Shield of Charleroi

Population: 201,256
District Area: 102.08 km²
Leader: Paul Magnette

Name and Etymology:
The city was known as Charnoy until 1666 when it was named Charles-Roi (King Charles) for Charles II of Spain on the occasion of the establishment of a fort there by Francisco Castel Rodrigo. The city is written Châlèrwè or Tchålerwè according to Walloon orthography.

Charleroi is located at the center of a large coal basin which allowed it to become a large industrial center in the nineteenth century. The city suffered economic decline following WWII but still manufactures electrical products, glass, iron, and chemicals. It has also branched out to telecommunications and transportation.

The city was traded back and forth between Austria and France until finally being won by France in 1794. After Napoleon's defeat it was ceded to the Netherlands; it then became part of Belgium after the revolution in 1830. Its population grew rapidly throughout the nineteenth century and it became a center for labor strikes. It is also the home of Spirou magazine and was voted the ugliest city in Europe.

Link to municipal website.

Charleroi, Belgium from the air
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