Wallonia is one of the three regions of Belgium—along with Flanders and Brussels.
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The south and southeast of Wallonia is made up of the Ardennes, an expanse of forested highland that is less densely populated.
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Wallonia has been a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie since 1980.
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Term "Wallonia" can mean slightly different things in different contexts.
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Wallonia is named after the Walloons, a group of locals who natively speak Romance languages.
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Profitability of the heavy industries to which Wallonia owed its prosperity started declining in the first half of the 20th century, and the center of industrial activity shifted north to Flanders.
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The loss of prosperity caused social unrest, and Wallonia sought greater autonomy in order to address its economic problems.
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Wallonia is rich in iron and coal, and these resources and related industries have played an important role in its history.
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The factories of Wallonia were by then antiquated, the coal was running out and the cost of extracting coal was constantly rising.
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The economy is improving, but Wallonia is not yet at the level of Flanders and is still suffering from difficulties.
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Nonetheless, Wallonia has some companies which are world leaders in their specialized fields, including armaments, glass production, lime and limestone production, cyclotrons and aviation parts.
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The south of Wallonia, bordering Luxembourg, benefits from its neighbour's economic prosperity, with many Belgians working on the other side of the border; they are often called frontaliers.
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The Walloon Region's autonomy extends even to foreign policy; Wallonia is entitled to pursue its own foreign policy, including the signing of treaties, and in many domains, even the Belgian federal government is not able to sign an international treaty without the agreement of the Parliament of Wallonia.
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Wallonia is home to the small German-speaking Community of Belgium in the east, which has its own government and parliament for culture-related issues.
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French is by far the main language of Wallonia and holds official status; in the East Cantons, German is official.
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Wallonia includes almost all of the area where Walloon is spoken, a Picard zone corresponding to the major part of the Hainaut Province, the Gaume with the Lorrain language and a Champenois zone.
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The regional languages of Wallonia are more important than in France, and they have been officially recognized by the government.
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Wallonia was strongly linked to the social strikes in Liege during the 1960s.
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Wallonia is famous for a number of different foods and drinks, a great many of which are specialties of certain cities or regions.
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Wallonia is home to the last bastion of traditional rustic saison, most notably those produced at the Brasserie de Silly and the Brasserie Dupont .
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Wallonia has an extensive and well-developed rail network, served by the Belgian National Railway Company, SNCB.
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