Wallonia (Belgium)

Wallonia, is the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium. It is governed as the Walloon Region, which makes up 55% of the territory of Belgium but with only a third of its population. Contrary to the situation in Flanders, the Walloon Region was not merged with the French Community of Belgium, a political level responsible for matters related mainly to culture and education. The small German-speaking minority in the east forms the German-speaking Community of Belgium, which has its own government and parliament for culture-related issues. The demonym for Wallonia is Walloon.

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 centuries, Wallonia was the more prosperous half of Belgium. Since World War II the importance of heavy industry has greatly declined, and the Flemish Region surpassed Wallonia in wealth as Wallonia economically declined. 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.

The capital of Wallonia is Namur, and its largest metropolitan area is Liège, while its most populous municipality proper 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 southeast lie the Ardennes; the area is sparsely populated and mountainous. Wallonia borders Flanders and the Netherlands in the north, France to the south and west, and Germany and Luxembourg to the east.

 


Wallonia Reion (Belgium)

 

Economy


Steelmaking along the Meuse River at Ougrée, near Liège, on the sillon industriel

Wallonia is rich in iron and coal, and these resources and related industries have played an important role in its history. In ancient times, the Sambre and Meuse valley was an important industrial area in the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, Wallonia became a center for brass working and bronze working, with Huy, Dinant and Chimay being important regional centers. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the iron masters of Liège developed a method of refining iron ore by the use of a blast furnace, called the Walloon Method. There were also a few coal mines around Charleroi and the Borinage during this period, but their output was small, and was principally consumed as a fuel by various industries such as the important glass making industry that sprang up in the Charleroi basin during the 14th century

The current Walloon economy is relatively diversified, although certain areas (especially around Charleroi and Liège) are still suffering from the steel industry crisis, with an unemployment rate of up to 30%. Nonetheless, Wallonia has some companies which are world leaders in their specialized fields, including armaments, glass production, lime and limestone production, cyclotrons and aviation parts. The south of Wallonia, bordering Luxembourg, benefits from its neighbour's economic prosperity, with many Belgians working on the other side of the border; they are often called frontaliers. The Ardennes area south of the Meuse River is a popular tourist destination for its nature and outdoor sports, in addition to its cultural heritage, with places such as Bastogne, Dinant, Durbuy, and the famous hot springs of Spa.

English
Plataforma tecnológica cofinanciada por: