Did You Know

DID YOU KNOW?

Interesting Facts about Belgium

Geography Location

Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands

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, construction materials, silica sand, carbonates
Land use

arable land: 23.28%
permanent crops: 0.4%
other: 76.32%
note: includes Luxembourg (2001)
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
People
Population

10,364,388 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure

0-14 years: 16.9% (male 892,995/female 855,177)
15-64 years: 65.7% (male 3,435,282/female 3,373,917)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 745,178/female 1,061,839) (2005 est.)
Birth rate

10.48 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate

10.22 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate

1.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate

1.64 children born/woman (2005 est.)
Nationality

noun: Belgian(s)
adjective: Belgian
Ethnic groups

Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
Religions

Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%
Languages

Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
conventional short form: Belgium
local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
local short form: Belgique/Belgie
Government type

federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch
Capital

Brussels
Administrative divisions

10 provinces (French: provinces, singular – province; Dutch: provinces, singular – provincie) and 3 regions* (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Antwerpen, Brabant Walloon, Brussels* (Bruxelles), Flanders*, Hainaut, Liege, Limburg, Luxembourg, Namur, Oost-Vlaanderen, Vlaams-Brabant, Wallonia*, West-Vlaanderen
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities
Independence:

4 October 1830 (a provisional government declares independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King Leopold I ascends to the throne)
National holiday

21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I
Constitution

7 February 1831, last revised 14 July 1993; parliament approved a constitutional package creating a federal state
Legal system

civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Franciskus VAN DAELE
chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York
Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Tom C. KOROLOGOS
embassy: Regentlaan 27 Boulevard du Regent, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710
telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111
FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725

Flag description

three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the design was based on the flag of France
Economy
Economy – 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.
GDP

purchasing power parity – $316.2 billion (2004 est.)
GDP – real growth rate

2.6% (2004 est.)
GDP – per capita

purchasing power parity – $30,600 (2004 est.)
GDP – composition by sector

agriculture: 1.3%
industry: 25.7%
services: 73% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed)

19.1% of GDP (2004 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.9% (2004 est.)
Labor force

4.75 million (2004 est.)
Labor force – by occupation

agriculture 1.3%, industry 24.5%, services 74.2% (2003 est.)
Budget

revenues: $173.7 billion
expenditures: $174.8 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.56 billion (2004 est.)
Public debt

96.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture – products

sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk
Industries

engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Industrial production growth rate

3.5% (2004 est.)
Current account balance

$11.4 billion (2004 est.)
Exports

$255.7 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports – commodities

machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Exports – partners

Germany 19.9%, France 17.2%, Netherlands 11.8%, UK 8.6%, US 6.5%, Italy 5.2% (2004)
Imports

$235 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports – commodities

machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products
Imports – partners

Germany 18.4%, Netherlands 17%, France 12.5%, UK 6.8%, Ireland 6.3%, US 5.5% (2004)
Currency

euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Fiscal year

calendar year
Transportation
Railways

total: 3,518 km
standard gauge: 3,518 km 1.435-m gauge (2,631 km electrified) (2003)
Highways:

total: 149,028 km
paved: 116,540 km (including 1,729 km of expressways)
unpaved: 32,488 km (2002)
Waterways:

2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2003)
Pipelines:

gas 1,485 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:

Antwerp (one of the world’s busiest ports), Brugge, Gent, Hasselt, Liege, Mons, Namur,

Oostende, Zeebrugge
Merchant marine:

total: 53 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 1,146,301 GRT/1,588,184 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 15, cargo 2, chemical tanker 2, container 8, liquefied gas 17, petroleum tanker 9
foreign-owned: 12 (Denmark 4, France 4, Greece 4)
registered in other countries: 101 (2005)
Airports:

43 (2004 est.)
Airports – with paved runways:

total: 25
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2004 est.)
Airports – with unpaved runways:

total: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 16 (2004 est.)
Heliports:

1 (2004 est.)

Other Interesting facts about Belgium…

Spa is a city in Belgium where all other spas get their name from. Luxury spas are located throughout Belgium where you will surely get the royal Spa treatment.

The saxophone was invented in Belgium by Adolph Sax in 1846. There are numerous jazz festivals throughout the year celebrating our love for jazz music.

There are more castles per square mile in Belgium than anywhere else in the world. Some of our castles are moated and others have labyrinth garden mazes to get lost in.

Brussels is headquarters to the European Union (EU) & NATO. With this much international activity, it’s no wonder English is widely spoken.

The little blue cartoon creatures known as Smurfs are absosmurfly Belgian, created by Peyo. Throughout Brussels there are murals attesting our love for Comic Strip Art.

Actor Audrey Hepburn, probably most famous for her role in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn- Ruston in Brussels.

The famous statue of Mannekin Pis is found in Brussels. Heads of state and famous artists have donated over 800 outfits for him on display at the Brussels Museum.

Belgian endive was accidentally discovered by a Belgian farmer in 1830. All endives sold in the US are imported from Belgium.

Belgian Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter. He developed a style which used misleading realism to create provocative fantasies around commonplace situations.

Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year in over 2,130 chocolate shops. Our chocolate has pure cocoa flavor because we don’t use vegetable shortening.

There are over 400 different types of beer in Belgium running the gamut from white to raspberry beer. Most beers have their own glass in which only that beer may be served.

Action film hero Jean Claude Van Damme, a.k.a. the Muscles from Brussels, hails from Belgium.