Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen, French: Flandre, German: Flandern) is a geographical region located in parts of present day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. Over the course of history, the geographical territory that was called "Flanders" has varied.
In modern Belgium, there is a geographical, political and administrative entity called the Flemish Region (Dutch: het Vlaams Gewest) and a separate - but to some extent overlapping - political, legal, administrative, cultural and linguistic entity called the Flemish Community (Dutch: de Vlaamse Gemeenschap). The Flemish parliament and government govern both the Community and the Region. The capital city of Flanders is Brussels.
West Flanders and East Flanders are two of the five provinces of this Flemish Region. Antwerp, Limburg and Flemish Brabant are the other three.
The term "Flanders" has several main meanings:
* the social, cultural and linguistic, scientific and educational, economical and political community of the Flemings; generally called the "Flemish community" (others refer to this as the "Flemish nation"). It has over 6 million inhabitants, or about 60% of the population of Belgium.
* the constituent governing institution of the federal Belgian state through the institutions named the Flemish Community are exercising the powers in most of those domains for the aforementioned community, and the officially Dutch-speaking Flemish Region which has powers mainly on economical matters. The Community absorbed the Region, leading to a single operative body: the Flemish government and a single legislative organ: the Flemish parliament;
* the geographical region in the north of Belgium coinciding with the federal Belgian state's Flemish Region but excluding the bilingual Capital Region;
* the geographical area comprising the two westernmost provinces of the Flemish Region, West Flanders and East Flanders, parts of a former county named Flanders.
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