Walloons

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Walloons (French "Wallons")

Walloons (French "Wallons"), French-speaking people of central and southern Belgium inhabiting the region of Wallonia. They constitute one of two principal ethnic groups found in Belgium, the other being the Flemings, a Flemish-speaking people of the northern provinces. The Walloons are chiefly descended from Celtic tribes who were pushed into Southern Gaul by German invaders. The Walloons comprise about 30 percent of the Belgium population, and the vast majority are Roman Catholic. After Belgium independence in 1830, the Walloons dominated Belgium politics, making French the only official language and controlling most of the wealth in the country. Walloon domination was weakened in the late 1800s by increased suffrage that allowed the Flemings, who outnumbered the Walloons, to gain more power. Both the Walloons and the Flemings established nationalistic movements, and tensions increased. Today, the situation has eased due to a 1993 constitutional revision, which made Belgium a federalist state with separate, autonomous regions for the Walloons and the Flemings.

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