Belgium

Belgium is country of Europe located in west Europe.

Details

Official Name:Kingdom of Belgium
Capital:Brussels
Total area:30 528 km2
GDP per capita:$37,883
Native Language:Dutch, French, German
Government:Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Population:11,035,948
Major Religion:Roman Catholicism, freethought movement
Monetary Unit:Euro (EUR)

Belgium is a federal state divided into three regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, francophone Wallonia in the south and Brussels, the bilingual capital, where French and Dutch share official status. There is also a small German-speaking minority of some 70 000 in the eastern part of the country.

Belgium’s landscape varies widely: 67 kilometres of seacoast and flat coastal plains along the North Sea, a central plateau and the rolling hills and forests of the Ardennes region in the southeast.

Brussels hosts several international organisations: most of the European institutions are located here as well as the NATO headquarters.

Independent since 1830, Belgium is a constitutional monarchy. The two houses of Parliament are the Chamber of Representatives, whose members are elected for a maximum period of four years, and the Senate or upper house, whose members are elected or co-opted. Given its political make-up, Belgium is generally run by coalition governments.

Among the best known Belgians are Georges Rémi (Hergé), creator of the Tintin comic-strip, writers Georges Simenon and Hugo Claus, composer and singer Jacques Brel and cyclist Eddy Merckx. Painters like James Ensor, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte are the modern-day successors of Rubens and the other Flemish masters of yesteryear.

Belgium is famous for its chocolates, which are appreciated the world over. A favourite dish is mussels and chips (French fries) which, according to legend, are a Belgian invention. The country also produces over 1 000 brands of beer.

Health & Welfare

Family allowances, health insurance, old-age insurance, holidays, and unemployment insurance.

Economy & Jobs

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, textile, chemical, energy, and banking. Engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, and petroleum.

Main Attractions

Brussels, Antwerp, The Ardennes valleys and deep forests.

Economy

Belgium's strongly globalized economy and its transport infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world's 15th largest trading nation in 2007. The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP and high exports per capita. Belgium's main imports are raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, and oil products. Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs.

The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind. One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and the extension of the powers of EU institutions to integrate member economies.