Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen, French: Anvers) is a city and a municipality in the province of Antwerp (and its capital), in Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium. On January 1st, 2004 Antwerp had a total population of 455,148 (222,395 males and 232,753 females). The total area is 204.51 km² which gives a population density of 2,225.51 inhabitants per km². The metropolitan area has a population of circa 800,000.
Antwerp is one of the three primary centers of the global diamond industry (along with New York City's "diamond district", and South Africa). Antwerp is also famous for its seaport with a lot of cargo shipping. Since the 1990s it has been recognized as a fashion design city, namely because of some graduates of the Royal Academy of Fine arts - Fashion, became internationally successful.
Antwerp is also notable for its zoo, which is one of the oldest and most famous zoos in the world. The Antwerp Zoo is located in the middle of the city and hosts more than 4000 animals. The Royal Society for Zoology has been watching over the welfare of numerous animals and helping to protect threatened animals for more than 100 years.
The Brabantine city of Antwerp succeeded Bruges in Flanders as the major port city and center of the economy of northern Europe, but became, as Fernand Braudel pointed out "the center of the entire international economy— something Bruges had never been even at its height." (Braudel 1985 p. 143) He dates the opening of the new order with the arrival of the first Portuguese ship laden with pepper and cinnamon in 1501. Antwerp's "Golden Age" is tightly linked to the "Age of Exploration".
In its short century of greatness Antwerp clung to some disadvantages: without a long-distance merchant fleet and governed by an oligarchy of banker-aristocrats forbidden to engage in trade, the economy of Antwerp was in the hands of the foreigners who made the city international, ships from Venice or Ragusa, Catalonia por Portugal met in the port where Portuguese pepper and silks met German silver. Antwerp wisely embraced a policy of toleration: even today Antwerp is nicknamed "The Jerusalem of the West" because of its large orthodox Jewish (hasidic) community. Antwerp in its greatness was not even a "free" city: it had been reabsorbed into the duchy of Brabant in 1406 and was controlled from Brussels.
Antwerp experienced three booms during its century, the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by American silver coming from Seville that came to an abrupt end with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557, and a third boom, after the stabilizing Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, 1559 that was based on industrial production of textiles.
The boom-and-bust cycles and inflationary cost-of-living put a squeeze on Antwerp's less-skilled workers, and the profound religious revolution of the Reformation erupted in violent iconoclastic riots in August 1566. The conciliating presence of the regent Margaret, duchess of Parma was swept aside when Philip II sent the Duke of Alva to restore peace and orthodoxy at the head of an army the following summer. The Eighty Years' War broke out in earnest in 1572, and commercial communication between Antwerp and the Spanish port of Bilbao was essentially terminated. On November 4, 1576, Spain captured the city and nearly destroyed it after three days. The "Golden Age" of Antwerp is traditionally considered to have ended when the city was captured by Alessandro Farnese in 1585. Antwerp's banking was assumed for a generation by Genoa and its mercantile supremacy passed to Amsterdam.
During World War II the city was occupied by Germany and was liberated on September 4, 1944 when the British 11th Armored Division entered the city. After this, the Germans attempted to destroy the port of Antwerp, which was used by the Allies to bring new material ashore. The city was hit by more V-2 rockets than any other target during the entire war, but the attack did not succeed in destroying the port. However the city itself was severely damaged.
According to folklore, the city got its name from a legend involving a giant called Antigoon that lived near the river Scheldt. This giant exacted a toll from passers-by who wished to navigate the river. On refusal, the giant often severed one of their hands. Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's hand and threw it into the river. Hence the name Antwerpen (in Dutch: hand werpen means hand throw). There's a statue of Brabo and the slain Antigoon on the Grote Markt in front of the town hall as can be seen on the picture of the Antwerp Stadhuis above. In addition you're apt to come across sculptures of hands in various sizes and forms throughout the city. A more commonly accepted etymology among historians and linguists traces the name to a dutch word "aan werpen" or "aan werven", which means docking a ship.
Antwerp also hosted the 1920 Summer Olympics.
1500: around 44/49,000 inhabitants (Braudel 1985)
1575: around 100,000 inhabitants
1590: fewer than 40,000 inhabitants
1800: 45,500 inhabitants
The municipality comprises the city of Antwerp proper and several towns. So it can be divided into 9 entities:
- Antwerp (town)
- Hoboken Antwerpen
- Van Wesenbekestraat - the Chinatown of Antwerp
- Official website
- Antwerp International Airport
- VLM Airlines
- Antwerp Zoo's official web site, only available in Dutch and French
- http://www.use-it.be/antwerpen/eng/ Antwerp for youngsters
- http://sg.travel.yahoo.com/guide/europe/belgium/antwerp/ Yahoo Travel page
- Braudel, Fernand The Perspective of the World, 1985
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