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Flemish Region

Flemish Region
Vlaams Gewest (Dutch)
Région flamande (French)
Flämische Region (German)
Anthem: De Vlaamse Leeuw
("The Flemish Lion")
Location of Flemish Region
Coordinates: 51°00′N 4°30′E / 51.000°N 4.500°E / 51.000; 4.500
Country Belgium
Community Flemish Community
SeatCity of Brussels (which is not part of the Flemish Region)
 • ExecutiveFlemish Government
 • Governing parties (2019)N-VA, CD&V, Open Vld
 • Minister-PresidentJan Jambon (N–VA)
 • LegislatureFlemish Parliament
 • SpeakerLiesbeth Homans (N–VA)
 • Total13,522 km2 (5,221 sq mi)
 (1 January 2023)[2]
 • Total6,774,807
 • Density500/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
 • Ethnic groupFlemings
 • LanguagesDutch
Dutch and French (in municipalities with language facilities)
 • Total€330.495 billion (2022)
ISO 3166 codeBE-VLG
Celebration Day11 July

The Flemish Region (Dutch: Vlaams Gewest, pronounced [ˌvlaːms xəˈʋɛst] ),[4][a] usually simply referred to as Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen [ˈvlaːndərə(n)] ),[b] is one of the three regions of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region.[5] Covering the northern portion of the country, the Flemish Region is primarily Dutch-speaking. With an area of 13,522 km2 (5,221 sq mi), it accounts for only 45% of Belgium's territory, but 57% of its population. It is one of the most densely populated regions of Europe with around 490/km2 (1,300/sq mi).

The Flemish Region is distinct from the Flemish Community: the latter encompasses both the inhabitants of the Flemish Region and the Dutch-speaking minority living in the Brussels-Capital Region. It borders Netherlands.


Immediately after its establishment in 1980, the region transferred all its constitutional competencies to the Flemish Community. Thus, the current Flemish authorities (Flemish Parliament and Flemish Government) represent all the Flemish people, including those living in the Brussels-Capital Region. Hence, the Flemish Region is governed by the Flemish Community institutions. However, members of the Flemish Community parliament elected in the Brussels-Capital Region have no right to vote on Flemish regional affairs.

Administrative divisions

Provinces in the Flemish Region

The Flemish Region comprises five provinces, each consisting of administrative arrondissements that, in turn, contain municipalities (in total 300 municipalities in Flanders).

The seat of the Flemish parliament is located in Brussels, which is an enclave within – but not part of – the Flemish region, being specified that the Brussels-Capital Region is established as an administrative region of Belgium in its own right. In contrast, the Walloon parliament has established its parliament in the territory of Wallonia, specifically in the city of Namur, Namur Province.

Province Capital city Administrative
(1 January 2020)[2]
Area[1] Population density
1  Antwerp (Antwerpen) Antwerp (Antwerpen) Antwerp, Mechelen, Turnhout 1,869,730 2,876 km2 (1,110 sq mi) 650/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
2  Limburg (Limburg) Hasselt Hasselt, Maaseik, Tongeren 877,370 2,427 km2 (937 sq mi) 360/km2 (930/sq mi)
3  East Flanders (Oost-Vlaanderen) Ghent (Gent) Aalst, Dendermonde, Eeklo, Gent, Oudenaarde, Sint-Niklaas 1,525,255 3,007 km2 (1,161 sq mi) 510/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
4  Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant) Leuven Halle-Vilvoorde, Leuven 1,155,843 2,118 km2 (818 sq mi) 550/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
5  West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen) Bruges (Brugge) Bruges, Diksmuide, Ypres, Kortrijk, Ostend, Roeselare, Tielt, Veurne 1,200,945 3,197 km2 (1,234 sq mi) 380/km2 (980/sq mi)
Flemish Region 22 6,629,143 13,626 km2 (5,261 sq mi) 490/km2 (1,300/sq mi)


Flanders is home to a diversified modern economy, with emphasis put on research and development. Many enterprises work closely with local knowledge and research centres to develop new products and services.[6] The Gross domestic product (GDP) of the region was 270 billion € in 2018, accounting for 59% of Belgium's economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was €36,300 or 136% of the EU27 average in the same year.[7]


Bus of "De Lijn"

"De Lijn" serves as the main public transport company, run by the Flemish government. It consists of buses and trams. TEC is the equivalent company in Wallonia, and MIVB-STIB in Brussels. The railway network run by the NMBS, however, is a federal responsibility.

The Flemish government is also responsible for about 500 kilometers of regional roads (Dutch: gewestwegen) and about 900 kilometers of highways in the territory of the Flemish Region. Other types of roads are provincial roads and municipal roads.



Largest cities in the region include (with population figures as of 1 January 2018):[8]

The Flemish Diamond (Dutch: Vlaamse Ruit) is the name of the central, populous area in Flanders and consists of several of these cities, such as Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen. Approximately 5,500,000 people live in the area.


The official language of the Flemish Region is Dutch.[9] The dialect cluster spoken in the region is sometimes colloquially referred to as Flemish (Vlaams),[10][11][12] Flemish Dutch (Vlaams-Nederlands), Belgian Dutch (Belgisch-Nederlands), or Southern Dutch (Zuid-Nederlands). Spelling and grammar are regulated by a single authority, the Dutch Language Union (Nederlandse Taalunie), comprising a committee of ministers of the Flemish and Dutch governments, their advisory council of appointed experts, a controlling commission of 22 parliamentarians, and a secretariat.[13][14] The term Flemish can be applied to the Dutch spoken in Flanders; it shows many regional and local variations.[15] The main dialect groups include West Flemish, East Flemish, Brabantian and Limburgish.

The municipalities with language facilities near Brussels

French (specifically Belgian French) may also be used in the Flemish Region for certain administrative purposes in a limited number of the so-called "municipalities with language facilities" around the Brussels-Capital Region and on the border with Wallonia. These "rim municipalities" around Brussels are Drogenbos, Kraainem, Linkebeek, Sint-Genesius-Rode, Wemmel and Wezembeek-Oppem. Brussels was originally a Dutch-speaking city (Brabantian dialect to be exact),[16] but it was francised in the 19th and 20th centuries and is now officially bilingual in French and Dutch[9] (although largely French-speaking in practice).[17] Municipalities with language facilities on the border with Wallonia are Bever (French: Biévène), Herstappe, Mesen (French: Messines), Ronse (French: Renaix), Spiere-Helkijn (French: Espierres-Helchin), and Voeren (French: Fourons).


Religion in the Flemish Region in 2016[18]

  Catholic Church (68%)
  Protestantism (2%)
  Irreligion (26%)
  Islam (2%)
  Other religion (2%)

According to a 2016 survey by the Free University of Brussels, 68% of Flemish citizens are Roman Catholic, 2% are Protestant, 26% are irreligious, while 2% have other religions.[18]

International relations

Twin regions and sister regions

See also



  1. ^ French: Région flamande; German: Flämische Region
  2. ^ French: Flandre [flɑ̃dʁ]; German: Flandern [ˈflandɐn]


  1. ^ a b "Occupation du sol sur base du Registre cadastral, Belgique. Revenus en euro. Superficies en hectare. Superficie totale en pour mille" [Land use based on the cadastral register, Belgium. Income in euros. Areas in hectare. Total area in per thousand]. Statistics Belgium (in French). 11 April 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b "On 1 January 2020, Belgium had 11,492,641 inhabitants". Statistics Belgium. 26 May 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  3. ^ "EU regions by GDP, Eurostat". Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  4. ^ In isolation, gewest is pronounced [ɣəˈʋɛst].
  5. ^ The Belgian Constitution (PDF). Brussels, Belgium: Belgian House of Representatives. May 2014. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. Article 3: Belgium comprises three Regions: the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels Region. Article 4: Belgium comprises four linguistic regions: the Dutch-speaking region, the French-speaking region, the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital and the German-speaking region.
  6. ^ "Flanders | Flanders fits you". Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Regional GDP per capita ranged from 30% to 263% of the EU average in 2018". Eurostat.
  8. ^ "kek_demo". Archived from the original on 18 December 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b "La Constitution belge (Art. 4)" (in French). the Belgian Senate. May 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2009. La Belgique comprend quatre régions linguistiques : la région de langue française, la région de langue néerlandaise, la région bilingue de Bruxelles-Capitale et la région de langue allemande..
  10. ^ "Flemish, Vlaams". BBC. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  11. ^ De Cock, Barbara (2006), Flemish language policy in an era of globalisation (PDF),, retrieved 3 May 2017
  12. ^ "Flemish language, alphabet and pronunciation". Omniglot. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  13. ^ "De Taalunie – Wie zijn wij?" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Taalunie. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  14. ^ "De Taalunie – Werkwijze en beleid" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Taalunie. Archived from the original on 18 March 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  15. ^ Hoeksema, Jack. "College 4 – 1830 Belgische onafhankelijkheid, Noord-Zuidverschillen, Dialecten en de rijksgrens, Frans-Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). University of Groningen (host site). Archived from the original (ppt) on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  16. ^ Backhaus, Peter (2007). Linguistic Landscapes: A Comparative Study of Urban Multilingualism in Tokyo. Multilingual Matters Ltd. p. 158. ISBN 9781853599460. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  17. ^ Janssens, Rudi (2008). Taalgebruik in Brussel en de plaats van het Nederlands — Enkele recente bevindingen (PDF) (in Dutch) (Brussels Studies, nº13 ed.). Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Un sondage ORELA/IPSOS/Le Soir/RTBF : " Les Belges francophones et la religion "" (in French). Université libre de Bruxelles. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  19. ^ "ベルギー3地域と「友好交流及び相互協力に関する覚書」を締結". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
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Flemish Region
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