Wallonia 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 term Wallonia can mean slightly different things in different contexts. One of the three federal regions of Belgium is still constitutionally defined as the Walloon Region, but the region’s government has renamed it Wallonia, and it is commonly called Wallonia.
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.
The Sambre and Meuse valley, from Liège (70 m) to Charleroi (120 m) is an entrenched river which separates Middle Belgium and High Belgium. This fault line corresponds to a part of the southern coast of the late London-Brabant Massif. The valley, along with Haine and Vesdre valleys form the sillon industriel, the historical centre of the Belgian coalmining and steelmaking industry, and is also called the Walloon industrial backbone. Due to their long industrial historic record, several segments of the valley have received specific names: Borinage, around Mons, le Centre, around La Louvière, the Pays noir, around Charleroi and the Basse-Sambre, near Namur.
To the north of the Sambre and Meuse valley lies the Central Belgian plateau, which is characterized by intensive agriculture. The Walloon part of this plateau is traditionally divided into several regions: Walloon Brabant around Nivelles, Western Hainaut, and Hesbaye around Waremme. South of the sillon industriel, the land is more rugged and is characterized by more extensive farming. It is traditionally divided into the regions of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, Condroz, Fagne-Famenne, the Ardennes and Land of Herve, as well as the Belgian Lorraine around Arlon and Virton. Dividing it into Condroz, Famenne, Calestienne, Ardennes and Belgian Lorraine. The larger region, the Ardennes, is a thickly forested plateau with caves and small gorges. It is host to much of Belgium’s wildlife but little agricultural capacity.
Wallonia consists of 5 provinces of Walloon Brabant, Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, and Namur.Cities include Charleroi Liège Namur Mons La Louvière Tournai Seraing Verviers Mouscron Herstal Braine-l’Alleud Châtelet
Wallonia is famous for Cougnou (throughout whole Wallonia), the Waffles of Liège, the Herve cheese and the Apple butter named Sirop de Liège which people put on this cheese, three kinds of Trappist beer (from Chimay, Orval and Rochefort), the Jenever named Peket, May wine named Maitrank, the Garden strawberry of Wépion. A great speciality of Dinant is the Flamiche: If you come to Dinant, you will not find these delicious cheese tarts in the windows of the shops. The reason for this is that this speciality must be eaten hot, which means, straight from the oven. There are also the Ardennes Ham, the “Tarte al djote” tart made with beet leaves and cheese for dessert.
The two largest cities in Wallonia each have an airport. The Brussels South Charleroi Airport has become an important passenger airport, especially with low fares companies such as Ryanair or Wizzair.The Liège Airport is specialized in freight, although it also operates tourist-oriented charter flights. Today, Liège is the 8th airport for European freight and aims to reach the 5th rank in the next decade.
TEC is the single public transit authority for all of Wallonia, operating buses and trams. Charleroi is the sole Walloon city to have a metro system, the Charleroi Pre-metro. Wallonia has an extensive and well developed rail network, served by the Belgian National Railway Company, SNCB.
Wallonia’s numerous motorways fall within the scope of the TransEuropean Transport network programme (TEN-T).
With traffic of over 20 million tonnes and 26 kilometres of quays, the autonomous port of Liège (PAL) is the third largest inland port in Europe. It is very well connected to the major ports thanks to an extensive network of navigable waterways that pervades Belgium, and it has effective river connections to Antwerp, Rotterdam and Dunkirk.