and Government, Region of Brussels-Capital
Major cities
Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent
Administració estatal
Kingdom of Belgium
Territorial languages
Dutch
Official languages
Dutch, French (in Brussels)
Major religion
Christianity (Catholicism)
National day
11 July (Flemish Community Day)

Introduction

Flanders is one of the territories that make up the Kingdom of Belgium. Within Belgium, it mainly distinguishes itself by the use of the Dutch language and, more recently, by its own institutions of self-government. Broadly speaking, Flanders occupies the northern half of Belgium, and its population and GDP per capita are higher than the rest of the country.

Unlike most federations, Belgium is made up not by one but by two classes or types of federated units (regions and communities) which overlap geographically and have their own institutions each. There are three regions in Belgium (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels-Capital) and three communities (Flemish, French and German-speaking).

Each one of the two types of federated units is devolved a different set of powers. The main powers of the communities include culture, language, health and education. The main powers of the regions include economy, agriculture, housing, trade and environment.

However, in the case of Flanders, the region and the community have been merged since 1980. This means that all the powers belonging to the Flanders region are in fact exercised by the Flemish community. Thus, there is one single Flemish Parliament and one single Flemish government.

This is not the case for Belgium's French-speaking area. The Walloon region has its own Parliament, which is different from the Parliament of the French Community.

Brussels is a more specific case. Powers concerning the region are exercised by the government and the Parliament of Brussels-Capital. But no Brussels-Capital community exists, thus the powers on culture, language, health and education are exercised by Flemish institutions for Dutch-speaking citizens, and by the French Community institutions on the same territory but for French-speaking citizens.

Politics

Minister-President of Flanders: Geert Bourgeois, N-VA (since 2014)

Political system: region and community within the Kingdom of Belgium, both merged into one single Parliament and government. Brussels has its own autonomous region.

Distribution of seats in Parliament (2014). 124 members:
Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA (New Flemish Alliance, pro-independence, conservative) - 43
Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams, CD&V - (Christian Democrats and Flemish, federalist, conservative) - 26
Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten, Open Vld (Poen Flemish Liberals and Democrats, federalist liberal) - 19
Socialistische Partij - Anders, SPA (Socialist Party-Different, federalist social democrat) - 18
Groen! (Green, federalist green politics) - 10
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest, pro-independence far right) - 6
Union des Francophones, UF (Francophone Union, French-speaking minority interests) - 1

Government: Coalition of N-VA, CD&V and Open Vld (since 2014).