World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Europe

Belgium Travelling Guide
Belgium Travelling Guide

General background: Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.

Area comparative: About the size of Maryland

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

Population: 10,274,595 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%

Religions: Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%

Language: Flemish or Dutch 60%, French 40%, German less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)

Government type: Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch

Capital: Brussels

Legal system: Civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations.

Economic 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. About three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Belgium's public debt is expected to fall to about 100% of GDP in 2002, and the government has succeeded in balancing its budget. Belgium, together with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth in 2001 dropped sharply due to the global economic slowdown. Prospects for 2002 depend largely on recovery in the EU and the US.

Communication/Telephone system: Well developed and advanced

Places of interest:

Travel Tips: A rich blessing of chocolate and oil paintings are to be found