Clergy are some of the main and important formal leaders within certain religions. The roles and functions of clergy vary in different religious traditions but these involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices; some of the terms used for individual clergy are clergyman and churchman. Less common terms are churchwoman and cleric. In Christianity the specific names and roles of clergy vary by denomination and there is a wide range of formal and informal clergy positions, including deacons, priests, preachers, pastors and the Pope. In Islam, a religious leader is known formally or informally as an imam, mufti, mullah or ayatollah. In Jewish tradition, a religious leader is a rabbi or hazzan; the word "Cleric" comes from the ecclesiastical Latin Clericus, for those belonging to the priestly class. In turn, the source of the Latin word is from the Ecclesiastical Greek Clericus, meaning appertaining to an inheritance, in reference to the fact that the Levitical priests of the Old Testament had no inheritance except the Lord.
"Clergy" is from two Old French words, clergié and clergie, which refer to those with learning and derive from Medieval Latin clericatus, from Late Latin clericus. "Clerk", which used to mean one ordained to the ministry derives from clericus. In the Middle Ages and writing were exclusively the domain of the priestly class, this is the reason for the close relationship of these words. Within Christianity in Eastern Christianity and in Western Roman Catholicism, the term cleric refers to any individual, ordained, including deacons and bishops. In Latin Roman Catholicism, the tonsure was a prerequisite for receiving any of the minor orders or major orders before the tonsure, minor orders, the subdiaconate were abolished following the Second Vatican Council. Now, the clerical state is tied to reception of the diaconate. Minor Orders are still given in the Eastern Catholic Churches, those who receive those orders are'minor clerics.'The use of the word "Cleric" is appropriate for Eastern Orthodox minor clergy who are tonsured in order not to trivialize orders such as those of Reader in the Eastern Church, or for those who are tonsured yet have no minor or major orders.
It is in this sense that the word entered the Arabic language, most in Lebanon from the French, as kleriki meaning "seminarian." This is all in keeping with Eastern Orthodox concepts of clergy, which still include those who have not yet received, or do not plan to receive, the diaconate. A priesthood is a body of priests, shamans, or oracles who have special religious authority or function; the term priest is derived from the Greek presbyter, but is used in the sense of sacerdos in particular, i.e. for clergy performing ritual within the sphere of the sacred or numinous communicating with the gods on behalf of the community. Buddhist clergy are collectively referred to as the Sangha, consist of various orders of male and female monks; this diversity of monastic orders and styles was one community founded by Gautama Buddha during the 5th century BC living under a common set of rules. According to scriptural records, these celibate monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha lived an austere life of meditation, living as wandering beggars for nine months out of the year and remaining in retreat during the rainy season.
However, as Buddhism spread geographically over time - encountering different cultures, responding to new social and physical environments - this single form of Buddhist monasticism diversified. The interaction between Buddhism and Tibetan Bon led to a uniquely Tibetan Buddhism, within which various sects, based upon certain teacher-student lineages arose; the interaction between Indian Buddhist monks and Chinese Confucian and Taoist monks from c200-c900AD produced the distinctive Ch'an Buddhism. Ch'an, like the Tibetan style, further diversified into various sects based upon the transmission style of certain teachers, as well as in response to particular political developments such as the An Lushan Rebellion and the Buddhist persecutions of Emperor Wuzong. In these ways, manual labour was introduced to a practice where monks survived on alms; this adaptation of form and roles of Buddhist monastic practice continued after the transmission to Japan. For example, monks took on administrative functions for the Emperor in particular secular communities, thereby creating Buddhist'priests'.
Again, in response to various historic attempts to suppress Buddhism, the practice of celibacy was relaxed and Japanese monks allowed to marry. This form was transmitted to Korea, during Japanese occupation, where celibate and non-celibate monks today exist in the same sects.. As these varied styles of Buddhist monasticism are transmitted to Western cultures, still more new forms are being created. In general, the Mahayana schools of Buddhism tend to be mo
A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy, entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic and Independent Catholic churches and in the Assyrian Church of the East, bishops claim apostolic succession, a direct historical lineage dating back to the original Twelve Apostles. Within these churches, bishops are seen as those who possess the full priesthood and can ordain clergy – including another bishop; some Protestant churches including the Lutheran and Methodist churches have bishops serving similar functions as well, though not always understood to be within apostolic succession in the same way. One, ordained deacon and bishop is understood to hold the fullness of the priesthood, given responsibility by Christ to govern and sanctify the Body of Christ, members of the Faithful. Priests and lay ministers cooperate and assist their bishops in shepherding a flock.
The term epískopos, meaning "overseer" in Greek, the early language of the Christian Church, was not from the earliest times distinguished from the term presbýteros, but the term was clearly used in the sense of the order or office of bishop, distinct from that of presbyter in the writings attributed to Ignatius of Antioch.. The earliest organization of the Church in Jerusalem was, according to most scholars, similar to that of Jewish synagogues, but it had a council or college of ordained presbyters. In Acts 11:30 and Acts 15:22, we see a collegiate system of government in Jerusalem chaired by James the Just, according to tradition the first bishop of the city. In Acts 14:23, the Apostle Paul ordains presbyters in churches in Anatolia; the word presbyter was not yet distinguished from overseer, as in Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5–7 and 1 Peter 5:1. The earliest writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Didache and the First Epistle of Clement, for example, show the church used two terms for local church offices—presbyters and deacon.
In Timothy and Titus in the New Testament a more defined episcopate can be seen. We are told that Paul had left Timothy in Titus in Crete to oversee the local church. Paul commands Titus to exercise general oversight. Early sources are unclear but various groups of Christian communities may have had the bishop surrounded by a group or college functioning as leaders of the local churches; the head or "monarchic" bishop came to rule more and all local churches would follow the example of the other churches and structure themselves after the model of the others with the one bishop in clearer charge, though the role of the body of presbyters remained important. As Christendom grew, bishops no longer directly served individual congregations. Instead, the Metropolitan bishop appointed priests to minister each congregation, acting as the bishop's delegate. Around the end of the 1st century, the church's organization became clearer in historical documents. In the works of the Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius of Antioch in particular, the role of the episkopos, or bishop, became more important or, rather was important and being defined.
While Ignatius of Antioch offers the earliest clear description of monarchial bishops he is an advocate of monepiscopal structure rather than describing an accepted reality. To the bishops and house churches to which he writes, he offers strategies on how to pressure house churches who don't recognize the bishop into compliance. Other contemporary Christian writers do not describe monarchial bishops, either continuing to equate them with the presbyters or speaking of episkopoi in a city. "Blessed be God, who has granted unto you, who are yourselves so excellent, to obtain such an excellent bishop." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 1:1 "and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, ye may in all respects be sanctified." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 2:1 "For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as to the bishop as the strings are to the harp." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 4:1 "Do ye, beloved, be careful to be subject to the bishop, the presbyters and the deacons."
— Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 5:1 "Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 6:1. "your godly bishop" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 2:1. "the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles, with the deacons who are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 6:1. "Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by the Apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and the presbyters." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 7:1. "Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to the Father, as the Apostles were to Christ and to the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and of spirit." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 13:2. "In like manner let all men respe
Second Vatican Council
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965. Several changes resulted from the council, including the renewal of consecrated life with a revised charism, ecumenical efforts towards dialogue with other religions, the universal call to holiness, which according to Pope Paul VI was "the most characteristic and ultimate purpose of the teachings of the Council". According to Pope Benedict XVI, the most important and essential message of the council is "the Paschal Mystery as the center of what it is to be Christian and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons". Other changes which followed the council included the widespread use of vernacular languages in the Mass instead of Latin, the subtle disuse of ornate clerical regalia, the revision of Eucharistic prayers, the abbreviation of the liturgical calendar, the ability to celebrate the Mass versus populum, as well as ad orientem, modern aesthetic changes encompassing contemporary Catholic liturgical music and artwork.
Many of these changes remain divisive among the Catholic faithful. Of those who took part in the council's opening session, four have become popes: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who on succeeding John XXIII took the name Pope Paul VI. In the 1950s, theological and biblical studies in the Catholic Church had begun to sway away from the Neo-Scholasticism and biblical literalism which a reaction to Catholic modernism had enforced since the First Vatican Council; this shift could be seen in theologians such as Karl Rahner, Michael Herbert, John Courtney Murray who looked to integrate modern human experience with church principles based on Jesus Christ, as well as others such as Yves Congar, Joseph Ratzinger and Henri de Lubac, who looked to an accurate understanding of scripture and the early Church Fathers as a source of renewal. At the same time, the world's bishops faced challenges driven by political, social and technological change; some of these bishops sought new ways of addressing those challenges.
The First Vatican Council had been held nearly a century before but had been cut short in 1870 when the Italian Army entered the city of Rome at the end of Italian unification. As a result, only deliberations on the role of the papacy and the congruent relationship of faith and reason were completed, with examination of pastoral issues concerning the direction of the Church left unaddressed. Pope John XXIII, gave notice of his intention to convene the Council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election in October 1958; this sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church, the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis on 25 December 1961. In various discussions before the Council convened, John XXIII said that it was time to "open the windows and let in some fresh air".
He invited other Christians outside the Catholic Church to send observers to the Council. Acceptances came from both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestant denominations as internal observers, but these observers did not cast votes in the approbation of the conciliar documents. Pope John XXIII's announcement on 25 January 1959 of his intention to call a general council came as a surprise to the cardinals present; the Pontiff pre-announced the council under a full moon when the faithful with their candlelights gathered in St. Peter's square and jokingly noted about the brightness of the moon, he had tested the idea only ten days before with one of them, his Cardinal Secretary of State Domenico Tardini, who gave enthusiastic support to the idea. Although the Pope said the idea came to him in a flash in his conversation with Tardini, two cardinals had earlier attempted to interest him in the idea, they were two of the most conservative, Ernesto Ruffini and Alfredo Ottaviani, who had in 1948 proposed the idea to Pope Pius XII and who put it before John XXIII on 27 October 1958.
Actual preparations for the Council took more than two years, included work from 10 specialised commissions, people for mass media and Christian Unity, a Central Commission for overall coordination. These groups, composed of members of the Roman Curia, produced 987 proposed constituting sessions, making it the largest gathering in any council in church history. Attendance varied in sessions from 2,100 to over 2,300. In addition, a varying number of periti were available for theological consultation—a group that turned out to have a major influence as the council went forward. Seventeen Orthodox Churches and Protestant denominations sent observers. More than three dozen representatives of other Christian communities were present at the opening session, the number grew to nearly 100 by the end of the 4th Council Sessions. Pope John XXIII opened the Council on 11 October 1962 in a public session and read the declaration Gaudet Mater Ecclesia before the Council Fathers. What is needed at the present t
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2, it is the country's most populated comune, it is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio, along the shores of the Tiber; the Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been defined as capital of two states. Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe; the city's early population originated from a mix of Latins and Sabines.
The city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, is regarded by some as the first metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, the expression was taken up by Ovid and Livy. Rome is called the "Caput Mundi". After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome fell under the political control of the Papacy, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the Renaissance all the popes since Nicholas V pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city.
In 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which, in 1946, became the Italian Republic. Rome has the status of a global city. In 2016, Rome ranked as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, the most popular tourist attraction in Italy, its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The famous Vatican Museums are among the world's most visited museums while the Colosseum was the most popular tourist attraction in world with 7.4 million visitors in 2018. Host city for the 1960 Summer Olympics, Rome is the seat of several specialized agencies of the United Nations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the city hosts the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean as well as the headquarters of many international business companies such as Eni, Enel, TIM, Leonardo S.p. A. and national and international banks such as Unicredit and BNL.
Its business district, called EUR, is the base of many companies involved in the oil industry, the pharmaceutical industry, financial services. Rome is an important fashion and design centre thanks to renowned international brands centered in the city. Rome's Cinecittà Studios have been the set of many Academy Award–winning movies. According to the founding myth of the city by the Ancient Romans themselves, the long-held tradition of the origin of the name Roma is believed to have come from the city's founder and first king, Romulus. However, it is a possibility that the name Romulus was derived from Rome itself; as early as the 4th century, there have been alternative theories proposed on the origin of the name Roma. Several hypotheses have been advanced focusing on its linguistic roots which however remain uncertain: from Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb ῥέω and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean "flow". There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites.
Evidence of stone tools and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. Between the end of the bronze age and the beginning of the Iron age, each hill between the sea and the Capitol was topped by a village. However, none of them had yet an urban quality. Nowadays, there is a wide consensus that the city developed through the aggregation of several villages around the largest one, placed above the Palatine; this aggregation was facilitated by the increase of agricultural productivity above the subsistence level, which allowed the establishment of secondary and tertiary activities. These in turn boosted the development of trade with the Greek colonies of southern Italy; these developments, which according to archaeological ev
Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline in universities and seminaries. Theology is the study of deities or their scriptures in order to discover what they have revealed about themselves, it occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but especially with epistemology, asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship. Theology is derived from the Greek theologia, which derived from Τheos, meaning "God", -logia, meaning "utterances, sayings, or oracles" which had passed into Latin as theologia and into French as théologie.
The English equivalent "theology" had evolved by 1362. The sense the word has in English depends in large part on the sense the Latin and Greek equivalents had acquired in patristic and medieval Christian usage, although the English term has now spread beyond Christian contexts. Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity"; the term can, however, be used for a variety of fields of study. Theology begins with the assumption that the divine exists in some form, such as in physical, mental, or social realities, that evidence for and about it may be found via personal spiritual experiences or historical records of such experiences as documented by others; the study of these assumptions is not part of theology proper but is found in the philosophy of religion, through the psychology of religion and neurotheology. Theology aims to structure and understand these experiences and concepts, to use them to derive normative prescriptions for how to live our lives.
Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument to help understand, test, defend or promote any myriad of religious topics. As in philosophy of ethics and case law, arguments assume the existence of resolved questions, develop by making analogies from them to draw new inferences in new situations; the study of theology may help a theologian more understand their own religious tradition, another religious tradition, or it may enable them to explore the nature of divinity without reference to any specific tradition. Theology may be used to propagate, reform, or justify a religious tradition or it may be used to compare, challenge, or oppose a religious tradition or world-view. Theology might help a theologian address some present situation or need through a religious tradition, or to explore possible ways of interpreting the world. Greek theologia was used with the meaning "discourse on god" in the fourth century BC by Plato in The Republic, Book ii, Ch. 18. Aristotle divided theoretical philosophy into mathematike and theologike, with the last corresponding to metaphysics, for Aristotle, included discourse on the nature of the divine.
Drawing on Greek Stoic sources, the Latin writer Varro distinguished three forms of such discourse: mythical and civil. Theologos related to theologia, appears once in some biblical manuscripts, in the heading to the Book of Revelation: apokalypsis ioannoy toy theologoy, "the revelation of John the theologos". There, the word refers not to John the "theologian" in the modern English sense of the word but—using a different sense of the root logos, meaning not "rational discourse" but "word" or "message"—one who speaks the words of God, logoi toy theoy; some Latin Christian authors, such as Tertullian and Augustine, followed Varro's threefold usage, though Augustine used the term more to mean'reasoning or discussion concerning the deity'In patristic Greek Christian sources, theologia could refer narrowly to devout and inspired knowledge of, teaching about, the essential nature of God. The Latin author Boethius, writing in the early 6th century, used theologia to denote a subdivision of philosophy as a subject of academic study, dealing with the motionless, incorporeal reality.
Boethius' definition influenced medieval Latin usage. In scholastic Latin sources, the term came to denote the rational study of the doctrines of the Christian religion, or the academic discipline which investigated the coherence and implications of the language and claims of the Bible and of the theological tradition. In the Renaissance with Florentine Platonist apologists of Dante's poetics, the distinction between "poetic theology" and "revealed" or Biblical theology serves as steppingstone for a revival of philosophy as independent of theological authority, it is in this last sense, theology as an academic discipline involving rational study of Christian teaching
The Holy See called the See of Rome, is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, ex cathedra the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, a sovereign entity of international law. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and Papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholic bishops and Catholics around the world organised in polities of the Latin Church, the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, their dioceses and religious institutes; as a recognised sovereign subject of international law, headed by the Pope, the Holy See is headquartered in, operates from, exercises "exclusive dominion" over the independent Vatican City State enclave in Rome, Italy. The Holy See maintains bilateral diplomatic relations with 172 sovereign states, signs concordats and treaties, performs multilateral diplomacy with multiple intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations and its agencies, the Council of Europe, the European Communities, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe the Organization of American States and the Organization for African Unity.
The Holy See is administered by the Roman Curia, similar to a centralised government, with the Cardinal Secretary of State as its chief administrator, in addition to various dicasteries, comparable to ministries and executive departments. Papal elections are carried out by the College of Cardinals. Although the Holy See is sometimes metonymically referred to as the "Vatican", the Vatican City State was distinctively established with the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy to ensure the temporal and spiritual independence of the Papacy; as such, ambassadors are accredited to the Holy See and not the Vatican City State. Conversely, Papal nuncios to states and international organisations are recognised as representing the Holy See and the integrity of the Catholic Church along with its 1.3 billion members, not the Vatican City State, as prescribed in the Canon law of the Catholic Church. The "Holy See" thus refers to the See of Rome viewed as the central government of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church, in turn, is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world, while the diplomatic status of the Holy See facilitates the access of its vast international network of charities. The word "see" comes from the Latin word "sedes", meaning "seat", which refers to the Episcopal throne; the term "Apostolic See" can refer to any see founded by one of the Apostles, when used with the definite article, it is used in the Catholic Church to refer to the see of the Bishop of Rome, whom that Church sees as successor of Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. While Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is the church most associated with the Papacy, the actual cathedral of the Holy See is the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran within the city of Rome; every see. In Greek, the adjective "holy" or "sacred" is applied to all such sees as a matter of course. In the West, the adjective is not added, but it does form part of an official title of two sees: besides the Diocese of Rome, the Bishopric of Mainz bears the title of "the Holy See of Mainz".
The apostolic see of Rome was established in the 1st century by Saint Peter and Saint Paul the capital of the Roman Empire, according to Catholic tradition. The legal status of the Catholic Church and its property was recognised by the Edict of Milan in 313 by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, it became the state church of the Roman Empire by the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the temporal legal jurisdisction of the Papal primacy was further recognised as promulgated in Canon law; the Holy See was granted territory in Duchy of Rome by the Donation of Sutri in 728 of King Liutprand of the Lombards, sovereignty by the Donation of Pepin in 756 by King Pepin of the Franks. The Papal States held extensive territory and armed forces in 756–1870. Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Roman Emperor by translatio imperii in 800; the Papal coronations of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire from 858 and the Dictatus papae in 1075 mark the peak of the pope's temporal power claims.
Several contemporary states still trace their own sovereignty to recognition in medieval Papal bulls. Sovereignty of the Holy See was retained despite multiple sacks of Rome during the Early Middle Ages. Yet, relations with the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy Roman Empire were at times strained, reaching from the Diploma Ottonianum and Libellus de imperatoria potestate in urbe Roma regarding the "Patrimony of Saint Peter" in the 10th century, to the Investiture Controversy in 1076-1122, settled again by the Concordat of Worms in 1122; the exiled Avignon Papacy during 1309-1376 put a strain on the Papacy, however returned to Rome. Pope Innocent X was critical of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 as it weakened the authority of the Holy See throughout much of Europe. Following the French Revolution, the Papal States were occupied as the "Roman Republic" from 1798 to 1799 as a sister republic of the First French Empire under Napoleon, before their territory was reestablished. Notwithstanding, the Holy See was represented in and identified as a "permanent subject of general customary international law vis-à-vis all states" in the Congress of Vien
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