Belgium is located in Western Europe between France and the Netherlands. Bordering the North Sea, Belgium is divided into ten providences and three regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. Officially named the Kingdom of Belgium, the country gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1830 and is a federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch.
Present-day Belgium is a modern and technologically progressive country. As one of the founding members of the European community, its capital, Brussels, is the capital of the both the European Union and NATO. Its proximity to other Western European capitals makes it a crossroads. Because of its location, Belgium is quite a melting pot, well known for its variety of races and cultures.
As a small country, 12,566 square miles (32,547 sq. km) in size, Belgium is densely populated. Therefore nearly all Belgians are urban residents. Citizens do enjoy a high literacy rate and low poverty rate. The primary ethnic groups in Belgium are Fleming and Walloon, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion. The languages spoken include Dutch and French. German is spoken by a minority of Belgians.
The geography of Belgium is primarily flat, but contains a hilly, forested area in the southeast, the Ardennes region. It has a small coastal area to the north. Belgium borders the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. The temperature is cool and rather rainy, with sunnier periods from late spring to early autumn.
The country depends of world trade and is known for its highly skilled, multilingual and productive employees. Most workers are found in the service industry, with fewer jobs in industry and agriculture. Belgium’s primary industries include engineering and metal products, transportation equipment, motor vehicle assembly, scientific instruments, and processed food and beverages. The primary agriculture products include fruits, sugar beets, vegetables, grain, tobacco, beef, veal, pork and milk.
Famous Belgians include writers Georges Simenon and Hugo Claus, and painters James Ensor, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte. Belgian cuisine is famous for its waffles, French fries, chocolates and beer. The sports of Belgium include motocross, football, cycling and motor racing.
Travel destinations include the country’s many castles and museums. Popular city visits include Antwerp, Brussels, and Ghent. Antwerp is a city rich with history, containing medieval castles and mansions. Brussels is a cosmopolitan city featuring art, architecture and history. The former medieval city of Ghent is now home to many students.