B1 Intermediate US 778 Folder Collection
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Let me tell you a little story
Once upon a time, France had a son named Wallonia
and the Nederlands had a son named Flanders
One day a bunch of crazy stuff happened in Europe blablabla
After all the crazy stuff subsided
Flanders was like ''Hey Wallonia''
I'm gonna move out of my parent's place
and I got this new rad appartment
but I kinda need another guy to help me pay for the rent
I don't know, you're kind of a cool guy, I guess, would you like to be my roommate?
Yeah, sure, I guess, why not
But, just for the record, I don't speak any Dutch
Oh no worries, I don't speak any French!
And that is how Belgium became a country, kind of
Hey everybody I'm your host, Paul Barbado
you've all probably at least heard of the name Belgium
and if you have: congrats!
That's not enough
let's dissect the flag
First of all, the flag of Belgium looks like the flag of Germany knocked over to the left side
But just keep in mind the color sequence is black-yellow-red not black-red-yellow
Also the flag has an unusual proportion of 13 to 15 making it almost a square
The flag's colors are direcrly corolated to the country's code of arms
The black representing the shield and the determination
The yellow the lion and generosity
And the red representing the lion's claws and tongue and the crown
As well as bravery and strength
Speaking of strength, you gonna need a lot of it
to understand this next part
00:01:24,180 --> 00:01:25,900
If you gonna learn anything about Belgium

the one thing you have to understand
is how the country is split up
this is very important
So pay attention, Brandon!
Oh, wha... wha... Azerbaijan?! Yea
Dude, that was like eight epidodes ago!
First of all, Belgium is located in Europe
Right under the Netherlands and northeast of France
Right at the foot of the North Sea, next to the English Channel
In the most fundamental way I can put this
Belgium is divided into three regions
The Dutch or the Flemish speaking north region called Flanders
The south or French Walloon region called Wallonia
And the capital Brussels acts in itself as a third region
And functions in a completely bilingual way
Most of the people in Brussels speak both, Dutch and French
However, French is a little bit more prevalent
Got it? Ok, good!
'Cause we're not done
Each of the Flanders and the Wallonia regions are then divided in 5 provinces each
Making a total of ten provinces
Brussels doesn't count and it's considered its own region
Not belonging to either Flanders or Wallonia
Even though, if technically it's completely ingulfed in Flanders
But then again the region around Brussels
Has a French administrative area around the city
Called the "BHV", or the "Brussel Halle Vilvoorde" County
In which large numbers of French minorities live
And can be judged in French
Even though, it's in Flanders
Still with me? Good, because it gets even crazier
The French also have administrative centres in the southeast and the southwest regions of Flanders
And a Walloonian municipal exclave in the west Flanders province
Called "Comines Warneton"
Even though, most of the people there speak Dutch
Furthermore, the Flemish have one municipal exclave in the "Liège" Province in Wallonia
Called "Voeren"
Oh! We're just getting started though
Then you have the German speaking minority in the east of Wallonia
In the "Liège" province
Who are making propositions to create an 11th province
Called "Eupen Sankt-Vith"
Speaking of Germans, Belgium has a lot
And I repeat
A lot of weird territorial claims and boundaries
For one, there are technically five German exclaves
Hidden right along the border of the "Liège" province in east Belgium
However, these exclaves are only separated from mainland Germany
From a Belgian train track
The "Vennbahn"
Which is no longer in use
This means that you can be in Germany
And you have only 10 metres between you and Belgium
Between you go back into Germany
The smallest of these German exclaves is just a small house near the German town of "Konzen"
With a front yard less than two hectares in area
Oh, but wait! There's more!
Then you reach the ever so confusing town of "Baarle Nassau / Hertog"
In which there are 22 Belgian enclaves in the Netherlands
And eight Dutch enclaves in Belgium
Seven of which are counter-enclaves, or
A part of the Netherlands in Belgium in the Netherlands
These borders, at first, make no sense
Apperently, they cross awkardly through streets, buildings, restaurants, stores
And even houses
A person can literally wake up in one country
And shower in the other
The rule is: Whatever side your front door is on
is the country that you pay your taxes to
The reason why it's so confusing is because, long story short
There was a guy ruling the area, called Henry I Duke of Brabant
Who gave parses of land to Godfried II of Schoten
Who ruled the area to the east
And in an attempt to build an alliance
So that his enemy Dirk VII wouldn't expand his influence
Long story short
Henry's land became Belgium and Godfried's became the Netherlands
To this day, the two countries have stayed true
To Godfried's and Henry's agreements
And have spilt the land exactly how they did
But wait! We're not just done yet
Finally you have the confusing "Lys Rivièr" River
in the border between the Walloon province of "Hainaut" and France
Starting in the town of "Halluin" in France
This river zigzags for about 26 km with multiple river islands
And land pieces that act like pene-enclaves
Until it all stops at the town of "Armentières"
Each side has in equal seven enclaves each along the river
Ok! Now let's talk about the landscape
00:04:41,720 --> 00:04:43,380
It's mostly flat, outside the cities

there's farms and forests, pretty lush in green
However, the World Wide Fund for Nature ranks Belgium pretty low in terms of their environmental performance
And the water quality was the lowest in the EU
Mostly due to the high population density
Belgium isn't really agriculturally driven
I mean, economically most of their revenue comes from
machinery, pharmaceuticals, diamonds
Many of which were imported from the Congo
We'll explain about that in a little bit
And service and industry jobs as well
Ok, that's about it - moving on
00:05:12,620 --> 00:05:14,140
Now, this is where things get really strange

In the shortest way I can put this
Belgium is like an artificial country
With technically no distinct former idendity
In which two region kinda became roommates
And the respective communities have a government
with the same power as a central government
Hah, and you thought Andorra was confusing
with that whole co-principality thing
Brother please, I'm Belgium
Sit down and I gonna give you a lesson in complicationmanatics
First of all, Belgium has a little less than 11 million people
At about 57%, the slight majority of people, are flemish
From Flanders
About 42% are Walloon from Wallonia
And 1% German from the German community
Keep in mind, although it's debatable
The terms "Flemish" and "Walloon" are more in reference to "linguistic communities"
And not ethnicities
By definition, you could have a Congolese guy in "Liège"
Identifying as a Walloon
And a Maroccan guy in "Antwerp" identifying as a Fleming
As long they speak the languages and become citizens
That's pretty much it
In terms of race though,
About 77% of the people identify as ethnically Belgian
And the remaining 23% identify as Non-Belgian
In origin, some of the largest groups being Maroccans, Italians, Turks
And even Congolese from the Democratic Republic of Congo
As it was a former Belgian colony, along with Rwanda and Burundi
Which is where a lot of the diamonds
We talked about earlier
Come from
The Belgians even took over a small part of China for a couple of decades in the 20th century
In Tianjin, after quickly gaving it back
And to this day pictures from the Belgian-Chinese colony
Are some of the rarest fotos you can find in historical archives
As we mentioned, Belgium has three distinct regions
Flanders, Walloon and Brussels
However, regions weren't enough
And so Belgium decided to split things up even more
Into communities
Due to German speaking minority, predominatly in the southeast
Belgium created a semi-mediarary third community
Even tough only about 1% of the country actually speaks German
Less than the amount of people in Belgium who actually speak arabic
And has instituted three seperate governments
And parliaments, one for each language group.
The Dutch, French and German
Each of these governents actually has as just much as power as the central government
Wait what?!
On top of that, the French and Dutch communities are allowed to provide
cultural and social services to the citizens in Brussels
But not in the other region
This means that a family living in Brussels
Could possibly depend upon the central government for taxes
The French government for community centres
The Dutch government for schools
And the Brussels government for the police force
Four government acting at once
And then you have a King!
Long story short, Belgium became a constitutional monarchy that started in 1830
With Philippe I as the current head of state
They are the only monarchy in europe with no actual crown or lavish robes and cepters
They gained independance from the Netherlands,
French speaking Wallonia joined along and then they chose a German prince to become their first king
In terms of culture, Belgium can be attributed to a lot of things
For one, some of the world's most renowned surrealist artists came from Belgium
Like Rene Magritte
Cartoons like the "Smurfs" and my homeboy
I have read almost every single one of those comics
Aint nobody mess with Tintin. That dude is mad boss
The national dish is mussels with French Fries and mayonnaise
Belgians will tell you that fries originated from Belgium
And of course, Waffles!
They make some of the best chocalate in the world
That rivals Switzerland. And of course
Everyone's favourite Belgian: "Jean-Claude Van Damme"
They host the headquarters of the EU and are typically called upon to help Europe administer their diplomatic affairs
Affairs with other countries we will discuss in:
00:08:25,340 --> 00:08:28,160
Oh, Belgium, Belgium, Belgium - when will you learn

First of all, Belgium is a very neutral country
After gaining independence from the Netherlands
Belgium quickly rose to become one of the leading powers of the industrialized Europe world
And it was a founding member of both, the EU and NATO
This means that since day one Belgium has had a huge entourage of affiliates
That they have kinda kept close
However, some are still closer than others
The UK has always been a good buddy of Belgium
since they played a pivotal role in the independance of Belgium
The US is also a good friend and to this day they still commemorate the "Battle of the Bulge"
In which the US played a huge role induring the liberation of Belgium in WWII
The only country that might have a little bit of a distaste towards Belgium
Might be the Democratic Rebublic of Congo
As they were occupied and became a colony for little less than a century
Belgium kinda did a lot of "things" to the Congo
Although tensions are generally eased off a bit today
And numerous Congolese people immigrate to Belgium yearly
There is still a somewhat aversion
That lingers on in in the back of each Congolese mind
When history is brought up
Of course, as you would guess France is a close friend too
Whom not only played a role in Belgium's independence
But also culturally resonates with the south Walloon region as well
The Netherlands is a close friend as they jive well with the Flanders region
Dispite the fact that they have a somewhat friendly rivalry with each other
Over the years many referendums have actually passed in Belgium
In which they almost considered re-annexing themselves back
To their respective neighboring contries,
The Netherland and France
However, they just can't seem to do it
Even though the sense of nationalism is kinda weak
Except during soccer games
In which they go all out Belgian pride
They still can't seem to let go of each other for some weird reason
In terms of their best friend though,
They would probably consider Luxembourg
Luxembourg is kinda seen as like the little brother of Belgium
And has been there with Belgium since the very beginning
They were even for a short while part of Belgium
After their independence
And their own monarchs, Philippe I and Grandduke Henry, are actually cousins too
In conclusion, Belgium is disputedly the most confusing politicly engeneered country in all of europe
And by all means, it makes no sense how they have kept together for almost 200 years
But they actually did somehow
Belgium, we dip our fries in mayonnaise to you
Stay tuned, Belize is coming up next!
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Geography Now! Belgium

778 Folder Collection
Elma Kung published on September 19, 2017
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