Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen, French: Flandre) is one of the regions and communities of Belgium and also a historical geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The demonym for Flanders is Flemish, while someone from Flanders is a Fleming. Brussels is the capital of Flanders.

Over the course of history, the geographical territory that was called "Flanders" has varied. From around 1000 AD, Flanders historically meant to English-speaking peoples the land situated along the North Sea from the Strait of Dover to the Scheldt estuary with ill-defined southern borders. It came to refer specifically to the County of Flanders, lasting from 862 to 1795, whose territory was situated in the northwestern part of what is now Belgium (the Belgian provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders), with extensive portions in what is now northern France (French Flanders), and a small area that is now part of the Netherlands (Zeelandic Flanders). Through marriage, the County of Flanders was joined with most of the rest of the Low Countries around 1400 AD, and it lost its independence. Most of the county's territory became part of an independent Belgium in 1830, and during the 19th and 20th centuries, it became increasingly commonplace to refer to the entire Dutch-speaking and northern part of Belgium as "Flanders", including the Belgian parts of the Duchy of Brabant and Limburg. In the late 20th century, Belgium became a federal state in which the Dutch-speaking part was given autonomy as the Flemish Community (Dutch: Vlaamse Gemeenschap) and the Flemish Region (Dutch: Vlaams Gewest); these two entities were effectively merged, and Flanders now refers to the territory of the Flemish Community, which additionally has partial jurisdiction over Brussels.

Flanders has figured prominently in European history. During the late Middle Ages, Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent, Bruges and Ypres) made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy. As part of Belgium, Flanders was initially the poorer half of the country to industrialized Wallonia. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, there has been a gradual shift of political and economic power to Flanders, which, having modernized its economy, is now more wealthy and prosperous than its southern counterpart.

Geographically, Flanders is generally flat, and has a small section of coast on the North Sea. Flanders borders France to the west, the Netherlands to the north and east, and Wallonia to the south. The Brussels Capital Region is enclaved within the Flemish Region, while Voeren is an exclave of Flanders between Wallonia and the Netherlands. Flanders is agriculturally fertile and densely populated, with a population density of almost 500 people per square kilometer (1200 per square mile).

Read more about Flanders:  Government and Politics, Administrative Divisions, Geography and Climate, Economy, Demographics, Culture

Famous quotes containing the word flanders:

    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
    John McCrae (1872–1918)

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    John McCrae (1872–1918)