Belgium is a Western European country that has experienced many occupations and battles over the centuries. Although an independent country that values its concept of democracy, it also has the unique aspect of having three regions with different languages. The Northern Flanders speak Dutch, there is a bilingual French and Dutch area in the south and German in spoken in the eastern portion of the country. It is one of Europe’s smallest countries and is bordered by Luxembourg, France, German and the Netherlands. Belgium does have a narrow coastline that exists on the North Sea.
Fun Facts about Belgium:
Population: 10,458,000 people
Capital City: Brussels, with 998,000 people
Area Size: 11,787 sq mi (30,528 sq km)
Languages: Dutch, French and German
Religions: Roman Catholic and Protestant
Literacy Percent: 98
Life Expectancy: 78 years
Belgium was occupied by the Germans in both World War I and World War II, and was once part of the Netherlands. In 1830 it separated from the Netherlands to become an independent country, however, the tension between the various peoples and cultures within the country continued.
The 1830 independence allowed Belgium to set up their own parliament representation which allows it to be a coalition government.
In 1994 Belgium revised its constitution to give representation to all three groups that were in the country, Dutch, German and French. This replaced the previous versions that were only Dutch and German, individually.
As a country, the people and government have such strong feelings for their democracy that the country has become a home to many international organizations such as NATO and the EU in Brussels.
- Almost all of the people that live in Belgium actually live in cities. 97% of the people live in urban areas.
- Belgium has produced many incredible scientists including Gerardus Mercator, the famous cartographer and Andreas Vesalius, the famous anatomist.
- Belgium has a town called ‘Spa’ which is where our current word ‘spa’ derives from. It is based on the town’s famous cold springs that were used as far back as the Ancient Romans for healing and health purposes.
Belgium is famous for the creation of their chocolate, with Jean Neuhaus creating the praline chocolate in 1912 in Brussels. Belgium is the world’s largest exporter of chocolate, producing 220,000 tons each year.
- Belgium beer is also famous around the world. They pride themselves with over 1,100 different beer varieties, winning international awards.
- It is believed that French fries were actually invented in Belgium (sorry, France)
- The saxophone was invented in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a famous maker of musical instruments.
The Belgium waffle is known around the world. Belgium has three different types of waffles: Liege (eaten in the same manner as a cookie) and Brussels, bigger and eaten with fruit toppings or ice cream and the galettes, thin and soft and are a favorite breakfast item with jam.
The Brussel sprouts vegetable is believed to have first been grown in Belgium and is one of the most popular vegetables in the country.
- Belgium was the country to recommend using the Euro € symbol.
- There are more comic creators per square kilometer in Belgium than in any other country around the world. Many of the famous comic series such as Tintin and the Smurfs originated in Belgium.
- All of the Belgium citizens that are 18 years are older are required to vote in their elections that are held every four years
Belgium is an industrialized country in Europe and as such, much of their natural forests and lands have been altered and diminished.
- The Royal Palace in Brussels is larger than England’s Buckingham Palace.
- You might want to think twice about living in Belgium as they have the highest income tax than any of the OECD countries.
- It was a citizen of Belgium that founded the Holy Roman Empire.
- Many people from Belgium have great accomplishments including a Belgian that founded New York City, NY and it was a Belgian that was the first to print a newspaper, anywhere in the world.
Belgium exports more chocolate to other countries than any country in the world.
Much of the beer that is produced in Belgium is exported to other countries.
Belgium exports food production, construction and metal manufacturing.