West Vlaanderen, which means "West Flanders" in English, is the coastal province of Belgium. Its largest municipality is the tourist mecca of Brugge
, or Bruges. The terrain is predominantly comprised of flat lowlands and veined with rivers and canals, with a few hills near the French border in the south. West Vlaanderen's beaches along the North Sea are wide and sandy -- which makes them attractive to vacationers, but also makes it very difficult to build deep-sea ports.
The coast of Belgium has attracted constant assault from seaborne invaders throughout the centuries, starting in earnest with the Vikings, though the greatest destruction visited upon Flanders came from twentieth-century landborne Germans, during the two World Wars. World War I was especially devastating, as the frontline in Flanders stayed stagnant for nearly all of the conflict, laying waste to several towns. The town of Ypres is the site of some of the most famous battles of the conflict.