The presence of important Francophone minorities in some parts of Flanders has been the source of political conflicts and led in the 1980s to the resignation of several central governments. Political symbolism differs with the region and the sociopolitical environment.
The strongest national symbols are the Monarchy and the national soccer team.
In the eighteenth century, French was widely adopted by the bourgeoisie, and in 1830, it was adopted as the official language.
Through education and social promotion, French replaced the local dialects in Wallonia and Brussels, but it was not as widely adopted in Flanders.
After the 1830 revolution and the establishment of an independent kingdom, Belgium became the official name of the country. The country is located at the western end of the northern European plain, covering an area of 11,780 square miles (30,510 square kilometers); the neighboring states are France, Luxembourg, Germany, and the Netherlands.
The two main rivers are the Schelde and the Meuse, both of which begin in France and flow toward the Netherlands. Flanders (northern part of the country) is less hilly than Wallonia (southern part).
The national anthem, the Brabançonne , is not taught in schools and not widely known.
The original song, written during the revolution of 1830, exalted the revolt against the "arbitrary" power of the Dutch king.
Other strong Flemish symbols are the National Song Feast (ANZ) held annually in Antwerp since the early 1930s, in which Flemish songs are mixed with modern expressions of culture.
Although German is also recognized as the third national language, it is not used frequently in the national administration.
French was introduced as the language of the political elite by feudal lords of French origin, particularly the dukes of Burgundy, who choose Brussels as their main city of residence.
There are many recent immigrants from other countries in the European Union as well as many expatriates working in or around European Union institutions and NATO headquarters.
The percentage of noncitizens in the population is high at 15 percent nationally and 28 percent in Brussels. The main languages are Dutch and French; they are also the joint official languages.