Fleming, resident of Flanders (northern Belgium). Flemings, who make up about 55% of Belgium's population, are descended from the Franks and speak Dutch. The French-speaking Walloons, who live in Wallonia (southern Belgium), are descended from the area's original inhabitants, the Celts. When the Franks invaded what is now Belgium during the 3rd and 4th centuries, they pushed the Celts southward to the present north-south division between the 2 regions. When the newly independent country declared French its official language in 1830, the Flemings protested. Dutch was given official recognition in the late 1800s, but frictions have continued. In 1980 the government granted limited independence to Flanders and Wallonia. The Flemings dominated European commerce in the Middle Ages, and today are primarily involved in the manufacture of textiles. From the 1400s to the 1600s Flanders produced some of the world's most famous painters, including Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Eyck.
See also: Flanders.