Walloon region

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Walloon Region
Waals Gewest ( Dutch )
Région wallonne ( French )
Member State of the Kingdom of Belgium
Type of state : region
Official language : French and German
Administrative headquarters : Namur
Area : 16,844 km²
Residents : 3,633,795 (January 1, 2019)
Population density : 216 inhabitants per km²
Holiday: Feast day of the Walloon Region
on the third Sunday in September
Anthem : Le Chant des Wallons
("The Song of the Walloons")
Prime Minister : Elio Di Rupo ( PS )
ISO code : BE-WAL
Website: www.wallonie.be
Location in Belgium
Luxemburg Niederlande Frankreich Nordsee Deutschland Brüssel Flandern Wallonische RegionWallonia Region 2019.png
About this picture

The Walloon Region ( French Région wallonne , Dutch Waals Gewest ), also Wallonia and Wallonia (French Wallonie , Dutch Wallonië , Wallonian Walonreye [ walɔ̃ʀɛj, ]), is one of the three regions of the Kingdom of Belgium and thus a member state of the Belgian federal state. The population is predominantly native speaker French , in the far east German . The capital is Namur . The largest city in terms of population is Charleroi after municipal reforms in the post-war period . The cultural and economic center is the second largest city of Liège , which is also the center of the largest agglomeration. Other important cities are Mons , Tournai , Arlon , Bastogne , Wavre , Verviers , Dinant and the former Prussian cities of Eupen and Malmedy in what is now East Belgium . Geographically, Wallonia covers the southern half of Belgium.


Land nature and settlement structure

The Walloon Region has an area that is roughly comparable to the German states of Thuringia or Schleswig-Holstein . In the provinces of Liège and Luxembourg there are extensive low mountain regions and with the High Fens a plateau known for its moors. In the south lie the Ardennes . The focus of settlement in the area of ​​the former industrial centers of the so-called Walloon spine is in the provinces of Hainaut, Namur and Liège. It stretches between the cities of Charleroi, Namur and Liège along the Sambre and the Meuse . The Meuse is the dominant body of water. Coming from France, it crosses the region in a southwest-northeast direction. Other rivers are the Ourthe and the Weser . In the west is the rather flat province of Hainaut, while the northern center is the province of Walloon Brabant, which is characterized by its proximity to Brussels. In the far west, Comines-Warneton, is an exclave surrounded by Flanders and France.

Neighboring states and regions

Wallonia borders on France in the south-west, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the south-east, Germany in the east, the Netherlands over two short stretches and Flanders in the north . The Flemish exclave Voeren ( Fourons ) is located between Wallonia and the Netherlands . Although there is no common border with the Brussels-Capital Region , it is only a few kilometers from the northern border of the province of Walloon Brabant.


The name for Wallonia is derived - like the names for Wales (United Kingdom), French-speaking Switzerland , Wallachia (Romania) and Welschtirol (Italy) as well as walnut - from a pre-form of Welsche , i.e. H. from a Germanic term for Romans and (Romanized) Celts .


The Walloon Region was formally created in 1980 with the Second Belgian State Reform . However, their origins are much older.

19th century

When Belgium was founded in 1830, the Brussels elites who had triggered the Belgian Revolution decided that Belgium should become a French-speaking unitary state and that the Flemings should therefore be French- assimilated . The Dutch-speaking Flemings opposed this plan early after Belgian independence and founded the so-called “ Flemish Movement ” in the northern half of the country , which wanted to enforce an increased use of Dutch in Flanders . In the southern part there were initially no corresponding demands for the protection of the Walloon language , which some regarded as a French dialect and others classified it as a separate Romance language .

In the 19th century, Belgium with its Walloon mining region developed into the most industrialized country in Europe after England . At the end of the century there were first signs of a "Walloon Movement" as a reaction to the "Equality Act" of April 18, 1898, which officially declared both languages ​​to be official languages (see also: Language legislation in Belgium ). It was only after the first Walloon Congress in 1890 that the various Walloon assemblies came together and called the second Walloon Congress in 1912, chaired by Jules Destrée . In the same year Destrée pointed in a letter to the Belgian King I. Albert on the resultant Flemish-Walloon conflict out.

"Il n'y a pas de Belges, mais des Wallons et des Flamands."

"There are no Belgians, but Walloons and Flemings."

- Jules Destrée, letter to the king , 1912

First World War

The greatest turning point in recent Walloon history came with the First World War. Wallonia, together with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was the first to be affected by the war events in the area of ​​the Western Front, as it borders directly on Germany. After an ultimatum of August 2, 1914, in which the German Reich demanded marching rights through Belgium towards France and this request was rejected by Belgium, German troops crossed the border at Gemmenich near Aachen on August 4, 1914 . As a result, the German troops succeeded in taking the heavily fortified city of Liège despite unexpectedly violent Belgian resistance. In the further course of the fighting, German troops in Belgium in search of alleged rioters, who were referred to as Franc-tireurs in this context , repeatedly committed war crimes such as the Dinant massacre on 23 August 1914. The term rape was used in the English-language press of Belgium ( rape of Belgium ). Several cities across Belgium, including Wallonia, suffered severe damage. During the war years, the German Supreme Army Command moved into headquarters in the Walloon spa town of Spa . With the First World War, Germany lost its regions of Eupen and Malmedy through the Treaty of Versailles. These were added to Belgium and thus Wallonia.

Between the world wars

During the First World War in particular , the Flemish-Walloon language and cultural differences caused major problems. To this day, it is often argued that Flemish soldiers did not understand the French language of their superior Walloon officers. After the great war, calls for a federalization of Belgium grew louder from the Flemish side. But in the Walloon region too, there was some striving for more personal responsibility , especially after the onset of the coal crisis .

Second World War

The Second World War and the subsequent “ question of the king ” deepened the emotional gap between Walloons and Flemings. During the Second World War, the Rexist movement under Léon Degrelle collaborated with the German occupying forces until 1944. Wallonia was also the scene of heavy fighting during the Second World War, for example in the Battle of the Bulge . After 1945, further Walloon Congresses followed, which dealt with federalization.

Start of federalization

In order to bring greater peace to Belgium, a so-called language border was finally established between Flanders (the Dutch-speaking north) and Wallonia (the French-speaking south) between 1962 and 1963. A bilingual solution has been found for Brussels. In the east, the German minority, whose territory was annexed to the Belgian state after World War I, received its first recognition. While the “ Front démocratique des francophones ” (FDF) campaigned for the political concerns of French-speaking Brussels citizens in the Brussels-Capital Region, the “ Rassemblement Wallon ” (RW) party was formed in Wallonia . Public figures such as François Perin , Jean Gol and later Paul-Henry Gendebien belonged to the party until it was dissolved in 1985. In 1968, student protests took place in the Flemish town of Leuven, calling for the university there to be split up under the catchphrase walen buiten . As a result, a new, francophone university was founded in Louvain-la-Neuve, Wallonia , while a separate Dutch-speaking university continued to exist in Leuven in Flanders.

The cultural communities (Flemish, Walloon and German), predecessors of today's language communities and regions , were incorporated into the constitution in 1970 during the first Belgian state reform . However, while the cultural communities were able to work immediately, the regions only received provisional recognition. It was decided to carry out a preparatory regionalization for the time being, with regional councils that consisted of senators and only had an advisory role. At the end of the 1970s, the so-called “Egmont-Stuyvenberg Agreement” was signed, which provided for the creation of regions. But the problem surrounding the Brussels region sparked a political crisis that culminated with the resignation of Prime Minister Leo Tindemans in 1978.

Establishment as a region

Finally, the Francophone side gave in and agreed to leave the Brussels problem untouched for the time being. During the second state reform in 1980, the constitution was changed and the regions were given their own institutions and responsibilities. The Walloon Region received its first parliament (then called the “Council”) and under Jean-Maurice Dehousse its first government (then called the “Executive”). Due to its demographics, the Socialist Party (PS), which has a strong base of workers and trade unions, has been represented in the government of the Walloon Region since the creation of the Walloon Region . Roughly speaking, the areas of responsibility of the regions are limited to everything that concerns the soil (spatial planning, urban development, the environment, housing, but also the economy, etc.). A merger of the regional institutions with those of the French Community , as was the case in Flanders, was rejected. When the German-speaking Community was created in 1983, it was possible for the Community to take over responsibilities from the Walloon Region.

1980s and 1990s

The 1980s were mainly due to the struggle of the Walloons in the municipality of Voeren (French. Fourons marked) located under the Socialist José Happart for a connection not begin the community to the Walloon region. Another government crisis and the resignation of Prime Minister Wilfried Martens were the result (see also: Language legislation in Belgium ). This was followed by the third state reform of 1988, in which the Voeren problem on the one hand and the Brussels problem on the other hand were resolved for the time being through the creation of the Brussels-Capital Region. During this state reform, the regions received additional responsibilities from the federal state (public transport, public works and regionalization of certain economic sectors). In the Walloon Region, the assassination of the powerful President of the Parti Socialiste and pioneer of the Walloon movement, André Cools , on July 18, 1991 , deserves a special mention. To this day there is speculation about the reasons for the murder (political murder, Mafia , power struggles, etc.).

It was the Fourth State Reform (1994) that definitely transformed Belgium into a federal state (or federal state). The regions were given new responsibilities (external relations within their competencies, etc.). After the division of the former province of Brabant , the Walloon Region received a fifth province with the province of Walloon Brabant . Following this reform of the state, the Walloon Region was also allowed to take over certain responsibilities from the French Community (tourism, school transport, etc.), which was in great financial difficulties. In Brussels, these competencies were then exercised by the COCOF .


The fifth state reform of 2001 expanded the areas of responsibility of the regions again (certain tax sovereignty, agriculture, foreign trade, local authorities, etc.). Especially since this state reform, the political topicality in the Walloon Region has been influenced less by external factors than by internal affairs. A political scandal arose in 2005 after it had emerged that various local politicians of the Socialist Party (PS) in Charleroi had embezzled public funds ("Carolorégienne affair"). As a result, the incumbent Walloon Prime Minister Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe had to resign. Other personalities of the PS, such as the Mayor of Charleroi Jacques Van Gompel , the former Walloon Prime Minister and Mayor of Namur Bernard Anselme or the Mayor of Huy Anne-Marie Lizin , were then suspected of engaging in organized clientelism in their communities .


Like the other communities and regions in the country, the Walloon Region has a parliament ( legislature ) and a government ( executive ). You exercise the responsibilities of the regions in the French and German language areas. Furthermore, the Walloon Region is divided into five provinces.

Walloon Parliament

Élysette in Namur

The Walloon Parliament (or Parliament of the Walloon Region ), formerly the “Council of the Walloon Region”, has 75 members who are elected for five years in the thirteen constituencies of the Walloon Region. The MPs elected in the French-speaking area are also members of the Parliament of the French Community . The representatives of the German-speaking area (currently two) are also advisory mandataries in the parliament of the German-speaking community .

The seat of the Walloon Parliament in Namur

The Walloon Parliament votes on so-called decrees, which have legal force in the Belgian federal state in the Walloon Region. Since the Walloon Parliament has what is known as "constitutive autonomy", it can also vote on special decrees by means of a two-thirds majority , with which it can partially change its own functioning (Art. 118, § 2 of the Constitution) (see also: Legislative procedure (Belgium) ). Such special decrees are also necessary if the parliament wants to take over competences from the French community (Art. 138 of the Constitution) or if it wants to cede the exercise of certain competences to the German-speaking Community (Art. 139 of the Constitution).

The parliament has its seat in Namur . A special feature of the plenary hall is that the majority and opposition sit opposite each other , similar to the British Parliament .

Composition of parliament since the 2019 election
Political party Seats
Parti Socialiste (PS) 23
Mouvement Réformateur (MR) 20th
Ecolo 12
Center Démocrate Humaniste (cdH) 10
PTB-GO! 10
Total 75
Government parties are marked with a dot (•)

Walloon government

The headquarters of the SPW in Jambes (district of Namur )

The Government of the Walloon Region (or Walloon Government ), formerly the "Executive of the Walloon Region", is the executive body in the Walloon Region. It executes the parliament's decrees through government decrees. She is supported by the administration, the Wallonia Public Service (French Service public de Wallonie , SPW).

After the regional elections in 2014, Paul Magnette ( PS ) was Prime Minister of Wallonia. The PS- cdH coalition was replaced on July 28, 2019 as a result of a constructive vote of no confidence by the MR- cdH government under Willy Borsus (MR).

In the 2019 regional election, the government lost its majority. On September 13, a coalition government composed of PS, MR and Ecolo took office. The prime minister was Elio Di Rupo (PS), who had already been Walloon Prime Minister twice and Belgian Prime Minister from 2011 to 2014.

Composition of the Walloon Government 2017-2019
minister Political party function
Elio Di Rupo PS Ministre-President
Willy Borsus MR Vice-Président et Ministre de l'Economie, du Commerce extérieur, de la Recherche et de l'Innovation du Numérique, de l'Agriculture et de l'Aménagement du Territoire
Philippe Henry Ecolo Vice-Président et Ministre du Climat, de l'Energie, des Infrastructures et de la Mobilité
Christie Morreale PS Vice-Présidente et Ministre de l'Emploi, de la Formation, de la Santé, de l'Action sociale et de l'Egalité des chances
Jean-Luc Crucke MR Ministre des Finances, du Budget, des Aéroports et des Infrastructures sportive
Pierre-Yves Dermagne PS Ministre du Logement et des Pouvoirs locaux
Valerie De Bue MR Ministre de la Fonction publique, du Tourisme, du Patrimoine et de la Sécurité routière
Celine Tellier Ecolo Ministre de l'Environnement, de la Nature, du Bien-être animal et de la Rénovation rurale
List of Walloon Prime Ministers since 1981
Surname Beginning of the term of office Term expires Political party
Jean-Maurice Dehousse (I) 22nd December 1981 January 26, 1982 PS
André Damseaux January 26, 1982 October 25, 1982 PRL
Jean-Maurice Dehousse (II) October 25, 1982 December 11, 1985 PS
Melchior Wathelet December 11, 1985 3rd February 1988 PSC
Guy Coëme 3rd February 1988 May 9, 1988 PS
Bernard Anselme May 11, 1988 January 7, 1992 PS
Guy Spitaels January 7, 1992 January 25, 1994 PS
Robert Collignon January 25, 1994 July 15, 1999 PS
Elio Di Rupo (I) July 15, 1999 April 4, 2000 PS
Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe April 4, 2000 September 30, 2005 PS
André Antoine (acting) September 30, 2005 October 6, 2005 cdH
Elio Di Rupo (II) October 6, 2005 July 20, 2007 PS
Rudy Demotte (I + II) July 20, 2007 23rd July 2014 PS
Paul Magnette 23rd July 2014 28th July 2017 PS
Willy Borsus 28th July 2017 13th September 2019 MR
Elio Di Rupo (III) 13th September 2019 officiating PS


The Herver Land has many Natura 2000 areas.

The competences of the Walloon Region (and the regions in general) are set out in Articles 6, 6 bis and 7 of the Special Law of 8 August 1980 on institutional reform:

To this end, since 1993, the Walloon Region has assumed a number of competences from the French Community in accordance with Article 138 of the Constitution :

  • certain aspects of health policy
  • certain aspects of personal assistance
  • Vocational retraining and advanced training
  • School traffic
  • Social support (including disability policy)
  • Sports infrastructures
  • tourism

In contrast, the Walloon Region no longer exercises certain responsibilities in the German-speaking area. These were transferred to the German-speaking Community in accordance with Article 139 of the Constitution. This has been the case to this day for matters relating to the protection of monuments and landscapes (1994), archaeological excavations and employment policy (2000), as well as community supervision and financing (2005).

Political structure

The Walloon Region is divided into five provinces (Article 3 of the Belgian Constitution ). These provinces represent the intermediate level between the Walloon Region and the 262 Walloon municipalities . According to the constitution, the provinces take care of everything that is of “provincial interest” (Art. 162). You are subject to the administrative supervision of the Walloon Region. The region can also delegate the mere exercise of certain regional responsibilities to the provinces. The provincial governors are the local commissioners of the Walloon government.

flag province Capital Districts Communities Residents
January 1, 2019
Density of
population / km²
HainautHainaut Hainaut Mons 7th 69 000000001344241.00000000001,344,241 3,785.71 000000000000355.0000000000355 50000
Liege ProvinceLiege Province Liege Liege 4th 84 000000001106992.00000000001,106,992 3,862.32 000000000000287.0000000000287 60000
Luxembourg ProvinceLuxembourg Province Luxembourg Arlon 5 44 000000000284638.0000000000284,638 4,439.71 000000000000064.000000000064 80000
Namur ProvinceNamur Province Namur Namur 3 38 000000000494325.0000000000494,325 3,666.01 000000000000135.0000000000135 90000
Walloon BrabantWalloon Brabant Walloon Brabant Wavre 1 27 000000000403599.0000000000403,599 1,090.56 000000000000370.0000000000370 20002
Walloon regionWalloon region Wallonia region Namur 20th 262 000000003633795.00000000003,633,795 16,844.31 000000000000216.0000000000216 3000


Up until the 20th century, Wallonia's economy was shaped by iron ore and extensive coal deposits near Mons, Charleroi and Liège. The mining of seams near the surface can already be documented for the time of the Roman Empire and the High Middle Ages .

In 1720 the first steam engine on mainland Europe, a model by Thomas Newcomen , went into operation in a coal mine near Liège. Wallonia was the first region in continental Europe to experience massive industrialization in the 19th century . The coal and steel industries , but also the glass industry, are concentrated along the Henne - Sambre - Maas - Weser valley, which runs in a west-east direction .

After the Second World War and the decline of the coal and steel industry, Wallonia lost its function as the economic driving force of Belgium to the northern neighboring region of Flanders . Around two thirds of the Walloon population now live in the area of ​​the former industrial belt.

In comparison with the gross domestic product of the European Union in terms of purchasing power standards , Wallonia achieved an index of 86 (EU-25: 100) in 2015, significantly lower than the Belgian average of 119.



The high-speed lines HSL 1 , partly HSL 2 and HSL 3 , which are used by Thalys , TGV and Eurostar , as well as the Brussels – Namur , Namur-Luxembourg , Liège – Aachen , Brussels – Charleroi railway lines, run through Walloon territory , the Athus-Maas line , the so-called Walloon backbone and the Verviers – Spa railway line . There are also other branch lines. The network provides an important link between France, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. Important train stations are Liège-Guillemins , Namur , Verviers Central and Charleroi-Sud .

Air traffic

Airports are located in Liège , Charleroi and Namur , among others .


The transport company Transport en Commun (TEC) operates local public transport in the Walloon Region.


Inland ports are in Namur , Liège , Charleroi and La Louvière . Important waterways are the Meuse , the Sambre , the Albert Canal , the Charleroi-Brussels Canal , the Canal du Center and the Canal de Pommerœul à Condé . From here there are connections to France, Flanders and the Netherlands.



The Walloon Region as a whole is one of the more densely populated regions in Europe, although there are differences in population density. The densely populated Meuse region contrasts with the sparsely populated regions of the Ardennes and the High Fens. Industrialization and mining in particular resulted in immigration from other regions in Belgium as well as from other countries such as Italy and Portugal. Later other immigrant groups came from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Africa. In the recent past, many Germans who commute to Aachen have moved to the area near the German border.


Official languages

Language boundaries: The German-speaking community (yellow) within the predominantly French-speaking Walloon region
Language map of Wallonia

The official language and dominant language in the Walloon Region is French . The official language in the Far East, in the area of ​​the German-speaking Community , which is politically affiliated to the Walloon Region, is German . Due to the size of the population groups, French dominates the parliament and government of the Walloon Region, all regional laws must also be published in a German-language version and letters to German-speaking citizens must be in German.

Dialects and minorities

Main dialect in Wallonia is related to the French Walloon consider that some linguists as a separate language. In the western part of Wallonia, the Picardi dialects , which are related to French, are spoken. Their speakers regard them as a separate language. It enjoys limited (official) recognition as a regional language . On the southern fringes of Wallonia, Lorraine and Luxembourgish are cultivated.

In addition to French and German, Dutch is spoken by a minority in Wallonia and its peripheral areas . In the municipalities of Comines-Warneton (Komen-Waasten), Enghien (Edingen), Flobecq (Vloesberg) and Mouscron (Moeskroen) there are certain linguistic facilities for Dutch-speaking residents (see facilities municipality ). The municipalities of Baelen (Balen), Plombières (Bleyberg / Bleiberg) and Welkenraedt (Welkenrath / Welkenraat) also received this option for their Dutch-speaking residents in 1966, but have not made use of it in the administration to this day.


The French and German-speaking communities take care of cultural issues from a state perspective . The city of Liège is the cultural center of the Walloon Region. Various art museums are located here, such as the Grand Curtius Art Museum, the Archéforum and the cathedral's treasury. Liège is the birthplace of the writer Georges Simenon . In 2015, the city ​​of Mons was one of the European Capitals of Culture , alongside the Czech city of Pilsen . The town of Dinant south of Namur is the birthplace of Adolphe Sax , the inventor of the saxophone. The Walloon region is known for its culinary and dining culture .


There are various colleges and universities in Wallonia. These include the University of Liège with Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech in Liège , the Université catholique de Louvain in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve , the UCL Mons and the University of Mons in Mons and the University of Namur in the Walloon capital Namur .

See also

Web links

Further content in the
sister projects of Wikipedia:

Commons-logo.svg Commons - multimedia content
Wiktfavicon en.svg Wiktionary - Dictionary entries
Wikinews-logo.svg Wikinews - News
Wikivoyage-Logo-v3-icon.svg Wikivoyage - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Mouvement de la population par commune depuis 1992 (XLSX; 2.56 MB)
  2. The historical summary is available in French or English on the CRISP website (Center de recherche et d'information socio-politiques).
  3. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (6/30): Le mouvement wallon est né (… à Bruxelles, dites donc) (May 30, 2008) (French).
  4. ^ F. Joris: Les étapes du combat wallon (3 parties), Institut Jules Destrée, 1995 (French).
  5. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (8/30): Destrée et l'horrifiante vérité (June 2, 2008) (French).
  6. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (18/30): Le pays se coupe en quatre pour rester uni (June 13, 2008) (French).
  7. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (21/30): Requiem (ouverture) (June 17, 2008) (French).
  8. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (22/30): Un désaccord grandiose (June 18, 2008) (French).
  9. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (24/30): Requiem (moderato) (June 20, 2008) (French).
  10. For a particularly detailed description of the first years of the Walloon Region, see: P. Destatte: Histoire politique de la Wallonie 1970–1994. You rêve autonomiste à la souveraineté internationale (4 parties), Institut Jules Destrée, 1995 (French).
  11. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (26/30): Requiem (allegretto) (23 June 2008) (French)
  12. ^ Institut Jules Destrée: Cent wallons du siècle. André Cools (1995) (French).
  13. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (27/30): Requiem (fortissimo) (June 24, 2008) (French).
  14. Lesoir.be: Saga Belgica (29/30): Requiem (con forza) (June 26, 2008) (French).
  15. Lalibre.be: Démissions à la tête de la Carolorégienne (16 September 2005) (French).
  16. Lalibre.be: Van Cauwenberghe démissionne (September 30, 2005) (French)
  17. Sudinfo.be: Willy Borsus a prêté serment, le Parlement wallon a approuvé la motion de méfiance qui renverse le gouvernement PS-cdH par 39 voix contre 36! (July 28, 2017) (French).
  18. ^ Nouvelle composition du Walloon governorate. In: wallonie.be. Walloon Region, July 28, 2018, accessed August 13, 2017 (French).
  19. Malte Helfer: Upswing and decline of hard coal mining , GR-Atlas (accessed on February 20, 2014)
  20. European Route of Industrial Heritage: Industrial History of Belgium (accessed on 23 August 2012)
  21. Eurostat. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .

Coordinates: 50 ° 19 '  N , 5 ° 5'  E