First, Flanders is a region that corresponds to the medieval duchy of the same name. Today, this region consists of the Belgian provinces of West and East Flanders, the French region of Flandre, and Dutch Flanders. It has a long history, marked with battles against the king of France - Louis XIV conquered most of the area that is French today in the 17th century. The region also has some typical dialectal and cultural traits. This use of the word is mainly relevant for historians and tourists.

The second - and by far more common - use of the word 'Flanders' is to indicate the part of Belgium in which Dutch is the official language. This is roughly the northern half of Belgium, and includes the provinces of Flanders, Antwerp, Limburg, and part of Brabant. Belgium is now a federal state; Flanders has considerable autonomy, its own government and parliament.