The kingdom of Belgium is a comparatively new creation, but the idea of a Belgian nation is older than the kingdom. Historically and geographically the kingdom has no doubt an artificial character; its boundaries have been determined by the Great Powers and cut across the ancient provinces of the Netherlands. And it must be added that its population is heterogeneous both in race and language. These facts, however, in no sense diminish the legal rights of Belgium as a nation. She is a sovereign state by the same charter as Italy or Greece; and for the convenience of Europe she has been solemnly declared a neutral state, endowed with special privileges but burdened with corresponding obligations.