The Kingdom of Belgium is a country in northwest Europe bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France and is one of the founding and core members of the European Union. Belgium has a population of over ten million people, in an area of around 30,000 square kilometres (11,700 square miles).
Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Romance Europe, Belgium is linguistically divided. It has two main languages: 59% of its population, mainly in the region Flanders, speak Dutch; French is spoken by 40% of the entire Belgian population. Less than 1% of the Belgian people, around 70,000 citizens, live in the German-speaking Community in the east of Wallonia. This linguistic diversity often leads to political and cultural conflict and is reflected in Belgium's complex system of government and political history.
Belgium derives its name from the Latin name of the most northern part of Gaul, Gallia Belgica, named after a group of mostly Celtic tribes, Belgae. Historically, Belgium has been a part of the Low Countries, which also include the Netherlands and Luxembourg and used to cover a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states. From the end of the Middle Ages until the seventeenth century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture. From the sixteenth century until the Belgian revolution in 1830, the area at that time called the Southern Netherlands, was the site of many battles between the European powers. More recently, Belgium was a founding member of the European Union, hosting its headquarters, as well as those of many other major international organisations, such as NATO.
, population 6,315 (2005
), is the capital
city of Malta
. The whole city was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
in 1980. The official name the Order of Saint John
gave to the city was Humilissima Civitas Valletta
— a city bound to humility. However, with the building of bastions, curtains and ravelins, along with the beauty of the baroque
buildings along its streets, it became known as Superbissima
— 'Most Proud', amongst the ruling houses of Europe. In Maltese it is colloquially known as Il-Belt
, simply meaning "The City".
The foundation stone of Valletta was laid by the Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, Jean Parisot de la Valette, on 28 March 1566; The Order decided to found a new city on the Xiberras peninsula just after the end of the Siege of Malta in 1565, so as to fortify the Order's position in Malta, effectively binding the Knights to the island. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, while many of the most important buildings were built by Gerolamo Cassar. Valletta, hence, is an urban area which boasts many buildings from the 16th century and onwards, but most of them were built during the time of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of Malta).
Member states' portalsedit
New York Times
Wed, 22 May 2013 07:27:26 -0700
BRUSSELS — The European Union inched closer to ending bank secrecy on Wednesday when Austria agreed to eventually start sharing personal bank account information with other countries as long as similar rules also applied to tax havens like ...
Fri, 24 May 2013 09:22:00 -0700
Last week the European Union published a law that said that olive oil could no longer be served in restaurants with refillable bottles or in bowls. Instead, only labelled, one use only, bottles could be used. This week the EU withdrew this proposed law ...
New York Times
New York Times
Mon, 20 May 2013 10:49:27 -0700
HONG KONG — The Obama administration and the European Union have each decided to negotiate settlements with China in the world's largest antidumping and antisubsidy trade cases involving China's roughly $30 billion a year in solar panel shipments ...
Public Radio International PRI
Fri, 24 May 2013 11:32:39 -0700
In the European Union, every language is an official language. Government officials speak in the official language of their country, and those comments are then translated into 22, soon to be 23, other languages. All of that costs $1.4 billion per year ...
Fri, 24 May 2013 07:46:21 -0700
The European Union, the United States and Canada today signed the "Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation" with the aim of furthering research into the workings of the Atlantic Ocean and its interaction with the Arctic. The alliance will build ...
Fri, 24 May 2013 22:26:27 -0700
JAMESTOWN - Students from Jamestown Community College and other American and European colleges participated in a simulated European council summit during the annual State University of New York Model European Union Simulation in New York ...
Sat, 25 May 2013 22:19:38 -0700
BEIJING — Premier Li Keqiang, China's top economic official, has criticized the European Union for pursuing anti-dumping cases against Chinese solar power and telecommunications equipment that he warned will hurt both sides. Advertisement. In a speech ...
Fri, 24 May 2013 08:05:17 -0700
Many people criticise the EU for poor transparency and democratic deficit. However, the problem lies elsewhere, believes sociologist Armin Nassehi. What is lacking is a true transnational opposition, firmly at home within the European Union institutions.
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