According to andyeducation, the total population of Belgium, calculated at the end of 1927 to be 7,932,000 residents, amounted to 7,405,569 as of December 31, 1920 (last census). on the pre-war area of 29,452 sq. km., to 7,465,782 over the post-war area of 30,444 sq. km. If we go back a little less than a century, we find a total of 3,785,814 residents on December 31, 1831, as soon as the kingdom on the same area lasted until the World War: this means an increase in the 90 years. 96 percent of the population (and it would have been over 100 percent without the war). This rapid increase (which in certain periods assumes exceptional proportions, as in the interval 1900-1916 when the population grew by 10.9 per cent) derives mainly from the excess of births over deaths, which is on average about 1 per one hundred per year. In recent times, however, the progressive trend towards a decrease in the birth rate would have led as a consequence to a slowdown in the modulus of population increase, if, in parallel with the birth rate, mortality had not decreased: from 1831 to 1926, in fact, the death rate fell from 2.5 to 1.3 per 100; that of births from 3.2 to 1.9. I will notice the different behavior of the Flemish part of the country compared to the Walloon one, resulting from the middle of the last century, and above all from 1870, constantly higher in that than in this part of the birth rate and greater the surplus of births over deaths..
From an ethnic point of view, the Belgian population still clearly reveals two different origins, which, although more than a millennium has passed since the two lineages coexist mixed or contiguous, also linked, in recent times, by a common political destiny, appear to be in the different language as well as in the diversity of physical and moral characters. The Belgians, in fact, who, extreme northern vanguard of the Celts, occupied this last term of the inhabited lands opposite the ocean and the Rhenish delta amphibian, at the end of the ancient age had to make room on their territory – already deeply Romanized – to large groups of Franks Salî, which the wave of invasions pushed from the middle banks of the Rhine to the extreme lowlands of the Meuse and the Scheldt. The newcomers resisted, largely defended by a protective curtain of forests, the old residents, saving, thanks also to the immediate contiguity with France, the learned Latin language; while, for their part, those who came from the Rhine kept the original Germanic language in the new homeland, little changed. For this reason the Eelgio is still linguistically divided into two territories, divided one from the other by a fairly regular line, almost unchanged for centuries, which runs from E. to O. starting from the Meuse just downstream of Liège, passing to S. of Brussels and reaching the French territory along the upper course of the Lys: Flemish speaking (a Germanic dialect, plattdeutsch, not distinguished from Dutch except for dialectal differences) is the territory located at N. of the dividing line, speaking Walloon (a French dialect continuation of the Picardian dialect) the territory located at S. agguaglino, resulting in the valley area by a little more; in terms of number, on the other hand, the valleys are smaller, albeit slightly, in whose area the mountainous territories with a sparser population are included.
Specifying the data (excluding infants), the 1920 census recorded speaking only the French residents 2,855,835 and bilinguals preferring French 407,334; speaking Flemish alone 3,187,073 and bilinguals preferring Flemish 609,636: which means 46 per cent of Walloons, 53.4 per cent of Flemings. In addition to which it is also worth mentioning the very small German minority, that is the 41,543 Belgians speaking only German (or preferably German), citizens in a very large part of the province of Liège or of Belgian Luxembourg, who, even if the Even though 45,000 Germans from the canton of Eupen annexed after the war, they make up just over one percent of the state’s population.
Besides speech, the difference between the two dominant lineages is also manifested, up to a certain point, in the physical and moral type. In fact, among the Flemings – at least among those of Maritime Flanders – individuals with long heads, tall and massive, blond, fair-skinned, taciturn, slow and hard workers prevail; among the valleys, shorter and more stocky types prevail, with round heads, brown hair and complexion and, as regards character, more mobile, lighter, more ready of wit and speech. Differences that in no way tend to be abolished, because on the whole even blood alliances between the two lineages are not frequent.
It should not be said that one or the other lineage prevails in culture, in economic activity, in the government of public affairs. The language of France has for a long time the primacy as a language of culture, having spread itself as an instrument of an intelligent and refined civilization even among the Flemings since the century. XIII, and still dominating today, through letters, newspapers, theaters, in every cultural manifestation; but the Flemish national sentiment, strong in the number and in the ancient glorious regional traditions, has regained vigor in the last decades, and the so-called “mouvement flamingant” has obtained the abolition of the provisions that made French the only official language in the state, in the laws, in justice, in the army, he completely regained the schools in the Flemish provinces, he wanted a Flemish university in Ghent, he obtained that the laws recognized full parity between the two languages (therefore the currency bilingual, the stamps bilingual, the street names bilingual, etc.), and ensured that, the entire domain remaining in the offices public to the French in Walloon territory, the entire domain was also recognized to the Flemish in Flemish territory. The capital, almost to epitomize this state of affairs in itself, is a Flemish city born in Flemish territory, but it has the Walloon lands in S. just outside its gates and, while preserving intact both the external aspect and the spiritual physiognomy The village core of the old city is actually above all French for the rest that has been added to that core for centuries, so much so that it can boast almost a minor Paris.
However, it is important to note that the dualism of lineage, so sensitive throughout the life of the Belgian state, does not prevent the population as a whole from being composed today in a secure national unity, which does not seem to be able to be broken by any political contingency. In fact, the union between the Walloons and the Flemings, formed already in the century. XV, then maintained, outside the will of the peoples themselves, under the foreign dominions of Spain, Austria, revolutionary France, can be said to have been definitively consolidated for a hundred years now, thanks to a state independence that the Walloons and Flemings have well shown wanting and knowing how to defend together at any cost. Nor is the value of this fact diminished, recognizing that union and independence were made more dear to all Belgians, thanks to the splendid economic flourishing, The root of which lies precisely in the mutual communion of resources of mining Wallonia and agricultural Flanders and in the union, so advantageous to the fate of the small nation, of the qualities of energy and solidity, liveliness and tenacity of the two ethnic elements in brotherhood. However, in the face of some persistent liveliness or harshness of demonstrations, it is necessary to note that the Walloons and the Flemings still do not seem to have found the right mutual balance in their coexistence in the same state.
The religious faith certainly contributed to creating the current situation which, while uniting the two lineages together in a common resistance to reform (16th-17th centuries), prevented the Flemings of Catholic Belgium from joining together with the Flemings of Holland, who had passed to Protestantism. ; on the contrary, it completely detached the political and national fortunes of one from those of the other. Thus Belgium lasted and still continues to be compactly Catholic, counting in it no other religious minorities except from 20 to 30,000 Protestants, and perhaps 3,000 Jews. Supreme Catholic authority the archbishop of Malines (Mechelen), episcopal see Bruges, Ghent, Tournai, Liège, Namur.