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Portal:Belgium

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Location of Belgium within Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the south, and the North Sea to the west. 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/km2 (970/sq mi). Belgium is part of an area known as the Low Countries, historically a somewhat larger region than the Benelux group of states, as it also included parts of northern France. The capital and largest metropolitan region is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven.

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: the Flemish Region (Flanders) in the north, the Walloon Region (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 also home to two main linguistic communities: the Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French Community, which constitutes about 40 percent of the population. A small German-speaking Community, making up around one percent of the population, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in French and Dutch, although French is the majority language and lingua franca. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its complex system of governance, made up of six different governments.

Since the Middle Ages, Belgium's central location has meant that the area has been relatively prosperous, connected commercially and politically to its bigger neighbours. The country as it exists today was established following the 1830 Belgian Revolution, when it seceded from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which had incorporated the Southern Netherlands (which comprised most of modern-day Belgium) after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The name chosen for the new state is derived from the Latin word Belgium, used in Julius Caesar's "Gallic Wars", to describe a nearby region in the period around 55 BCE. Belgium has also been the battleground of European powers, earning the moniker "the Battlefield of Europe", a reputation reinforced in the 20th century by both world wars. (Full article...)

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Clijsters in 2011

Kim Antonie Lode Clijsters (Dutch pronunciation: [kɪm ˈklɛistərs] ; born 8 June 1983) is a Belgian former professional tennis player. Clijsters reached the world No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles, having held both rankings simultaneously in 2003. She won six major titles, four in singles and two in doubles.

Clijsters competed professionally from 1997 in an era in which her primary rivals were compatriot Justine Henin and Serena Williams. Coming from a country with limited success in men's or women's tennis, Clijsters became the first Belgian player to attain the No. 1 ranking. Together with Henin, she established Belgium as a leading force in women's tennis as the two of them led their country to their first Fed Cup crown in 2001 and were the top two players in the world in late 2003. Individually, Clijsters won 41 singles titles and 11 doubles titles on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour. She was a three-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships. Between singles and doubles, she has been a champion at all four Grand Slam tournaments, winning the US Open and the Australian Open in singles and Wimbledon and the French Open in doubles partnering Ai Sugiyama. Her success at the majors was highlighted by winning three consecutive appearances at the US Open. (Full article...)
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