Since 1993 it has been a federal state, in which the autonomous regions of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels and the three linguistic communities of French, Dutch and German are recognized. The German community is administratively united with Wallonia.
The town is formed to the North by an alluvial lowland and to the South by mediocre elevations (alt. Max Botrange, 694 m) of limestone of primary age. The relief, largely formed during the Hercynian corrugation, was almost entirely demolished and leveled by erosion, and then again slightly corrugated in the tertiary age, so today it has the form of a gentle plateau, dug by large valleys opened by rivers. The greatest of these is the one running in the OE direction from the Sambre and Meuse rivers, one of the fundamental elements in the structure of the Belgian morphology, in continuation of the French groove of the Oise: an important communication route along a highly industrialized strip of territory.
The plateau is covered with forests with large clearings (meadows and pastures for cattle), but to the South of the Meuse valley, where the limestones are covered with clay, there are barren areas (Hautes Fagnes), with moors and peat bogs. To the NW the plateau slopes down towards the coalfields which extend along the Sambre from the French border to Namur and along the Meuse near Liège. Proceeding towards the sea, an agricultural region with undulations of sands and tertiary clays (Brabant ) follows the low alluvial plain (Flanders), through which the Scheldt flows. Made up E of sometimes unstable sands, W of sterile clays, intersected by a maze of canals, Flanders was originally a land of moors and forests. The north-eastern part of Belgium, between the Meuse and Antwerp, includes the Campine plain, with pastures dotted with ponds and marshes alternating with pine forests and fields of rye. Along the coastal strip runs a long line of dunes (up to 30 m high), now protected from demolition by the sea.
The climate is oceanic, with strong influence of westerly winds, moderate seasonal variation in temperatures (in Brussels, on average: January 1 ° C and July 17.5 ° C, in Ostend, 2 and 17 ° C). The rainfall is abundant (800-1000 mm per year in the plain, up to 1500 mm per year above the Ardennes) and well distributed in each month.
After the Netherlands, Belgium is the European state with the highest population density, but the distribution presents particularly conspicuous imbalances between the central-northern and southern areas. It is by far one of the most urbanized countries (the rural population amounts to around 2.5%) but there are no metropolises comparable in size to those of neighboring states and no city in the country, within its historical aggregate, reaches one million residents.. The commuting movement with the adjacent industrial regions of France is significant. Immigration, no longer linked, as in the past, to currents from southern European countries, is fed by non-European states, especially Africans (the most conspicuous flow is that of Moroccans); this is also traced in the religious composition of the population, in which there is also a growing share of Muslims. Traces still remain of the consistent immigration of Italians in the 1950s and 1960s, who form the largest group among foreigners (183,021 in 2004). As an ethnic composition, the Belgian population definitely reveals two different origins, which manifest themselves in the diversity of the language, dividing the country in two regions, according to a line that has remained almost unchanged over the centuries which, from the Meuse downstream of Liège, looms in the W direction, passing to the South of Brussels, to end at the upper course of the Lys. AN of this line we speak Flemish (a Dutch dialect) and S speaking Wallonia (a French dialect spoken continuation of Picardy). The Walloon area is slightly larger in terms of surface area, but the Flemings are more numerous (almost 60%) by population; the Brussels region constitutes a bilingual area. There are also German-speaking minorities. The prevalent religion is the Catholic. For Belgium geography, please check franciscogardening.com.
The generally favorable characteristics of the climate and the abundance of water are not matched everywhere by the favor of the soil: no more than a third of the country is made up of arable land. Human work has, however, made up for the infertility of some areas, as in Flanders, originally sterile and now flourishing, and to the north of it, in the coastal region, once periodically invaded by stagnant rainwater and river waters and now free from every return of water thanks to dams and drainage systems (polders, over 100,000 ha). The primary sector employs 2.5% of the active population and contributes just 1.4% to the formation of the GDP. Strongly granulated regions are Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut and Hesbaye, in the other lowland areas (Campine) rye prevails, and on the hills (Ardenne) oats; the cultivation of barley also had a strong development. Industrial plants form one of the most remarkable resources in some provinces: sugar beet (85,000 ha in 2005) in Hainaut and Hesbaye, flax (about 19,000 ha in 2005) in Brabant, Flanders and Hainaut. Horticultural production (potatoes, broad beans, cauliflowers, tomatoes) around Brussels is also huge, and industrial floriculture is renowned in the Ghent area. Fruit crops everywhere: Hesbaye has a notable production of apples and pears, Limburg of cherries and plums, the surroundings of Brussels of strawberries. The intense livestock breeding (in 2005: 2.6 million cattle; 6.3 million pigs; 34,000 horses approx., Of which the Brabant draft breed is highly prized) yields remarkable meat and cheese products. Poultry farming deserves particular mention, while fishing (herring) is largely concentrated in Ostend, which is one of the most flourishing markets on the continent, and has famous crustacean and oyster farms.
Belgium, traditionally a mining and industrial country, has experienced the inevitable transition to a heavily outsourced economy with difficulty. Its well-known coal wealth, already in decline in the 1970s due to the thinning of the strata, the increase in wage costs and above all the competition from oil, effectively ceased to exist in the early 1990s (in 1992 the last important mine). Its industries (especially the steel and mechanical ones) entered into crisis (while there was an increase in the petrochemical branch) with the gradual transition to an economy increasingly based on the production of services. This has raised significant problems of reconversion, all the more urgent in a country not only belonging to the European Union, but inserted in its most vital area. At the end of the 20th century, however, the Belgium it was in line with the other countries in the area. The workforce employed in industrial activities also drastically downsized during the 1990s, dropping to 24%, while that employed in services rose to 74%. The economic problems of Belgium, however, are above all problems of regional imbalances: the cessation of mining activity has affected Wallonia in particular; the contraction of the steel and mechanical industries still Wallonia and in the cessation of mining particularly affected Wallonia; the contraction of the steel and mechanical industries still Wallonia and in the cessation of mining particularly affected Wallonia; the contraction of the steel and mechanical industries still Wallonia and in Flanders to a lesser extent. The development of service activities and the fact of being the seat of supranational political bodies have benefited above all the Brussels region, accentuating its detachment from the country and the characterization of a metropolis more European than Belgian. As far as communication infrastructures are concerned, Belgium has always been one of the best organized countries in the world, with a dense and efficient railway and waterway network. The port of Antwerp, the development of which has been the subject of particular attention and a long-term plan, occupies the second place among the ports of call in Europe.