Wallonia

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Wallonia (French: Wallonie, German: Wallonie(n), Dutch: About this sound Wallonië , Walloon: Waloneye) is the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium. It makes up 55% of the territory of Belgium and includes about 33% of its population. Walloon Region is the name given to the regional government of Wallonia. Most of Wallonia, along with Brussels, is also governed by the French Community of Belgium, for matters mainly related 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 trailed only 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, however, 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.

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