1991 Formula One World Championship
The 1991 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 45th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1991 Formula One World Championship for Drivers and the 1991 Formula One World Championship for Constructors, which were contested concurrently over a sixteen-race series that commenced on 10 March and ended on 3 November. Ayrton Senna won his third and last Drivers' Championship, McLaren-Honda won their fourth consecutive Constructors' Championship. Senna won seven of the sixteen races. Senna's fierce rival Alain Prost failed to win a race with Ferrari and was fired before the end of the season due to a dispute with the team. 1991 saw the debuts of future world champions Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen, as well as the retirement of three-time champion Nelson Piquet. The following teams and drivers competed in the 1991 FIA Formula One World Championship. McLaren retained their successful 1990 lineup of Gerhard Berger. Williams re-signed their former driver Nigel Mansell on the promise that he would be the top driver in the team after several years as number two to Nelson Piquet at Williams and Alain Prost at Ferrari.
He was partnered by Riccardo Patrese, retained from 1990. Ferrari kept Alain Prost as lead driver and replaced the departed Mansell with Jean Alesi, a young driver who had impressed at Tyrrell. Benetton began the season with two experienced Brazilian drivers: Roberto Moreno and triple world champion Nelson Piquet. During the season, Moreno was controversially replaced by German rookie Michael Schumacher. Former greats Lotus had had a torrid 1990 with a severe career-ending accident for Martin Donnelly, loss of title sponsorship from Camel and a management buyout; the new cars and British Racing Green after decades of yellow or black, were piloted by rookie driver Mika Häkkinen, Julian Bailey who had made his F1 debut with Tyrrell in 1988, though Bailey was replaced by Johnny Herbert. The team had appointed Donnelly as'number one driver' as Martin was hoped to come back racing by April 1991, though his 1990 crash at Jerez ended his racing career. Lotus went back to using Judd V8 power in 1991 after a dismal 1990 using the fast but fragile Lamborghini V12 engine.
Three teams that started the 1990 season would not make the start of the 1991 season: EuroBrun had failed to complete the season. Onyx Grand Prix pulled out during 1990, but went as far as designing a 1991 car before folding, while the absence of Life, a team that failed to prequalify for every race, surprised no-one; the Osella team was now Fondmetal, though driver Olivier Grouillard was retained along with the 1989 Osella car and most of the staff. The Arrows team was renamed Footwork after an investment by Japanese businessman Wataru Ohashi, President of Footwork Express Co. Ltd. There were two new entrants for the 1991 season, their drivers were Bertrand Gachot and Andrea de Cesaris, though Gachot's incarceration for assault partway through the season would mean that Michael Schumacher, Alessandro Zanardi and Roberto Moreno drove the car. The other new team was the Modena Team, it began life in late 1990 as GLAS with Mexican investment. Former Arrows, Alfa Romeo and Spirit driver, Mauro Baldi, was one of the proposed drivers and they had brokered a deal with Lamborghini that would see the Italian marque, operating under Lamborghini Engineering and build a chassis for the team as well as supply their V12 engines.
But, the Mexican investors pulled out before the season began. Lamborghini stepped in and provided financial assistance to save the team and relocated the team to Modena and initiated the subsequent name-change; the team signed up Eric van de Poele. Although the team was a de facto factory effort by Lamborghini, Lamborghini entered the team under a separate name to avoid being associated with a struggling team, but this did not stop fans alike from referring to the team as Lambo though. 1991 would be a difficult year for the team, as aside from the drivers failing to qualify their cars, finances become an issue after Lamborghini's once off investment in the team had dried up. 1991 would in fact turn out to be the team's only season in the sport. At the start of the season, pre-qualifying was needed for five teams: both cars of the Jordan and Modena teams and the single entrants of the Fondmetal and Coloni teams. A change to the points system in 1991 saw the winning driver now awarded 10 points instead of 9 as previously.
More points from all races would now count towards the championship, instead of only each driver's best eleven results as previously. The season started off at the Phoenix street circuit that had a modified layout to make it more of a challenge to drivers. Senna took pole ahead of Prost, Mansell and Alesi. At the start and Prost maintained their places while Mansell sliced ahead of Patrese and Piquet lost out to Alesi and Berger; the order at the end of lap 1 was: Senna, Mansell, Patrese and Berger. Early on, as Senna was pulling away from Prost, Alesi got past Patrese for fourth. However, Patrese closed up on Mansell, he shot into an escape road and rejoined behind Alesi and Berger. He closed up on them with Berger attacking Alesi but unable to pass. Patrese passed Berger on lap 34. On the next lap, Mansell's gearbox failed and soon afterward, on lap 36, Berger had fuel pump
1991 San Marino Grand Prix
The 1991 San Marino Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Imola on 28 April 1991. The 61-lap race was the third race of the 1991 Formula One season and was won from pole position by Ayrton Senna, driving a McLaren-Honda, with team-mate Gerhard Berger second and JJ Lehto third in a Dallara-Judd. With the team under new management having been sold by Cyril De Rouvre, Stefan Johansson was replaced at AGS by F1 debutant Fabrizio Barbazza. Ayrton Senna claimed his 55th pole position from Riccardo Patrese, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger. However, the formation lap saw two dramatic incidents - Prost spun off the track at Rivazza Turn, followed by Berger, able to continue; however Prost did not take the start. At the lights, Patrese took the lead ahead of Senna, whilst Mansell slow off the line with gearbox problems, retired at the end of lap 1 after a collision with Martin Brundle, he was followed out by Nelson Piquet who spun off on lap 2, Aguri Suzuki who spun off on lap 3 behind the leaders and Jean Alesi who spun off on lap 3 attempting a rather foolhardy pass on Stefano Modena.
In a strong lead, Patrese pitted for what appeared to be an early stop to slicks turned out to be more serious - a misfire with a faulty camshaft sensor. He restarted last before retiring for good 9 laps later. Berger was catching Senna, lapping 1.5 seconds quicker than his teammate. The lead was soon down to 5 seconds, with Modena a superb third from Satoru Nakajima and the two Minardis of Pierluigi Martini and Gianni Morbidelli. Both McLarens pitted for tyres with Senna maintaining his lead. Just after setting fastest lap, Berger was delayed in traffic, held up by the trio of Maurício Gugelmin, Julian Bailey and Thierry Boutsen. Bailey himself moved past Andrea de Cesaris into 6th, whilst Nakajima retired with transmission problems. Ivan Capelli spun into retirement from 4th to hand over to JJ Lehto's Dallara. Modena retired with transmission problems which meant that behind the two dominant McLarens, the order was now Roberto Moreno, Eric van de Poele for the little Modena team and Martini's Minardi.
Meanwhile de Cesaris would retire in the pits with gearbox problems on lap 38. Moreno's gearbox broke on lap 52 causing him to retire, whilst Senna was having problems with oil pressure caused by the special high-torque Honda V12; as the Leyton House of Maurício Gugelmin retired with an engine failure on lap 58. Berger put in a series of fastest laps to cut Senna's lead to just 1.7s at the line. As Eric van de Poele had retired on the last lap with the result of fuel pump problems and was classified 7th. Lehto was overjoyed to gain the first podium place of his career with Martini 4th. Van de Poele's drive ended when a fuel pump broke on the last lap - he was classified ninth overall; the Lotus drivers of Mika Häkkinen and Bailey took 5th and 6th, both scoring their first world championship points, an unexpected result for the troubled team since their cars had managed to enter the grid with Häkkinen 25th and Bailey 26th. This race was noted for being the only F1 point for Julian Bailey. Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings
International Formula 3000
The Formula 3000 International Championship was a motor racing series created by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile in 1985 to become the final preparatory step for drivers hoping to enter Formula One. Formula Two had become too expensive, was dominated by works-run cars with factory engines; the series began as an open specification tyres were standardized from 1986 onwards, followed by engines and chassis in 1996. The series ran annually until 2004, was replaced in 2005 by the GP2 Series; the series was staged as the Formula 3000 European Championship in 1985, as the Formula 3000 Intercontinental Championship in 1986 and 1987 and as the Formula 3000 International Championship from 1988 to 2004. Formula 3000 replaced Formula Two, was so named because the engines used were limited to 3000cc maximum capacity; the Cosworth DFV was a popular choice, having been made obsolete in Formula One by the adoption of 1.5 litre turbocharged engines.. The rules permitted any 90-degree V8 engine, fitted with a rev-limiter to keep power output under control.
As well as the Cosworth, a Honda engine based on an Indy V8 by John Judd appeared. In years, a Mugen-Honda V8 became the thing to have, eclipsing the DFV. Costs, not unlike the senior series, were getting out of control; the first chassis from March, AGS and Ralt were developments of their existing 1984 Formula Two designs, although Lola's entry was based on and looked much like an IndyCar. A few smaller teams tried obsolete three-litre Formula One cars, with little success—the Grand Prix and Indycar-derived entries were too unwieldy—their fuel tanks were about twice the size of those needed for F3000 races, the weight distribution was not ideal; the first few years of the championship saw March establishing a superiority over Ralt and Lola—there was little to choose between the chassis, but more Marches were sold and ended up in better hands. The form book was rewritten in 1988 with the entry of the ambitious Reynard marque with a brand new chassis; this would continue in F3000. The next couple of years saw Lola improve slightly—their car was arguably marginally superior to the Reynard in 1990—and March slip, but both were crushed by the Reynard teams and by the mid-90s, F3000 was a virtual Reynard monopoly, although Lola did return with a promising car and the Japanese Footwork and Dome chassis were seen in Europe.
Dallara tried the series before moving up to Formula One, AGS moved up from Formula Two but never recaptured their occasional success. At least one unraced F3000 chassis existed—the Wagner fitted with a straight-six short-stroke BMW; this was converted into a sports car, however. The series was not without controversy. Definitive rules for the 1985 season did not appear. In 1987 questions were asked about the ability of some of the drivers, given the high number of accidents in the formula. In 1989 the eligibility of the new Reynard chassis was challenged - it was raced with a different nose to the one, crash tested; this season saw problems with driver changes - the cost of F3000 was escalating to the point that teams were finding it difficult to run drivers for a whole season. A badly implemented "two driver changes per car per season" rule meant that some cars had to sit idle while drivers with budgets could not race them. In 1991 the performance of some Italian teams attracted attention - they had started using Agip's "jungle juice" Formula One fuel, worth an estimated 15 bhp—giving their drivers a significant advantage.
In the early years of the formula there was much concern about safety, with a high number of accidents resulting in injuries to drivers and one fatality in the International Championship - Marco Campos in the last round of the 1995 series. Formula 3000 races during the "open chassis" era tended to be of about 100–120 miles in distance, held at major circuits, either headlining meetings or paired with other international events; the "jewel in the crown" of the F3000 season was traditionally the Pau Grand Prix street race, rivalled for a few years by the Birmingham round. Most major circuits in France, Spain and the United Kingdom saw the series visit at least once. In 1996, new rules introduced a single engine and chassis, to go along with tyre standardization introduced in 1986; the following year the calendar was combined with that of Formula One, so the series became support races for the Grand Prix. Several Grand Prix teams established formal links with F3000 teams to develop young drivers.
The series grew through the late nineties, reaching an entry of nearly 40 cars - although this in itself was problematic as it meant many drivers failed to qualify. In 2000, the series was restricted to 15 teams of two cars each. However, by 2002 expenses were once more high and the number of entries, sponsors d
1991 United States Grand Prix
The 1991 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on March 10, 1991 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was the first race of the 1991 FIA Formula One World Championship; the 81-lap race was won from pole position by Ayrton Senna, driving a McLaren-Honda, with Alain Prost second in a Ferrari and Nelson Piquet third in a Benetton-Ford. The race marked the respective debuts of future double World Champion Mika Häkkinen and the Jordan team, it was the first F1 World Championship race in which ten points were awarded for a win rather than nine, as part of a revised scoring system introduced for 1991. However, it was to be the last United States Grand Prix until 2000, due to poor attendances; the race was the first of the 1991 Formula One season. In the two previous years, the championship had been decided when Prost tangled at Suzuka. In 1989, their collision as team-mates secured Prost's third World Championship. Controversy regarding the nature of the 1990 incident had created great anticipation for the rematch.
Prior to arriving in Phoenix, the 1991 McLaren chassis had had only had one brief test session, the two race cars were completed about 4 am Friday, six hours before the first practice session. Working to prepare the new car, Ayrton Senna claimed he had never gotten comfortable with the increasing complexity of the sport since helping Lotus introduce the first active suspension car in 1987, he still found it hard to embrace the huge role of computers in achieving a proper setup. "Friday, to understand and interpret things properly, I worked with the engineers into the evening," Senna said. "It has been a long time. The engineers and I talked our way around the circuit we compared this with what the computer predicted, it was great because the computer confirmed everything, it showed where there was room for improvement." The Ferraris of Alain Prost and Jean Alesi were expected to be the strongest team, but their V-12s and 7-speed semi-automatic gearboxes were not well suited to the tight turns and short straights of the street circuit.
As it turned out, they were not the only ones plagued by gearbox problems throughout the race. On Sunday, Prost began his second season at Ferrari alongside Senna on the front row. At the start, he fell in behind the Brazilian, with Nigel Mansell slipping ahead of Riccardo Patrese. Alesi and Gerhard Berger followed Nelson Piquet, Roberto Moreno, Stefano Modena and Emanuele Pirro. A lap Alesi, in his first race for Ferrari, swept past Patrese, but by Senna was pulling away. After ten laps, he had a lead of ten seconds over Prost. Behind Senna, Patrese was involved in two successive three-way battles. First, after getting back by Alesi for fourth on lap 16, Patrese closed on Mansell, behind Prost. By lap 22, Patrese was close enough to attack his Williams team-mate but overshot onto the escape road, as Mansell swerved to avoid him. Upon rejoining, Patrese latched onto Alesi and Berger, as the new three-car train now covered fourth through sixth places. Patrese had gotten past Berger when two of the top six runners retired on consecutive laps.
On lap 35, Mansell pulled over when the Williams's new semi-automatic gearbox failed, on the next time around, Berger's race ended as well. Patrese passed Alesi for the second time, Alesi pitted for new Goodyear tires on lap 43, he rejoined in seventh. Three laps Prost was being hounded by Patrese, he pitted, ceding second spot to the Williams; when the Ferrari crew had problems changing his right rear tire, the Frenchman dropped to seventh behind Modena's Tyrrell-Honda. On lap 48, Senna pitted without giving up the lead. Like Mansell, Patrese was having problems with the gearbox in his Williams, when it selected neutral midway through Turn Seven, it caused him to spin out of second place; the car stopped on the outside of perpendicular to the racing line. Piquet and Mika Häkkinen managed to avoid him as they passed, but before Patrese could get out of the car, Moreno, in the second Benetton, went straight across the bow of the Williams, removing the nose of Patrese's car and the right front wheel of the Benetton.
Neither driver was injured. Patrese and Moreno's cars remained on the course throughout the race, Bertrand Gachot, driving the first race for the new Jordan team and challenging Satoru Nakajima, spun after swerving to avoid them. With Patrese out, Senna led Piquet, having to hold off Alesi, by over a minute. Alesi squeezed up to second on lap 53, while four laps Prost disposed of Modena. On lap 70, Prost went from fourth to second in one move at turn five. With Alesi and Piquet running second and third, Piquet's Benetton pulled alongside Alesi– who had set the race's fastest lap while Prost was in the pits– in Turn Four, but could not get by. Down the straight, Piquet passed Alesi for second place. Prost went by his new teammate on the left, sliced back to the right, between Alesi and Piquet, beating Piquet to the apex of Turn Five and regaining second place. By now Senna led by 40 seconds. Gearbox troubles dropped Alesi to fifth before he retired less than 10 laps from the finish, leaving third place to Piquet who, like the two Tyrrells following, had never pitted for tires.
Martini was pressing Satoru Nakajima for fifth, only to have his engine let go after 75 laps. A similar problem removed Gachot from eighth on the same lap; the race ended a lap short of the planned 82 as the two-hour limit was reached, Senna taking the win having led every lap. After the r
Osella is an Italian racing car manufacturer and former Formula One team. They participated in 132 Grands Prix between 1980 and 1990, they achieved two points scored 5 championship points. Named after its founder Vincenzo "Enzo" Osella, the team began life by racing Abarth sports cars in local and national races in Italy in the mid-1960s. Though successful, Osella expanded into single-seater racing in 1974 to further develop his business. In 1975, the team entered the European Formula Two Championship for the first time, achieving some success with its own car, the BMW-powered Osella FA2. Osella continued in Formula Two in 1976, but financial problems meant that the team was not competitive and withdrew from the championship before the end of the season. In the following years, the FA2s were entered by privateers, one of them being the Swiss Charly Kiser. Enzo Osella tried to make some money by selling a self-penned Formula Three car, the Osella FA3, with little success. Only a few privateers were optimistic enough to buy the simple, untested machine, which with Toyota or Lancia engines competed in the 1976 German and Italian F3 championships without making any great impression.
After this, the team concentrated on running in local sports car events during 1977 and 1978. Osella returned to the European Formula Two Championship in 1979, with American driver Eddie Cheever racing the well-used FA2, again powered by a BMW engine; the car was good enough to take Cheever to fourth in the championship. This was enough for Enzo Osella to take the plunge into the cut-and-thrust world of Formula One. While the FA2 was entered on one occasion in 1980 by the Italian privateer Marco Rocca, Osella Squadra Corse appeared in the world of Grand Prix racing with its first Formula One machine, the FA1; the car was designed by Giorgio Stirano. Powered by Ford Cosworth DFV, it was aerodynamically inefficient; the car was presented in a white livery with large Denim branding on the sidepods. Many components were manufactured in-house which meant that they were cheap to produce but not always state-of-the-art; the driver was again Eddie Cheever, able to finish just one race in whole season. He had to suffer from the massive unreliability of his car.
In the following seasons, the basic design was changed several times. In the early years, most of the work was done by interim designers like Giorgio Valentini or Tony Southgate, but Enzo Osella himself worked on the cars. Most of these attempts brought no improvement. Jean-Pierre Jarier finished fourth at Imola in 1982 and scored the first Championship points for the young team in a car, by now dubbed Osella FA1C. Despite this result, neither the financial nor the technical situation improved. Few sponsors were attracted by the tiny Italian team. Denim only stayed for the first two seasons, Kelemata was no more reliable, others like Landis & Gyr vanished as as they had come. Most of the other sponsors were the region of Piemont; the lack of funding led to frequent driver changes as the team demanded that their drivers bring significant sponsorship to keep the team afloat. Some drivers started their F1 careers at Osella, such as Alex Caffi and Gabriele Tarquini, while Piercarlo Ghinzani had four stints with the team.
Others disappeared as as they had come, such as Allen Berg and Franco Forini. Enzo Osella gave the young Austrian Jo Gartner his one and only chance to drive a Formula One car in 1984. Riccardo Paletti had high hopes, but was killed in a start-line accident at the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix. None of these drivers were able to push the team forward. Osella continued to live hand-to-mouth each year, with little or no improvement in competitiveness. In the mid-1980s, Osella was the beneficiary of factory Alfa Romeo engines, both in naturally-aspirated and turbo forms. On one hand, the Alfa engine program helped the team to survive the professional turbo era. At least at first, Alfa offered some technical input to the team. All the following Osella models up to the FA1L in 1988 had their origins in the initial Alfa design; the Alfa turbo engine, the 890T, was not reliable. Chargers blew off and power output had to be reduced down to the level of the non-turbo cars just to achieve the necessary reliability.
On more than one occasion, Osella tried to replace the 890T with more up-to-date Motori Moderni turbos or with Cosworth engines. In the end, both were too expensive, so Osella had to stick with the outdated but cheap 890T. For 1988 – the last year before turbos were banned – the team re-branded the 890T as the "Osella V8"; this came about after Alfa's parent company, grew tired of the negative publicity the team had given the 890T and, while allowing them to continue using the engine, refused to allow the Alfa Romeo name to be used. After driver Nicola Larini managed some impressive times in pre-season testing at Monza, the team were confident of a decent showing through 1988, as many teams had switched to naturally-aspirated engines in preparation for 1989. However, the reality was that the FA1L, with its outdated turbo, was not up to the challenge: Larini failed to qualify or pre-qualify, was excluded from the San Marino Grand Prix before practice after fai
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection
Belgium 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, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, 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 groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, 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. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo