MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA DR IWAN S.
Dr IWAN ‘S CYBERMUSEUM
THE FIRST INDONESIAN CYBERMUSEUM
MUSEUM DUNIA MAYA PERTAMA DI INDONESIA
DALAM PROSES UNTUK MENDAPATKAN SERTIFIKAT MURI
PENDIRI DAN PENEMU IDE
Dr IWAN SUWANDY, MHA
WELCOME TO THE MAIN HALL OF FREEDOM
SELAMAT DATANG DI GEDUNG UTAMA “MERDEKA
The Driwan’s Cybermuseum
(Museum Duniamaya Dr Iwan)
(Driwan Masterpiece Cybermuseum)Showcase:
The Belgium Independent Medal Collections
A.Dr Iwan collections
B.International Collections(COIN AND MEDAL)
1 Franc – Léopold II Independence 50th anniversary
|Value||1 Franc (1 BEF)|
Fifty years of the Belgian kingdom 1830-1880
The profiles og Kings Leopold I and II with their names around
Lettering: LEOPOLD I * LEOPOLD II L. WIENER
The Belgium coat of arms and facial value on both sides. Two olive twigs on the outside and the motto “L’UNION FAIT LA FORCE” (Unity makes Strength)
Lettering: L’UNION FAIT LA FORCE 1F 1830 1880
Commemorative Medal of the Visit of The King & Queen of Belgium’s visit to Egypt
Commemorative Medal of the Visit of The King & Queen of Belgium’s visit to Egypt (Reverse)
ANTIQUE Over 130 Years Old 1873 Kingdom of BELGIUM Leopold II 2 Cents Copper Coin
an antique 1873 Belgium King Leopold II 2 Cents copper coin.
Leopold II was the second king of the Belgians. Born in Brussels the second (but eldest surviving) son of Leopold I and Louise-Marie of Orléans, he succeeded his father to the throne on 17 December 1865 and remained king until his death.
OBVERSE: The royal monogram is surrounded with the inscription “LEOPOLD II ROI DES BELGES” (Leopold II King of the Belgians), 1873. <BR>
REVERSE: A lion, symbol of Belgium, with a paw over the Belgian Constitution dating 1831. Around is the Belgian motto “L’union fait la force” (Unity creates Strength).
Measurement: 22 mm.
Weight: 3.9 grams.
Condition: VF (Very Fine), some knocks on edge, see photos.
the coin collector DO NOT clean any of their coins to preserve the original patina, .
Fantastic for your jewelry, craft projects, Steampunk, collage art projects or just a great addition to your antique coins collection.
The History of Belgium Kingdom
|Kingdom of Belgium
Koninkrijk België (Dutch)
Royaume de Belgique (French)
Königreich Belgien (German)
|Motto: Eendracht maakt macht (Dutch)
L’union fait la force (French)
Einigkeit macht stark (German)
“Strength through Unity” (lit. “Unity makes Strength”)
|Anthem: The “Brabançonne”|
50°51′N 4°21′E / 50.85°N 4.35°E / 50.85; 4.35
|Largest metropolitan area||Brussels Capital Region|
|Official language(s)||Dutch, French, German|
|Ethnic groups||see Demographics|
|Government||Federal parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy|
|–||Prime Minister||Yves Leterme (acting)|
|–||Lower House||Chamber of Representatives|
|–||Declared from the Netherlands||4 October 1830|
|–||Recognized||19 April 1839|
|EU accession||25 March 1957|
|–||Total||30,528 km2 (139th)
11,787 sq mi
|–||1 January 2010 estimate||10,827,519 (76th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|Gini (2005)||28 (low)|
|HDI (2010)||0.867 (very high) (18th)|
|Currency||Euro (€)1 (
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|–||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||BE|
|1||Before 1999: Belgian franc (BEF).|
|2||The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.|
Belgium (i /ˈbɛldʒəm/ BEL-jəm), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU’s headquarters, as well as those of several other major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 sq mi), and it has a population of about 10.8 million people. Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers, mostly Flemish, and the French-speakers, mostly Walloons, plus a small group of German-speakers. Belgium’s two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region. A small German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia. Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political and cultural conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.
Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. The region was called Belgica in Latin because of the Roman province Gallia Belgica which covered more or less the same area. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the battleground of Europe, a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.
Upon its independence, Belgium eagerly participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. The second half of the 20th century was marked by the rise of communal conflicts between the Flemings and the Francophones fuelled by cultural differences on the one hand and an asymmetrical economic evolution of Flanders and Wallonia on the other hand. These still-active conflicts have caused far-reaching reforms of the formerly unitary Belgian state into a federal state which might lead to a partition of the country.
The Seventeen Provinces (orange, brown and yellow areas) and the Bishopric of Liège (green)
The name ‘Belgium’ is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that, before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and Western Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries. Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces (Belgica Foederata in Latin, the “Federated Netherlands”) and the Southern Netherlands (Belgica Regia, the “Royal Netherlands”). The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815.
The 1830 Belgian Revolution led to the establishment of a Catholic and bourgeois, officially French-speaking and neutral, independent Belgium under a provisional government and a national congress. Since the installation of Leopold I as king in 1831, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a laicist constitution based on the Napoleonic code. Although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced after the general strike of 1893 (with plural voting until 1919) and for women in 1949. The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party and the Liberal Party, with the Belgian Labour Party emerging towards the end of the century. French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie. It progressively lost its overall importance as Dutch became recognized as well. This recognition became official in 1898 and in 1967 a Dutch version of the Constitution was legally accepted.
The Berlin Conference of 1885 ceded control of the Congo Free State to King Leopold II as his private possession. From around 1900 there was growing international concern for the extreme and savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, for whom the Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber production. In 1908 this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo. Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan and much of the Western Front fighting of World War I occurred in western parts of the country. The opening months of the war were known as the Rape of Belgium due to German atrocities. Belgium took over the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi (modern day Rwanda and Burundi) during the war, and they were mandated to Belgium in 1924 by the League of Nations. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority. The country was again invaded by Germany in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg offensive and occupied until its liberation by the Allies in 1944. After World War II, a general strike forced king Leopold III, who many saw as collaborating with the Germans during the war, to abdicate in 1951. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis; Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later. Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter is now the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament.
The federal bicameral parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives. The former is made up of 40 directly elected politicians and 21 representatives appointed by the 3 Community parliaments, 10 co-opted senators and the children of the king, as Senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote. The Chamber‘s 150 representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts. Belgium is one of the few countries that has compulsory voting and thus holds one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world.
The King (currently Albert II) is the head of state, though with limited prerogatives. He appoints ministers, including a Prime Minister, that have the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives to form the federal government. The numbers of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers are equal as prescribed by the constitution. The judicial system is based on civil law and originates from the Napoleonic code. The Court of Cassation is the court of last resort, with the Court of Appeal one level below.
Prime Minister Yves Leterme
Belgium’s political institutions are complex; most political power is organized around the need to represent the main cultural communities. Since around 1970, the significant national Belgian political parties have split into distinct components that mainly represent the political and linguistic interests of these communities. The major parties in each Community, though close to the political centre, belong to three main groups: the right-wing Liberals, the socially conservative Christian Democrats and the socialists forming the left wing. Further notable parties came into being well after the middle of last century, mainly around linguistic, nationalist, or environmental themes and recently smaller ones of some specific liberal nature.
A string of Christian Democrat coalition governments from 1958 was broken in 1999 after the first dioxin crisis, a major food contamination scandal. A ‘rainbow coalition’ emerged from six parties: the Flemish and the French-speaking Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens. Later, a ‘purple coalition‘ of Liberals and Social Democrats formed after the Greens lost most of their seats in the 2003 election. The government led by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from 1999 to 2007 achieved a balanced budget, some tax reforms, a labour-market reform, scheduled nuclear phase-out and instigated legislation allowing more stringent war crime and more lenient soft drug usage prosecution. Restrictions on withholding euthanasia were reduced and same-sex marriage legalized. The government promoted active diplomacy in Africa and opposed the invasion of Iraq.
Verhofstadt’s coalition fared badly in the June 2007 elections. For more than a year, the country experienced a political crisis. This crisis was such that many observers speculated on a possible partition of Belgium. From 21 December 2007 until 20 March 2008 the temporary Verhofstadt III Government was in office. This coalition of the Flemish and Francophone Christian Democrats, the Flemish and Francophone Liberals together with the Francophone Social Democrats was an interim government until 20 March 2008. On that day a new government, led by Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, the actual winner of the federal elections of June 2007, was sworn in by the king. On 15 July 2008 Leterme announced the resignation of the cabinet to the king, as no progress in constitutional reforms had been made. In December 2008 he once more offered his resignation to the king after a crisis surrounding the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas. At this juncture, his resignation was accepted and Flemish Christian Democrat Herman Van Rompuy was sworn in as Prime Minister on 30 December 2008.
After Herman Van Rompuy was designated the first permanent President of the European Council on 19 November 2009, he offered the resignation of his government to King Albert II on 25 November 2009. A few hours later, the new government under Prime Minister Yves Leterme was sworn in. On 22 April 2010, Leterme again offered the resignation of his cabinet to the king after one of the coalition partners, the OpenVLD, withdrew from the government, and on 26 April 2010 King Albert officially accepted the resignation. The Parliamentary elections in Belgium on 13 June 2010 saw the Flemish separatist N-VA become the largest party in Flanders, and the Socialist Party PS the largest party in Wallonia. Belgium has since then been governed by Leterme’s lame duck government awaiting the end of the currently deadlocked negotiations for formation of a new government.
Communities and Regions
Following a usage which can be traced back to the Burgundian and Habsburgian courts, in the 19th century it was necessary to speak French to belong to the governing upper class, and those who could only speak Dutch were effectively second-class citizens. Late that century, and continuing into the 20th century, Flemish movements evolved to counter this situation. While the Walloons and most Brusselers adopted French as their first language, the Flemings refused to do so and succeeded progressively in imposing Dutch as Flanders’ official language. Following World War II, Belgian politics became increasingly dominated by the autonomy of its two main language communities. Intercommunal tensions rose and the constitution was amended in order to minimise the conflict potentials.
Based on the four language areas defined in 1962–63 (the Dutch, bilingual, French and German language areas), consecutive revisions of the country’s constitution in 1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993 established a unique federal state with segregated political power into three levels:
- The federal government, based in Brussels.
- The three language communities:
- The three regions:
The constitutional language areas determine the official languages in their municipalities, as well as the geographical limits of the empowered institutions for specific matters. Although this would allow for seven parliaments and governments, when the Communities and Regions were created in 1980, Flemish politicians decided to merge both. Thus the Flemings just have one single institutional body of parliament and government is empowered for all except federal and specific municipal matters.
The overlapping boundaries of the Regions and Communities have created two notable peculiarities: the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region (which came into existence nearly a decade after the other regions) is included in both the Flemish and French Communities, and the territory of the German-speaking Community lies wholly within the Walloon Region. Conflicts jurisdiction between the bodies are resolved by the Constitutional Court of Belgium. The structure is intended as a compromise to allow different cultures to live together peacefully.
The Federal State’s authority includes justice, defence, federal police, social security, nuclear energy, monetary policy and public debt, and other aspects of public finances. State-owned companies include the Belgian Post Group and Belgian Railways. The Federal Government is responsible for the obligations of Belgium and its federalized institutions towards the European Union and NATO. It controls substantial parts of public health, home affairs and foreign affairs. The budget—without the debt—controlled by the federal government amounts to about 50% of the national fiscal income. The federal government employs around 12% of the civil servants.
Communities exercise their authority only within linguistically determined geographical boundaries, originally oriented towards the individuals of a Community’s language: culture (including audiovisual media), education and the use of the relevant language. Extensions to personal matters less directly connected with language comprise health policy (curative and preventive medicine) and assistance to individuals (protection of youth, social welfare, aid to families, immigrant assistance services, etc.).
Regions have authority in fields that can be broadly associated with their territory. These include economy, employment, agriculture, water policy, housing, public works, energy, transport, the environment, town and country planning, nature conservation, credit and foreign trade. They supervise the provinces, municipalities and intercommunal utility companies.
In several fields, the different levels each have their own say on specifics. With education, for instance, the autonomy of the Communities neither includes decisions about the compulsory aspect nor allows for setting minimum requirements for awarding qualifications, which remain federal matters. Each level of government can be involved in scientific research and international relations associated with its powers. The treaty-making power of the Regions’ and Communities’ Governments is the broadest of all the Federating units of all the Federations all over the world.
Belgium shares borders with France (620 km), Germany (167 km), Luxembourg (148 km) and the Netherlands (450 km). Its total area, including surface water area, is 33,990 square kilometers; land area alone is 30,528 km2. It lies between latitudes 49° and 53° N, and longitudes 2° and 7° E.
Belgium has three main geographical regions: the coastal plain in the north-west and the central plateau both belong to the Anglo-Belgian Basin; the Ardennes uplands in the south-east are part of the Hercynian orogenic belt. The Paris Basin reaches a small fourth area at Belgium’s southernmost tip, Belgian Lorraine.
The coastal plain consists mainly of sand dunes and polders. Further inland lies a smooth, slowly rising landscape irrigated by numerous waterways, with fertile valleys and the northeastern sandy plain of the Campine (Kempen). The thickly forested hills and plateaus of the Ardennes are more rugged and rocky with caves and small gorges. Extending westward into France, this area is eastwardly connected to the Eifel in Germany by the High Fens plateau, on which the Signal de Botrange forms the country’s highest point at 694 metres (2,277 ft).
Wooded landscape in the Ardennes
The climate is maritime temperate with significant precipitation in all seasons (Köppen climate classification: Cfb), as is the case with all areas adjacent to the North Sea, including The Netherlands and much of the United Kingdom. The average temperature is lowest in January at 3 °C (37.4 °F) and highest in July at 18 °C (64.4 °F). The average precipitation per month varies between 54 millimetres (2.1 in) for February or April, to 78 mm (3.1 in) for July. Averages for the years 2000 to 2006 show daily temperature minimums of 7 °C (44.6 °F) and maximums of 14 °C (57.2 °F) and monthly rainfall of 74 mm (2.9 in); these are about 1 °C and nearly 10 millimetres above last century’s normal values, respectively.
Phytogeographically, Belgium is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Belgium belongs to the ecoregion of Atlantic mixed forests.
Because of its high population density, its location in the centre of Western Europe and inadequate political effort, Belgium faces serious environmental problems. A 2003 report suggested Belgian natural waters (rivers and groundwater) to have the lowest water quality of the 122 countries studied. In the 2006 pilot Environmental Performance Index, Belgium scored 75.9% for overall environmental performance and was ranked lowest of the EU member countries, though it was only 39th of 133 countries.
Belgium’s strongly globalized economy and its transportation infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world’s 15th largest trading nation in 2007. The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP and high exports per capita. Belgium’s main imports are raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products. Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs.
The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind. One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies. Since 1922, through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union.
Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 19th century. Liège and Charleroi rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century in the Sambre–Meuse valley, the sillon industriel and made Belgium one of the top three most industrialized nations in the world from 1830 to 1910. However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis, and the region experienced famine from 1846–50.
After World War II, Ghent and Antwerp experienced a rapid expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession; it was particularly prolonged in Wallonia, where the steel industry had become less competitive and experienced serious decline. In the 1980s and 90s, the economic centre of the country continued to shift northwards and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish Diamond area.
By the end of the 1980s, Belgian macroeconomic policies had resulted in a cumulative government debt of about 120% of GDP. As of 2006, the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to 90.30% of GDP. In 2005 and 2006, real GDP growth rates of 1.5% and 3.0%, respectively, were slightly above the average for the Euro area. Unemployment rates of 8.4% in 2005 and 8.2% in 2006 were close to the area average.
From 1832 until 2002, Belgium’s currency was the Belgian franc. Belgium switched to the euro in 2002, with the first sets of euro coins being minted in 1999. The standard Belgian euro coins designated for circulation show the portrait of King Albert II.
Science and technology
Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country’s history. The 16th century Early Modern flourishing of Western Europe included cartographer Gerardus Mercator, anatomist Andreas Vesalius, herbalist Rembert Dodoens and mathematician Simon Stevin among the most influential scientists.
Chemist Ernest Solvay and engineer Zenobe Gramme (École Industrielle de Liège) gave their names to the Solvay process and the Gramme dynamo, respectively, in the 1860s. Bakelite was developed in 1907–1909 by Leo Baekeland. Ernest Solvay also acted as a major philantropist and gave its name to the Solvay Institute of Sociology, the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry which are now part of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. In 1911, he started a series of conferences, the Solvay Conferences on Physics and Chemistry, which have had a deep impact on the evolution of quantum physics and chemistry. A major contribution to fundamental science was also due to a Belgian, Georges Lemaître (Catholic University of Leuven), who is credited with proposing the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe in 1927.
Three Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine were awarded to Belgians: Jules Bordet (Université Libre de Bruxelles) in 1919, Corneille Heymans (University of Ghent) in 1938 and Albert Claude (Université Libre de Bruxelles) together with Christian De Duve (Université Catholique de Louvain) in 1974. Ilya Prigogine (Université Libre de Bruxelles) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.
In the beginning of 2007 nearly 92% of the population had Belgian citizenship, and other European Union member citizens account for around 6%. The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan (80,579), Spanish (42,765), Turkish (39,419) and German (37,621). Immigrants since 1945 and their descendents are estimated by 2008 to have formed 22% of the total population. Of these ‘New Belgians’, 1,313,000 (56%) are of European ancestry and the 950,000 others originated from the rest of the world.
Brussels, the capital city and largest metropolitan area of Belgium.
Almost all of the Belgian population is urban—97% in 2004. The population density of Belgium is 342 per square kilometre (886 per square mile). The most densely inhabited area is Flanders, and in particular the Flemish Diamond, outlined by the Antwerp–Leuven–Brussels–Ghent agglomerations.
The Ardennes have the lowest density. As of 2006, the Flemish Region had a population of about 6,078,600, with Antwerp (457,749), Ghent (230,951) and Bruges (117,251) its most populous cities; Wallonia had 3,413,978, with Charleroi (201,373), Liège (185,574) and Namur (107,178) its most populous. Brussels houses 1,018,804 in the Capital Region’s 19 municipalities, two of which have over 100,000 residents.
Belgium has three official languages, which are in order of native speaker population in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well. As no census exists, there are no official statistical data regarding the distribution or usage of Belgium’s three official languages or their dialects. However, various criteria, including the language(s) of parents, of education, or the second-language status of foreign born, may provide suggested figures. An estimated 59% of the Belgian population speaks Dutch (often colloquially referred to as “Flemish”), and French is spoken by 40% of the population.
Total Dutch speakers are 6.23 million, concentrated in the northern Flanders region, while French speakers comprise 3.32 million in Wallonia and an estimated 0.87 million or 85% of the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region. The German-speaking Community is made up of 73,000 people in the east of the Walloon Region; around 10,000 German and 60,000 Belgian nationals are speakers of German. Roughly 23,000 more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.
Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France. Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment. Walloon, once the main regional language of Wallonia, is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people. Wallonia’s dialects, along with those of Picard, are not used in public life.
Education is compulsory from six to eighteen years of age for Belgians. Among OECD countries in 2002, Belgium had the third-highest proportion of 18–21 year-olds enrolled in postsecondary education, at 42%. Though an estimated 98% of the adult population is literate, concern is rising over functional illiteracy. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Belgium’s education as the 19th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average. Education being organized separately by each, the Flemish Community scores noticeably above the French and German-speaking Communities.
Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal and the Catholic parties, the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment. The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities.
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral in Brussels
Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium’s majority religion; being especially strong in Flanders. However, by 2009 Sunday church attendance was 5.4 % in Flanders compared to 12.7 % in 1998 (sunday church attandance was 11.2% for the total of Belgium in 1998). Despite an 8% drop in Sunday church attendance over this nine-year period, Catholicism nevertheless remains an important force in society.
Since the country’s independence, Roman Catholicism, counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium’s politics. However Belgium is largely a secular country as the laicist constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right in practice. During the reigns of Albert I and Baudouin, the monarchy had a reputation of deeply rooted Catholicism.
Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favourable position. Belgium’s concept of “recognized religions” set a path for Islam to follow to acquire the treatment of Jewish and Protestant religions. While other minority religions, such as Hinduism, do not yet have such status, Buddhism took the first steps toward legal recognition in 2007. According to the 2001 Survey and Study of Religion, about 47% of the population identify themselves as belonging to the Catholic Church, while Islam is the second-largest religion at 3.5%. A 2006 inquiry in Flanders, considered to be a more religious region than Wallonia, showed that 55% considered themselves religious and that 36% believed that God created the world.
According to the Eurobarometer Poll in 2005, 43% of Belgian citizens responded that “they believe there is a God”, whereas 29% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force” and 27% that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force”.
An 2008 estimation shows that 6% of the Belgian population, about 628,751, is Muslim (98% Sunni). Muslims constitute 25.5% of the population of Brussels, 4.0% of Wallonia and 3.9% of Flanders. The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi. The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with 264,974 people. The Turks are the third-largest group, and the second-largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering 159,336.
Despite its political and linguistic divisions, the region corresponding to today’s Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had tremendous influence on European art and culture. Nowadays, to a certain extent, cultural life is concentrated within each language Community, and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced. Since the 1970s, there are no bilingual universities in the country except the Royal Military Academy, no common media and no single large cultural or scientific organization in which both main communities are represented. The forces that once held the Belgians together—Roman Catholicism and economic and political opposition to the Dutch—are no longer strong.
Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art, the Early Netherlandish, the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting and major examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture are milestones in the history of art. While the 15th century’s art in the Low Countries is dominated by the religious paintings of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, the 16th century is characterized by a broader panel of styles such as Peter Breughel’s landscape paintings and Lambert Lombard‘s representation of the antique. Though the Baroque style of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck flourished in the early 17th century in the Southern Netherlands, it gradually declined thereafter.
During the 19th and 20th centuries many original romantic, expressionist and surrealist Belgian painters emerged, including James Ensor and other artists belonging the Les XX group, Constant Permeke, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte. The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the 1950s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art. The multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre and the painter Luc Tuymans are other internationally renowned figures on the contemporary art scene. Belgian contributions to architecture also continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, including the work of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde, who were major initiators of the Art Nouveau style.
Poet Emile Verhaeren by Theo van Rysselberghe.
The vocal music of the Franco-Flemish School developed in the southern part of the Low Countries and was an important contribution to Renaissance culture. In the 19th and 20th centuries, there was an emergence of major violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps, Eugène Ysaÿe and Arthur Grumiaux, while Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1846. The composer César Franck was born in Liège in 1822. Contemporary music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel have achieved global fame. In rock/pop music, Telex, Front 242, K’s Choice, Hooverphonic, Zap Mama, Soulwax and dEUS are well known. In the heavy metal scene, bands like Machiavel, Channel Zero and Enthroned have a worldwide fan-base.
Belgium has produced several well-known authors, including the poet Emile Verhaeren and novelists Hendrik Conscience, Georges Simenon, Suzanne Lilar and Amélie Nothomb. The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1911. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé is the best known of Franco-Belgian comics, but many other major authors, including Peyo (The Smurfs), André Franquin (Gaston Lagaffe), Edgar P. Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry a worldwide fame.
Belgian cinema, has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen. Other Belgian directors include André Delvaux, Stijn Coninx, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne; well-known actors include Jan Decleir and Marie Gillain; and successful films include Man Bites Dog and The Alzheimer Affair. In the 1980s, Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts produced important fashion trendsetters, known as the Antwerp Six.
Folklore plays a major role in Belgium’s cultural life: the country has a comparatively high number of processions, cavalcades, parades, ‘ommegangs’ and ‘ducasses’, ‘kermesse‘ and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious or mythological background. The Carnival of Binche with its famous Gilles and the ‘Processional Giants and Dragons’ of Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons are recognized by UNESCO as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Other examples are the Carnival of Aalst; the still very religious processions of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Virga Jesse Basilica in Hasselt and Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk in Mechelen; 15 August festival in Liège; and the Walloon festival in Namur. Originated in 1832 and revived in the 1960s, the Gentse Feesten have become a modern tradition. A major non-official holiday is the Saint Nicholas Day, a festivity for children and, in Liège, for students.
Brussels waffles, commonly known as Belgian waffles outside of Belgium.
Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide. Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, waffles and french fries. Contrary to their name, french fries also originated in Belgium. The national dishes are “steak and fries with salad”, and “mussels with fries“.
Brands of Belgian chocolate and pralines, like Callebaut, Côte d’Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Guylian, Galler and Godiva, are world renowned and widely sold. Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer. The Trappist beer of the Abbey of Westvleteren has repeatedly been rated the world’s best beer. The biggest brewer in the world by volume is Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Leuven.
Since the 1970s, sports clubs and federations are organised separately within each language community. However Association football is one of the most popular sports in both parts of Belgium, together with cycling, tennis, swimming and judo. With five victories in the Tour de France and numerous other cycling records, Belgian Eddy Merckx is regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time. His hour speed record (set in 1972) stood for twelve years. Jean-Marie Pfaff, a former Belgian goalkeeper, is considered one of the greatest in the history of football. Belgium and The Netherlands previously hosted the UEFA European Football Championship in 2000. Belgium hosted the 1972 European Football Championships.
Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin both were Player of the Year in the Women’s Tennis Association as they were ranked the number one female tennis player. The Spa-Francorchamps motor-racing circuit hosts the Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix. The Belgian driver, Jacky Ickx, won eight Grands Prix and six 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished twice as runner-up in the Formula One World Championship. Belgium also has a strong reputation in motocross; world champions include Roger De Coster, Joël Robert, Georges Jobé, Eric Geboers, Joël Smets, Stefan Everts and Steve Ramon.
Sporting events annually held in Belgium include the Memorial Van Damme athletics competition, the Belgian Grand Prix Formula One, and a number of classic cycle races such as the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. The 1920 Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp, Belgium.
the end @ copyright Dr Iwan suwandy 2011