The Belgium Portal
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi). The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven.
Legally, Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita.
Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. (Full article...)
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The Menin Gate Memorial at the eastern exit of the town of Ypres in Flanders, Belgium, marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line during World War I. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built by the British government, the Menin Gate Memorial opened on July 24, 1927 as a monument dedicated to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the fierce battles around the Ypres Salient area who have no known grave.
The "Gate" was merely the gap in the city's star-shaped fortifications designed by Louis XIV's engineer Vauban, which were pointless in the age of shelling: Ypres was reduced to rubble.
Reginald Blomfield's triumphal arch, designed in 1921, is the entry to the barrel-vaulted passage for traffic through the mausoleum that honors the Missing, who have no known graves. The patient lion on the top is the lion of Britain but also the lion of Flanders. Its large "Hall of Memory" contains the names of 54,896 soldiers who died before August 15, 1917, incised into vast panels. Menin Gate Memorial does not list the names of the missing of New Zealand and Newfoundland soldiers who are honoured on separate memorials. It was chosen to be a memorial as it was the closest gate of the town to fighting.
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