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Photographer's Note

A few kilometres before this spot, in the Belgian region of Flanders (Vlaanderen), the highway signs indicated Bergen. Now, the photo, in the region of Brussels (Région de Bruxelles-Capitale/Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest) the sign indicates Mons-Bergen. A few kilometres ahead, again in a small stretch of Flanders, the sign is Bergen-only again. And as soon as you enter the region of Wallonia (Wallonie), Bergen disappears from the signs and you are simply on the way to Mons. All this happens in a distance as short as 25 km (15 mi). Don't get confused, you are still on the way to the same city (which is not Bergen in Norway).
In the sign of the photo one arrow was erased to avoid more confusion, since the three lanes do not correspond to the "three" placenames above the arrows.
Welcome to België-Belgique-Belgien! This small European nation (population 10 million; 30,528 km² km, 11,787 sq mi, smaller than Maryland), has three official languages, three federal regions, three language communities, one bilingual capital, and one king. To confuse the matters, the territorial regions don't coincide with the linguistic communities.
In Flanders the only official language is Dutch (Flemish). In Wallonia it's French. Brussel-Bruxelles is bilingual: Dutch and French. And in a few cantons of eastern Wallonia (the Ost-Kantone) the official language is German. Those languages are that of Belgian neighbours. Furthermore there are regional languages and dialects, like West-Flemish, Limburgish and Walloon. The Belgian mix is also enhanced by the fact that the names of its provinces and regions are duplicated in the neighbouring countries: in Wallonia there is a province with the same name of Luxembourg; there are a Walloon Brabant, a Flemish Brabant, and a North Brabant in the Netherlands; there is a Limburg in Flanders and other in the Netherlands; in France there is also a historic region of Flanders.

The bigger Belgian cities are usually known by their names in French (Walloon), Dutch (Flemish) and sometimes German, like Mons-Bergen, Bruxelles-Brussel, Antwerpen-Anvers, Liège-Luik (-Lüttich, in German), etc. "Mons" and "Bergen" mean "mountains" in French, Dutch and German (in Walloon: Mont).

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Additional Photos by Francisco Santos (xuaxo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4896 W: 319 N: 4862] (6854)
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