Belgium (Dutch: België [ˈbɛlɣijə] (listen); French: Belgique [bɛlʒik] (listen); German: Belgien [ˈbɛlɡi̯ən] (listen)), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi). The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven.
Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: the Flemish Region (Flanders) in the north, the Walloon Region (Wallonia) in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita.
Belgium is home to two main linguistic communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which constitutes about 40 percent of the population. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in French and Dutch, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. (Full article...)
Father Damien, formally Joseph (Jozef) de Veuster, SS.CC. and Blessed Damien of Molokai (January 3, 1840, Tremelo – April 15, 1889, Molokai), was a Belgian Catholic missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who is revered primarily by Hawaii residents and Christians for having dedicated his life in service to the lepers of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii. In Catholicism, Father Damien is the spiritual patron of people with leprosy, outcasts, and those with HIV/AIDS, and of the State of Hawaii. Father Damien Day is recognized each year in Hawaii on April 15. His Feast Day in the Catholic Church is May 10. Having been beatified in 1995, Father Damien is awaiting formal approval for sainthood.
The Father Damien Statue memorializes the priest in bronze at the United States Capitol. A full size replica stands in front of the Hawaii State Legislature. In 1995, Pope John Paul II beatified him and bestowed the official title of Blessed Damien of Molokai.
In 2005, Father Damien was chosen as the Greatest Belgian of all time by the Flemish public broadcasting service, VRT.
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