BELGIUM

PROJECT WORK

BELGIUM

CONTENTS

• Introduction;

• The aim of the Project Work;

• The Project Work

“Belgium”:

• The main facts;

• Geography;

• Climate;

• History;

• Culture;

• Holidays;

• People;

• Language;

• Religion;

• The capital;

• The beer;

• The comics;

• Conclusions.

INTRODUCTION

It happens time after time. People understand Europe the way they’ve been
introduced to it – The usual tourist meccas, the attractions on a thousand
postcards. Then they remember the little country, they passed through a few
days ago. It seems beautiful, it’s practically next door to Paris, London
and Amsterdam, and they have 24 hours to explore it before heading home.
So, I’d like to introduce you – this is Belgium.

THE AIM OF THE PRROJECT WORK

The aim of this Project Work was to know as much new facts about Belgium as
it’s possible.

THE MAIN FACTS

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Flag description: three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow,
and red; the design was based on the flag of France.

Location: Europe

Status: UN Country

Capital City: Brussels (Bruxelles)

Main Cities: Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège

Population: 10,020,000   Area [sq.km]: 30,520

Currency: 1 euro = 100 cents

Languages: Flemish (Dutch), French, German

Religions: Roman Catholic

Geography
Belgium, a kingdom no bigger than Maryland, is Europe in a nutshell,
multicultural and multilingual. Flanders in the north, a fllatland criss-
crossed by canals, is proud of its great art cities, Antwerp, Bruges and
Ghent. To the south in Wallonia, you will find the rolling hills of the
Ardennes, numerous castles, and the cities of Liege, Namur, and Tournai.
Its capital city of Br

russels is one of the world’s great cosmopolitan
cities, home to both the European Union and NATO, as well as a wealth of
international trade and finance companies.
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Belgium is located at the Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between
France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, and Netherlands 450 km.
Total area includes 1,385 km.

Climate
The climate near the sea is humid and mild. Farther inland, away from the
moderating maritime influences, a marked increase in the range of
temperature occurs.

In the Ardennes region hot summers alternate with cold winters. Heavy rains
are confined almost exclusively to the highlands. Fog and drizzle are
common, and April and November are particularly rainy months.

In Brussels, located at the center of the nation, the average temperatures
range from -1° to 4° C (30° to 40° F) in January and 12° to 233° C (54° to
73° F) in July. In Oostende, on the coast, the average range is 1° to 5° C
(33° to 41° F) in January and 13° to 20° C (56° to 67° F) in July.

Rainfall in Brussels is uniformly spread throughout the year, with a yearly
average of about 860 mm (about 34 in); annual precipitation in Oostende
averages about 600 mm (about 24 in).

History
Belgium’s neighbours France, Germany and England. Conquered by German
tribes, Christianised by the 7th century and carved up during the Frankish
Empire in 1100, much of Belgium enjoyed a golden age of prosperity and
artistry under th

he French Duke of Burgundy during the 14th century.

With the demise of Bruges due to British competition and a silted river,
Antwerp soon became the greatest port in Europe. The golden age began to
tarnish in the mid-15th century when the Low Countries (present-day
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) were inherited by Spain, igniting
a long battle against Catholic Spanish rule. The fanatically Catholic
Philip II of Spain sent in the Inquisition to enforce Catholicism.
Thousands were imprisoned or executed before full-scale war erupted in
1568. The Revolt of the Netherlands lasted 80 years and in the end Holland
and its allied provinces booted out the Spaniards.

Belgium and Luxembourg stayed under Spanish rule. Napolean’s defeat at the
Battle of Waterloo near Brussels led to the creation, in 1814, of the
United Kingdom of the Netherlands, melding Belgium and Luxembuorg into the
Netherlands. But the Catholic Belgians revolted, winning independence in
1830.
Despite Belgium’s neutral policy, the Germans invaded in 1914. Another
German attack in 1940 saw the entire country taken over within three weeks.
King Leopold III’s questionably early capitulation to the Germans led to
his abdication in 1950 in favour of his son, King Baudouin, whose popular
reign ended with his death in 1993. Childless, Baudouin was succeeded by
his brother, the present King Albert II.

Postwar Belgium was characterised by an economic boom, later ac

ccentuated by
Brussels’ appointment as the headquarters of the European Union (EU) and
the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Belgium of today is home to
a vast army of diplomats, and with them has come a rampant form of
internationalism – followed closely by bland skyscrapers and intimidatory
restaurants.
While the country’s number one city is being busily groomed to suit the
rest of Europe, the Belgians themselves remain nonchalant – the true spirit
of Belgium will always emanate from its people and its past.

Culture

Festival’s play an important part in Belgian life. One of the most famous
festivals is the three-day carnival at Binche, near Mons, held just before
Lent. During the carnival, noisemaking and dancing are led by “Gilles,” men
dressed in high, plumed hats and bright costumes.

Another famous pageant is the Procession of the Holy Blood, held in Brugge
in May. December 6 commemorates Saint Nicholas’s Day, an important
children’s holiday.

HOLIDAYS

|New Year’s Day |Jan. 1 |
|Good Friday |Mar. 29 |
|Easter Monday |Apr. 1 |
|Labor Day |May 1 |
|Ascension Day |May 9 |
|Whit Monday |May 20 |
|Independence Day |July 21 |
|Assumption Day |Aug. 15 |
|All Saints Day |Nov. 1 |
|Veterans Day |Nov. 11 |
|Christmas Day |Dec. 25 |

People

The people of Belgium are primarily of two ethnic groups, the Flemings
(Teutonic origin) and the Walloons (Celtic origin, probably with an
admixture of Alpine elements). The most distinguishing characteristic of
these tw

wo groups is language. The Flemings speak Dutch (often referred to
by its historic regional name, Flemish; see Flemish Language), and the
Walloons speak French.
The predominantly Flemish provinces are in the northern half of Belgium,
called Flanders (Flemish Region), and the predominantly Walloon provinces
are in the southern half, called Wallonia. The capital of Brussels, an
enclave within the Flanders region, is mixed. In 1993 these three
ethnolinguistic areas became official federal regions.

Language

In 1963 a law was passed establishing three official languages within
Belgium: Dutch was recognized as the official language in the north, French
in the south, and German along the eastern border.
In the city and suburbs of Brussels, both French and Dutch are officially
recognized, although French speakers are the larger group. In the country
as a whole, strictly Dutch speakers make up about 58 percent, and French
speakers about 32 percent of the population, while about 10 percent are
bilingual or speak German or other languages. In 1971 a constitutional
change was enacted giving political recognition to these three linguistic
communities, providing cultural autonomy for them, and also revising the
administrative status of Brussels.

Religion

About three-quarters of the Belgian population is Roman Catholic, but this
number and regular church attendance are on the decline. Religious liberty
is guaranteed, and part of the stipend for the ministers of all faiths is
paid by the government. Other religions practiced within the country
include a number of Protestant denominations, Judaism, and Islam.

THE CAPITAL

Brussels is a cosmopolitan city, with a liveliness and an appeal that are
intimately related to its role as a crossroads for all of Europe.
Architectural styles range from Gothic cathedrals and churches to the
gracious classical facades of the Palais des Nations, the Royal Palace and
to the many art nouveau and art deco houses in the comfortable
neighborhoods where the Bruxellois live.

The heart of Brussels and the place to start getting to know the city is
the Grand’Place.

This historic square, lined with exuberantly ornate guild houses and
focused on the Gothic heights of the Hotel de Ville, is widely held to be
one of Europe’s finest.
The Grand’Place is also, as it has been for centuries, the focal point of
the city’s social and civic life. The people of Brussels gather here for
their most important ceremonies and festivals, for the traditional bird
market on Sunday mornings, and – perhaps most importantly – for no task
more pressing than to sit, have a beer, and let the world pass.
Every neighbourhood has its own market as Brussels is a city of markets:
the bird market, the flower market, the antique market, the flea market,
and the horse market. Vendors bring fresh produce from nearby fields,
cheeses made in farms and abbeys; hams cured in the Ardennes, flowers and
potted plants, chickens, rabbits and fresh caught fish, shrimp and mussels
from the North Sea.
At the corner of the Rue de l’Etuve and the Rue du Chene, stands the
fountain of Manneken-Pis. The statue has long been a beloved figure in
Brussels, having come to be regarded as an honored citizen of the town.
Kings, Presidents, and celebrities have given costumes to the Manneken-Pis.
He now has a wardrobe of more than 250 outfits which are housed in the
Musee Communal.
To the east of the Grand’Place, the ground rises toward the upper town
where the Royal Palace and the House of Parliament sit. In between these
two is a formal park with fountains in the French style.  It is here that
the Belgians fought the Dutch for their independence. Slightly to the south
is the Place du Grand Sablon, the center of exquisite antique galleries and
sumptuous restaurants.
Just to the north of the Grand Sablon is the Royal Museum of Fine Arts,
which comprises the Museums of Ancient Art and Modern Art. Both possess
enormous collections featuring many outstanding works. Among the rooms not
to be missed is the collection of Flemish paintings from the 15th and 16th
centuries. All of the major artists are well represented including Robert
Campin, Rogier van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, Dirk Bouts, Hans Memling,
and particularly, Peter Breughel the Elder. There is an entire room devoted
exclusively to Breughel’s work, including his Landscape with the “Fall of
Icarus.” The national sons, Peter Paul Rubens and his disciple, Anthony Van
Dyck have an impressive presence.
There is no shortage of entertainment events in Brussels, and in keeping
with the city’s cosmopolitan outlook, these are widely varied. They range
from the annual Queen Elizabeth Music Competition, which draws aspiring
classical musicians from all over the world, to the annual Jazz Festival in
Brussels which attracts legendary jazz stars to the city. The Theatre Royal
de la Monnaie consistently offers first class opera and ballet. In the
Palais des Beaux Arts, symphony and chamber music concerts are programmed
year-round. There are cinemas with American films in their original
version, nightclubs and discos to satisfy even the most energetic. Don’t
forget the folklore and pageantry integral to an understanding of Belgium,
with the Ommegang Festival, the first Thursday in July or the Parade of the
Giants in May.
Mussels in Brussels are a must! They are prepared in a variety of ways and
are a bargain in season. All Belgian food is of course delicious.
Proportions are huge, so try to save room for dessert. Chocolates, waffles
and cookies are everywhere. And after all, you can always go on a diet in
Paris.
Belgium has enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for its specialty beers
since the Middle Ages. Connoisseurs favor our beers for their variety, real
flavor and character. Belgians are the greatest beer drinkers in Europe,
exceeding even the English and the Germans.

THE Beer

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Belgian beers come in a range of colors – from pale to black – and a range
of types. The Lambic is yeasty, Gueuze is fruity, Kriek is sweet, and
Trappiste is brewed by monks in monasteries throughout Belgium.

• Blanche: wheat beer – light and trendy, cloudy and smooth, a little on

the sweet side. This thirst-quenching beer combines character and

flavor with a lowish alcohol content.

• Gueuze: a blend of young and aged lambic beers. A complex beer, dosed

with yeast to stimulate a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

• Trappiste: rich dark ales produced according to centuries-old methods

by monks in five monasteries; Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and

Westvleteren.

• Lambic: a beer naturally fermented by contamination of wort by

airborne yeasts.

• Faro: a Lambic for the faint of heart. A sweetened variety with some

of the flavor but little of the intensity of other Lambics.

• Kriek: a beer made with cherries, refreshing in summer.

• Brown Beers: brewed in Flanders, these beers are hearty and full-

flavored.

• Red Beers: produced in West Flanders from red barley. These beers are

aged in oak. They are fruity, sweet and sour, and are very thirst-

quenching.

THE COMICS

 THE MOST FAMOUS CHARACTERS FROM THE BELGIAN COMICS

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Marsupilami: one of the most cute and original character created by
Franquin.

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Tintin

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The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs)

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Lucky Luke

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Spirou

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Gaston

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Marsupilami

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Natacha

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Bakelandt

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Sophie

The Belgian Comics

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The most famous Belgian comic: Tintin.
European Comics bloomed after WW II, especially in Belgium, France, Italy
and England. As most of you certainly know Tintin, few only could point
Belgium as Tintin’s native land. However, the Belgian contribution to the
Comics’ universe was certainly not limited to the world famous reporter and
to his small dog Snowy (Milou, in French- the original language of the
Tintin stories). The forties and the fifties saw the apparition of an
incredibly rich and diversified production of comic books in Belgium.

BRUSSELS’S MUSEUM FOR COMICS AND CARTOONS

CBBD – Centre Belge de la Bande Dessin, is its official name.

This museum, unique in the world, is installed in the very heart of
Brussels in a historical architectural building designed by Horta for
industrial use. It was converted to an exhibition center for the “comic
strips” (bande dessin as they are called in French, BD in short and
colloquial).

Their incredible collections of albums, magazines and books, as well as
original works from authors (drawings and writings) are all dedicated to
the Comics.

THE SMURFS

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The Smurfs. cute individualistic little blue men

SCHTROUMPF. WHAT?

Why Schtroumpf? Why this strange original name (in the French text)?

Simply because in search of a name for the cute little dwarfs he just drew,
Peyo (real name: Pierre Culliford), wanted to find a name with derision.
Finally it was something approaching the German word for socks: Strumpf.

As the word was difficult to read for non-Germans, and due to the rather
dumb signification, deterioration gave the famous Schtroumpf!! (Pronounce:
Ch-Trough-mm-ppff)

THE SMURF ERA

In fact these strange little blue men were at first a secondary set of
characters for another series from Peyo: Johan and Pirlouit. This series
was a kind of medieval farce with a cohort of interesting characters.
Amongst them: Pirlouit, small page accomplice of Johan, always ready for a
good laugh when not temperamental. The Johan and Pirlouit series was rather
successful when suddenly in 1958 in one of the stories: La flute six Trous-
little blue dwarfs were everywhere. The Schtroumpf era had began.

CONCLUSIONS

Belgium is a country of Western Europe. It is quite a big country, which is
famous for its architecture, for its beer and funny comics. Belgium is a
country I have visited once, but it’s not enough! I will visit it again and
again!

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