Belgium (GPS: 50 50 N, 4 00 E) located in Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands. The country’s area measurements are total: 30,528 sq km; land: 30,278 sq km, water: 250 sq km. This sovereign state is about the size of Maryland. The total irrigated land is 230 sq km (2012).
One of the essential features of Belgium: Crossroads of Western Europe. Most West European capitals are within 1,000 km of Brussels, the European Union, and NATO seats.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Brussels’s GPS coordinates are 50 50 N 4 20 E. Brussels’s local time is 6 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+1, note; Daylight saving time: +1hr begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October.
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; It was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. In the past half-century, the country prospered as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. In recent years, political divisions between the Dutch-speaking Flemish of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy. The capital city of Brussels is home to numerous international organizations, including the EU and NATO.
Belgium’s names conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium, conventional short form: Belgium, local long form: Royaume de Belgique (French)/Koninkrijk Belgie (Dutch)/Koenigreich Belgien (German), local short form: Belgique/Belgie/Belgien, etymology: the name derives from the Belgae, an ancient Celtic tribal confederation that inhabited an area between the English Channel and the west bank of the Rhine in the first centuries B.C. The name derives from the Belgae, an ancient Celtic tribal confederation that inhabited an area between the English Channel and the west bank of the Rhine in the first centuries B.C.
Belgium’s terrain is typically flat coastal plains in the northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in the southeast. The country’s mean elevation: 181 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: the North Sea 0 m, highest point: Botrange 694 m.
The country’s general climate is temperate: mild winters, cool summers: rainy, humid, cloudy.
The total number of border countries is 4, France 556 km, Germany 133 km, Luxembourg 130 km, Netherlands 478 km are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Belgium’s coastline is 66.5 km. Its marital claims are territorial sea: 12 nautical miles, contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles, exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit continental shelf: median line with neighbors. Waterways: 2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2012). Land use: agricultural land: 44.1%; arable land 27.2%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 16.1%; forest: 22.4%; other: 33.5% (2011 estimate).
The population in Belgium 11,570,762 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 97.9% of total population (2015), central metropolitan area’s population: BRUSSELS (capital) 2.045 million; Antwerp 994,000 (2015), while Belgium has most of the community concentrated in the northern two-thirds of the country; the southeast is more thinly populated; considered to have one of the highest population densities in the world; approximately 97% live in urban areas.
Their spoken languages are Dutch (official language) 60%, French (official language) 40%, German (official language) less than 1%. The main religions in Belgium are Roman Catholic, 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%. The nation uses civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note – Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts. It is a(n) federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, National holiday(s) 21 July (1831) Ascension Day (Ascension to the throne of King LEOPOLD I).
Economic overview for the country: Belgium’s central geographic location and highly developed transport network have helped create a well-diversified economy, with a broad mix of transport, services, manufacturing, and high tech. Service and high-tech industries are concentrated in the northern Flanders region, while Wallonia’s southern part is home to industries like coal and steel manufacturing. Belgium is entirely reliant on foreign sources of fossil fuels, and the planned closure of its seven nuclear plants by 2025 should increase its dependence on foreign energy. Its role as a regional logistical hub makes it’s economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with EU trading partners.
Roughly three-quarters of Belgium’s trade is with other EU countries. The port of Zeebrugge conducts almost half its business with the United Kingdom alone, leaving Belgium’s economy vulnerable to the outcome of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU. Belgium’s GDP grew by 1.7% in 2017, and the budget deficit was 1.5% of GDP. Unemployment stood at 7.3%. However, the unemployment rate is lower in Flanders than Wallonia, 4.4% compared to 9.4%, because of industrial differences between the regions. The economy mostly recovered from the March 2016 terrorist attacks that mainly impacted the Brussels region tourist and hospitality industry. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL’s center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressure to decrease Belgium’s high public debt of about 104% of GDP. Still, such efforts would also dampen economic growth. In addition to restrained public spending, low wage growth and higher inflation promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption.
The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness, including changes to labor market rules and welfare benefits. These changes have generally made Belgian wages more competitive regionally but have raised tensions with trade unions, which have called for extended strikes. In 2017, Belgium approved a tax reform plan to ease corporate rates from 33% to 29% by 2018 and down to 25% by 2020. The tax plan also included benefits for innovation and SMEs, intended to spur competitiveness and private investment.
Natural resources of Belgium: construction materials, silica sand, carbonates, arable land.
Main export partners for Belgium, Europe are Germany 16.9%, France 15.5%, Netherlands 11.4%, UK 8.8%, US 6%, Italy 5% (2015) for chemicals, machinery, and equipment, finished diamonds, metals, and metal products, foodstuffs, while the main import partners for the country are: Netherlands 16.7%, Germany 12.7%, France 9.6%, US 8.7%, UK 5.1%, Ireland 4.7%, China 4.3% (2015) for raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, natural diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products.
When you visit this country in Europe, consider the natural hazards in Belgium: Flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes, while infectious diseases are N/A. Also, note that Belgium faces the following environmental issues: Intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation, Air and water pollution, and repercussions for neighboring countries.