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Belgium is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy in Western Europe; the country became independent in 1830. It is generally flat except for the hilly and forested southeast (Ardennes) region.
In the last 40 years, the country evolved into a federal structure. As a result, the first Article of the Belgian constitution reads today: 'Belgium is a federal state, composed of communities and regions'. Community refers to persons and the bond that unifies them, namely their language and culture. The country has three official languages: Dutch, French and German and, as a result, Belgium today has three communities: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community. The regions convey economic interests; the names are borrowed from the name of the territory they represent, the Flemish Region in the North (population: 6.3 million), Brussels Capital Region (population: 1.15 million) and the Walloon Region in the south (population: 3.5 million) which includes the smaller German-speaking population of about 70.000 persons in the East of Belgium. The country if further divided into 10 provinces and 589 municipal councils.
Brussels, the capital, is the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Willebroek is the city on which Hazewinkel is situated. It has a museum Sashuis in Klein-Willebroek.
Contact info for tourism
Pastorijstraat 1 - 2830 Willebroek
Tel 03 866 90 24
Mechelen, where most participants have their accommodation, is situated very close to the rowing course. The Dijle flows through the city, hence it is often referred to as the Dijlestad ("City on the river Dijle").
Mechelen lies on the major urban and industrial axis Brussels-Antwerp, about 25 km from each city. It is one of Flanders' prominent cities of historical art, with Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, and Leuven. It was notably a centre for artistic production during the Northern Renaissance, when painters, printmakers, illuminators and composers of polyphony were attracted by patrons such as Margaret of York, Margaret of Austria and Jeroen Van Busleyden.
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Antwerp, one of the largest seaports in Europe, is well-know for art, fashion and diamonds.
Antwerp's population is 512,000 (as of 1 January 2013), making it the second most populous city in Belgium, after the metropolis Brussels, which has around 1.2 million inhabitants. It is located on the right (eastern) bank of the river Scheldt, which is linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde estuary.
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Brussels, capital of the kingdom of Belgium is also the capital of Europe. Brussels is a cosmopolitan city that loves good food, lives life its way and expresses itself in a style very much its own: sometimes rebellious and mischievous, sometimes thoughtful and composed, but always very likeable. Despite its European dimension and despite all the different languages spoken on the corner of every street, Brussels is still inspired by a very "village-like" spirit. Of course, it's well known for its Grand-Place, its Atomium, its Manneken-Pis, its Gueuze and its Kriek, its waffles and its chocolates... . But, just one tip: take the time, too, to soak up the very special atmosphere of its many different districts. Take a stroll to Rue Dansaert, Halles Saint-Géry and Place Sainte-Catherine. Head for Saint-Boniface, Châtelain or Flagey... You'll discover a Brussels that's in the spirit of the times, a capital that's relaxed and comfortable, as much in its history as in its present-day reality. Very fashionable. Very designer. Very creative. In other words, to put it in a nutshell, just relish Brussels, a fine and beautiful city to explore and discover...
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