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Location of Belgium within Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Northwestern Europe. The country is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the south, and the North Sea to the west. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376/km2 (970/sq mi). Belgium is part of an area known as the Low Countries, historically a somewhat larger region than the Benelux group of states, as it also included parts of northern France. The capital and largest metropolitan region is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven.

Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: the Flemish Region (Flanders) in the north, the Walloon Region (Wallonia) in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is also home to two main linguistic communities: the Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French Community, which constitutes about 40 percent of the population. A small German-speaking Community, making up around one percent of the population, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in French and Dutch, although French is the majority language and lingua franca. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its complex system of governance, made up of six different governments.

Since the Middle Ages, Belgium's central location has meant that the area has been relatively prosperous, connected commercially and politically to its bigger neighbours. The country as it exists today was established following the 1830 Belgian Revolution, when it seceded from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which had incorporated the Southern Netherlands (which comprised most of modern-day Belgium) after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The name chosen for the new state is derived from the Latin word Belgium, used in Julius Caesar's "Gallic Wars", to describe a nearby region in the period around 55 BCE. Belgium has also been the battleground of European powers, earning the moniker "the Battlefield of Europe", a reputation reinforced in the 20th century by both world wars. (Full article...)

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Elisabeth Dieudonné Vincent (1798 – 29 November 1883) was a Saint Dominican Creole, businesswoman and international migrant. Born in 1798 in Saint-Domingue to an affranchi and French father, she was illegitimate, although her father did acknowledge her. In 1803, the family fled from the violence of the Haitian Revolution to Santiago de Cuba, where they completed paperwork to show that they were free. In 1809, when the Spanish authorities expelled French colonists because of the Peninsular War in Europe, she moved to New Orleans in Louisiana.

Vincent married in 1822 and with her husband, Jacques Tinchant, operated a business in New Orleans. The couple also earned money by renting out Vincent's slaves. In 1835 she amended her original marriage record in order to acquire a surname, removing the double stigma of illegitimacy and slave ancestry. Experiencing racial inequality and increasing restrictions as a result of the demanding Black Codes in the United States, they moved with their family to France, where they operated a dairy and vineyards in Gan. Poor economic conditions and violence during the French Revolution of 1848 prompted the family to relocate to Antwerp in 1857, where they invested in their sons' new tobacco business. (Full article...)
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