Belgium Pedia

Belgium is located in Western Europe, bordered by France to the southwest, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, and the Netherlands to the north. It is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, making it a key political and economic hub in the region.

Geography

Climate

Belgium has a temperate maritime climate, characterized by mild winters, cool summers, and frequent rainfall throughout the year. The country experiences four distinct seasons, with temperatures ranging from around 0°C (32°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer.

Fauna

Belgium’s diverse landscapes support a variety of wildlife, including deer, wild boar, foxes, and numerous bird species such as herons, kingfishers, and woodpeckers. The Ardennes region, in the southeast, is known for its dense forests and rugged terrain, providing habitats for many species.

Longest Rivers

The Meuse (Maas), Scheldt (Escaut), and Yser are the three longest rivers in Belgium. These rivers play important roles in the country’s history, economy, and transportation network, with the Scheldt being the largest and most significant.

Highest Mountains

Belgium is relatively flat, with its highest point, the Signal de Botrange, reaching just 694 meters (2,277 feet) above sea level. Despite its lack of towering peaks, Belgium’s landscape is varied, with rolling hills, forests, and agricultural plains.

History

Prehistory

Belgium has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with evidence of human settlement dating back tens of thousands of years. The region was home to various Celtic tribes, including the Belgae, who gave the country its name.

Roman Period

Belgium was part of the Roman Empire from the 1st century BCE until the 5th century CE. Roman influence left its mark on the region, with the construction of roads, bridges, and settlements, as well as the spread of Christianity.

Medieval Era

During the Middle Ages, Belgium was divided into numerous feudal territories ruled by dukes, counts, and bishops. The cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp flourished as centers of trade and commerce, playing important roles in the medieval economy.

Spanish Netherlands

In the 16th century, Belgium came under Spanish rule as part of the Spanish Netherlands. This period was marked by religious conflict, as Protestantism spread throughout the region, leading to the Eighty Years’ War for Dutch independence.

Austrian and French Rule

Belgium later came under Austrian and then French rule during the Napoleonic Wars. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 united Belgium with the Netherlands under the rule of the Dutch king, leading to a period of political unrest and discontent.

Belgian Independence

Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1830, following the Belgian Revolution. The country adopted a constitutional monarchy and quickly established itself as a neutral and prosperous nation in Europe.

World Wars and Modern Age

Belgium was heavily impacted by both World Wars, with significant destruction and loss of life. In the post-war period, Belgium played a key role in the formation of the European Union and NATO, solidifying its position as a center of European diplomacy and cooperation.

Demographics

Belgium has a population of approximately 11.5 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. The population is linguistically divided between Dutch-speaking Flemings in the north, French-speaking Walloons in the south, and a small German-speaking community in the east. Brussels, the capital region, is officially bilingual.

Administrative Divisions

Belgium is divided into three regions and three communities, each with its own level of autonomy and government authority:

Regions:

  1. Flemish Region – Population: 6.6 million
  2. Walloon Region – Population: 3.6 million
  3. Brussels-Capital Region – Population: 1.2 million

Communities:

  1. Flemish Community – Population: 6.6 million
  2. French Community – Population: 4.5 million
  3. German-speaking Community – Population: 77,000

10 Largest Cities by Population

  1. Brussels
  2. Antwerp
  3. Ghent
  4. Charleroi
  5. Liège
  6. Bruges
  7. Namur
  8. Leuven
  9. Mons
  10. Aalst

Education Systems

Education in Belgium is compulsory for children aged 6 to 18 and is provided through a system of public, private, and subsidized schools. The government funds education at all levels, including primary, secondary, and higher education. Belgium is home to several top universities, including KU Leuven, Ghent University, and the University of Brussels.

Transportation

Airports

Belgium has several major airports, including Brussels Airport, Antwerp International Airport, and Charleroi Airport. Brussels Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the country, serving as a major hub for both domestic and international flights.

Railways

Belgium has an extensive railway network operated by the National Railway Company of Belgium (SNCB/NMBS), connecting cities and towns across the country. The total length of Belgium’s railway tracks exceeds 3,600 kilometers, with high-speed trains connecting major cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent.

Highways

Belgium has a well-developed network of highways and roads, including the E40, E411, and E17 motorways, which connect major cities and regions. The total length of Belgium’s highways exceeds 1,700 kilometers, facilitating transportation and commerce within the country and across Europe.

Ports

Belgium has several major seaports, including the Port of Antwerp, one of the largest and busiest ports in Europe. Other major ports include the Port of Zeebrugge and the Port of Ghent, which handle a significant volume of maritime trade and shipping.

Country Facts

  • Population: 11.5 million
  • Capital: Brussels
  • Language: Dutch, French, German
  • Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic
  • Race: Flemish, Walloon, German-speaking, others
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • ISO Country Code: BE
  • International Calling Code: +32
  • Top-level Domain: .be