Embassy of Belgium in Washington, DC

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ABOUT BELGIUM

General Information


Belgium Beyond Expectations

Heart of Europe

A top ranking economy

With a geographic area about equal to that of Maryland, Belgium is:

  • Located at the heart of the world’s most highly industrialized regions.
  • The 1st country to undergo an industrial revolution on the continent in the early 1800s.
  • One of the founding members of the European Community.
  • An economy specialized in the importation of raw materials and semi-finished goods that are further processed and re-exported.
    The 4th exporter of goods worldwide (percentage of GDP).
  • By far the world’s largest diamond center.
  • The 2nd largest petrochemical center in the world.
  • The world’s leading exporter of synthetic carpets.
  • The 1st manufacturer of cars per capita in the European Union.
  • The world leader in the processing of cobalt, germanium and radium. Renowned worldwide for its restaurants, chocolates, beers, biscuits and endives.

A nation without borders

Some facts:

  • Highest density of roads in the world.
  • Highest density of railroad network in the world (with a total of 2,534 miles).
  • A great complex of navigable waterways that includes the Meuse, the Scheldt and the skein of canals (with a total length of close to 1,000 miles that link the main industrial areas with the ports and neighboring countries).
  • Antwerp: Europe’s 2nd largest seaport and among top ten of the world’s seaports.
  • Brussels National Airport: 20 million passengers per year.

Easy and quick travels by train:

High-speed trains Travel Time Frequency
Brussels-London 2hrs 40 10/day
Brussels-Paris 1hr 25 16/day
Brussels-Cologne 2hrs 32 7/day
Brussels-Amsterdam 2hrs 39 4/day

A pioneer in Europe's integration

  • In 1947 Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg joined to create a customs union, called Benelux.

  • Benelux was a role model and testing ground for the EEC/EU; many of its treaties are extensions of Benelux policy. It promoted the free movement of workers, capital, services, and goods in the region.

  • In 1951, Belgium founded with France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

  • It signed the Treaties of Rome in 1957 creating the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community (EEC), which later became the European Union..

  • In 1958, the Benelux Economic Union Treaty was signed, which was to facilitate the free flow of goods and capital.

Symbiosis of tradition and modernity

Painting

Brueghel, Jordaens, Van Dijck, Rubens, James Ensor, René Magritte, Paul Delvaux, Panamarenko, are just some of the famous Belgian artists.

Literature

Belgium has a rich literary tradition. Maurice Maeterlinck was awarded the Nobel Prize early this century, and who has not heard of Georges Simenon's immortal brainchild, Inspector Maigret. Other famous names include Emile Verhaeren, Charles De Coster, Henri Michaux, Hendrik Conscience, Guido Gezelle, Hugo Claus, etc.

Comics

The names of Belgium's comic strip heroes speak for themselves: Tintin, Willy and Wanda, Spirou and Fantasio, Blake and Mortimer, Nero, Lucky Luke and the Smurfs. These are the creations of artists Hergé, Willy Vandersteen, André Franquin, Edgar P. Jacobs, Marc Sleen, Morris and Peyo.

Sports

Belgians are world champions in motocross and judo. Tennis has become popular with the success of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.
Lance Armstrong, the famous American cyclist who has matched Eddy Merckx’s feats, living legend in cycling, also has a base in Belgium.

Cuisine

Belgium is the country with consistently the highest number of Michelin stars per head of the population. It offers more than 1000 beer varieties from 150 breweries.
It is also a award-winning paradise for chocolate, vegetables and seafood.

 

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FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Coop. Belgium
Belgian Federal Government