Julius Caesar and his Roman legions conquered West Flanders two thousand years ago. The Morini and Menapii, the coastal people inhabiting the region, had the reputation of being warlike and stubborn. Other attributes were their work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, still flowing in todays inhabitants’ blood.
The County of Flanders is mentioned for the first time in the 8th century. Back then, Flanders consisted of West-Flanders, East-Flanders (now part of Belgium), Dutch Flanders (now part of the Netherlands) and French Flanders (now part of France). During the 9th century, the Counts of Flanders increased their stronghold and expanded the area significantly. In a few generations, the county of Flanders became a major political entity in Europe at that time. Eventually this led to wars of independence over the centuries from France, Holland, Spain and Austria.
West Flanders is the most western province of Belgium. Its capital is Bruges. It consists of the North Sea coast, followed by a very flat landscape and some small hills in the south. West Flanders is the only Belgian province that borders both France and The Netherlands. The North Sea ports industry concentrates mostly in the north. The south is known for its textile industry.
Major touristic attractions include the Belgian coast which has a tram line that connects the coastal line, the historic center of Bruges, and Flanders Fields, the World War I battlefields in the Westhoek. The region has a very distinct dialect of Dutch called West Flemish. This is a part of the strong sense of identity of the inhabitants of the region. From castles, chocolate and beer, to museums, nature walks and lace. West Flanders has a bit of everything for everyone.
For more information visit the website for West Flanders.
West Flanders is divided in the following districts:
- Kortrijk District
- Roeselare District
- Ypres District
- Tielt District
- Ostend District
- Bruges District
- Diksmuide District
- Veurne District