Brussels

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Contents

[edit] Introduction

Figure 1:
Figure 1: [1]
Figure 2:
Figure 2: [2]


Brussels is the capital city of Belgium, and the largest city in Belgium.[3] Brussels is also considered the capital of the European Union.[4] Belgian Declaration of Independence from Netherlands occurred October 4th, 1830, and gained full independence July 21, 1831.[5] Belgium is also considered the "Capital of Europe" in the economic industry, in which Brussels remains the central hub for European business and economic markets.[6]Brussels is also the largest urban area in Belgium and is comprised of 19 municipalities.[7] Brussels is also occupied by both French and Flemish communities.[8]


Below is a travel guide video highlighting some of the major attractions in Brussels, Belgium.

[edit] Globalization

Globalization is the expansion of economical, political, and cultural process these processes are used so widely known that they create a global scale impact. [9] Over time the city of Brussels have shown many significant signs of globalization, however Brussels has also shown glimpses of how globalization hasn't affected them as a city. On 21 July 1831, the city of Brussels became the capital of Belgium, at this point in time majority of the citizens were dutch-speaking. By 1921 there were three dominant languages in Brussels they were Dutch, Flanders, and French. In the last century the cities immigration rates increased drastically, forming the diverse city that they have now.[10]


[edit] Cultural Change and Tourism

Cultural Change

Belgium is considered to be a very diverse country with the capital leading by example. Brussels is one of the most international cities in the world, because 27% of the population is made up of foreigners, not including those who have taken Belgian citizenship. Although, Brussels is a very diverse city, they still have two predominant languages, dutch and french. As a result, because of the diversity that Brussels has it enables them to learn about other cultural norms from across the world. This is evident in Brussels based on majority of Roman Catholic beliefs in the past, but since the 20 century only 10% on practice Catholic religious views. [11]

Tourism

The top tourist attraction in Brussels is the Grand Place (Grote markt), which is a medieval square built in the 1695, but was destroyed during an attack from the French. This landmark had such great significance to the city that they rebuilt it within the next five years. Additionally, in the early 2000s The Grand Place, more specifically Hotel de Ville was one of the most elegant places in all of Europe, attracting tourists at a high level.[12]
Figure 3:
Figure 3:

[edit] International Trade

A large section of globalization is international trade, these are the imports and exports in which continents choose to trade their surplus of goods, or resources to another continent in exchange for goods, and resources they may lack. In Brussels case they rely on their foreign trades because they no longer produce fuel because of the closing of their mines in the 1960s. Brussels doesn't just trade for fuel they also trade for many other reasons with a variety of continents.

Exports

Since, Brussels is located in Europe, this creates an easily accessible way of trading between countries and cities in Europe due to the close proximity in which they are located. With 75.95% of exports of Brussels going to other European countries, it is evident that a large amount of their trade lay within Europe. Although, a majority of Brussels exports go to fellow European countries, they still maintain trades with 10.9% of their exports heading to Asia, 7.9% going to America lastly, leaving the last 5.3% to the rest of the world.[13]

Imports

Similarly, to Brussels exports, their imports do not differ much. Correspondingly, the highest percentage of the imports coming from Europe, at 72.7%, and the second highest imported continent being Asia. Additionally, 13.4% of imports to Asia, 10.5% to America, and 3.4% imported to the rest of the world. Evidently, Brussels international trade of imports and exports are almost identical, because of the fair trade, they are not going to give up large portions of their goods, and in return receive very little, thus the correlation between the two subjects. [14]


Figure 4:
Figure 4:


Brussels lopsidedness in international trade percentages with other continents shows that this city hasn't expanded economically as much as it should have with regards to the time-space compression theory and Harvey's "The Shrinking Map of the World" model. This theory and model states that with the new technology advances intensify the speed in which goods and/or resources can get across the world, allowing many countries that may be across the world to trade goods and/or in an respectable time frame. However, if this were the case then Brussels trading would have been evenly distributed throughout the world.[15]


[edit] Political Geography

Here is a photo to demonstrate the political geography of Belgium.

Figure 5:
Figure 5: [16]


[edit] Government Structure

Belgium government is made up of a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy[17].


[edit] People in Power

The executive government is lead by King of the Belgians, King Philippe. In addition, the executive government consists of Prime Minister, Charles Michel. [18]


[edit] Brussels

Figure 6:
Figure 6: [19]


Specifically to Brussels, The City of Brussels is divided into 19 municipalities. The above image breaks up the municipalities of Brussels. The major roles the municipalities play within the government are local. They take care of communal initiatives (ex. maintaining public space), compulsory services (ex. drivers licence insurance), as well as citizens financial and political participation[20].


[edit] Population

Belguim[21]

Total: 11,150,516

Men: 5,111,325

Women: 5,581,032

Population Density: 363.6/km2 (941.68/sq mi) [22]


Brussels[23]

Total: 1,163,486

Men: 483,586

Women: 576,705

Population Density: 7,025/km2 (16,857/sq mi) [24]


[edit] Residency

After WWII, people were drawn to Belgium and it become a popular place for immigrants. In 2007, foreign born residents accounted for almost 13% of the overall population in Belgium[25]. However, foreign residents make up nearly 70% of the population in the City of Brussels[26]. The largest group of foreign residents in Brussels is Moroccans, with a population of 8,327. They are followed by the French (5,209), Italians (3,526), Spanish (2,997), and Turks (1,566)[27]. Despite the number of foreign residents, in total, over 90% of the residents have acquired Belgian citizenship[28]. See Migration section for further details.


[edit] Health

The life expectancy of a Belgian is 79.65 years, which is steadily increasing at two months per year[29]. In Belgium, the birth rate is 999 births per 1,000 population, and the death rate is 10.76 deaths per 1,000 population[30]. The rate of natural increase declined significantly between the mid 1960's-1980's. Into the 2010's, the rate of natural increase began to climb, however, still not reaching half as high to where the RNI sat in the 1960's[31]. See [[1]] for a visual, interactive graph of this pattern. Below is a population pyramid that shows the majority of the Belgian population is middle aged. For a more in depth analysis of the population composition by age, the pyramid shows that approximately 16% of the population is 0-14 years, 12% ages 15-24, 40% ages 25-54, 13% ages 55-64, and 20% over age 65.[32].

Figure 7:
Figure 7: [33]


[edit] Language

Historically, Belguim has been a Dutch speaking country. The three official languages of Belgium today are Dutch, French, and German[34]. Overall, approximately 60% of the Belgian population speaks Dutch, 40% speak Belgium French, and fewer than 1% speak German[35]. Over time, there has been more variation with the languages spoken. Specifically in Brussels, it is estimated that, at home, 57% speak Belgium French only, 9% speak French and Dutch, 11% speak French and non-Dutch language, 7% speak Dutch only, and 15% speak neither[36].


[edit] Religion

Traditionally, Belgium practiced a Roman Catholic religion[37]. Today, there is must more disparity in what religion is practices by Belgians. Belgians are allowed freedom of religion with the addition of Laïcité within their culture. Where religion used to play a large role in politics, Laïcité allows the government to remain unbiased by religion from a political standpoint. Only 10% of Belgians regularly attend church to practice the Roman Catholic religion today[38]. With an expanding population and more immigrants of different origins coming to Belguim, the population practices a broader range of religions, such as Muslim, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Orthodoxy and Judaism[39].


[edit] Migration

The population of Brussels is 1.2 million people, with only 63% of inhabitants being Belgium citizens[40]. Specifically, within Brussels, individuals of foreign origin make up 70% of the population.[41] Predominately, migrants come from Turkey, Morocco, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi.[42]


[edit] Migration Policies

Over the last three decades, Belgium has become a permanent city of settlement for migrants. It was only until recently that migration policies were developed.[43] In the aftermath of both world wars, did immigration policies begin to develop.[44] In the 1960's, Belgium issued an influx of work visa's and were more lenient to individual's and their families from countries of Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and Turkey.[45] However, in 1974 unemployment rates and a recession began to steadily arise and pressure to adopt stricter migration policies were experienced.[46] After policies were put in place, migration was then primarily restricted to asylum or labour migration.[47] Since the 1990's the number in asylum application has steadily increased.[48] The government has now decided to bring competencies of the asylum and migration policies together under the Asylum and Migration State of Secretary with a push for policymakers to develop long-term migration policy objectives that incorporate asylum migrants.[49]

[edit] Family Migration

Since the Belgian government restricted visa's for work integration in 1974, family migration represents half of the current migration rates to Brussels.[50] In 2011, Belgium introduced a stricter migration policy under family reunification in order to restrict marriage fraud.[51] Partners in which a stable relationship of two years must be proven and children only qualify under this new policy.[52] Since the adoption of this new policy, Belgium has issued an increase in residency to families then previous years.[53]

[edit] Student Migration

Student migration is the second leading type of migration after family migration.[54] Student migration continues to increase in Brussels each year.[55] An estimated 30,000 students migrate to Belgium each year, with the majority of students settling in Brussels.[56] Predominately, students migrate from neighbouring countries such as France and the Netherlands.[57] It is expected that student migration will continue to increase and remain a dominant form of migration to Brussels and the country of Belgium.

[edit] Asylum Seekers and Unauthorized Immigrants

The number of asylum seekers has steadily increased over the past 3 decades.[58] Belgium receives high inflows of asylum seekers in comparison to other European Union Countries.[59] Over the last decade, the dominant countries of origin of asylum seekers in Brussels are from Iraq, Serbia, Russia, and Democratic Republic of Congo.[60]In 2009, the highest inflow of asylum applications were of Roma minorities from South Serbia and Macedonia.[61] During this time, Belgium along with Germany requested to speed up negotiations on issuing visa's in order to offer those safe migration in situations of emergencies.[62] In 2012, Belgium began to see a decline in asylum applications. [63]

[edit] Economic Migration and Labour Market Integration

The number of labour visa's has decreased substantially since 2011.[64] Firstly, this is because the lenient work visa's issued in the 1960's to specific countries were lifted as unemployment rates increased.[65] Because of this only 12% of migration to Brussels were of labour market integration, and were classified as "skilled" immigrants.[66] Second, Belgium receives increasing numbers of European Union free movement workers who live and work in Belgium and do not require residence permits under the European Union free movement legislation.[67] Overall, Belgium scores very low on the economic and labour integration migration movement

[edit] Social Geography

The city of Brussels is comparable in scale to cities such as New York and Tokyo, in size, population and administrative importance. It is also a multilingual city, as citizens speak at least one of French, Flemmish, Dutch, or German, and French and Flemmish are often spoken alongside one another as part of everyday life for many people. The conflicts within Brussels tend to not be overly related to race or religion, but rather the language spoken by individuals.[68]

[edit] Regions

Belgium has three regions, Walloon, Flanders and Brussels. Walloon is mainly French speaking but also has a German minority, Flanders is mainly Dutch Speaking, and surrounded by Flanders on all sides is Brussels, which has a majority of French speakers, as well as Dutch speakers and Flemmish making a minority of the population. Since Brussels is completely encircled by the Dutch region of Flanders, expanding Brussels would expand the French control of Belgium (as Brussels itself is mostly French), and expand the Dutch Population of Brussels, causing a less overwhelming majority in the city dubbed the “capital of Europe”.[69]

[edit] Diversity

Brussels has a large immigrant population, shown by its population of Arab citizens, as approximately twenty five percent of the citizens of Brussels are Arab.[70] As a result of its diversity, it is known for being a major cultural centre for Europe, and holds many attractions related to culture for tourists. However, being the cultural and political metropolis that it is, Brussels has difficulties in meeting the needs of its own citizens, since they often take a back seat to issues facing the rest of Europe, and the transit system of Brussels is impeded by the encouragement of auto mobiles, making it more difficult for those who cannot afford a vehicle to get to their destinations.[69]

[edit] Summary

Despite the issues, Brussels is a very culturally and socially diverse city, with a high standing in terms of cities within Europe, that some believe allows it to be comparable to New York City and Tokyo.

[edit] Cultural Geography

[edit] Architecture

Figure 8: Grand-Place
Figure 8: Grand-Place[71]

The Grand-Place is one of the most important architectural centres in Brussels. It is the city’s central square and includes the City Hall.[72] It is an eclectic collective of different styles, including Baroque and Gothic, from different time periods, ranging from the 12th to the 17th Century.[73] From its beginning, the square was a political and commercial centre for the city of Brussels. However, in 1695, during the War of the League of Augsbourg, the square was bombarded by the French.[74] It was soon rebuilt, mostly keeping to its original architectural style. Over the years, restauration campaigns have maintained the Grand-Place’s historical and architectural beauty and authenticity.[73] Indeed, in 1998, the site was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. According to UNESCO, the square’s mix of architectural styles illustrates the characteristic culture of the city and demonstrates the success of Brussels as an economic centre in Northern Europe.[73]


Figure 9: Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
Figure 9: Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula [75]

The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is most prominent religious building of the City of Brussels. It was built from the 13th to the 16th Century and has characteristics of the Brabantine Gothic architectural style.[76] This cathedral represents the prominent Roman Catholic influence in the area.


Figure 10: Royal Palace of Brussels
Figure 10: Royal Palace of Brussels[77]

The Royal Palace of Laeken and the Royal Palace of Brussels show the continuing presence and importance of the monarchy in Belgium. Although the King and Queen of the Belgians have no political powers since the country is a constitutional monarchy, the royal family is a symbol of national unity.[78] The Royal Palace of Laeken is the residence of the King and Queen of the Belgians and the Royal Palace of Brussels is their office. The latter is also open to the public and contains numerous rooms with historic pieces and works of art. [79] Both of these buildings are strong symbols of Belgian nationalism in the City of Brussels.


Figure 11: Atomium
Figure 11: Atomium[80]

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Brussels is the Atomium, which was constructed for Brussels’ World Fair, Expo 58.[81] It is a giant metallic reproduction of an iron molecule. It consists of spheres interconnected by tubes. The spheres contain spaces for exhibitions and the top sphere provides a panoramic view of the City of Brussels.[81] It was built as a symbol of unity and world peace, as well as a hope that future technology would improve people`s lives. [81]


Near the Atomium is the Mini-Europe park which consists of miniature replicas of important and beautiful buildings from various countries in the European Union. [82] This site is an example of commodification as it brings the buildings of various cultures together in order to make a profit.[83] However, it illustrates the overall European culture and also acts as a symbol of unity for the countries of the European Union which is characteristic of the City of Brussels.

[edit] Comic Strips

Figure 12: Comic Book Route
Figure 12: Comic Book Route[84]

Brussels is known as the Comic City because of the large number of popular comic strips that originate from the city. Indeed, comic strips are an important part of the Belgian culture. It is found in both the Flemish region in the Dutch language and in the Walloon region in French, but they all come together in Brussels. [85] The artists include Hergé, André Franquin, Morris, Peyo and Willy Vandersteen and their most notable works include The Adventures of Tintin, Marsupilami, Lucky Luke and The Smurfs. [86] Comics are an integral part of the culture of Brussels and this is exemplified by the Comic Book Route where building walls are painted in honour of popular Belgian comics. [86]There is also a museum dedicated to the city`s comic book history named the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. [85]

[edit] Cuisine

The cuisine in Brussels is varied, but has strong influences from both the French and the Flemish cuisine. Brussels is perhaps best known for its waffles. Brussels waffles are characterised as being thick, rectangular and large.[87] They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Waffles are often topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, chocolate sauce or fruits and are usually eaten as a dessert. [88] Waffles have existed since the Middle Ages, but the Brussels waffle was first introduced at the Brussels fair in 1856 by Maximilien Consael. However, there has been some debate over the creator of the first recipe. [89] Nowadays, Brussels waffles are known worldwide as a cultural icon of the city due to its presence at various World Expos. .[87]

Waffles are often sold on street food carts and are part of the growing street food movement in Brussels.[90] Another popular staple of these carts are Belgian frites (French fries). These frites can be paired with mussels to make another very popular local dish, the moules-frites. It is estimated that people consume about 3kg of mussels per year in Belgium.[91] They are served in a pot with the shells still attached and with various different sauces. [92]


Overall, the landscapes of Brussels illustrate the local culture. Although these are all examples of visible material culture, they also reflect the beliefs, ideas and values that are most important to the people of Brussels. This is includes strong nationalism and unity for all people. This is evident not only in the mix of Flemish and Walloon culture in the city itself, but also in the city's approach to unifying all the countries of the European Union.

[edit] Notes and References

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  11. "In België wonen 628.751 moslims(*), 6,0% van de bevolking. In Brussel is dit 25,5%, in Wallonië 4,0%, in Vlaanderen 3,9%," BuG 100 – Bericht uit het Gewisse – 11 September 2008, http://www.npdata.be, (*)Berekend aantal – indicatief cijfer, zie methodologie hieronde
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  48. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
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  50. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  51. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  52. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  53. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  54. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  55. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  56. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  57. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retreived from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
  58. Migration Policy Institute (2012), Belgium: A Country of Permanent Immigration, Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/belgium-country-permanent-immigration/
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