Belgium Culture – Intercultural communication
Our lecture started with well-known demographic facts about Belgium - the population equals to 10,511,000, 15% of which are immigrants (1,570,000). In Belgium, Catholicism is the most widespread religion. There are also Moslems, Jews and Protestants. In general, people are open-minded about other religions and of course different nationalities. The cultural diversity is enriched by international and local immigration. In the last hundred years the most important immigrant groups were Jews who form a sizable community in Antwerp; Poles, who came after the fall of communism; Italians; North Africans and Turks. There are many recent immigrants from other countries in the European Union also. There are three regions in the federal state: Flanders in the north where the official language is Dutch; Wallonia in the south where French is the official language; and Brussels-Capital region where both languages are used. The smaller German-speaking community is in Wallonia. The regions and language communities enjoy autonomy in cultural and economic matters. There are also a number of unofficial minority languages spoken here as well. In Belgium, a sensitive issue is the relations between Dutch and French speakers. One should avoid questions or comments on that topic. My conclusion after these facts is that Belgium is not a homogeneous country with one national identity. As such, it is therefore difficult to give a general overview that applies to all Belgians. Another interesting difference we can find in the fact that the Walloons (French speakers) have culture similar to French. For example Walloon food is influenced mainly by French cuisine, less than the Dutch. Dishes are with relatively large portions and excellent quality. Widespread opinion is that Belgian cuisine is characterized by German portions size and French finesse and quality. But sometimes it tends to be spicier and higher in calories than modern French...
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