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Walloons(wŏlo͞onz`), group of people living in S Belgium who traditionally spoke a dialect of French called Walloon, but who today for the most part speak standard French. The Walloons, numbering some 3.5 million, reside mostly in the provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Namur, Luxembourg, and Walloon Brabant, in contrast to the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the northern provinces. The movement for reviving Walloon literature centered in Liège in the 19th cent.; today the language is considered moribund. The periodical Wallonie had considerable influence. Since medieval times the economic and social background of the Walloons has differed radically from that of the Flemings, and the cleavage became even more pronounced with the Industrial Revolution. The Walloon part of Belgium contains major mining areas and heavy industries, while the Flemings engage mainly in agriculture, manufacturing (particularly textiles), and shipping. Tension between Walloons and Flemings has long been a critical political issue. In 1970 a plan was approved that recognized the cultural autonomy of Belgium's three national communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north, the French-speaking Walloons of the south, and bilingual Brussels. The name Walloons was also applied to Huguenot refugees in America by the Dutch, who made no distinction between French and Walloon Protestants.
See H. H. Turney-High, Château-Gerard; the Life and Times of a Walloon Village (1953).
a people that make up about half of the population of Belgium. The Walloons number more than 4 million people (according to the 1970 census). They live in the provinces of Hainaut, Namur, and Liège, as well as in Luxembourg and in the departments of Nord and Ardennes in northeastern France. They speak the Walloon dialect of the French language. Religious Walloons are Catholic. Walloons are descendants of Belgic Celtic tribes, and since the first century A.D. they have undergone strong romanization and felt some influence from Germanic tribes, particularly the Franks. In terms of their language and ethnographic characteristics (for example, dress and living quarters), they are noticeably distinct from the Flemings who live in the same country. The majority of Walloons are employed in industry (mainly as workers), and in southern Belgium (Ardennes) they also raise livestock.