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Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region.
Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq. mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.
Brussels is one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with over 8,000 hectares of green spaces. Vegetation cover and natural areas are higher in the outskirts, where they have limited the peri-urbanisation of the capital, but they decrease sharply towards the centre of Brussels; 10% in the central pentagon, 30% of the municipalities in the first ring, and 71% of the municipalities in the second ring are occupied by green spaces.
Many parks and gardens, both public and privately owned, are scattered throughout the city. In addition to this, the Sonian Forest is in its southern part and stretches out over the three Belgian regions. As of 2017, it has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only Belgian component to the multinational inscription 'Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe.