Belgium comprises 581 municipalities (Dutch : gemeenten; French : communes; German : Gemeinden), 300 of them grouped into five provinces in Flanders and 262 others in five provinces in Wallonia, while the remaining 19 are in the Brussels Capital Region, which is not divided in provinces. In most cases, the municipalities are the smallest administrative subdivisions of Belgium, but in municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, on the initiative of the local council, sub-municipal administrative entities with elected councils may be created. As such, only Antwerp, having over 500,000 inhabitants, became subdivided into nine districts (Dutch : districten). The Belgian arrondissements (Dutch : arrondissementen; French : arrondissements; German : Bezirke), an administrative level between province (or the capital region) and municipality, or the lowest judicial level, are in English sometimes called districts as well.
Here are three lists of municipalities for each one of the three regions:
The municipalities, as an administrative division, were officially created in 1795, when the Directoire reorganised the structures of the Ancien Régime. The municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants were grouped in so-called canton municipalities. In 1800, these canton municipalities were abolished again and the number of autonomous municipalities became 2,776.
Not much changed during the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, only a number of smaller municipalities were merged.
In 1831, Belgium was divided into 2,739 municipalities, a number which remained more or less constant until 1961. The number of municipalities was reduced to 2,508 when the Belgian borders were recognised in 1839, as 124 municipalities were ceded to the Netherlands and another 119 municipalities became the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (see the article Communes of Luxembourg for details). New municipalities were created until 1928. There were 2,528 municipalities in 1850, 2,572 in 1875, 2,617 in 1900 and a maximum of 2,675 in 1929. This also includes the municipalities of the East Cantons that were added to Belgium following the First World War.
In 1961, the so-called Unitary Law (Dutch : Eenheidswet; French : Loi unique; German : Einheitsgesetz), of which the fourth chapter was dedicated to the territorial organisation of the municipalities, was adopted. The authority to abolish municipalities was entrusted to the executive branch for a period of 10 years. Municipalities could be merged on financial grounds or on grounds of a geographical, linguistic, economic, social or cultural nature. In 1964 and in 1969 and 1970, roughly 300 municipalities ceased to exist and were subsumed into other municipalities. The number of municipalities was reduced from 2,663 in 1961 to 2,586 in 1965 and to 2,359 in 1971.
Article 4 of the constitution states that each municipality must belong to only one of the four official language areas that were established in 1962–63. In the three officially unilingual language areas, a couple of dozen municipalities in the vicinity of another language area must provide limited facilities for speakers of that other language. As only a law carried by special majorities can change the language status of any municipality, these arrangements have prevented some small municipalities with facilities to be merged in the 1970s, and thus the most minute Belgian municipalities are still found in this group, notably Herstappe with only 84 inhabitants (in 2006). 
Lucien Harmegnies, Minister of the Interior in the government of Gaston Eyskens (1968–1972) decided to continue the process of territorial reorganization of Belgium. In 1971, the provisions of the Unity Law were extended and modified to apply to large agglomerations, which were initially excluded from its provisions. It was another Minister of the Interior, Joseph Michel, who managed the process. On 30 December 1975 the law regarding the merger of the municipalities was adopted. The merger became effective on 1 January 1977. The merger of 1977 further reduced the number of municipalities in Belgium from 2,359 to 596.
Because of the specific nature of the reorganization in Antwerp, the law of 30 December 1975 didn't enter into force for Antwerp until 1 January 1983. The formerly-independent municipalities were called districts and were given an advisory function. However, on 1 January 2001 they were given an administrative function again. The merger of Antwerp with the municipalities of Berchem, Borgerhout, Deurne, Hoboken, Ekeren, Merksem and Wilrijk in 1983 finally reduced the number of municipalities in Belgium to 589 and was the last reorganization of the municipalities for several decades because the merger of the 19 municipalities of Brussels was postponed indefinitely.
The fifth state reform (2001) transferred the responsibility over municipalities from the federal level to the three regions.
This did not instantly have any significant effect on the reorganisation of municipalities, up until the Flemish Bourgeois Government (2014-2019) provided a legal framework and financial incentives for municipalities to consider merging. This led 15 Flemish municipalities to merge into seven, decreasing the total number of Flemish municipalities from 308 to 300. Their municipal councils were elected in the regular elections of 14 October 2018, and the change took effect on 1 January 2019.
The mayor (Dutch : burgemeester; French : bourgmestre; German : Bürgermeister) is not only the head of the municipality but also the representative of the regional and the federal government at the local level. In that capacity, they are responsible for the execution of laws, decrees, ordinances and orders. The mayor is also responsible for the maintenance of public order in their municipality. They chair the college of mayor and aldermen or the municipal college, depending on the region, as well.
In the Flanders and Brussels, the mayor is appointed by the regional government, on the nomination of the municipal council, for a term of office of six years. In Wallonia, the mayor is the municipal councillor who received the largest number of preferential votes of the majority party that received the largest number of votes in the municipal elections. Hence, it is also possible that the mayor is not a member of the largest party, as the largest party is not always part of the governing coalition. It is also possible in Wallonia for the municipal council to adopt a constructive motion of no confidence in the municipal college.
The executive organ of the municipality is known as the college of mayor and aldermen (Dutch : college van burgemeester en schepenen; French : collège des bourgmestre et échevins), commonly referred to as the college of aldermen (Dutch : schepencollege; French : collège échevinal), in Flanders and Brussels, and as the municipal college (French : collège communal; German : gemeindekollegium) in Wallonia. This college is responsible for the daily administration of the municipality. It is also responsible for the preparation and implementation of the decisions of the municipal council.
The municipal council (Dutch : gemeenteraad; French : conseil communal; German : Gemeinderat) is the representative assembly of the municipality and consists of members directly elected for a term of office of six years. The number of municipal councillors depends on the number of inhabitants of the municipality, and can vary from 7 to 55. It is responsible for all matters that are of municipal interest.
Following the Fifth State Reform in 2001, the responsibility for the composition, the organization, the competences and the activities of the municipal institutions were devolved to the Regions, as well as the responsibility for the provincial institutions. As a result, there are several differences between the municipal institutions in Flanders, in Wallonia and in Brussels. Wallonia has also further devolved part of its responsibilities to the German-speaking Community with regards to its 9 municipalities.
The three Regions can amend or replace the existing legislation on the municipalities, most notably the New Municipal Law. In the Flanders the Municipal Decree of 15 July 2005 applies. In Wallonia the Code of Local Democracy and Decentralization applies. In Brussels several provisions of the New Municipal Law have been modified by ordinance, such as the Ordinance of 17 July 2003. The legal framework in the three Regions is still relatively similar, but that could change in the future.
Since 1970, the Belgian Constitution includes the possibility to create agglomerations and federations of municipalities by law. This possibility was only used once in 1971 when the Brussels Agglomeration, comprising the 19 municipalities of Brussels, was put into place. It de facto ceased to exist in 1989 when the organs of the Brussels-Capital Region were established.
Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 162 km2 (63 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of over 1.2 million. The five times larger metropolitan area of Brussels comprises over 2.5 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.
Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics, and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is the City of Brussels, although the Brussels-Capital Region has an independent regional government. The government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels, such as Flemish culture and education.
Flemish Brabant is a province of Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium. It borders on the Belgian provinces of Antwerp, Limburg, Liège, Walloon Brabant, Hainaut and East Flanders. Flemish Brabant also surrounds the Brussels-Capital Region. Its capital is Leuven. It has an area of 2,118 km2 (818 sq mi) which is divided into two administrative districts containing 65 municipalities. As of January 2019, Flemish Brabant has a population of 1,146,175.
Belgium is a federal state comprising three communities and three regions that are based on four language areas. For each of these subdivision types, the subdivisions together make up the entire country; in other words, the types overlap.
The country of Belgium is divided into three regions. Two of these regions, Flanders and Wallonia, are each subdivided into five provinces. The third region, Brussels, is not divided into provinces, as it was originally only a small part of a province itself.
Voeren is a Flemish Dutch-speaking municipality with facilities for the French-speaking minority, located in the Belgian province of Limburg. Bordering the Netherlands to the north and the Wallonia region's Liège Province to the south, it is geographically detached from the rest of Flanders, making Voeren an exclave of Flanders. Voeren's name is derived from that of a small right-bank tributary of the Meuse, the Voer, which flows through the municipality.
The Flemish Region, usually simply referred to as Flanders, is one of the three regions of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. It occupies the northern part of Belgium and covers an area of 13,625 km2 (5,261 sq mi). It is one of the most densely populated regions of Europe with around 490/km2 (1,300/sq mi).
There are 27 municipalities with language facilities in Belgium which must offer linguistic services to residents in Dutch, French, or German in addition to their single official languages. All other municipalities – with the exception of those in the bilingual Brussels region – are unilingual and only offer services in their official languages, either Dutch or French.
The Flemish Community is one of the three institutional communities of Belgium, established by the Belgian constitution and having legal responsibilities only within the precise geographical boundaries of the Dutch-language area and of the bilingual area of Brussels-Capital. Unlike in the French Community of Belgium, the competences of the Flemish Community have been unified with those of the Flemish Region and are exercised by one directly elected Flemish Parliament based in Brussels.
The area within Belgium known as Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde encompasses the bilingual—French and Dutch—Brussels-Capital Region, which coincides with the arrondissement of Brussels-Capital and the surrounding Dutch-speaking area of Halle-Vilvoorde, which in turn coincides with the arrondissement of Halle-Vilvoorde. Halle-Vilvoorde contains several municipalities with language facilities, i.e. municipalities where French-speaking people form a considerable part of the population and therefore have special language rights. This area forms the judicial arrondissement of Brussels, which is the location of a tribunal of first instance, enterprise tribunal and a labour tribunal. It was reformed in July 2012, as part of the sixth Belgian state reform.
Elections in Belgium are organised for legislative bodies only, and not for executive functions. Direct elections take place for the European Parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, the Parliaments of the Regions, the provincial councils, the municipal councils and the councils of Districts of Antwerp. Voting is mandatory and all elections use proportional representation which in general requires coalition governments.
A schepen or échevin (French) or Schöffe (German) is a municipal officer in Belgium and formerly the Netherlands. It has been replaced by the wethouder in the Netherlands.
The Belgian provincial, municipal and district elections of 2006 took place on Sunday 8 October 2006. The electors have elected the municipal councillors of 589 cities and towns as well as the ten provincial councils. The voters in the town of Antwerp have also been able to vote for the city's district councils. In seven Flemish municipalities with a special language statute and in the Walloon municipality of Comines-Warneton the aldermen and the members of the OCMW/CPAS council have also been directly elected.
The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. A number of non-official, minority languages and dialects are spoken as well.
This article outlines the legislative chronology concerning the use of official languages in Belgium.
The partition of Belgium is a hypothetical situation, which has been discussed by both Belgian and International media, envisioning a split of the country along linguistic divisions, with the Flemish Community (Flanders) and the French-speaking Community (Wallonia) becoming independent states. Alternatively, it is hypothesized that Flanders could join the Netherlands and Wallonia could join France or Luxembourg.
State reform, in the context of Belgium, is the ongoing process of seeking and finding constitutional and legal solutions to the problems and tensions in the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly between the Dutch-speakers of Flanders and the French-speakers of Wallonia. In general, Belgium has evolved from a unitary state to a federal state with communities, regions, and language areas.
Water supply and sanitation in Belgium is provided by a large variety of organizations: Most of the 581 municipalities of Belgium have delegated the responsibility for water supply and sanitation to regional or inter-municipal utilities. There are more than 62 water supply utilities, including 2 regional, 30 inter-municipal and 30 municipal utilities. Another 100 mostly small municipalities provide services directly without having a legally of financially separate entity for water supply. Water is not scarce in Belgium and water supply is generally continuous and of good quality. However, wastewater treatment has long lagged behind and Brussels only achieved full treatment of its wastewater in 2007. In 2004 the European Court of Justice ruled condemning Belgium's failure to comply with the EU wastewater directive, and the ruling has not been fully complied with so far. Wallonia satisfies 55% of the national needs in drinking water while it counts only 37% of the population. Flanders and Brussels are dependent on drinking water from Wallonia, at a level of 40% and 98% respectively.
The Belgian provincial, municipal and district elections of 2012 took place on 14 October. As with the previous 2006 elections, these are no longer organised by the Belgian federal state but instead by the respective regions:
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