1. a.) My ancestor's last name is Hurtekant, which originates from Belgium. I was not able to find where they lived because it asked for money in order to see their birthplace but I do know Adolf Hurtekant was one of the first to arrive from Belgium in 1911 at age 18 and he went through Elis Island and it said he did have some residence in Wyngene. He was my fathers, father's brother.
1. b.) Belgium is neighbored by France, Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Belgium is known for its beer, but what makes it distinct is what it's majorly known for; its Belgium waffles. Belgium has an area of about 33,990 square kilometers of land consisting of three types of land area; Ardennes, which is a rough wooded area, a central plateau which is just flat smooth fertile valleys, and finally the coastal plain which is largely sand dunes and polder's, which are areas of land that had to be reclaimed from the North Sea and done so with dikes. Belgium is a partially coastal country so it has a temperate climate with a significant amount of rainfall each year.
1. c.) I am not sure of why my ancestors left but they all seemed to leave about 1909-1920 which was about the same time as WWI's invasion of Belgium in 1914. If I had to guess he either left willingly due to his own quest to start a new life or he foresaw Belgium's fate somehow and decided to leave. This was also made easier by the fact steamships had started to become big and made traveling “easier” and more enticing. One last idea that may have caused them to leave was the mixed feelings over oppression of the Congolese in Africa.
2. A.) a.) Four of the main subsistence strategies used in Belgium are; Agriculturalism, accounting for only a small 0.8 percent of the economy but still a part growing wheat, potatoes, and sugar beet as the main crops. Hunter/Gather is not a big part of Belgium, only small markets catch and supply their own fish and is also only done with small things such as recreational fishing even being a coastal country, but there have been no “official” hunter/gatherers since the early 9,000-6500BP. Horticulture and pastoralism are not very big but they do raise some poultry and cattle on the poorer soil fields which also helps fertilize them again and also they grow some vegetables matching only what the market demands (little or no surplus). Another subsistence strategy is industrialism, which takes up about 23% of the economy. The most important of the products produced in Belgium are iron, steel, machinery, textiles, motor vehicles, diamond cutting and chemical products. Finally at the biggest sector are services or also information technology at about 73% (tourism, shipping, education, banking, etc.)
2.) A.) b.) and c.) Hunting and gathering as said are a very small portion of Belgium and is only really relevant to small local markets and recreational fishing and hunting. As said in Belgium: a country of study “Although bordering the North Sea, Belgium does not have an important fishing industry. Almost all of the fish caught supply the home market.”
Industrialism is one of the larger sectors of Belgium. The assembly line, commonly used in there auto industry plays a large part. Also the engineering and metalwork sector of manufacturing is one of the most important areas in the sector. The labor force would include the workforce, foremen, manager, owner idea in the factories.
Agriculturalism is a small sector of Belgium but still important. It is mostly used to help meet the food requirements of their own people but does have some export. “Farming has been limited by the bight population density and the rapid absorption of land for nonfarm users”. (Belgium: a country of study), and this is why it's such a small sector. Most the farms are small and family run with machinery. Being that most of these are small family farms its of course split up in their family depending on their style but typically the men do most the hard labor and the women would tend to the “house” area.
Information Technology, which is the main sector includes communication, transportation, banking, tourism, etc. this also employs the highest rate of people for Belgium. Most of these people are employed in the retail and wholesale. For this area the labor force is the typical Manager over a worker style.
Pastoralism and Horticulturalim again does not play a key role in Belgium, having only small farms that are used to help meet the food requirement of Belgium.
2 B.) a.) The political system of Belgium is a constitutional monarchy, but they do not rule. It is also a parliamentary democracy. “The federal bicameral parliament is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Representatives. The former is made up of 40 directly elected politicians and 21 representatives appointed by the 3 community parliaments, 10 coopted senators and the children of the king, as senators by Right who in practice do not cast their vote. The Chamber's 150 representatives are elected under a proportional voting system from 11 electoral districts. Belgium is one of the few countries that has compulsory voting and thus holds one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the world”. (Wikipedia Belgium) This is very confusing and complex, but what it basically comes down to is the people of Belgium are required by law to vote and can face charges if they do not and comes similar to the United States way of voting, but is still unique. The “rulers” are the prime minister and cabinet ministers who are chosen from the parliament. Although the King has no real power he does get to choose some minister's including the prime minister and thus has somewhat control over or at least some control of what will result. In the legislature composed of the senate and the house of parliament, members are elected every four years. Also at the age of 18 Belgium people are allowed to vote and are now committed to vote.
2.) B.) b.) Belgium's economic system is a strongly globalized one. It's very integrated with the rest of Europe and is a very strong trading nation. They have a high GNP and high exports per capita including automobiles, food, iron and steel, finished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum and nonferrous metals. They import mainly food products, machinery, rough diamonds (to be later exported as finished) petroleum (products), chemicals, clothing, and textiles. They also are known for their famous “Brussels lace”. They use Euros as a currency and have three main sectors; agriculture at about 0.8%, industry at about 23%, and services at about 76%. The Belgian economy is also heavily service based.
2.) B.) c.) A large portion of Belgium is Roman Catholic about 75% and the other 25% is Christian Protestant and other religions such as Judaism, Muslim and Hinduism along with some secularism due to the freedom of religion. This would explain why my family was almost all Catholic also. “According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 43% of Belgian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 29% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 27% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".” (Wikipedia Belgium). Religion does not play a key role in the government mostly because of the separation of the church from the government.
2.) B.) d.) Belgium's has many social organizations. Starting with socio-economic classes, most Belgian people consider themselves middle class, although they are generally quiet about their social groups and don't usually like to be labeled. They are also sometimes put into groups depending on what religion they are such as Roman Catholics versus secularists. Also they do divide them-self's up by type of work such as industrial, agricultural, etc and also languages spoken. For marriage practices, they have a traditional handkerchief that brides will carry on their wedding day and is usually embodied with the bride's name on it. After that it is usually framed and then can be used again in the event of another female family members wedding and thus can be a family heirloom passed down from generations to generations with all the names of the past holders. Family life is generally typical nuclear family type.
3. Other interesting things I found are many. One thing from the Tourism video I noticed and read about is that they are very fashionable. This was also confirmed in my chat with a person who lives in Belgium. They speak mainly French, German, and Flemish. The fact that there is little agricultarlism is shown with the urban population which represents about 97% of Belgium. In Belgium there most popular sports are Association football and bicycling. They have won five times in the Tour de France and hold many other records. In Belgium, the law enforcement consists of two main agencies; local and Federal. This became a dual integrated structure after the failed confidence in the three prior split force of municipal, national, and judicial. Because of their thick background in Roman Catholicism they have many of the same holidays as in the United States such as; New Year's Day, Easter, Pentecost, Christmas, etc. all falling on the same days.
4. I choose this article because, it relates to the political area of Belgium that I spoke of earlier. This story talks about how the current Prime Minister Van Rompuy has been selected to be the first president of the European Council, the highest part of the European Council. This relates again to Belgium because it is a part of this Union bearing rules in order to be a part of it. Some of these rules include common policies on trade, money, etc. Its divided into three areas of responsibility called pillars. These three pillars are; the original European community policies, common foreign and security policy, and lastly justice and home affairs.