Belgium to shrink whilst the Netherlands expands

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© Marc Ryckaert (MJJR) Wikimedia
The River Meuse (Maas).

IN an unusual example of European friendship, Belgium and the Netherlands have decided to swap some land so that effectively Belgium becomes smaller by some 40 acres whilst the Netherlands will cede 7.5 acres in return.

The reason for this swap is because of the borders that were drawn up between the two countries in 1830 when Belgium gained its independence from the Netherlands and to make life easier, the border was delineated in one part along the River Meuse (or Maas as it is called in Dutch).

All was fine until the early 1960s when the flow of the river was changed in order to make navigation much easier but this resulted in small parts of each country falling on the wrong side of the river.

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It is a logical exchange and will hardly be world shattering but now that the two countries have signed a document of agreement it is likely that the final handover of the unoccupied land will take place at the start of 2018.

Ironically, there will still be a part of Belgium within the Netherlands as the relatively small municipality of Baarle-Hertog is technically part of the province of Antwerp in Belgium, but much of it sits within the area of North Brabant in the Netherlands.

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