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Flemish Diamond

A map of the Flemish Diamond within Belgium.

The Flemish Diamond (in Dutch: Vlaamse Ruit) is the Flemish reference to a network of four metropolitan areas in Belgium, three of which are in the central provinces of Flanders, together with the Brussels Capital Region.[1] It consists of four agglomerations which form the four corners of a diamond shape: Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven.[2] Over five million people live in this conurbation, with a population density of more than 800 per square kilometre.[3]


  • History 1
  • Dynamics 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


There is no national or federal concept or recognition of a poly-centric conurbation in Belgium that consists of Brussels and any of the other major Belgian metropolitan areas that are relatively proximate to the national capital (lie within a radius of approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) around Brussels). The matter is the exclusive competence of the regional authorities, and as such, the autonomous Flemish government developed the geographic and socio-economic concept of Vlaamse Ruit or "Flemish Diamond" in the 1990s. The Francophone counterpart is the Triangle Wallon ("Walloon Triangle"), consisting of Brussels and three Walloon metropolitan areas, namely Mons, Charleroi, and Namur.[4][5]


The distance from Antwerp to Brussels is approximately 51 km (32 mi). The city of Mechelen is in the middle, and towards Brussels the industrial area of Vilvoorde. With the Port of Antwerp stretching to the north, this has long been recognized as a major north-south urban and industrial axis. The western triangular area of the larger cities of Antwerp-Brussels-Ghent comprises the cities of Lokeren located west of Sint-Niklaas, Dendermonde north of Aalst as well as the industrial area BoomWillebroek, and is generally slightly less urbanized. Such may also be true for the smaller eastern Antwerp – Brussels – Leuven triangle, comprising the city of Lier.

The name refers to the geometrical shape of a diamond, corresponding to the location of the four cities and surrounding metro areas, which are among the most urbanized and industrialized — and prosperous[6] — area in Belgium. It has strong economical ties with the metropolitan regions of the Randstad in the Netherlands, and Rhine-Ruhr in Germany.[7] It also links its peripheral area for more than a hundred kilometers, exceeding Flanders, to the international and global economy.[7]

The economical activities in the relatively larger metropolitan areas are distinct, with an emphasis on industry in Antwerp, mainly because of its major port, versus on administration for Brussels, as Belgian capital and its function for the European Community. Though the centrally located city in both the Diamond and its major north-south industrial axis has two industrial zones within the municipal boundaries, Mechelen is also seen as a 'sleeping city' for its many commuters to those metropolises.

Apart from Hasselt University in Limburg, all the Flemish universities are located at the provincial or national capitals at each corner of the Diamond, while Mechelen plays an important role because of its other types of higher education. Though a distant affiliate of the Catholic university of Leuven offers the first few years of some bachelors in Kortrijk,[8] for higher degrees the University of Ghent is the nearest for the province of West Flanders,[9] as it lies outside the Flemish Diamond.

See also


General sources:

  • Vanhaverbeke, Wim (January 1997). "Het belang van de Vlaamse Ruit vanuit economisch perspectief ('The importance of the Flemish Diamond from an economical perspective')" (in Dutch). Netherlands Institute of Business Organization and Strategy Research,  
  • Houvenaghel, Sofie; Vanhaverbeke, Wim (June 1997). "Economische aspecten en relaties van omliggende gebieden met het stedelijk netwerk van de Vlaamse Ruit ('Economical aspects and relations of surrounding areas with the urban network of the Flemish Diamond')" (pdf) (in Dutch). Netherlands Institute of Business Organization and Strategy Research,  
  • de Vries, Jochem (January 2002). "Grenzen verkend, Internationalisering van de ruimtelijke planning in de Benelux" (pdf). Stedelijke en Regionale Verkenningen (in Dutch) (DUP Science, Delft University Press, Delft, the Netherlands – Online by UvA-DARE, Library of the   Category:CS1 maint: Extra text) (Dissertation, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam)

Inline references:

  1. ^
    Note: The Flemish government has no authority on economical matters in the Brussels Capital Region, which with nearby Flemish municipalities (with industrial areas in the directions of the Brussels airport, which is located in Flanders, and of or at the small cities of Vilvoorde and Asse) (de Vries, 2002, p. 139), forms one of the major economic metropolitan areas of the conurbation aka metropolitan region that is nevertheless called the 'Flemish Diamond'. Association of a fraction of the Walloon Region with the Brussels metropolitan area, by some sources, was contested by others. See e.g.:
    • Vandenbussche, Barbara. "Waals-Vlaamse transfers in kaart gebracht ('Wallonian-Flemish transferts mapped')" (in Dutch). (news site), Brussels region, Belgium. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
    • Cantillon, Bea; De Blust, Seppe; Van den Heede, Aaron (July 2010). "De geografie van de sociale zekerheid in België" (in Dutch).
    • Mouton, Alain, ed. (20 August 2010). "Kritiek op CSB-studie over Vlaams-Waalse transfers" (in Dutch). web site of Trends weekly, Roularta Media Group, Zellik, Belgium. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
      Herman Deweerdt (AK-VSZ): Het is zeker waar dat de Vlaamse ruit een centrum van economische activiteit is en dus een zeer belangrijke basis vormt voor de financiering van de sociale zekerheid, [m]aar voor de gelegenheid Brussel weglaten en er Waals-Brabant bijvoegen om dan te beweren dat het centrum van het land de rest financiert, is niet correct. ('Surely the Flemish Diamond is a centre of economic activity and thus forms a base for social security financing, but for that occasion omitting Brussels and adding Walloon Brabant, for then posing that the country's centre is financing the remainder, is not correct.')
  2. ^ Wintjes, René; Cobbenhagen, Jan (December 1999). "Flanders Language Valley; Industrial Districts and Localized Technological Change" (PDF). MERIT,  
  3. ^ Note: There appear no generally accepted precise definitions with clear similarities or distinctions for, e.g.: 'conurbation', 'megaplex', metropolitan region, metropolitan area, urban agglomeration. A conurbation can be described as a group of metropolitan areas (each around one city), as such forming a socio-economical metropolitan region that is not fully urbanized, and may not have an obvious centre or precise boundaries – which causes statistical e.g. economical or demographical data to be approximations only. For related details, see e.g.:
    • "Vlaamse Ruit" (in Dutch).  
  4. ^ Cattan, Nadine (2007). Cities and Networks in Europe: A Critical Approach of Polycentrism. 
  5. ^ "Uitgelicht: Kosmopolis naar wens". Brusselnieuws (Brussel Deze Week). 
  6. ^ Cantillon, Bea; De Blust, Seppe; Van den Heede, Aaron (July 2010). "2.1. Vlaams en Randstedelijk, de draagkracht van de sociale zekerheid". De geografie van de sociale zekerheid in België (Report) (in Dutch).  
  7. ^ a b Abstract on getCITED for: Vanhaverbeke, Wim (1998). "An economic analysis of the Flemish Diamond". European Planning Studies 6 (4): 425–442.  
  8. ^ Note:The campus at Kortrijk, offers the first two years in a number of disciplines, for some of which also a third year was announced in 2011. For higher levels or for other disciplines, one must go to a university outside the province – the parent at Leuven being one of the most remote in Flanders. See:
    • "Welcome to Campus Kortrijk of K.U.Leuven!" (pdf).  
    • "Volledige bachelors aan Kulak ('Complete bachelors at Kulak')" (in Dutch).  
  9. ^ Note: Universities relatively near the westernmost part of the West Flemish province, can also be found at Lille, France, but offer no courses in the standard language of Flanders.

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