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Certainly the Belgians participated in the early settlement (seventeenth century) of what is now Manhattan.

Many historians believe that Peter Minuit, who acted as purchasing agent for the West Indian Company when Manhattan Island was bought from the resident Native Americans, was a Walloon, or at least of Belgian heritage.

Belgium, whose official name is the Kingdom of Belgium, is a densely populated country not much larger than the state of Maryland.

It covers an area of 11,781 square miles (30,519 square kilometers), bounded on the north by The Netherlands, on the west by France, and on the east by Germany. This strategic location has earned Belgium the sobriquet, "crossroads of Europe." Brussels, its capital city, is just a three-hour drive to The Hague, the capital of The Netherlands, and Paris, and the capital of France.

With the death of Charlemagne in 814, the country was divided into France, the Holy Roman Empire (Germany), and the "Middle Kingdom," a buffer state comprised of the Lowlands and Belgium.

Feudal states developed, and in the later Middle Ages the dukes of Burgundy ruled the Low Countries.

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These place names are derived from both the Walloons who settled there, as well as from the Dutch version of Walloon words used to describe a locale.These were settled primarily by Walloons, many of whom came to America on ships owned by the West India Company, whose founder, William Usselinx, was Flemish.A notable name connected with America's early history is Lord Baltimore, whose family were prominent aristocrats in Flemish Belgium.About one percent of the population speaks German, principally those who reside near the former West German border. Protestants and those of the Jewish and Muslim faiths make up the remainder.Belgium's political system is that of a constitutional monarchy, with the monarch having limited powers.Belgian officers also fought during the Revolutionary War.To note a few: Charles De Pauw, a Fleming who accompanied Lafayette to America; Ensign Thomas Van Gaasbeck, Captain Jacques Rapalje, and Captain Anthony Van Etten, all of New York; and Captain Johannes Van Etten of Pennsylvania.Belgians came to America in greatest numbers during the nineteenth century.They came for reasons no different than many other Western Europeans—financial opportunity and a better life for their families.The arrival of Allied forces in 1944 was followed by the Battle of the Bulge, which would decide the war's outcome.Belgium rebuilt its war-torn country, became a founding member of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and by the 1960s was enjoying a prosperous economy.

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