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The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia.
This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993.
Its two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the mostly French-speaking southern part of the Wallonia region.
The Brussels-Capital Region is an officially bilingual (French and Dutch) enclave within the Flemish Region.
A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings.
Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region.
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The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples.
Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased; there is significant separatism particularly among the Flemish; controversial language laws exist such as the municipalities with language facilities; Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels.
Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD and WTO, and a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area.