June 13, 2015

1646, 1661 BELGIUM - The map of the country

1646 Belgium - The map of the country (1)

Posted on 10.06.2015, 13.06.2015
Belgium is a federal monarchy in Western Europe, which shares borders with France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups: the Dutch-speaking, mostly Flemish community (about 59% of the population), and the French-speaking, mostly Walloon population (about 41% of the population). Its linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of government. Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries; it once covered a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. Brussels is the capital and largest city of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union (EU).

1661 Belgium - The map of the country (2)

The name Belgium is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. The Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries.

The Eighty Years' War (1568-1648) divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces (Belgica Foederata in Latin, the "Federated Netherlands") and the Southern Netherlands (Belgica Regia, the "Royal Netherlands"). The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon.

In 1830, the Belgian Revolution led to the separation of the Southern Provinces from the Netherlands and to the establishment of a Catholic and bourgeois, officially French-speaking and neutral, independent Belgium under a provisional government and a national congress. Since the installation of Leopold I as king on 21 July 1831 (which is now celebrated as Belgium's National Day), Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a laicist constitution based on the Napoleonic code. After WWII, a general strike forced King  Leopold III, who many Belgians felt had collaborated with Germany during the war, to abdicate in 1951. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960, and Ruanda-Urundi followed it two years later.

Belgium has three main geographical regions: the coastal plain in the north-west and the central plateau both belong to the Anglo-Belgian Basin; the Ardennes uplands in the south-east are part of the Hercynian orogenic belt. The Paris Basin reaches a small fourth area at Belgium's southernmost tip, Belgian Lorraine. The climate is maritime temperate with significant precipitation in all seasons. It was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 19th century. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world's 15th largest trading nation in 2007. The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind. Almost all of the Belgian population is urban (97% in 2004).

About the stamp
On the postcard 1646
About the stamp, depicting a Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio Machaon), I wrote here.

On the postcard 1661
The first stamp, depicting Caesar Crossing Rubicon (15th Century Tapestry), was issued  in 1967. The second was issued in 2012 to celebrate the Christmas.

References
Belgium - Wikipedia

Sender: Marius Vasilescu
Sent from Brussels (Brussels Capital Region / Belgium), on 28.07.2014  
Sender: David Wiame (direct swap)
Sent from Brussels (Brussels Capital Region / Belgium), on 08.04.2013  

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