Belgium (België, La Belgique) has a population of about 10 million, of which 60% speaks Dutch and 40% French. Less than one percent speaks German or Letzeburgisch (German dialect of Luxemburg).
Dutch is spoken in Limburg, Antwerpen, Vlaams Brabant, Oost Vlaanderen en West Vlaanderen. French is spoken in Liège, Luxembourg, Namur Hainaut, Brabant Wallon. German is spoken in a small area of Liège along the German border and Letzenburgisch in a small area along the border between the province of Luxemburg and the country of that same name.
Belgium is part of the low lands (the netherlands) which consisted of all of the present Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and good chunk of northern France. France gradually conquered some of the southern parts of the netherlands, while the religious wars of the 16th and 17th century caused the division between ‘Nederland’ and ‘België’.
After the separation between north and south what is now Belgium was ruled by the Austrian branch of the Habsburg royal family. From 1815 the newly formed Kingdom of the Netherlands included all of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg, but this fell apart in 1830 when after an uprising of the French speaking bourgeoisie Belgium became a kingdom ruled by Leopold von Sachsen-Coburg.
The French speaking bourgeoisie that rebelled in 1830 did not just come from the French speaking provinces but also from the Dutch speaking part. Even in my Dutch province of Limburg many middle and upper class people used to speak French. Dutch or Flemish was considered to be an inferior dialect only spoken by a bunch of ignorant peasants.
It was in the French speaking provinces of Liège, Luxembourg and Hainaut that the early industrialisation took place. The central government, based in Brussel, originally a Dutch speaking city, spoke French, the officers in the army spoke French and Bishops and other church ‘princes’ spoke French.
A lot has changed since those days. Now the Dutch speaking part of the country is the most affluent and most of the early industries of the French speaking part are closed. Belgium is a federal state, and Belgium could be a peaceful country, or two separate countries that would live peacefully together with the Netherlands and Luxemburg if it was not for Brussel.
Brussel was a Dutch speaking city, now it is an ever expanding French speaking area overwhelming the Dutch speakers left inside its borders and the Dutch speaking towns around it. Iskander (Alexander) sorted out the Gordian knot with his sword, Belgium needs a modern Iskander who will peacefully solve the Brussel conundrum.