About Genk


During the 17th century, several fortifications were built around Genk, where the population could hide behind to protect them from foreign troops or the Bokkenrijders (local gang).
The tranquility and the untouched landscape around Genk meant that especially landscape painters went to the heart of the Limburg Kempen in search of inspiration. The first painters arrived
in the 1840.

In the 20th century, Genk would grow strongly, due to massive immigration from outside and abroad.
In 1902 the exploitation of 3 coal mines around Genk started and on June 3, 1914 the first coal was taken out. Not long after, the mine of “Winterslag” opened and a little later the mines of “Waterschei” and “Zwartberg.

In 1920 Genk had only 6,276 inhabitants, but the municipality had already 24.574 inhabitants in 1930. The new inhabitants were mainly immigrant mine workers.
Genk had 3 periods of immigration, due to its mining history: in 1920 from Poland and Ukraine, then from Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal and from 1964 from Turkey and Morocco.
As a result, approximately 54% of the citizens have an immigrant background and about 100 nationalities can be found in Genk.

After all the mines had been closed it were crisis years (around 1960).
But not long after large companies settled in Genk, such as the car factory Ford, which unfortunately closed in 2014.