The city of Bruges
Bruges is the capital of the province of West Flanders, the westernmost province, which is located by the sea. The city is a world-famous tourist destination. The historic center has an impressive cultural and historical heritage and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety since 2000. With its many canals and hidden alleys, Bruges exudes a unique intimate atmosphere. The city, cradle of the Flemish primitives, is also known worldwide for its gastronomy and craftsmanship thanks to the presence of chocolatiers, brewers, contemporary lace artists and calligraphers.
The economic importance of the city is mainly due to the tourism sector and the sea port of Zeebrugge ("Bruges by the sea"). The service sector (quaternary sector) is an important part of the city's economy and focuses mainly on healthcare. Bruges has two hospitals and various care institutions for the elderly, psychiatric patients, disabled people, etc. Bruges is also a student city with two colleges, several secondary and elementary school, adult education centers, vocational schools (e.g. hotel schools), etc.
Surface area 13,840 hectares
Number of inhabitants 118,103
Number of households 53,705
Population density 849.13 inhabitants/km²
Bruges consists of a small historic city core (the inner city) and several surrounding suburban communities. Most of these communities are urban areas, although two of them are rural and have a harbor landscape. The inner city has a population of 20,000, which means that the majority (>80%) live in the suburban communities surrounding the city center.
Distribution by age: Bruges has more elderly than young people. This trend continues (aging).
Inhabitants < 20 years old 22.532
Inhabitants >= 20 y/o and < 65 y/o 68.462
Inhabitants > 65 years 27.413
A diverse city that is becoming more diverse
The population is slightly increasing, mainly due to external migration (coming from outside Belgium). In relative numbers, the city has a small number of residents with a foreign nationality. However, they represent a large number of countries (79 different nationalities). When we look at the broader group of people of foreign origin, we find that Bruges is home to residents from more than 150 countries of origin. Virtually the entire world is thus represented in our city.
Bruges is therefore becoming increasingly diverse. The most recent figures show that in 2020, 15.4% of Bruges residents were of foreign origin. These are people who did not have Belgian nationality at birth or of whom at least one of both parents did not have Belgian nationality at birth. Last year, this concerned 18,288 residents. Moreover, 11,299 of them or 62% were of non-European origin. Bruges thus scores higher than the West Flemish average, which was 13% in the same year. If we zoom in on the age category 0-24, we see that 25% of these young people in the city have foreign origins. In 2020, this involved 7,251 young people.
Let's take a look at the figures of people from Bruges with a non-Belgian nationality. In 2020, 7.1% of the population of Bruges did not have Belgian nationality. At the time, this was a group of 8,439 people, almost half of whom (4,100 citizens) were not from Europe. In the 0-24 age group, 8.4% of the youngest residents of Bruges had a nationality other than Belgian.
Finally, newcomers are citizens who settle for the first time in a country other than their country of origin with the intention of doing so for a longer period of time. Only adults are counted in the figures. In 2019 (the latest available data), 1,128 newcomers settled in our city. 65.1% had a non-European origin. In 2019, only 38 of them or 3.4% were also from neighboring Netherlands. Bruges ranked 4th in 2019 in terms of the number of newcomers in Flanders. Only in the Flemish cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Leuven more newcomers were registered.
The local authorities
The municipal council is the highest governing body of the city. The council determines policy on matters of municipal interest. The 47 municipal councillors in Bruges are directly elected by the inhabitants for a period of 6 years. The next elections will take place in the autumn of 2018.
The College of Mayor and Aldermen of Bruges consists of a mayor and 9 aldermen who are elected from and by the municipal councillors after the municipal elections. The College is the executive body of the City Council and is responsible for the day-to-day
management of the city. Each alderman (including the mayor) is assigned a number of portfolios.
In addition, the mayor heads the city's local police force. As a representative of the federal, Flemish and provincial governments, he is responsible for the implementation of laws, decrees and decisions of these governments.
A policy plan is drawn up at the beginning of each legislature.
City administration and organizational chart
The City Council (City Council, College of Mayor and Aldermen and the Mayor) is supported by the administrative services of the City. Bruges has approximately 1,500 civil servants who are responsible for the day-to-day administration.
The Management Team is a group of key officers who support the coordination of the services in the implementation and evaluation of the policy. This team consists of the general manager, two deputy general managers, the financial director and the mayor (who has an advisory role). Together they are in charge of the administrative services of the city.