The Province of Antwerp: an introduction

2017-04-07 11:07:40 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

The Province of Antwerp is one of Belgium’s 10 provinces. The provinces are the intermediary administrative level between the federal and Flemish government on the one hand and the municipalities on the other hand. The Province of Antwerp is a densely-populated region, with 1.8 million inhabitants in an area of 2,867 sq.km. It has three administrative districts, i.e., Mechelen, Antwerp and Turnhout, and 70 cities and municipalities.

The provinces: a rich history

The Province of Antwerp has a fascinating past. Our region’s history dates back to prehistory when a settlement already existed in the bend along the Scheldt where the city of Antwerp now stands. In the twelfth century, the Province of Antwerp belonged to the Duchy of Brabant. During his reign, Emperor Charles V (sixteenth century) choose to make Mechelen the capital of his empire and the centre of Europe. Famous painters such as Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, as well as the book printers Plantin and Moretus also lived during this period.

The provincial institutions in their current form date from 1836. Similar policy structures already existed before this date however. During the Middle Ages, representative assemblies of the states came into being in the various regions. These represented (a limited segment of) the populace with the king. They were composed of noblemen, the clergy and the representatives of the cities. Their main competence was to approve the “beden” or royal taxes.

Under French occupation (from 1794 onwards), a new territorial division, in nine departments, took effect. The territorial boundaries of these departments more or less overlap with the current provincial boundaries. After the French were defeated, King Willian I renamed the departments, calling them provinces. The Belgian Constitution confirmed the provinces in 1831. In 1836, the Provincial Councils were established pursuant to the Provinces Act.

The Province of Antwerp: an economic success story

The Province of Antwerp is strategically located on the Scheldt, just 70 km from the Scheldt estuary. Its central location, both in the European market and along the motorway to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and Europe, and its proximity to the North Sea, is an important economic asset.

The Province of Antwerp is an entrepreneurial region. The province’s 70 municipalities account for 827,000 jobs. Our economic prosperity is the merit of the businesses in our province: large corporations, SMEs and thousands of self-employed entrepreneurs, who conduct business in Belgium and abroad. The Port of Antwerp and its transport and wholesale activities is the main driver of our economy. The diamond industry and chemical cluster also create many jobs. Other businesses operate in the construction and metal industry, in logistics, in retail, business services, life sciences, the agro-industry, the creative industry… On the agricultural level, our strengths include poultry and dairy farming as well as greenhouse horticulture.

Creative industry

Antwerp has been the diamond capital of the world and the home base of the diamond industry for over 550 years. More than 80 percent of the world’s rough diamonds and 50 percent of the cut diamonds are traded in Antwerp. As such, this industry accounts for 8 percent of all Flemish exports and 5 percent of Belgian exports. As diamonds are such an important and above all dazzling ambassador of our province, the little stone has a dedicated museum, which coincidentally was also the world’s largest diamond museum (www.divaantwerp.be/en).

Discover our beautiful Province of Antwerp

Do you want to take a walk through time? Get to know some of the world’s greatest artists and take a peek in some of the most beautiful museums? See dazzling diamonds sparkle or discover the latest fashion trends? You can do all this and more in Antwerp. The city has one of the oldest art academies and one of the most reputable fashion academies in the world. Antwerp’s MoMu fashion museum attracts fashionistas from around the world (www.momu.be/en).

Centuries-old Mechelen – which was the capital of the Low Counties five hundred years ago - is totally hip. Here you can visit Baroque churches and Renaissance palaces, and discover original places to shop and creative hotspots. The city’s mighty St. Rumboldt’s Cathedral towers above the city’s roofs.

Do you prefer an invigorating walk or bike green through emerald green forests? Do you love to spend the day on a sun-drenched beach or are you up for some aquatic fun on crystal-clear lakes? Do you want to treat your children to an unforgettable, fun- and action-filled holiday? Then we have just the destination for you: the Kempen.

Do you want to rediscover the definition of the verb “to enjoy”? Then visit the Scheldeland. Enjoy the tranquil, picturesque Scheldt villages, learn more about the fascinating brick-making past of the Rupel region. And enjoy some delicious regional dishes with Duvel beer www.scheldeland.be/en …

Our international partners

Antwerp has always focused on the world around it. Both in the fifteenth century and in the present day. The Province of Antwerp has long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most important regions. We signed our first collaboration agreement in 1985, with Shaanxi Province in China. Since then, we have signed similar agreements with the Oblast Leningrad in Russia, the Province of Noord Brabant in the Netherlands and the city of Chongqing in China.

The many projects we develop with partners in these region ensure an excellent, long-standing relationship. We also pay attention to the needs and wishes of important stakeholders in our province, making us the ideal bridge between our province and the world.

In addition to this, the cities and municipalities in our province also have an active international presence, twinning with cities in regions all over the world.

Our province’s international vocation is very strong, with two objectives: we want to ensure the Province of Antwerp is strongly anchored in the world while also firmly anchoring the world in our province.

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