Wallonia

Some facts about Wallonia

Wallonia (French: Wallonie [walɔni], German: Wallonie(n), Dutch: Wallonië [ʋaːˈloːni.ə], Walloon: Walonreye Walloon pronunciation: ​[walɔ̃ʀɛjɜ], Luxembourgish: Wallounien, [vɑˈləʊ̯niə̯n]) is a region of Belgium. Wallonia is primarily French-speaking, and accounts for 55% of the territory of Belgium, and a third of its population. Unlike Flanders, the Walloon Region was not merged with the French Community of Belgium which is the political entity that is responsible for matters related mainly to culture and education. The German-speaking minority in the east forms the German-speaking Community of Belgium, which has its own government and parliament for culture-related issues.

During the industrial revolution, Wallonia was second only to the United Kingdom in industrialization, capitalizing on its extensive deposits of coal and iron. This brought the region wealth, and, from the beginning of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century, Wallonia was the more prosperous half of Belgium. Since World War II the importance of heavy industry has greatly diminished, and the Flemish Region surpassed Wallonia in wealth as Wallonia declined economically. Wallonia now suffers from high unemployment and has a significantly lower GDP per capita than Flanders. The economic inequalities and linguistic divide between the two are major sources of political conflict in Belgium and is a major factor in Flemish separatism.

The capital of Wallonia is Namur but the city with the greatest population is Charleroi. Most of Wallonia's major cities and two-thirds of its population lie along the Sambre and Meuse valley, the former industrial backbone of Belgium. To the north lies the Central Belgian Plateau, which, like Flanders, is relatively flat and agriculturally fertile. In the south-east lie the Ardennes, hilly and sparsely populated. Wallonia borders Flanders and the Netherlands in the north, France to the south and west, and Germany and Luxembourg to the east. Wallonia has been a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie since 1980.

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