In Belgium there are two units of local government, the province and the commune.
Belgium is divided into nine provinces, the boundaries of which were drawn somewhat arbitrarily by the government of the French Revolution after the conquest of the country in 1795. All the provinces except one are about equal in territorial extent, but they differ considerably in respect to population, which varies from 250,000 to 1,200,000. Thus the province of Luxemburg, whose area exceeds that of any of the others by about a third, has the smallest population; it has neither industrial centers nor any important city (its largest city has a bare 10,000 inhabitants), and it is in large part covered with forests. The differences in population have increased during the last fifty years, as much from the great development of industry in certain provinces as from the growth of certain great urban centers like those of Brussels and Antwerp.
There are 2630 communes in Belgium; their boundaries were not established systematically by a single act, nor by a series of acts of the legislative authority. Almost all grew up in the course of centuries, and their boundaries have come into existence only in accordance with very ancient traditions. There are great differences among the communes, not only in respect to their territorial extent (which varies from some hundreds to some tens of thousands of acres), but also in respect to their population. Some little villages have scarcely a hundred inhabitants, whereas Antwerp had more than 300,000 in 1914. Some communes take the name of cities, others are called villages; but that does not make the least difference so far as the law is concerned, nor in respect to the administrative régime to which they are subject.