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. It consists of four agglomerations which form the four corners of an abstract diamond shape: Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven. Over five million people live in this area, with a population density of about 600 per square kilometre in 2002.
The Flemish Diamond is a regional government concept not officially recognized by the Belgian central authority, the Federal government, which recognizes no poly-centric conurbation in Belgium that crosses regional borders and includes Brussels as part of it. The other major Belgian metropolitan areas that are in relative proximity to the national capital (that lie within a radius of approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) around Brussels) are the exclusive competence of the regional authorities. These autonomous authorities may choose to include or exclude Brussels in their own volition. 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 Wallonie ("Walloon Triangle"), consisting of Brussels and three Walloon metropolitan areas, namely Mons, Charleroi, and Namur.
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 Boom - Willebroek, 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 -- in Belgium. It has strong economical ties with the metropolitan regions of the Randstad in the Netherlands, and Rhine-Ruhr in Germany. It also links its peripheral area for more than a hundred kilometers, exceeding Flanders, to the international and global economy.
The economic 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, for higher degrees the University of Ghent is the nearest for the province of West Flanders, as it lies outside 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.:
De Vlaamse ruit wordt in dit bericht gedefinieerd vanuit een economisch-geografische realiteit. De Vlaamse ruit wordt gevormd door het gebied tussen de steden Brussel, Antwerpen, Gent en Leuven en hun forensen. Waals Brabant hoort zo grotendeels bij de Vlaamse ruit. ('The Flemish Diamond is in this message defined from an economical-geographical reality. The Flemish Diamond is formed by the area between the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven and their commuter suburbs. As such, Walloon Brabant for a large part belongs to the Flemish Diamond.')
the economic and scientific core of Flanders: 'Vlaamse Ruit' (Gent, Antwerpen, Brussel, Leuven)Cite journal requires
Een inwoner van het Vlaams Gewest verdient met een gemiddeld inkomen [...](een welvaartsindex van 106) beduidend meer dan een inwoner van het Waals Gewest ([...] 93,45) of het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest ([...] 85,53). [...] Voor de steden Gent, Antwerpen, Brussel en Leuven strekt dit hoger gemiddeld inkomen van de randgemeentes zich uit over heel de Vlaamse ruit. ('An inhabitant of the Flemish Region earns with an average income [...] (a prosperity index of 106) significantly more than an inhabitant of the Walloon Region ([...] 93,45) or the Brussels Capital Region ([...] 85,53). [...] For the cities of Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven this higher average income of the suburbs spreads over the entire Flemish Diamond.') [Base: Belgium is 100]
Empirical evidence shows that the economic relations of the Diamond with its immediate environment (100-150 km) are very important for the latter and that the Diamond plays the role of a gateway to the European and global economy for regions in the immediate environment. Finally, there is strong empirical evidence that there exist intensive economic transactions between the Flemish Diamond, the Randstad and the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region that go way beyond their share in the GDP.
[V]anaf [...] academiejaar (2011-2012) kan je voor bepaalde studierichtingen een jaar langer studeren in Kortrijk en er ook het bachelordiploma behalen. ('From academical year 2011-2012, for particular disciplines you can study a year longer at Kortrijk, and also obtain a bachelors degree there.')