Language: Dutch, French, German

Currency: Euro (EU)

Calling Code: 32


Description of Belgium

Belgium is a federal state in Western Europe. It lies between the North Sea and the Ardennes and borders the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France. In 2020, Belgium had around 11.6 million inhabitants in an area of 30,688 square kilometers. With 378 inhabitants per square kilometer, Belgium is one of the most densely populated countries. At almost 98 percent, Belgium's level of urbanization is the highest in Europe. Brussels is the capital and seat of the Belgian royal family as well as the center of the largest agglomeration. The most populous city is Antwerp, followed by Ghent, Charleroi, Liège (Liège), Brussels, Bruges (Brugge), Namur and Leuven.

Since independence in 1830 and the constitution in 1831, Belgium has been a parliamentary hereditary monarchy (see also Belgian monarchy). The north of the country with the Flemish is a Dutch-speaking area, the south with the Walloons is a French-speaking area (see Flemish and French Community). The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual, but has a majority Francophone population. In the German-speaking area in East Belgium, Standard German and West Central German dialects are widespread (see German-speaking Community).

The Flemish-Walloon conflict, which has been ongoing since the 19th century, has shaped the often conflicting interests of representatives of the two major population groups in Belgian politics. Language legislation is a consequence of this conflict. Since the 1970s, attempts have been made to address this problem by decentralizing the state organization. For this purpose, Belgium was transformed into a federal state consisting of three regions and three communities. The regions of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital as well as the Flemish, French and German-speaking communities have since formed the basic political structure of the country. Belgium's state structure is considered complex because, among other things, the territories of the regions do not coincide with those of the communities. The responsibilities of the French and Flemish communities overlap in the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital region, and the small area of the German-speaking Community belongs to the predominantly French-speaking Wallonia region. However, the German-speaking community is aiming to be separated from Wallonia and become the fourth Belgian region with equal rights alongside Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels-Capital.

Belgium is a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC), now the European Union (EU), whose main institutions are based in its capital, Brussels. The Belgian state is a member of the Benelux Economic Union alongside the Netherlands and Luxembourg.


Travel Destinations in Belgium













Other destinations

Cortewalle Castle

Hoge Kempen National Park

Reinhardstein Castle

Wissekerke Castle

Wolfsschlucht I


Geography of Belgium

According to calculations by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium has an area of 30,688 km². Of which includes
the Brussels-Capital region 162 km²
the Flemish Region 13,624 km²
the Walloon Region 16,901 km² (including German-speaking Community 854 km²)
25% of Belgium's land area is used for agriculture.


Geology and geomorphology

As a result of the post-Ice Age Flemish Transgression, beach ridges were formed, which still exist today as a closed dune belt up to 50 meters high on the Belgian coast. This is followed by a zone of marshland approximately 10 to 20 kilometers wide.

Further inland lies the so-called Flussgeest. Here the deposits of the Meuse alluvial fan were covered with sands of great thickness during the last glacial period. In the slightly undulating country, fields and meadows alternate with forests and heaths; Some raised bogs also occur. To the west of an Antwerp-Brussels line lies the wide Flemish plain. In its northern part it is also covered by sand, while in the south it is dominated by clay soils, which are more favorable for agriculture. Here the plain is overlooked by a loose chain of Tertiary hills. To the west, the plain leads to the North French strata, which is largely made up of Mesozoic sediments.

The valleys of the Sambre and the Meuse form a sharp boundary on a tectonic fault zone that separates the Tertiary and Cretaceous plateaus in the northwest from the Ardennes as part of the Rhenish Slate Mountains in the southeast. The heavily forested Ardennes consist of Palaeozoic shales, sandstones, greywackes and quartzites of varying resistance. In Belgium they reach a height of 694 meters with the Botrange in the High Fens.

There are rich deposits of hard coal on the fault zone of the Haine-Sambre-Maas furrow. There, in the northern French coalfield, the first continental European mining and heavy industrial area was created in 1830. From 1901 the Limburg coal mining area was also developed.


Flanders and Brussels Capital Region

Flanders forms the northern part of the country and consists largely of flatland. It is the most populous region in the country. The politically independent capital region of Brussels is located as an enclave within the Flemish region. This part of the country consists partly of sandy ridges - for example in the province of Limburg, which is located in the east of the Flemish region. The Geest is also interrupted by marshland, which particularly affects the river area. The most important of these are the Meuse and the Scheldt. In the far west of Flanders is the 65 kilometer long coast with the port city of Ostend.[20] In particular, the provinces of Antwerp, Flemish Brabant with the surrounding area of Brussels and East Flanders are very densely populated.


Walloon region

The Walloon Region covers the southern part of Belgium. In terms of area, it is the largest region in the country. Its area is mountainous and sparsely populated in the Ardennes region and is cut through by the river valleys of the Meuse, Sambre and Ourthe. The region's most important cities are located along the rivers mentioned, in particular Liège, Namur and Charleroi. In the west of the region there are also Mons as well as Mouscron and Tournai, which are located in a cross-border metropolitan area with the northern French city of Lille. Nil-Saint-Vincent (municipality of Walhain) in the densely populated province of Walloon Brabant is the geographical center of Belgium. The highest point in the country is the Signal de Botrange (694 m O.P.) in the High Fens in eastern Belgium near the border with Germany. The highest town in Belgium is Mürringen in eastern Belgium (655 m above sea level).


Complicated borders

Both on the border with the Netherlands, border between Belgium and the Netherlands with the municipalities of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog, and in East Belgium, border between Belgium and Germany, there are numerous exclaves and enclaves, among others. the Vennbahn exclaves. There are also exclaves and enclaves within Belgium, e.g.  the municipality of Voeren is an exclave of the Belgian province of Limburg and the Flanders region. The municipality of Comines-Warneton is also an exclave of the Belgian province of Hainaut and the Wallonia region.



In the northern part of Belgium, under a thick Meso-Cenozoic sedimentary cover, there is a Precambrian crystalline basement. When moving south, the foundation is exposed in places along the river valleys, and in the south of the country it emerges in the form of Hercynian folded structures, which have undergone strong denudation. In the north of Belgium, as a result of repeated exposure to glacial melt waters, loess is widespread.

Minerals: coal (in Campina and along the valleys of the rivers Meuse and Sambre); lead, zinc, copper, antimony (Ardennes); granite, sandstone, marble.


Politics of Belgium

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.


Weather of Belgium

The climate of Belgium is a temperate maritime, oceanic climate, characteristic of the whole of Western Europe. The climate of Belgium is characterized by mild and rainy winters and cool, rainy summers. The weather is usually cloudy. Snow is rare in Belgium, in some years it does not fall at all, sometimes there are frosts in winter. Summers are cool; Belgium is characterized by cyclonic weather. Heat is rare and short-lived.


Animal world

Boars, fallow deer, roe deer, hares, squirrels, wood mice are found mainly in the Ardennes. Partridges, woodcocks, pheasants, ducks are found in swampy thickets.



Belgium is a highly developed post-industrial state. The basis of the economy is the service sector (primarily transport and trade) and industry.

Advantages: one of the most significant manufacturers of metal products and textiles. Flanders is a leading region in the high-tech industry, Antwerp is the world center for the diamond trade. Highly developed chemical industry. Well educated and highly motivated multilingual workforce with high productivity. Attractive location for American TNCs. Good water transport network across the North Sea, access to the Rhine from Antwerp to Ghent.

Weaknesses: public debt of about 87.7% of GNP far exceeds the maximum allowable level in the Eurozone of 60% (2006 data). In some regions, a large number of chronic and unskilled unemployed. Frequent early retirement of employees, which results in a high level of state pension payments. More bureaucracy than the EU average.

Belgium is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - OECD), the European Union (EU), the country became the first member of the European Monetary Union in 1999.

The production of steel, cement and chemical products is mainly concentrated in the valley of the rivers Sambre and Meuse. The largest industrial cities are Mons, Charleroi, Namur and Liège. Previously, coal mining was also carried out in this area, but in the 1980s. the last mines were closed. The center of the steel industry is Liege. Products of the chemical industry - fertilizers, dyes, pharmaceuticals, as well as various plastics. The center of the petrochemical industry is located in Antwerp, the headquarters of the large chemical and pharmaceutical company Solvay is located in Brussels.

The textile industry, which originated in the Middle Ages, includes the processing of cotton, linen, wool, and synthetic fabrics. One of the most important products of the textile industry is carpets and blankets. The main centers of the textile industry are Ghent, Kortrijk, Tournai, and Verviers. Brussels, Bruges and Mechelen are known as the ancient centers of lace production (see Flemish lace).

Other industries are diamond processing (primarily in Antwerp), cement and glass production, woodworking, and the food industry. There are several automotive industries.

The Belgian economy is strongly oriented towards the international market.

The main imports are food, machinery, rough diamonds, oil and petroleum products, chemical products, clothing, and textiles. The main export commodities are automobiles, foodstuffs, iron and steel, polished diamonds, textiles, plastics, petroleum products and non-ferrous metals.

In 1970 - 80 years. The economic center of the country moved from Wallonia to Flanders. This is due to the decline of the traditional sectors of the Walloon economy - coal mining and ferrous metallurgy. At present, coal mining has been completely stopped, while metallurgy remains an important branch of the economy, although its importance has greatly decreased. The Flanders economy is now receiving more investment. In Flanders, much attention is paid to applied research and development. The unemployment rate in Wallonia is twice that of Flanders.

The main branch of energy is nuclear. Belgium has two nuclear power plants, one near Antwerp and the other in the Huy region. Currently, 75% of the electricity in the country is produced by nuclear power plants.

Belgium has a developed transport system. The port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe. Internal transport is also well developed.

Agricultural production accounts for only 1.4% of GDP (according to 2006 data), however, such a low indicator does not indicate a weak development of agriculture, but a strong development of other sectors of the economy. The most important plants are wheat, oats, rye, barley, sugar beets, potatoes and flax. Animal husbandry is mainly the breeding of cattle and pigs. Closely related to agriculture are traditional food industries such as brewing and cheese production.

According to 2006 data, per capita income was $31,800. Despite a significant share of heavy industry in the structure of the economy, the service sector accounted for 72.5% of GDP. As of May 2017, the average wage in Belgium is €3401 ($3821.72 gross) and €2170 ($2438.35 net) per month. As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage in Belgium is €1562.59 per month (gross) and €1472 (net) per month.


Science and technology

The contribution to the development of science and technology in Belgium can be traced throughout the history of this country. In the sixteenth century, the Southern Netherlands became famous for its scientists, such as the cartographer Gerardus Mercator, the anatomist Andreas Vesalius, the herbalist Rembert Doduns, and the mathematician and engineer Simon Stevin, among the most influential in the scientific community.

In the first half of the 17th century, the Walloon method of making bar iron spread to Sweden and was used there for 260 years.

The economically important underground coal mining during the Great Industrial Revolution required highly specialized mining research.

The end of the 19th century and the 20th century were marked by significant achievements of Belgium in applied science and theoretical fundamental research. Industrial chemist Ernest Gaston Solvay and engineer Zenob Theophilus Gramm gave their names to scientific concepts: the Solvay process and Gramm's dynamo in the 1860s. Georges Lemaitre is credited with the authorship (along with other scientists) of the theory of the expanding universe.

Three Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine, one Nobel Prize in Chemistry and one Nobel Prize in Physics have been awarded to Belgians:
Jules Bordet, "For discoveries connected with immunity" (1919);
Korney Heymans, "for their discovery of the role of the sinus and aortic mechanisms in the regulation of respiration" (1938);
Albert Claude, Christian de Duve, George Palade, "for their discoveries concerning the structural and functional organization of the cell" (1974);
Ilya Prigogine, "for his work on the thermodynamics of irreversible processes, especially for the theory of dissipative structures" (1977);
François Engleroux, "For the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that helps us understand the origin of the mass of subatomic particles, recently confirmed by the discovery of the predicted elementary particle in the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN" (2013).



Almost the entire population of Belgium is urban - 98.1% in 2021.

Belgium has a high population density (376 people per km²), yielding in this parameter in Europe only to the Netherlands and some dwarf states, such as Monaco. The highest population density in the country is observed in the area bounded by the cities of Brussels-Antwerp-Ghent-Leuven (the so-called "Flemish diamond"). The lowest population density is in the Ardennes (Province of Luxembourg).

In 2010, the population of the Flemish Region was about 6,251,983, including the most populous cities of Antwerp (483,505), Ghent (243,366) and Bruges (116,741). The population of Wallonia was 3,498,384, including the most populous cities of Charleroi (202,598), Liège (192,504) and Namur (108,950). Brussels has a population of 1,089,538 in 19 metropolitan district municipalities, three of which, Anderlecht, Brussels and Schaarbeek, have over 100,000 inhabitants.

Age and sex structure of the Belgian population
0-14 years old: 17.22% (boys 1,033,383 / girls 984,624);
15-24 years old: 11.2% (men 670,724 / women 642,145);
25-54 years old: 39.23% (men 2,319,777 / women 2,278,450);
55-64 years old: 13.14% (men 764,902 / women 775,454);
65 years and over: 19.21% (male 988,148 / female 1,263,109) (2020 figures)

Average age
Overall indicator: 41.6 years
Men: 40.4 years
Women: 42.8 years (2020 figures)

Population growth
The population from 2020 to 2021 increased by 0.59%.
Birth rate: 11.03
Death rate: 9.71.
Net migration in Belgium is 4.58 migrants per 1,000 inhabitants (25th in the world, as of 2021)

Gender composition of the population
At birth: 1.05 males / female
0-14 years old: 1.05 men / female
15-24 years old: 1.04 men / female
25-54 years old: 1.02 men / female
55-64 years old: 0.99 male / female
65 years and over: 0.78 male / female
The ratio of the total number: 0.97 male / female. (as of 2020)

Child mortality rates
Overall rate: 3.24 deaths/1000 births
Male: 3.68 deaths/1000 births
Female: 2.78 deaths/1000 births (as of 2021)

Average life expectancy
Overall indicator: 81.65 years
Men: 79.02 years
Women: 84.4 years (as of 2021)

Total fertility rate
According to the data for 2021, on average, one resident of Belgium has 1.77 children. The same indicator for 1994 was 1.50 children.


Language of Belgium

The two main groups that make up the country's population are the Flemings (about 60% of the population) and the Walloons (about 40% of the population). The Flemings live in the five northern provinces of Belgium (see Flanders) and speak Dutch and its many dialects. The Walloons live in the five southern provinces that make up Wallonia and speak French, Walloon and some other languages. According to The World Factbook, the ethnic composition of the population of Belgium as of 2012: 75.2% Belgians, 4.1% Italians, 3.7% Moroccans, 2.4% French, 2% Turkish, 2% - Dutch, 10.6% - other ethnic groups. Belgian languages ​​by number of speakers: Dutch - 60%, French - 40%, German - less than 1%. As of 2021, 67.3% of the Belgian population was indigenous, 20.1% foreign-born Belgians and 12.6% immigrants.

After gaining independence, Belgium was a French-oriented state, and the only official language at first was French, although the Flemings always made up the majority of the population. Even in Flanders, French remained for a long time the only language of secondary and higher education.

After the end of World War I, a movement began in Belgium for the emancipation of the Dutch-speaking population. As a result, the so-called "language struggle" (Dutch. taalstrijd) arose. The struggle began to bear fruit by the year 1960. In 1963, a package of laws was adopted to regulate the use of languages ​​in official situations. In 1967, an official translation of the Belgian constitution into Dutch was published for the first time. By 1980, both main languages ​​of the country were actually equal in rights. In 1993, Belgium was divided into regions that are federal subjects. The only official language in the Flemish region is Dutch.

Despite the successes achieved, language problems still lead to an escalation of tensions between the two main groups of the country's population. Thus, in 2005, the problem of dividing the bilingual electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde almost led to the resignation of the government and a political crisis.


Immigrants and ethnic minorities

The most important ethnic minority in Belgium is the Germans. Their number is approximately 70,000 people. The places of compact residence of Germans (in the east of Wallonia) are part of the German-speaking community, which has great autonomy, especially in matters of culture.

The largest groups of migrants are Italians, people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Belgian Congo), people from Turkey, as well as from Morocco and other Arab countries.

According to various sources, between 150,000 and 200,000 migrants from Turkey live in Belgium, including both ethnic Turks and members of the Kurdish minority. Clashes and conflicts arise between representatives of the two ethnic communities from time to time. Thus, in April 2006, an anti-Turkish demonstration took place in the center of Brussels on the initiative of the Kurds. On the night of April 2, 2007, clashes broke out between ethnic Turks and representatives of the Kurdish immigrant community in the capital of Belgium, not far from the headquarters of NATO and the EU. As a result, seven people were arrested and several others were injured. "It all started with an attack by Turkish teenagers on a small group of Kurdish youth," Brussels police spokesman Johan Verleien said. Aggression was also directed against the policemen who tried to restore order. According to law enforcement agencies, about 250 people, mostly young people, took part in street clashes. During the pogroms, unknown people set fire to a cafe, which was considered the center of the Kurdish community, after which spontaneous rallies were organized. Conflict situations in Belgium related to interethnic confrontation are an acute political problem, a solution to which has not yet been found.

Spaniards, Greeks, Poles and people of other nationalities also live in Brussels. As of 2016, 69.8% of the Belgian population was indigenous, 16.5% were first-generation immigrants, and 13.7% were second-generation immigrants. As of 2019, the United Nations estimated that there were 2 million immigrants living in Belgium, representing 17.2% of the country's population.


Crime and tension over race

19% of allegations brought before the courts and 24% of juvenile offenses involve people of non-European origin. There was some controversy on this issue in 2002 when a Muslim teenager was found guilty of robbery and murder, but received only a warning from the court. This judgment was overturned and the protests subsided.


Terrorism and crime

Brussels, according to various sources such as Interpol and local newspapers, is considered one of the centers for the radicalization of the population and the recruitment of people to terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. Recruitment usually takes place in mosques, followed by basic training in Afghanistan. In 2005, a suicide bomber in Iraq, Muriel Degauque, became known as the first Western-born terrorist in the history of modern terrorism. She did not train in Brussels, but in Charleroi, the Belgian city with one of the highest crime rates.

Belgium has also seen racially motivated crimes against minorities, including the Hans Van Themsche case and other racially motivated acts, highlighting the urgency of the issue and Belgian concerns about the racial issue.

French police believe that at least 3 of the 11 main suspects involved in the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris come from or lived in Belgium.

On the morning of March 22, 2016, a series of terrorist attacks took place in Brussels. Three explosions thundered at the airport and the subway. As a result, at least 34 people were killed and more than 250 were injured.


Religion of Belgium

According to The World Factbook, the composition of the population of Belgium by religion as of 2009: 50% Catholics, 2.5% Protestants and other Christians, 5.1% Muslims, 0.4 Jews, 0.3 Buddhists, 9.2% are atheists, 32.6% are the rest. The Belgian constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

The composition of the population of Belgium by religion as of 2019: 54% - Catholics, 31% - irreligious, 5% - Muslims, 3% - Protestants, 1% - Orthodox, 2% - other Christians, 0.3% - Buddhists, 0 3% Jews, 4% other religions.

Teaching religion (or substitute courses) in general education schools takes up about 7% of all school hours. The set of religions offered varies depending on the preferences of the students. If there are seven or more students in a school who want to study a particular religion, the school is required to provide the required teacher or provide a replacement course. The content of the course largely depends on the preference of a particular teacher, but some denominations standardize their courses. For example, the program of "orthodox Christianity" includes the basics of Orthodoxy taught by the Orthodox Church. As in other compulsory subjects, students take an exam on the basics of religion, and a mark is placed in the certificate based on the results of the training. If you do not want to study religion, you can choose a course in morality or a course in philosophy and civic responsibility (philosophie et citoyenneté).



A feature of the cultural life of Belgium is the lack of a single cultural field. In fact, cultural life is concentrated within linguistic communities. There is no nationwide television, newspapers or other media in Belgium. There are also no bilingual universities (with the exception of the royal military school) and major scientific or cultural organizations.



Even in the Renaissance, Flanders became famous for its painting (Flemish primitivists). Later, Rubens lived and worked in Flanders (in Belgium, Antwerp is still often called the city of Rubens). By the second half of the 17th century, however, Flemish art had gradually declined. Later in Belgium, painting developed in the styles of romanticism, expressionism and surrealism. Famous Belgian artists are James Ensor (expressionism and surrealism), Constant Permeke (expressionism), Leon Spilliart (symbolism), Franz Richard Unterberger (romanticism), Guy Huygens, Rene Magritte (considered one of the most important representatives of surrealism).

On June 2, 2009, the new museum of the Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte (1898-1967) opened in Brussels. The exhibition includes approximately 250 works - thus, it has become the most representative in the world. The museum is housed in the complex of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts.



In literature, the division according to the linguistic principle is noticeably strongest. Francophone literature tends to the French tradition, which is due in particular to the fact that many French writers worked in Belgium (for example, Baudelaire).

The situation with the literature of Flanders is more complicated. In the 19th century, the literature of Flanders split into two currents: representatives of one wrote in French, the second in Dutch. The works of the representatives of the first current can be called typically Belgian literature, since the appearance of such literature would not have been possible in a monolingual country. The most famous work of this group is The Legend of Thiel Ulenspiegel and Lamm Gudzak, written by the Flemish Charles de Coster. Now this book has been translated into many languages ​​and has received the nickname "The Bible of Flanders". However, most of the Francophone Flemish literature is now forgotten: the Walloons, and even more so the French, are not interested in it, and the Flemings do not read it due to the reduced level of knowledge of the French language (previously, when French was the only official language, its knowledge was necessary; now the Dutch language equal rights with French).

Representatives of the second group were mainly supporters of the emancipation of Flanders and were often nationalists. The most famous representative of this group is the poet Guido Geselle. He opposed not only the French language, but also the variant of the Dutch language adopted in the Netherlands. His poems are written in the West Flemish dialect and are not always well understood by today's Flemings. Some famous Belgian poets: Guido Geselle (wrote in West Flemish), Emile Verhaern (Flemish, wrote in French), Maurice Maeterlinck (Flemish, wrote in French).

Flemish literature of the 20th century developed in parallel and was influenced by international literary processes: for example, Cyril Beuysse was a naturalist, while Stein Streuvels and Felix Timmermans are close to neo-romanticism.

Significant authors of the period between the First and Second World Wars were the expressionist poet Paul Van Ostyen, the writers Gerard Walschap, Willem Elsshot and Marnix Geissen. During the Second World War, the first novels of magical realists by Johan Dehne and Huber Lampo were published. The period after its completion was marked by the poems of Anton van Wilderode and Christine D'Han and the novels of Louis-Paul Boon. The most prominent figure of this time is the poet and writer Hugo Klaus, who was repeatedly included in the lists of contenders for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Eddie Van Vliet and Herman de Koninck made their debuts in the 1960s, and Ivo Michils and Paul de Vispelare wrote. In the 1980s, the Louis-Paul Boon tradition was continued by Monica van Pamel and Walter van den Broek. New names of the time included Christine Hemmerechts and Erik de Kuyper, Paul Hoste and Anne Provost, Zeph Gerarts and Stefan Hertmans. The generation of the 1990s includes Tom Lanois and Herman Brusselmans.



Belgium is one of the largest centers of French-language comics (bande dessinée). At the beginning of the 20th century, it was here that the most intensive development of this genre took place. The artist and screenwriter Hergé gained worldwide fame, having created a series of comics about the travel reporter Tintin. In the post-war years, France became the center of the industry, but in Belgium, major publishers such as Le Lombard and Dupuis continue to release the popular BD series. Among the most famous are the Smurfs, Torgal, Lucky Luke.



Many outstanding examples of architecture have been preserved in Belgium, ranging from the Romanesque style (XI century) to Art Nouveau (early XX century). The most famous Belgian architect is Victor Horta (1861-1947), one of the most important architects of Art Nouveau.

The most architecturally interesting cities are Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Mechelen. In Wallonia there are many interesting examples of extra-urban architecture - castles, rural estates.


Belgian cuisine

Belgium is famous for its cuisine. Many highly ranked restaurants can be found in highly influential food guides such as the Michelin Red Guide. Belgian food, like Belgium itself, is a mixture of Germanic and Latin influences. The Belgians have a reputation for waffles and fried potatoes. Both of these dishes originated in Belgium. National dishes: fried meat with salad and fried mussels.

Belgian chocolate and praline brands such as Callebaut, Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Guylian and Godiva are world famous and widely sold.

The country produces over 500 brands of beer, some of which have a history of 400-500 years. The Confederation of Belgian Brewers has existed since the 16th century. For more than 300 years, its headquarters has been located in an old mansion on the Grand Place in Brussels, here is a museum with detailed expositions. In November 2016, UNESCO inscribed the Belgian brewing culture as a World Heritage Site.


Telecommunications in Belgium

Telecommunications in Belgium are at a very high level. The infrastructure of mobile communication, television, Internet, radio is developed. Belgium's Internet domain is ".be".

There are 61 ISPs in Belgium. They serve 5.1 million Internet users (data for 2004).

In 1998 Belgium had 79 FM radio stations, 7 AM stations and 1 shortwave station. Served 8.075 million radio listeners. In 1997, there were 25 television stations and 10 repeaters. So far, 4.72 million TVs have been purchased nationwide.



The level of functional literacy has been overcome, the proportion of literates among the adult population is 98%.

In Belgium, education falls within the competence of the Communities. The Flemish Community is responsible for education in the Dutch-speaking part of the country, while the French Community is responsible for education in the French-speaking part of Belgium. The number of vocational education institutions (secondary and higher) is about 380.

Higher educational institutions and universities in Belgium introduced the bachelor-master system from the 2004-2005 academic year. Before that, there was a system of higher education, namely the basic course of one cycle, the basic course of two cycles and the academic course, but it was abolished. Higher education, organized according to the bachelor-master type, is divided into two types:


Higher professional education

Academic education
Higher professional education is limited to bachelor's and master's courses and is offered in 22 higher schools.

Academic education consists of bachelor's and master's courses. Academic education can be obtained at universities and institutes/colleges.

Catholic University of Leuven, Ghent University.



Health care costs account for 9.6% of GDP, of which 71.4% are from public sources, 28.6% from private sources (2005).

Social protection
Social protection of the population is handled by the Belgian Ministry of Social Welfare. The standard retirement age is 65 years. From 2025, it is planned to increase it to 66, and from 2030 to 67 years.


Belgian Armed Forces

Main article: Belgian Armed Forces
The Belgian Armed Forces were formed in 1830. The total number of active military personnel for 2012 is 34,000 people (32,000 military and 2,000 civil servants). The Commander-in-Chief is King Philip I (since July 21, 2013). The draft age is 18 years. The budget of the Armed Forces is 3.4 billion € (2008). The share of the sun is 1.3% of Belgian GDP.

The armed forces are organized into one unified structure, which consists of four main components:

Ground Troops, or Army
Air Force, or Air Force
Troop medical component
The operational command of the military components reports to the Personnel Department for Operations and Training under the Ministry of Defense, which is headed by the Assistant Chiefs of Departments Committee for Operations and Training, and the Minister of Defense.


Emergency Numbers

Fire 100

Police 101

Ambulance 100



Historically, Belgium was part of the area known as the Low Countries, a region somewhat larger than the modern Benelux, which also included parts of northern France and western Germany. The name of the country comes from the ethnonym of the Celtic tribe - Belgi, which gave the name to the Roman province of Belgica (lat. Gallia Belgica), formed in 16 BC.


History of Belgium

As the province of Belgica - a name introduced by Caesar - the current territory of Belgium experienced many reigns. In the early Middle Ages it was part of the Frankish Empire and was repeatedly politically divided during its divisions. Later it was predominantly part of the Holy Roman Empire and broke up into individual duchies and counties.

From the High Middle Ages to the early modern period, the cities of Flanders, with their cloth industries, represented one of the two centers of the European economy (along with the cities of northern Italy). The individual territories came politically under the House of Burgundy, which was inherited by the Habsburgs in 1477 as a result of the marriage of the sole Burgundian heir, Mary of Burgundy, to Maximilian I, Archduke of Austria and later Roman-German king and emperor. In 1555/56 the Habsburgs were divided into a Spanish and an Austrian line. The Dutch provinces were awarded to the Spanish Habsburgs.

In 1579 the Catholic Union of Arras and the Calvinist-Protestant Union of Utrecht were formed. The provinces of the Union of Utrecht broke away from Spain in 1581 and founded the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, whose independence was recognized in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 after the end of the Eighty Years' War. The provinces of the Union of Arras, Flanders and Brabant, were administered as the Spanish Netherlands by a Spanish governor. After the extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs (1700) and the resulting War of the Spanish Succession, the then Austrian Netherlands came under the rule of the Austrian Habsburgs in 1714.

As a result of the absolutist-centralist efforts of the Austrian ruler Joseph II, the Brabant Revolution occurred in 1789 and the short-lived United Belgian States were proclaimed in 1790. Revolutionary France annexed the Austrian Netherlands between 1792 and 1794, followed by its incorporation into the French Republic in 1795. At the Congress of Vienna (1815) the provinces were awarded to the (northern) Netherlands. Brussels became the residence of the Dutch king.

The country became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 as a result of the Belgian Revolution. A parliamentary monarchy was established and Leopold of Saxe-Coburg was named the first King of the Belgians. Leopold II, son of the first king, acquired the Congo in Africa as a private property. After the Congo atrocities (brutal excesses in the economic exploitation of the Congo) became internationally known, Leopold had to cede the area as a colony to the Belgian state in 1908. During Leopold's reign of terror, an estimated 10 million people died through slavery and forced labor in the African country. Congo became independent in 1960.

During the First World War, neutral Belgium was invaded by the German Empire in accordance with the Schlieffen Plan and was almost completely occupied by the German army. The German military also took action against civilians with shootings, fires and taking hostages. Massacres of the civilian population occurred in Dinant and several other Belgian cities. These attacks were justified by partisan activities, although their real basis is disputed (see Francs-tireurs). In the course of the trench warfare, many cities in Flanders were destroyed and parts of the country were devastated. When labor became scarce in the German Empire, tens of thousands of Belgian civilians - Flemings and Walloons - had to do forced labor for the imperial military and the German arms industry.

After the war, the predominantly German-speaking area of Eupen-Malmedy was placed under Belgian administration through the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. After a controversial referendum in 1920, East Belgium became Belgian territory in 1925. Belgium also took part in the occupation of the Ruhr.

During the Second World War the country declared itself neutral. In May 1940 it (like the Netherlands and Luxembourg) was occupied by the German Wehrmacht in the so-called Western Campaign. Belgium remained occupied until 1944/45, minorities such as Jews and Roma were deported to concentration camps. Until its liberation by the Western Allies, it had to suffer - like half of Europe - from the arbitrary rule of the National Socialist dictatorship and the Jewish population from its persecution and extermination; However, cities and landscapes were largely spared from the destruction of the war. Only the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945 led to severe destruction in the east of the country, especially around Saint Vith and Bastogne.

The customs and economic unity of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which had been planned since 1944, was agreed in the Hague Treaty on February 3, 1958 and came into force on November 1, 1960 (Benelux countries). Belgium is one of the founding states of the European Economic Community (EEC) and has played an important role in the European unification process. The country or the Belgian capital Brussels became the headquarters of international organizations such as NATO and the European Union.

Domestic policy after the Second World War was characterized by federalization, which attempted to mitigate secessionist tendencies in the various language areas, especially in the Flemish north. In Flanders, separatist parties achieve high vote shares.


Foreign relations of Belgium

On July 25, 1921, the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union was created. The Netherlands later joined the union. In 1932, the countries entered into a tripartite agreement on the gradual reduction of economic and customs barriers.

The Treaty Establishing the Benelux Customs Union was signed on 5 September 1944 by the deported governments of the three countries in London and entered into force in 1948. The union lasted until November 1, 1960, when it was replaced by the Benelux Economic Union as a result of the signing of the treaty in The Hague on February 3, 1958.

On April 4, 1949, Belgium became a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), headquartered in Brussels.

On April 18, 1951, Belgium, together with five European countries, signed the Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

In 1957, six states, including Belgium, established the European Economic Community (EEC, Common Market), officially renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993, and the European Atomic Energy Community.

In 1964 Belgium joined the Group of Ten.

The Schengen Agreement was originally signed on June 14, 1985 by five European states (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany), it entered into force on March 26, 1995.

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) supervisory body and the European Commission are headquartered in Brussels. The European Parliament holds plenary sessions in Strasbourg and Brussels. The Economic and Social Committee, an advisory body of the EU, meets once a month in Brussels. Plenary sessions of the EU Committee of the Regions are held in Brussels 5 times a year.

Belgium joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism in June 2007.


Public holidays

Belgium has 12 official public holidays. Two of them always fall on a Sunday.

New Year January 1
Easter is changing
Easter Monday 1st Monday after Easter
Labor Day May 1
Ascension of the Lord 6th Thursday after Easter
Holy Trinity Day 7th Sunday after Easter
Holy Spirit Day 8th Monday after Easter
Belgian National Day 21 July
Ascension of Our Lady 15 August
All Saints Day November 1
Armistice Day November 11
Christmas December 25

July 21 is the National Day of Belgium, the main holiday of the country. It was on this day in 1831 that Leopold I swore an oath to the Belgian parliament of loyalty to the constitution. On this day, a military parade (Grand Place) is held in Brussels, and a major street dance and music festival is held in Ghent.


Unofficial holidays celebrated in Belgium

Epiphany January 6
Valentine's Day February 14
Day of the Flemish Community in Belgium 11 July
French Community Day in Belgium 27 September
Day of All the Faithful Departed November 2
Day of the German Community in Belgium 15 November
Feast of the King November 15
Saint Nicholas Day December 6


Sports in Belgium

Football and cycling are the most popular sports among Belgians. Belgian goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff is recognized as one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history. Belgian Eddy Merckx is considered one of the world's greatest cyclists. He has 5 Tour de France victories to his credit and a large number of other cycling awards. His hourly speed record was set in 1972 and held the top spot for 12 years. Belgium has given the sport two tennis players who quickly took first place in the world, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, and many other medal-winning athletes.

Belgium hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix in the town of Spa, the Belgian circuit is one of the most famous in the world and is liked by both racers and fans. Belgian racing drivers are also known: Jacky Ickx, Thierry Boutsen, Bertrand Gachot, Francois Duval, Olivier Gendebian and many others.

In 1920, the Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp.

Belgium hosts many famous international cycling competitions such as:
Ronde van Vlaanderen
La Fleche Wallonne
Gent Wevelgem
In 2000, the European Football Championship was held in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In 2018, at the World Cup in Russia, the Belgian team took 3rd place. At the European Championships in 2021 (Euro 2020), Belgium lost in the quarterfinals to Italy, the eventual winners of the tournament.