Provinces of Belgium

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Fabien Antoine sent an article that tells of a proposal to rename Antwerp province to Midden-Brabant (Flemish), Brabant central (French).

Update 10 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2012-12-31. It changes the Flemish name of Brussels Capital Region to include the generic term Gewest.

The latest version of the FIPS standard is called "Geopolitical Entities and Codes", published in 2010-04. It shows Belgium divided into three regions, coded as shown under "Further subdivisions" below.

The NUTS code scheme was revised in 2003. The code for Brussels Capital Region changed from BE1 to BE10.

Erratum: In "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries", I gave "Région de Bruxelles-Capital" as the French name of Brussels Capital Region. It should have been spelled with a final e, "Région de Bruxelles-Capitale".

Change Notice 7 to FIPS PUB 10-4 is dated 2002-01-10. It changes the FIPS codes for Brabant. In 1995, Brabant was split into three province-level subdivisions: Brussels Capital Region, Flemish Brabant, and Walloon Brabant. The FIPS code BE02 continued to apply to all three of those divisions, and I listed it on each of the three lines in the book. Now, that code has been replaced by the codes BE11 for Brussels Capital Region, BE12 for Flemish Brabant, and BE10 for Walloon Brabant.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on 1998-12-15. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Belgium, the draft standard showed BXL as the code for Brussels Capital Region. In the final standard, this code has been changed to BRU.

Country overview: 

Short nameBELGIUM
ISO codeBE
LanguagesFlemish (nl), French (fr)
Time zone+1 ~


Note: Flemish is the name for Dutch as spoken in Belgium.

Belgium has been independent throughout the 20th century, except during the German invasions of the two World Wars. It has undergone relatively minor transfers of territory in the aftermath of those wars. The provinces trace their origins to nine departments imposed by France in 1795. The regions originated with a constitutional reform in 1967-1971.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Belgien
  2. Dutch: België, Koninkrijk België (formal)
  3. English: Kingdom of Belgium (formal)
  4. Finnish: Belgia
  5. French: Belgique, Royaume m de Belgique f (formal)
  6. German: Belgien n
  7. Icelandic: Belgía
  8. Italian: Belgio m
  9. Norwegian: Belgia, Kongeriket Belgia (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Bélgica, Reino m da Bélgica f (formal)
  11. Russian: Королевство Бельгия (formal)
  12. Spanish: Bélgica, Reino m de Bélgica f (formal)
  13. Swedish: Belgien
  14. Turkish: Belçika, Belçika Krallığı (formal)

Origin of name: 

Called Gallia Belgica by Romans, after an ethnic name

Primary subdivisions: 

Belgium is divided into ten provinces (Flemish: provincies) and one capital region (Flemish: hoofdstedelijke gewest; French: région capitale).

Division HASC ISO FIPS NUTS INS Population Area(km.²) Area(mi.²) Capital RegionPostal codes
Antwerp BE.ANVANBE01BE21101,744,862 2,867 1,107 Antwerp VLG 2000-2999
Brussels BE.BUBRUBE11BE10211,089,538 161 62 BrusselsBRU 1000-1299
East Flanders BE.OVVOVBE08BE23401,432,326 2,982 1,151 Ghent VLG 9000-9999
Flemish BrabantBE.VBVBRBE12BE24201,076,924 2,106 814 Leuven VLG 1500-1999, 3000-3499
Hainaut BE.HTWHTBE03BE32501,309,880 3,787 1,462 Mons WAL 6000-6599, 7000-7999
Liege BE.LGWLGBE04BE33601,067,685 3,862 1,491 Liege WAL 4000-4999
Limburg BE.LIVLIBE05BE2270838,505 2,422 935 Hasselt VLG 3500-3999
Luxembourg BE.LXWLXBE06BE3480269,023 4,441 1,715 Arlon WAL 6600-6900
Namur BE.NAWNABE07BE3590472,281 3,665 1,415 Namur WAL 5000-5999
Walloon BrabantBE.BWWBRBE10BE3120379,515 1,091 421 Wavre WAL 1300-1499
West Flanders BE.WVVWVBE09BE25301,159,366 3,134 1,210 Brugge VLG 8000-8999
11 divisions 10,839,90530,51811,783
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4 (superseded).
  • NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.
  • INS: Codes assigned by the National Statistics Institute for the 1991 census. (Brabant was a single province
    then, coded 20.)
  • Population: 2010-01-01, compiled from population registers (source [1]).
  • Postal codes: Belgian postal codes are four digits. Postal codes in the provinces recently formed from Brabant
    don't correspond neatly to the new province boundaries. Note: postal codes for Belgian addresses can be
    identified by prefixing them with "B-".

Further subdivisions:

See the Arrondissements of Belgium page.

Belgium is divided into three regions (gewesten, régions). When they were created in 1970, Brabant was divided among all three regions; in 1995, it was split, and now each region contains provincial-level units as shown in the region column in the table above. Here is a list of the regions.

ISORegionFIPSNUTSPredominant language
BRUBrussels Capital RegionBE11BE1Both
VLGFlemish RegionBE13BE2Flemish


Below the provinces, there are 43 arrondissements. Under the arrondissements, there are communes. Before 1977, they were changed often, but the number of communes remained close to 2,500. On 1977-01-01, an act for the amalgamation of communes took effect. The old communes were merged in various ways, creating 589 new and larger communes.

Territorial extent: 

  1. There is a cluster of 22 exclaves belonging to Antwerp province inside the Netherlands, about 2 km. from the Belgian border. It constitutes the town of Baarle-Hertog.
  2. Hainaut is split into two parts by a strip of French territory. The western part is much smaller. Comines is its largest city.
  3. Limburg is split into two parts by a strip of Dutch territory. The eastern part is much smaller. It is the commune of Fourons.

The UN LOCODE page  for Belgium lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Antwerp: from Germanic anda werpum: at the jetty
  2. Brabant: Old High German bracha: new country, bant: region
  3. Brussels: Middle Dutch broec: swamp, sele: castle
  4. Flanders: possibly from Flemish vlakte: plain, wanderen: wander.
  5. Hainaut: Haine River, with German suffix -gau: district
  6. Liege: from Latin læticæ: plantations owned by læti (immigrants)
  7. Limburg: Germanic lindo: linden, burg: fort.
  8. Luxembourg: Germanic luttila: little, burg: fort.
  9. Wallonia: land of Walloons, from Germanic walhon: foreigner.

Change history: 

  1. 1920-01-20: The Treaty of Versailles granted three German cantons (Eupen, Malmédy, and Saint Vith) to Belgium. Although geographically separated from it, they were annexed to Limburg. Also annexed was a sliver of land which had been neutral territory since the Napoleonic Wars. This was Moresnet, adjacent to Eupen.
  2. 1923: Two communes were transferred from East Flanders to Antwerp, constituting all of the present territory of Antwerp west of the Scheldt River.
  3. ~1932: Eupen, Malmédy, and Saint Vith transferred from Limburg to Liege.
  4. 1946-09-17: Official French spelling of Liege changed from Liége to Liège.
  5. 1962-11-08: Administrative reform law changed numerous boundaries. The arrondissement of Mouscron was created and transferred from West Flanders to Hainaut. The town of Landen was transferred from Liege to Brabant. Fourons was transferred from Liege to Limburg. The arrondissement of Brussels was split into Brussels-Capital, Brussels-Suburbs, and Halle-Vilvoorde. The provinces of East Flanders and Limburg were also affected.
  6. 1970: Brussels-Suburbs arrondissement annexed to Halle-Vilvoorde arrondissement. The three modern regions were defined geographically, but not given administrative functions.
  7. 1980: Regional governments formed for the Flemish Region and Wallonia.
  8. 1989: Regional government formed for Brussels capital region.
  9. 1993-11-01: Under the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union replaced the European Communities, of which Belgium was a member.
  10. 1995-01-01: Brabant province divided into Brussels capital region, Flemish Brabant province, and Walloon Brabant province.

Other names of subdivisions: 

Note: the Flemish language is basically the same as Dutch.

  1. Antwerp: Amberes (Spanish); Antuérpia (Portuguese); Antwerpen (Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Swedish); Anvers (French); Anversa (Italian); Антверпен (Russian)
  2. Brabant: Brabante (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)
  3. Brussels: Brüksel (Turkish); Bruselas (Spanish); Brussel (Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian); Brussel Hoofstadt, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk, Brusselse Hoofdstedelijke Gewest (Dutch); Hauptstadtregion Brüssel (German); Bruxelas (Portuguese); Bruxelles (Italian); Bryssel (Danish, Finnish, Swedish); Brysselin pääkaupunkialue (Finnish); Région de Bruxelles-Capitale (French); Брюссель (Russian)
  4. East Flanders: Fiandra Orientale (Italian); Flandes Oriental (Spanish); Flandre orientale (French); Flandres Oriental (Portuguese); Itä-Flanderi (Finnish); Oost-Vlaanderen (Dutch); Ostflandern (German); Östflandern (Swedish); Øst-Flandern (Norwegian); Østflanderen (Danish)
  5. Flemish Brabant: Brabante Fiammingo (Italian); Brabante Flamenco (Spanish); Brabante Flamengo (Portuguese); Brabant flamand (French); Flaamien Brabant (Finnish); flamländska Brabant (Swedish); Flamsk Brabant (Danish); Flämisch-Brabant (German); Vlaams Brabant (Dutch)
  6. Flemish Region: Flandre, Région flamande (French); Região Flamenga (Portuguese); Región Flamenga (Spanish); Region Flandern (German); Vlaanderen, Vlaams Gewest (Dutch)
  7. Hainaut: Henao (Spanish); Henegouwen (Dutch); Hennegau (German)
  8. Liege: Liège (Danish, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish); Liége (obsolete); Liegi (Italian); Lieja (Portuguese-variant, Spanish); Luik (Dutch); Lüttich (German); Люттих (Russian)
  9. Limburg: Limbourg (Danish, French, Norwegian); Limburgo (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)
  10. Luxembourg: Lussemburgo (Italian); Luxemburg (Dutch, German, Swedish); Luxemburgo (Portuguese, Spanish)
  11. Namur: Namen (Dutch)
  12. Wallonia: Região Valona, Valónia (Portuguese-Portugal); Region Wallonien (German); Valônia (Portuguese-Brazil); Waals Gewest, Wallonië (Dutch); Walenland (obsolete-Dutch); Wallonie, Région wallonne (French)
  13. Walloon Brabant: Brabante Valão (Portuguese); Brabant wallon (French); Vallonian Brabant (Finnish); Waals Brabant (Dutch); Wallonisch-Brabant (German)
  14. West Flanders: Fiandra Occidentale (Italian); Flandes Occidental (Spanish); Flandre occidentale (French); Flandres Ocidental (Portuguese); Länsi-Flanderi (Finnish); Västflandern (Swedish); Vest-Flandern (Norwegian); Vestflanderen (Danish); Westflandern (German); West-Vlaanderen (Dutch)

Population history:

East Flanders1,120,3351,149,1991,192,0341,217,2801,249,4351,272,0001,310,1171,332,2651,331,608
West Flanders874,135901,588965,910996,4491,032,169998,0001,054,4291,084,3801,102,501
9 provinces7,423,7848,092,0048,386,5538,512,1958,926,2469,189,0009,650,9449,858,0179,947,782
  • After each date, c = census; e = estimate
East Flanders1,349,3821,361,6231,380,0721,432,326
Flemish Brabant995,2661,014,7041,037,7861,076,924
Walloon Brabant336,505349,884363,776379,515
West Flanders1,121,1351,128,7741,138,5031,159,366


  1. [1] Population résidente de droit au 1er janvier, par année , Statistics Belgium (retrieved 2011-03-31).
  2. [2] Territory and Administration in Europe. Robert Bennett, ed. Pinter Publishers, London and New York, 1989.
  3. [3] A detailed map of the fragmented enclave of Baarle-Hertog was posted at (dead link).
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