- Art Gallery -

 

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Belgium, See : Flags, Maps

Atwerp : Images

Bruges : Images

Brussels : Images

Ghent : Images

Ostend : Images

EN

Belgium, From the Roman Invasion to the Present Day, Emile Cammaerts

Belgium by George W. T. Omond

Contemporary Belgian Poetry, by Various, Edited by Jethro Bithell, Translated by Jethro Bithell

The Spell of Flanders, by Edward Neville Vose

Ypres and the Battles of Ypres

FR

Les vieilles villes des Flandres, Albert Robida

La Presse Clandestine dans la Belgique Occupée , Jean Massart

NL

Vlaamsch Belgie sedert 1830

ART

Artist , Belgium

Belgium (Europe)

Introduction ::Belgium

Background:

Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country 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.

Geography ::Belgium


View Larger Map

Location:

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

Geographic coordinates:
50 50 N, 4 00 E

Map references:

Europe

Mechelen, Belgium

Area:

total: 30,528 sq km country comparison to the world: 140 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

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit

continental shelf: median line with neighbors

Climate:

temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Atomium

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: Botrange 694 m

Natural resources:

construction materials, silica sand, carbonates

Land use:

arable land: 27.42%

permanent crops: 0.69%

other: 71.89%

note: includes Luxembourg (2005)

Irrigated land:

400 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

20.8 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 7.44 cu km/yr (13%/85%/1%)

per capita: 714 cu m/yr (1998)

Natural hazards:

flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Environment - current issues:

the environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) had slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air
Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85,
Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds,
Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources,
Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change,
Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species,
Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine
Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship
Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

crossroads of Western Europe; most West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO

People ::Belgium

Population:

10,423,493 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 79

Age structure:

0-14 years: 16.1% (male 857,373/female 822,303)

15-64 years: 66.3% (male 3,480,072/female 3,419,721)

65 years and over: 17.6% (male 760,390/female 1,074,477) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 42 years

male: 40.7 years

female: 43.3 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.082% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 188

Birth rate:

10.1 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 194

Death rate:

10.5 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 50

Net migration rate:

1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 52

Urbanization:

urban population: 97% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 0.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.045 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 4.38 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 195 male: 4.92 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 79.37 years country comparison to the world: 37 male: 76.21 years

female: 82.68 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.65 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 175

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.2% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 108

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

15,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 86

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

fewer than 100 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 151

Nationality:

noun: Belgian(s)

adjective: Belgian

Ethnic groups:

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

Religions:

Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%

Languages:

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

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99%

male: 99%

female: 99% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 16 years

male: 16 years

female: 16 years (2008)

Education expenditures:

6.1% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 36

Government ::Belgium

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 monarchy

Capital:

name: Brussels

geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:

3 regions (French: regions, singular - region; Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form); Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form)

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 declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)

National holiday:

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

Constitution:

7 February 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create a federal state

Legal system:

based on 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

Executive branch:

chief of state: King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993); Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch

head of government: Prime Minister Yves LETERME (since 25 November 2009); note - the king accepted the resignation of LETERME on 26 April 2010; LETERME remains as caretaker

cabinet: Council of Ministers are formally appointed by the monarch (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by parliament

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members directly elected by popular vote, 31 indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held on 13 June 2010 (next to be held no later than June 2014)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - N-VA 19.6%, PS 13.6%, CD&V 10%, sp.a 9.5%, MR 9.3%, Open VLD 8.2%, VB 7.6%, Ecolo 5.5%, CDH 5.1% Groen! 3.9%, other 7.7%; seats by party - N-VA 9, PS 7, CD&V 4, sp.a 4, MR 4, Open VLD 4, VB 3, Ecolo 2, CDH 2, Groen! 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - N-VA 17.4%, PS 13.7%, CD&V 10.9%, MR 9.3%, sp.a 9.2%, Open VLD 8.6%, VB 7.8%, CDH 5.5%, Ecolo 4.8%, Groen! 4.4%, List Dedecker 2.3%, the Popular Party 1.3%, other 4.8%; seats by party - N-VA 27, PS 26, CD&V 17, MR 18, sp.a 13, Open VLD 13, VB 12, CDH 9, Ecolo 8, Groen! 5, List Dedecker 1, the Popular Party 1

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; this reality leaves six governments, each with its own legislative assembly

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de
Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the
government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice
Council)

Political parties and leaders:

Flemish parties: Christian Democratic and Flemish or CDV [Wouter
BEKE]; Dedecker List or LDD [Lode VEREECK]; Flemish Liberals and
Democrats or Open VLD [Alexander DE CROO]; Groen! [Wouter VAN
BESIEN] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); New Flemish Alliance or
N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A
[Caroline GENNEZ]; Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Bruno
VALKENIERS]

Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX,
Sarah TURINE]; Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Joelle
MILQUET]; Popular Party or PP [ Mischael MODRIKAMEN]; Reform
Movement or MR [Didier REYNDERS]; Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI
RUPO]; other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Christian, Socialist, and Liberal Trade Unions; Federation of
Belgian Industries

other: numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants

International organization participation:

ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Australia
Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO,
FATF, G-9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA,
IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU,
ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer),
OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI
(observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIS, UNRWA,
UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Jan MATTHYSEN

chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079

consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Howard W. GUTMAN

embassy: 27 Boulevard du Regent [Regentlaan], 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 vertical design was based on the flag of France; the colors are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant (yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field)

National anthem:

name: "La Brabanconne" (The Song of Brabant)

lyrics/music: Louis-Alexandre DECHET[French] Victor CEULEMANS [Dutch]/Francois VAN CAMPENHOUT

note: adopted 1830; Louis-Alexandre DECHET was an actor at the theater in which the revolution against the Netherlands began; according to legend, he wrote the lyrics with a group of young people in a Brussels cafe

Economy ::Belgium

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 imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries. In 2009 Belgian GDP contracted by 2.7%, the unemployment rate rose slightly, and the budget deficit worsened because of large-scale bail-outs in the financial sector. Belgium's budget deficit widened to 4.8% of GDP in 2010, while public debt was just over 100% of GDP. Belgian banks have been severely affected by the international financial crisis with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government. An ageing population and rising social expenditures are also increasing pressure on public finances, making it likely the government will need to implement unpopular austerity measures to assuage investor concerns about Belgium's ability to restore fiscal balance.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$394.9 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 31 $388.7 billion (2009 est.)

$399.5 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$461.3 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.6% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 162 -2.7% (2009 est.)

0.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$37,900 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 27 $37,300 (2009 est.)

$38,400 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 0.7%

industry: 22.1%

services: 77.2% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

5.02 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 74

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 2%

industry: 25%

services: 73% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate:

8.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 92 7.9% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

15.2% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.4%

highest 10%: 28.4% (2006)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

28 (2005) country comparison to the world: 121 28.7 (1996)

Investment (gross fixed):

20.8% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 80

Public debt:

102.5% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 9 101% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 68 0% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

1.75% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 113 3% (31 December 2008)

note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

6.15% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 128 7.03% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$172.9 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 19 $178.7 billion (31 December 2009 est)

note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money:

$539.4 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 22 $536.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$801.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 17 $767.1 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$261.4 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 26 $167.4 billion (31 December 2008)

$386.4 billion (31 December 2007)

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:

4% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 79

Electricity - production:

82.17 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 36

Electricity - consumption:

84.88 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 33

Electricity - exports:

6.561 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

17.16 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

11,220 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 82

Oil - consumption:

608,200 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 27

Oil - exports:

433,700 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 31

Oil - imports:

1.12 million bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 16

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 201

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 204

Natural gas - consumption:

16.87 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 39

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 57

Natural gas - imports:

16.78 billion cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 14

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 202

Current account balance:

-$1.129 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 141 $1.251 billion (2009 est.)

Exports:

$279.2 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 16 $261.1 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:

Germany 19.58%, France 17.71%, Netherlands 11.84%, UK 7.21%, US 5.37%, Italy 4.77% (2009)

Imports:

$281.7 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 17 $261.3 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products

Imports - partners:

Netherlands 17.93%, Germany 17.14%, France 11.69%, Ireland 6.26%, US 5.74%, UK 5.07%, China 4.09% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$NA (31 December 2010 est.)

$23.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.241 trillion (30 June 2010) country comparison to the world: 12 $1.354 trillion (31 December 2008)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$741.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 6 $705.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$632.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 10 $595.8 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.7715 (2010), 0.7179 (2009), 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006)

Communications ::Belgium

Telephones - main lines in use:

4,255 (2009) country comparison to the world: 215

Telephones - mobile cellular:

12.419 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 55

Telephone system:

general assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities

domestic: nationwide mobile-cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network

international: country code - 32; landing point for a number of submarine cables that provide links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2007)

Broadcast media:

a segmented market with the three major communities (Flemish, French, and German-speaking) each having responsibility for their own broadcast media; multiple TV channels exist for each community; additionally, in excess of 90% of households are connected to cable and can access broadcasts of TV stations from neighboring countries; each community has a public radio network co-existing with private broadcasters (2007)

Internet country code:

.be

Internet hosts:

4.465 million (2010) country comparison to the world: 19

Internet users:

8.113 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 36

Transportation ::Belgium

Airports:

43 (2010) country comparison to the world: 99

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 27

over 3,047 m: 6

2,438 to 3,047 m: 9

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 9 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 16

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 15 (2010)

Heliports:

1 (2010)

Pipelines:

gas 1,330 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2009)

Railways:

total: 3,233 km country comparison to the world: 54 standard gauge: 3,233 km 1.435-m gauge (2,950 km electrified) (2008)

Roadways:

total: 152,256 km country comparison to the world: 35 paved: 119,079 km (includes 1,763 km of expressways)

unpaved: 33,177 km (2006)

Waterways:

2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2008) country comparison to the world: 44

Merchant marine:

total: 81 country comparison to the world: 55 by type: bulk carrier 21, cargo 8, chemical tanker 5, container 4, liquefied gas 23, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 11, roll on/roll off 7

foreign-owned: 13 (Denmark 4, France 5, UK 2, US 2)

registered in other countries: 104 (Bahamas 9, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 2,
France 7, Gibraltar 2, Greece 16, Hong Kong 16, Liberia 1,
Luxembourg 9, Malta 14, Moldova 2, Mozambique 2, North Korea 1,
Panama 2, Portugal 8, Russia 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint
Vincent and the Grenadines 6, Vanuatu 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

cargo ports (tonnage): Antwerp, Gent, Liege, Zeebrugge

container ports (TEUs): Antwerp (8,662,891), Zeebrugge (2,209,715)

Military ::Belgium

Military branches:

Belgian Armed Forces: Land Operations Command, Naval Operations
Command, Air Operations Commands (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription suspended (2010)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 2,377,191

females age 16-49: 2,309,941 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 1,949,361

females age 16-49: 1,891,966 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 60,726

female: 57,882 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1.3% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 119

Transnational Issues ::Belgium

Disputes - international:

none

Illicit drugs:

growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; despite a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol, and tobacco; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy

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