Language: Dutch, French, German
Currency: Euro (EU)
Calling Code: 32
Belgium, officially Kingdom of Belgium (in Dutch:
Koninkrijk België, in French: Royaume de Belgique and in German:
Königreich Belgien), is a sovereign country, member of the European
Union, located in northwestern Europe. The country covers an area of
30,528 square kilometers and has a population of 11,409,077
inhabitants according to the estimate of 2016. Its capital and most
populated city is Brussels. It is a multilingual state with three
official languages: 57% of its population, in the Flanders region
mainly, speaks Dutch, while about 42% speaks French (in the Wallonia
region, to the south, and in the Brussels Region -Capital, an
officially bilingual region that hosts a majority of French
speakers). Less than 1% of Belgians live in the German-speaking
Community, where they speak German, next to the eastern border of
the country. Often, this linguistic diversity leads to severe
political and cultural conflicts, very similar to those of other
bilingual countries, reflected in the complex system of government
of Belgium and in its political history.
Belgium receives its name from the Latin name of the northernmost part of Gaul, Gallia Belgica, which, in turn, comes from a group of Celtic tribes, the Belgians. Historically, Belgium has been part of the Netherlands of the Habsburgs, which included the current Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, occupying a region somewhat larger than the modern Benelux. From the late Middle Ages to the 17th century, it was a flourishing center of commerce and culture. From the 18th century until the Belgian Revolution of 1830, Belgium, at that time called the Southern Netherlands, was the site of many battles between the European powers and that is why it has earned the nickname of "the battlefield of Europe" or "Europe's cabin".
It is one of the founding members of the European Union, whose main institutions are located in the country, as well as a significant number of other international organizations, such as NATO.
Belgium is located in Western Europe on the coast of the North Sea. It shares borders with France, Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium has three geographical regions: the coastal plan, the central plateau and the Ardennes hills. The highest point in the country is Botranzh at a height of 694 meters above sea level. The main rivers are Meuse and Scheldt.
Belgium is a constitutional monarchy and the federal government. Officially the head of the state is the king, while actual head of a state is the Prime Minister.
Summers in Belgium are cool and cloudy. Although the winters are not as bad. Snow lasts for considerable period of time only in the mountainous areas of the country. The most rainy months are April and November.
The official languages in Belgium are French, Dutch (Flemish) and German. Besides Wallonian is widely spread along with certain other dialects.
About 70% of Belgians are Catholics. The country also has a sizeable population of Muslims, Protestants, Orthodox and other religions due to constant migration from the Eastern Europe, Middle East and other parts of the World.
The name of the state comes from the name of the Belga tribe, of
Celtic origin, who inhabited this territory at the beginning of our
era. In 54 BC e. the region in northern Gaul, corresponding to
modern Belgium, was conquered by the troops of Julius Caesar (from
the notes of the consul about the Gallic war: “half of the Belgians
were killed, the rest became slaves ...”). After the fall of the
Western Roman Empire in the V century, the Roman province of Gaul
was conquered by the Germanic tribes of the Franks, who created
their kingdom here.
In the Middle Ages, Belgium was part of the Duchy of Burgundy.
1477-1556 - the dynastic marriage of Mary of Burgundy introduced Burgundy into the Holy Roman Empire.
1556-1713 - as part of Spain. The eighty-year war marked the beginning of the separation of Belgium from the Protestant Netherlands.
1713-1792 - as part of the Holy Roman Empire as the Austrian Netherlands.
1792-1815 - as part of France.
1815-1830 - as part of the Netherlands according to the decision of the Vienna Congress. However, many in Belgium were unhappy with the forcible unification with the Netherlands (primarily the French-speaking population and the Catholic clergy, who were afraid of the increasing role of the Dutch language and the Protestant denomination, respectively).
September 23, 1830 - the Belgian revolution, and in the same year, Belgium withdrew from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and gained independence. Belgium becomes a neutral kingdom led by Leopold I (king since 1831).
In the XIX century, the country's economy developed very intensively. Belgium became the first country in continental Europe to build a railway (Mechelen-Brussels, 1835).
At the end of the 19th century, Belgium became a colonial power. In 1885-1908, the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was the property of the Belgian King Leopold II (under the name "Independent State of the Congo").
At the end of the 19th century, Belgium became a colonial power. In 1885-1908, the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was the property of the Belgian King Leopold II (under the name "Independent State of the Congo"). The exploitation of the colony was one of the significant sources of capital accumulation and the development of industry in Belgium. Since 1908, the colony has received the name Belgian Congo (the King transfers his possession to Belgium).
Belgium suffered greatly during the First World War, which is still called the “Great War” in this country. Although most of the country was occupied, throughout the war, Belgian and English troops held a small part of the country, sandwiched between the North Sea and the Isère River.
The history of the city of Ypres is tragic - during the war it was almost completely destroyed, for the first time in the history of wars, poisonous gas (chlorine) was used. Applied two years later, mustard gas was named after this city.
On April 3, 1925, an agreement was concluded between Belgium and the Netherlands on the revision of the 1839 agreement. The abolition of the long neutrality of Belgium and the demilitarization of the port of Antwerp.
1940-1944 During the Second World War, the Germans occupied Belgium. The government flees to England, King Leopold III is deported to Germany, he signed the act of surrender on May 28, 1940. The introduction of Belgian German military command under the command of General von Falkenhausen. On September 3, 1944, British troops liberated Brussels. On February 11, 1945, a government was formed, led by the right-wing socialist van Acker.
April 4, 1949 - Belgium joins NATO.
1957 - Belgium joins the European Economic Community (EEC).
July 31, 1993 - King Baudouin passed away; his younger brother, Albert II, inherited the throne.
2001 - the birth of the first child at the Crown Prince Philip and his wife Matilda, a continuation of the dynasty.
2003 - as a result of the parliamentary elections, Guy Verhofstadt becomes Prime Minister again.
In 2003, Belgium became the second state in the world to legalize same-sex marriage (after the Netherlands).
January 12, 2006 - Belgium is chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme resigned on December 19, 2008 due to a scandal over the sale of Fortis, the largest Belgian financial company. Herman van Rompuy, leader of the Flemish Christian Democratic Party, took over as prime minister. The new government of Herman van Rompuy included representatives of the same five political parties led by his predecessor. On June 13, 2010, early parliamentary elections were held, but the formation of the government did not happen. Belgium celebrated 540 days without a government, thus setting a world record. On December 6, 2011, a new cabinet headed by Elio di Rupo took the oath to the king.