The Language Divide in Belgium
Belgium is a multilingual country and the different communities often find cause for friction in liguistic issues. The South East of the country is largely French speaking while in the North West, people speak Flemish which is a variant of Dutch. Along the German border, there are also some German speaking areas.

Administratively, Belgium is divided up into communes and each has an official linguistic status. That status sets the language for the local government and other official functions. In Brussels, the status is officially bilingual between French and Flemish.

The reality on the ground is that, in the French speaking areas, you will find that most people speak only French whereas in the Flemish parts, it is common to find people who speak Flemish and English. In Brussels, English and French dominate and Flemish is in decline.

It is very easy to give offence to a Flemish speaker by attempting to communicate in French. My advice would be to always try to speak to strangers in English until you discover their language.

You are allowed to request that any official documents are sent to you in whichever of French or Flemish you prefer but when I was working in the Antwerp region, it was impossible to get the locals to give me paperwork in French. That is hardly surprising as Antwerp is the heartland of the Vlaams Block which is one of the most overtly racist political groups in Europe and which regularly receives the support of over a quarter of the region's electors. While they do not use phrases like ethnic cleansing, they do espouse policies of repatriating foreigners and splitting off from Belgium as a Flemish speaking state.

It is common to hear Flemish speakers complain that foreigners always want to learn French and ignore Flemish when they come to the country but, unlike the French speakers, they will rarely give any encouragement to you if you are interested in picking up their language.

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