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Belgium is one of the newer countries of Western Europe, having gained its independence less than 200 years ago. When Julius Caesar conquered Gaul the people he found living in present-day Belgium were the Belgae, one of various Celtic tribes of early Gaul.  The Romans called their new province Gallia Belgica. In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire was slowly fading the Franks, a Germanic tribe, threw the Romans out of Gaul. Several centuries later Charlemagne reunited Gaul and added most of the rest of Western Europe to his empire. Apart from the wars he fought in order to expand his empire his reign was also notable for his fostering of commerce, arts, and classical learning. However, his successors were not equal to the task of keeping the empire intact and gradually Belgium was split: Flanders, the northwestern part, fell to France and the southeastern part went to Germany.

In the 12th century, Belgium was partitioned into the duchies of Brabant and Luxembourg, the bishopric of Liège, and the domain of the count of Hainaut, which included Flanders. In the 15th century, most of the Low Countries (currently the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg) passed to the duchy of Burgundy and were subsequently inherited by Emperor Charles V. When the latter abdicated in 1555, the territories went to his son Philippe II, king of Spain. While the northern part, now the Netherlands, gained its independence in the following decades, the southern part remained under Spanish control until 1713, when it was transferred to Austria.

During the wars that followed the French Revolution, Belgium was occupied and later annexed to France. But with the downfall of Napoléon, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 reunited the Low Countries under the rule of the king of Holland. In 1830, Belgium rebelled against Dutch rule and declared independence, which was approved by Europe at the London Conference of 1830–1831.

Belgium suffered badly during the two world wars. In 1914 Belgium was neutral but the Germans invaded anyway. The Belgians resisted valiantly but almost all of their country was overrun and the Germans treated them brutally. Belgium was neutral again in 1940 but once again the Germans invaded. However the allies liberated Brussels on 3 September 1944. Yet after the war Belgium was left devastated.

However Belgium soon recovered from the Second World War and in 1957 it was one of the founder members of the EU. Brussels is now the headquarters of the EU. Furthermore Belgium joined the Euro in 2002. Today Belgium is a prosperous country.