An introduction to the regions of Belgium
Although lots of expats do live in Brussels, there are many towns and cities to chose from, especially if you are bringing a family with you. Here is a quick introduction to the regions of your new country.
Belgium is a federal state consisting of three regions: the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region, the Flemish Region, where Dutch is the main language, and the Walloon Region, where French and some German are spoken.
The Brussels-Capital Region was created in 1989. It is made up of 19 communes, one of which is also called Brussels. Brussels is the capital of Flanders and is officially bilingual, though French is more commonly used.
Brussels has many cultural centres, including Bozar and Flagey, which host multilingual exhibitions, concerts and films. Tourism hub VisitBrussels provides comprehensive information on what to see and do in the city, including nightlife, food and drink, museums and galleries. The website Uit in Brussel gives a good introduction to the cultural programmes on offer in Brussels, and it is available in English and French as well as Dutch.
The non-profit Flemish organisation de Rand organises cultural programming, with the goal of bringing together locals and newcomers in the communes surrounding the Brussels-Capital Region. By organising events such as coffee mornings at community centres for young parents with babies, de Rand tries to create meeting places for the expat community and locals.
When it comes to finding a home, the Flemish Social Housing Company can help you find affordable housing (to rent or buy) or a loan to cover the costs. Preferential loans are available to households with children.
With a cycle network across its green regions, Flanders is a European pioneer in the establishment of biking and walking routes. The Flemish coast hosts a number of events and festivals throughout the year, as well as museums, heritage and authentic regional dishes.
The capital of French-speaking Wallonia is Namur, and its other main cities are Charleroi, Liège, Mons, Tournai, Verviers, Wavre, Arlon and Nivelles. The region prides itself on its economic development, creativity and strategic location. Wallonia has two international airports: Charleroi (Brussels South), specialising in low-cost passenger traffic, and Liège, a leading cargo hub. It has excellent road, rail and water connections with the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France which boost the region’s economic activity.
Traditional folklore in Wallonia is extensive and highly regionalised. In the Hainaut village of Binche, the annual Carnival festivities are recognised by Unesco, while in the eastern cantons the spring celebration is a more Germanic affair. The capital of Hainaut, Mons, puts on the colourful Doudou procession every June, with its re-enactment of St George’s fight with a dragon.
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