What’s the origin of the name "Belgium"?
The name "Belgium" is of Latin origin and is derived from Belgica or Belgium – the name given to the territory by the Romans to reflect the tribes who ruled the land in those times.
Be that as it may, it was common practice during the 17th century to give Latin names to new territories, such as Nova Scotia (New Scotland) which still exists today. Thus, the Dutch colonists who settled in North America early in that century gave the name Novum Belgium to the region between Virginia and New England, Belgium being the Latin term for the Netherlands (also the Low Countries), a region which at that time encompassed almost all of the Benelux countries and part of northern France. In fact, many of those who purchased the island of Manhattan originally came from present-day Belgium, and from Wallonia in particular, including Pierre Minuit, the third governor of the colony.
What is Belgium's current status in the world?
A country which had been much coveted by its near neighbours for centuries, Belgium was one of the original founding countries of the European Union. Indeed, for Belgium, this Union represented a guarantee of peace and stability in the region, whilst also helping to maintain the independence of such smaller nations.
Its historic neutrality and strategic position at the heart of Western Europe have earned it the right to be chosen as the seat of many international institutions – such as NATO and the European Union. Today, these institutions are located in Brussels, even though the actual centre of the European Union of 15 is located at Viroinval (Oignies-en-Thiérache), just a few kilometres from the French border.
A small country with a high population density
Belgium is one of the most densely populated nations in the world, and in that respect is very similar to countries like Japan, India, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Even though the country is 18 times smaller than France, its population per km² is nevertheless three times higher (372 inhabitants/km²). Thus it accommodates a population the size of the whole of south-western France (Poitou-Charente, Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon and Auvergne). ENGEL & VÖLKERS can help you become part of this population because we can offer high-end real estate in all of Belgium’s regions.
Celebrating linguistic diversity
Belgium officially recognizes three languages used in its territory. The north, which is still called Flanders, is mainly populated by those who speak Dutch. This is where you will find most of Belgium’s 57% Dutch-speaking population. Meanwhile, the south of the country, also known as Wallonia, is where you will find most of the 43% of French-speaking Belgians. A few German speakers can be found in a small region in the east of the country, but only 1% of our national population actually speak German. The Brussels area is a special case: people in this multilingual region speak not only French and Dutch, but English too. This is no doubt due to the proximity of the United Kingdom (only about two and a half hours away by train) as well as the presence of international institutions. But more to the point, English also allows the Walloons and Flemish to be able to understand each other without getting into lengthy debates about linguistic preferences! And, of course, ENGELS & VÖLKERS is the real estate agency that can find you an upmarket residence in any of these regions.