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Belgium Travel Guide:

          Facts on Belgium

Flag of Belgium
History   Geography    People    Economy    Communications    Transportation
 

Map of Belgium and it major cities

Map of Belgium and its major cities

 

History   Top of Page
  Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.  
Geography   Top of Page
Location Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands  
Geographic Coordinates 50 50 N, 4 00 E   
Area Total: 30,528 sq km
Land: 30,278 sq km
Water: 250 sq km 
 
Area - Comparative About the size of Maryland  
Land Boundaries Total: 1,385 km
Border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km
 
Coastline 66.5  km  
Climate Temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy  
Terrain Flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast  
Elevation Extremes Lowest point: North Sea 0 m
Highest point: Signal de Botrange 694 m
 
Natural Resources Coal, natural gas  
Geography Note Crossroads of Western Europe; majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO  
Natural hazards Flooding is a threat in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes  
People   Top of Page
Population 10,379,067 (July 2006 est.)  
Age Structure 0-14 years: 16.5% (male 873,130/female 836,785)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,467,044/female 3,406,030)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 746,969/female 1,062,268) (2007 est.)
 
Nationality Noun: Belgian(s)
Adjective: Belgian
 
Ethnic Groups Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%  
Religions Religions: Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%  
Language Languages: Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)  
Literacy Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 98%
 
Government   Top of Page
Country Name Conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
Conventional short form: Belgium
Local short form: Belgique/Belgie
Local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
 
Government Type Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch  
Capital Brussels  
Administrative Divisions 10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch: provincies, singular - provincie) and 3 regions* (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Antwerpen, Brabant Wallon, Brussels* (Bruxelles), Flanders*, Hainaut, Liege, Limburg, Luxembourg, Namur, Oost-Vlaanderen, Vlaams-Brabant, Wallonia*, West-Vlaanderen .  
Independence 4 October 1830 a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands; 21 July 1831 the ascension of King Leopold I to the throne .  
Flag Description Three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the design was based on the flag of France.  
Economy   Top of Page
Overview This modern, private-enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. Roughly three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public debt is nearly 100% of GDP. On the positive side, the government has succeeded in balancing its budget, and income distribution is relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth in 2001-03 dropped sharply because of the global economic slowdown, with moderate recovery in 2004-06.  
Currency Euro  
Currency Code EUR  
Communications   Top of Page
Telephone System General assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities.  
Internet Country Code  .be  
Transportation   Top of Page
Railways total: 3,536 km
standard gauge: 3,536 km 1.435-m gauge (2,950 km electrified) (2006)
 
Roadways total: 150,567 km
paved: 117,442 km (including 1,747 km of expressways)
unpaved: 33,125 km (2004)
 
Waterways 2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2003)  
Ports and Harbors Antwerp (one of the world's busiest ports), Brussels, Gent, Liege,  Oostende, Zeebrugge .  
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