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Because of its location at the crossroads of Western Europe , Belgium has historically been the route of invading armies from its larger neighbors.

With virtually defenseless borders, Belgium has traditionally sought to avoid domination by the more powerful nations which surround it through a policy of mediation.

The Belgians have been strong advocates of European integration. The Belgian Armed Forces have about 47, active troops. The operational commands of the four components are subordinate to the Staff Department for Operations and Training of the Ministry of Defense , which is headed by the Assistant Chief of Staff Operations and Training , and to the Chief of Defense.

The effects of the Second World War made collective security a priority for Belgian foreign policy. This mission was the first in a long line of UN missions which the Belgians supported.

Belgium's strongly globalized economy [92] and its transport infrastructure are integrated with the rest of Europe. Its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region helped make it the world's 15th largest trading nation in Its main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products, and foodstuffs.

The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented and shows a dual nature: a dynamic Flemish economy and a Walloon economy that lags behind.

Since , through the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union , Belgium and Luxembourg have been a single trade market with customs and currency union.

Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution , in the early 19th century. The and oil crises sent the economy into a recession; it was particularly prolonged in Wallonia, where the steel industry had become less competitive and experienced a serious decline.

As of [update] , the budget was balanced and public debt was equal to Unemployment rates of 8. By October , this had grown to 8. Belgium switched to the euro in , with the first sets of euro coins being minted in From a biological resource perspective, Belgium has a low endowment: Belgium's biocapacity adds up to only 0.

This means they required about eight times as much biocapacity as Belgium contains. As a result, Belgium was running a biocapacity deficit of 5.

Belgium experiences some of the most congested traffic in Europe. In , commuters to the cities of Brussels and Antwerp spent respectively 65 and 64 hours a year in traffic jams.

There is a large economic gap between Flanders and Wallonia. Wallonia was historically wealthy compared to Flanders, mostly due to its heavy industries , but the decline of the steel industry post-World War II led to the region's rapid decline, whereas Flanders rose swiftly.

Since then, Flanders has been prosperous, among the wealthiest regions in Europe, whereas Wallonia has been languishing.

As of , the unemployment rate of Wallonia is over double that of Flanders. The divide has played a key part in the tensions between the Flemish and Walloons in addition to the already-existing language divide.

Pro-independence movements have gained high popularity in Flanders as a consequence. Contributions to the development of science and technology have appeared throughout the country's history.

The 16th century Early Modern flourishing of Western Europe included cartographer Gerardus Mercator , anatomist Andreas Vesalius , herbalist Rembert Dodoens [] [] [] [] and mathematician Simon Stevin among the most influential scientists.

Bakelite was developed in — by Leo Baekeland. In , he started a series of conferences, the Solvay Conferences on Physics and Chemistry, which have had a deep impact on the evolution of quantum physics and chemistry.

As of 1 January , the total population of Belgium according to its population register was 11,, The most densely populated province is Antwerp , the least densely populated province is Luxembourg.

As of January , the Flemish Region had a population of 6,, Wallonia had a population of 3,, The Brussels Capital Region has 1,, inhabitants In the average total fertility rate TFR across Belgium was 1.

The prevalent foreign nationals were Italian , , French , , Dutch , , Moroccan 80, , Portuguese 43, , Spanish 42, , Turkish 39, and German 37, Of these, , 6.

Since the modification of the Belgian nationality law in more than 1. The largest group of immigrants and their descendants in Belgium are Moroccans.

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. A number of non-official minority languages are spoken as well. French-speaking Belgians are often referred to as Walloons, although the French speakers in Brussels are not Walloons.

The total number of native Dutch speakers is estimated to be about 6. Roughly 23, more German speakers live in municipalities near the official Community.

Both Belgian Dutch and Belgian French have minor differences in vocabulary and semantic nuances from the varieties spoken respectively in the Netherlands and France.

Many Flemish people still speak dialects of Dutch in their local environment. Walloon , considered either as a dialect of French or a distinct Romance language , [] [] is now only understood and spoken occasionally, mostly by elderly people.

Walloon is divided into four dialects, which along with those of Picard , [] are rarely used in public life and have largely been replaced by French.

Since the country's independence, Roman Catholicism , counterbalanced by strong freethought movements, has had an important role in Belgium's politics.

Roman Catholicism has traditionally been Belgium's majority religion; being especially strong in Flanders. According to the Eurobarometer , Protestants comprised 2.

Non-religious people comprised A further 5. Symbolically and materially, the Roman Catholic Church remains in a favorable position. In the early s, there were approximately 42, Jews in Belgium.

The Jewish Community of Antwerp numbering some 18, is one of the largest in Europe, and one of the last places in the world where Yiddish is the primary language of a large Jewish community mirroring certain Orthodox and Hasidic communities in New York, New Jersey, and Israel.

In addition, most Jewish children in Antwerp receive a Jewish education. This is particularly the case in eastern Wallonia and areas along the French border.

The largest group of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans, with , people. The Turks are the third largest group, and the second largest Muslim ethnic group, numbering , The Belgians enjoy good health.

According to estimates, the average life expectancy is Death in Belgium is mainly due to heart and vascular disorders, neoplasms , disorders of the respiratory system and unnatural causes of death accidents, suicide.

Non-natural causes of death and cancer are the most common causes of death for females up to age 24 and males up to age Healthcare in Belgium is financed through both social security contributions and taxation.

Health insurance is compulsory. Health care is delivered by a mixed public and private system of independent medical practitioners and public, university and semi-private hospitals.

Health care service are payable by the patient and reimbursed later by health insurance institutions, but for ineligible categories of patients and services so-called 3rd party payment systems exist.

For the first time in Belgian history, the first child was euthanized following the 2-year mark of the removal of the euthanization age restrictions.

The child had been euthanized due to an incurable disease that was inflicted upon the child. Although there may have been some support for the euthanization there is a possibility of controversy due to the issue revolving around the subject of assisted suicide.

Education is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age for Belgians. Mirroring the dual structure of the 19th-century Belgian political landscape, characterized by the Liberal and the Catholic parties , the educational system is segregated within a secular and a religious segment.

The secular branch of schooling is controlled by the communities, the provinces, or the municipalities, while religious, mainly Catholic branch education, is organized by religious authorities, although subsidized and supervised by the communities.

Despite its political and linguistic divisions , the region corresponding to today's Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had tremendous influence on European art and culture.

Nowadays, to a certain extent, cultural life is concentrated within each language Community, and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced.

Contributions to painting and architecture have been especially rich. The Mosan art , the Early Netherlandish , [] the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque painting [] and major examples of Romanesque , Gothic , Renaissance and Baroque architecture [] are milestones in the history of art.

While the 15th century's art in the Low Countries is dominated by the religious paintings of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden , the 16th century is characterized by a broader panel of styles such as Peter Breughel 's landscape paintings and Lambert Lombard 's representation of the antique.

The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the s, while the sculptor Panamarenko remains a remarkable figure in contemporary art.

Belgian contributions to architecture also continued into the 19th and 20th centuries, including the work of Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde , who were major initiators of the Art Nouveau style.

The vocal music of the Franco-Flemish School developed in the southern part of the Low Countries and was an important contribution to Renaissance culture.

Contemporary popular music in Belgium is also of repute. Jazz musician Toots Thielemans and singer Jacques Brel have achieved global fame.

Nowadays, singer Stromae has been a musical revelation in Europe and beyond, having great success. In the heavy metal scene, bands like Machiavel , Channel Zero and Enthroned have a worldwide fan-base.

The poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck won the Nobel Prize in literature in Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen brought the Belgian cartoon strip industry a worldwide fame.

Belgian cinema has brought a number of mainly Flemish novels to life on-screen. Folklore plays a major role in Belgium's cultural life: the country has a comparatively high number of processions, cavalcades, parades, ' ommegangs ' and 'ducasses', [H] ' kermesse ' and other local festivals, nearly always with an originally religious or mythological background.

Originated in and revived in the s, the Gentse Feesten have become a modern tradition. Many highly ranked Belgian restaurants can be found in the most influential restaurant guides, such as the Michelin Guide.

Contrary to their name, french fries are claimed to have originated in Belgium, although their exact place of origin is uncertain.

The national dishes are " steak and fries with salad", and " mussels with fries ". Since the s, sports clubs and federations are organized separately within each language community.

Belgians hold the most Tour de France victories of any country except France. Philippe Gilbert is the world champion. Another modern well-known Belgian cyclist is Tom Boonen.

With five victories in the Tour de France and numerous other cycling records, Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx is regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

Belgium hosted the European Football Championships , and co-hosted the European Championships with the Netherlands. Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin both were Player of the Year in the Women's Tennis Association as they were ranked the number one female tennis player.

The Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Country in Western Europe. This article is about the country in Western Europe.

For other uses, see Belgium disambiguation. For the city in the United States, see Belgique, Missouri.

The flag's official proportions of are rarely seen; proportions of or similar are more common. The Brussels region is the de facto capital, but the City of Brussels municipality is the de jure capital.

Main article: History of Belgium. Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third.

Of all these, the Belgae are the strongest Main article: Geography of Belgium. East Flanders. Walloon Brabant. West Flanders. Main article: Provinces of Belgium.

Main articles: Politics of Belgium and Belgian federal government. Philippe King of the Belgians since Main article: Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium.

Main article: Foreign relations of Belgium. Main article: Belgian Armed Forces. Main article: Economy of Belgium. Further information: Science and technology in Brussels , Science and technology in Flanders , and Science and technology in Wallonia.

Main article: Demographics of Belgium. This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.

June Main article: Languages of Belgium. Estimated distribution of primary languages in Belgium Dutch. Main article: Religion in Belgium. Main article: Healthcare in Belgium.

Main article: Education in Belgium. Main article: Culture of Belgium. Further information: Folklore of Belgium. Main article: Belgian cuisine.

Main article: Sport in Belgium. Belgium portal. In fact, there are only six such bodies because the Flemish Region merged into the Flemish Community.

This single Flemish body thus exercises powers about Community matters in the bilingual area of Brussels-Capital and in the Dutch language area, while about Regional matters only in Flanders.

Archived from the original on 27 August Retrieved 15 July Dutch: Flanders' 6. For a web source on this topic, see e. Retrieved on 7 June The French word 'ducasse' refers also to a procession; the mentioned Processional Giants of Ath and Mons are part of each city's 'ducasse'.

European Commission. The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 7 February Retrieved 19 December Retrieved 11 October Retrieved 29 February International Monetary Fund.

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Archived from the original on 31 October The capital of Belgium, Brussels, is an enclave within Flanders. Archived from the original PDF on 26 June The country is divided into three autonomous regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, mostly French-speaking Brussels in the center as an enclave within Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, including the German-speaking Cantons de l'Est.

Archived from the original PDF on 31 October Brussels is a kind of enclave within Flanders—it has no direct link with Wallonia.

Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico , book 8, chapter Rezension zu Review of Cook, Bernard: Belgium. A History in German. FH-Zeitung journal of the Fachhochschule.

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International models of peace and reconciliation—Diversity and civil society". Archived from the original on 13 May Retrieved 12 August EUbusiness, Richmond, UK.

Archived from the original on 7 October The Age of Imperialism Section 2. World History II. Archived from the original PDF on 25 September Retrieved 16 August Archived from the original on 24 May Retrieved 5 June Archived from the original on 2 February Retrieved 8 December Financial Times.

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Archived PDF from the original on 2 November Retrieved 25 February Belgium and the February Revolution. Archived from the original on 28 June Retrieved 18 October Belgian Federal Government.

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Archived from the original on 17 February Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 10 July Archived from the original on 17 December Retrieved 3 July Archived from the original on 12 September Retrieved 10 August Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Archived PDF from the original on 25 September Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. Bibcode : HESS Archived from the original on 10 February Retrieved 10 December Archived from the original on 21 October Retrieved 27 May Archived from the original PDF on 5 June Retrieved 8 May Floristic Regions of the World.

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Zur prestige Sprache wurde in den Spanischen Niederlanden ganz eindeutig das Französische. Die Vertreter Spaniens beherrschten normalerweise das Französische, nicht aber das Niederländische; ein beachtlicher Teil der am Hofe tätigen Adligen stammte aus Wallonien, das sich ja eher auf die spanische Seite geschlagen hatte als Flandern und Brabant.

In dieser Situation war es selbstverständlich, dass die flämischen Adligen, die im Laufe der Zeit immer mehr ebenfalls zu Hofbeamten wurden, sich des Französischen bedienen mussten, wenn sie als gleichwertig anerkannt werden wollten.

Spain's representatives usually mastered French but not Dutch; a notable part of the nobles at the court came from Wallonia, which had taken party for the Spanish side to a higher extent than Flanders and Brabant.

It was therefore evident within this context that the Flemish nobility, of which a progressively larger number became servants of the court, had to use French, if it wanted to get acknowledged as well.

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On the contrary, Belgians are often considered to be somewhat reserved and closed when first meeting people. This can make them appear distant, unemotional, or even disinterested in the early stages of dating.

After all, once a Belgian man or woman enters a relationship, they are much more comfortable opening up.

Furthermore, they place a high value on long-term relationships, which is good news if you are seeking commitment.

Just like in other European countries, there are several traditional ways to meet new people in Belgium. Meeting someone at a bar or through friends remains a common way to meet Belgian men and women.

This is especially true in smaller cities that have tighter communities and offer fewer opportunities for people to mingle.

Given the reserved and humble nature of Belgians, it is also perhaps not surprising that the majority of couples meet this way.

Online dating is another option that has become increasingly popular in Belgium. There are now a plethora of dating websites that provide ample opportunities to meet local men and women.

However, you may find that in larger cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and Genval, many of the users and members are from overseas, as this is where the majority of expats live in Belgium.

Meanwhile, Tinder, Bumble, Happn, and Badoo remain the go-to apps for casual dating. When it comes to dating etiquette, Belgium is fairly similar to other European countries.

That said, there are certain cultural traits that are useful to know when dating as an expat. Generally speaking, Belgians tend to move slowly when it comes to showing their interest in a potential partner.

Therefore, it might take some time for them to muster up the courage to ask someone out. If you met through mutual friends, which is common in Belgium, you might see them several times before they make a move and ask you out for coffee.

You might also visit parks, cinemas, and fun cultural attractions. If you happen to live in the capital, there are plenty of fun things to do in Brussels , depending on your preference.

In fact, all of the major cities in Belgium are full of fun activities to suit all interests. These may become apparent once you begin to navigate the local dating scene.

While your Belgian sweetheart might not spoil you with roses or dance with you in the moonlight, they will certainly never keep you waiting.

This is because people in Belgium consider being late a major sign of disrespect; furthermore, punctuality is a prided trait. If your date is picking you up, therefore, make sure that you are ready well in advance as they will likely be on your doorstep before the agreed time.

Neatness and order are highly regarded in Belgian culture and men, in particular, are a penchant for self-grooming; down to their clean and tidy fingernails.

Showing up to a date wearing torn jeans or overly casual clothes will unlikely impress a Belgian. Belgian men and women are known to be particularly organized when it comes to their social lives and careers.

It is typical for people to have active schedules and many commitments; therefore, it can be tricky to secure a place on their agenda.

Belgian people also tend to like their comfort zone which means they are less likely to be available for last-minute plans or impromptu dates.

Therefore, appearing flakey or unreliable, or canceling on them last-minute will not score you any points.

Belgian people are generally known to be polite, softly-spoken, and extremely well-mannered. In fact, men will even rise sometimes when a woman enters the room to show respect; or stand on public transport until women are seated.

With such a big emphasis placed on manners, how you conduct yourself during a date is extremely important. For instance, you should avoid putting your hands in your pockets, yawning, or using toothpicks when eating out.

Your hands should also stay on the table during the whole meal and never on your lap. Belgians are not renowned for being overly passionate or touchy-feely and tend to be more formal and reserved.

They will usually greet strangers with a handshake and acquaintances with a kiss on the cheek. They will also kiss the cheeks of women who are close acquaintances.

Remember, this is a culture that highly values honesty and good manners. Therefore, deliberately leading someone on or sending mixed signals is not seen as acceptable behavior.

If they are interested in a relationship, they will let you know. Because Belgians are known for being reserved and conservative, they may come across as being distant or disinterested, to begin with.

With access to an array of Belgian foods and gourmet restaurants, local cuisine is a great talking point, however.

And chances are they will know a lot about food. Women in Belgium are typically independent and happy to pay their way, therefore splitting the check is not a taboo.

In fact, in this progressive nation, women are generally socially and economically empowered; enjoying good wage equality and employment conditions.

As a result, men and women are seen as equals. And by no means give her chrysanthemums, as they symbolize death in Belgium! Read more about the meaning of certain flowers around the world.

There are no set rules in Belgium regarding when to become exclusive or invite your partner to meet your family, and so on.

In this respect, they can be incredibly romantic. Generally speaking, a relationship with a Belgian needs to be fairly settled before they invite you to meet their parents.

After all, family is extremely important in Belgium, and not just anyone is invited to enter the circle of trust. When you do meet their parents, however, it is likely to be an informal and cozy affair because hospitality is extremely important in this culture.

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that it is customary to kiss people three times on the cheeks when you greet them hello and goodbye. In fact, in , the average age at first marriage was It appears, therefore, that people generally like to take their time to find the right partner to settle down with.

This might explain why the marriage rate in Belgium remains fairly stable; staying within the lines of 37 to 45 thousand between and Retrieved 18 June Archived from the original on 2 October Retrieved 21 June Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia.

Archived from the original on 31 October The capital of Belgium, Brussels, is an enclave within Flanders.

Archived from the original PDF on 26 June The country is divided into three autonomous regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, mostly French-speaking Brussels in the center as an enclave within Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, including the German-speaking Cantons de l'Est.

Archived from the original PDF on 31 October Brussels is a kind of enclave within Flanders—it has no direct link with Wallonia. Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico , book 8, chapter Rezension zu Review of Cook, Bernard: Belgium.

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