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Countries > Belgium Belgium Flag
Products   2 products specific to Belgium are available in one category.


Languages   4 languages are spoken in Belgium. We have 1722 products available for those languages.


Capital: Brussels
Population: 10,064,000
Description: Flemish, spoken in the north, and French, spoken in the south, are the two official languages. The dividing line extends east-west across the country just below Brussels, though Briissels itself is French-speaking. Flemish is native to about 5½ million people and French to about 3½ million, with about one million Belgians are bilingual. Near the German border about 100,000 people speak German.
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Belgium Map

Geography

Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands

Geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 00 E

Map references: Europe

Area:
total : 30,510 sq km
land: 30,230 sq km
water: 280 sq km

Area - comparative: about the size of Maryland

Land boundaries:
total: 1,385 km
border countries : France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km

Coastline: 64 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf : median line with neighbors
exclusive fishing zone: median line with neighbors (extends about 68 km from coast)
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Terrain: flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: North Sea 0 m
highest point : Signal de Botrange 694 m

Natural resources: coal, natural gas

Land use:
arable land : 24%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 21%
other: 34%

Irrigated land: 10 sq km including Luxembourg (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: flooding is a threat in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Environment - current issues: Meuse River, a major source of drinking water, polluted from steel production wastes; other rivers polluted by animal wastes and fertilizers; industrial air pollution contributes to acid rain in neighboring countries

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Law of the Sea

Geography - note: crossroads of Western Europe; majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels which is the seat of both the EU and NATO

People

Population: 10,258,762 (July 2001 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.48% (male 916,957; female 876,029)
15-64 years: 65.57% (male 3,390,145; female 3,336,908)
65 years and over : 16.95% (male 709,212; female 1,029,511) (2001 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.16% (2001 est.)

Birth rate: 10.74 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Death rate: 10.1 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Net migration rate:0.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth : 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over:0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 4.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.96 years
male : 74.63 years
female: 81.46 years (2001 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.61 children born/woman (2001 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Belgian(s)
adjective: Belgian

Ethnic groups: Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%

Religions: Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%

Languages: Dutch 58%, French 32%, German 10%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)

Literacy:
definition : age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: NA%
female: NA%

Government

Country name:
conventional long form : Kingdom of Belgium
conventional short form: Belgium
local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
local short form: Belgique/Belgie

Data code: BE

Government type: federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch

National capital: Brussels

Administrative divisions: 10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch: provincien, singular - provincie) and 1 region* (French: region; Dutch: gewest); Antwerpen, Brabant Wallon, Brussel* (Bruxelles), Hainaut, Liege, Limburg, Luxembourg, Namur, Oost-Vlaanderen, Vlaams-Brabant, West-Vlaanderen; note - the Brussels Capitol Region is not included within the 10 provinces

Independence: 4 October 1830 (from the Netherlands)

National holiday: National Day, 21 July (ascension of King LEOPOLD to the throne in 1831)

Constitution: 7 February 1831, last revised 14 July 1993; parliament approved a constitutional package creating a federal state

Legal system: civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state : King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993); Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch
head of government: Prime Minister JPrime Minister Guy VERHOFSTADT (since 13 July 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the king and approved by Parliament
elections: none; the king is a constitutional monarch; prime minister appointed by the king and then approved by Parliament

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Flemish, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members are directly elected, 31 will be indirectly elected at a later date; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Flemish, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members are directly elected by proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held 21 May 1995 (next to be held by the end of 1999)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - VLD 15.4%, CVP 14.7%, PRL 10.6%, PS 9.7%, VB 9.4%, SP 8.9%, ECOLO 7.4%, AGALEV 7.1%, PSC 6.0%, VU 5.1%; seats by party - VLD 11, CVP 10, PS 10, PRL 9, VB 6, SP 6, ECOLO 6, AGALEV 5, PSC 5, VU 3; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - VLD 14.3%, CVP 14.1%, PS 10.2%, PRL 10.1%, VB 9.9%, SP 9.5%, ECOLO 7.4%, AGALEV 7.0%, PSC 5.9%, VU 5.6%; seats by party - VLD 23, CVP 22, PS 19, PRL 18, VB 15, SP 14, ECOLO 11, PSC 10, AGALEV 9, VU 8, FN 1
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments each with its own legislative assembly; for other acronyms of the listed parties see Political parties and leaders

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie in Flemish, Cour de Cassation in French, judges are appointed for life by the Belgian monarch

Political parties and leaders: AGALEV (Flemish Greens) [Dos GEYSELS]; ECOLO (Francophone Greens) [no president]; Flemish Christian Democrats or CVP (Christian People's Party) [Stefaan DE CLERCK, president]; Flemish Liberal Democrats or VLD [Karel DE GUCHT, president]; Flemish Socialist Party or SP [Patrick JANSSENS, president]; Francophone Christian Democrats or PSC (Social Christian Party) [Joelle MILQUET, president]; Francophone Liberal Reformation Party or PRL [Daniel DUCARME, president]; Francophone Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO, president]; National Front or FN [Daniel FERET]; Vlaams Blok or VB [Frank VANHECKE]; Volksunie or VU [leader vacant]; other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders: Christian and Socialist Trade Unions; Federation of Belgian Industries; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as the Flemish Action Committee Against Nuclear Weapons and Pax Christi

International organization participation: ACCT, AfDB, AG (observer), AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CCC, CE, CERN, EBRD, ECE, EIB, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MTCR, NACC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNMOP, UNPREDEP, UNRWA, UNTAES, UNTSO, UPU, WCL, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Alexis REYN
chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079
consulate(s) general : Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen Franklin BRAUER
embassy: 27 Boulevard du Regent, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: APO AE 09724, PSC 82, Box 002, Brussels
telephone : [32] (2) 508-2111
FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725

Flag description: three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the design was based on the flag of France

Economy

Economy - overview: This highly developed private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north, although the government is encouraging reinvestment in the southern region of Walloon. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. Two-thirds of its trade is with other EU countries. The economy grew at a strong 4% annual pace during the period 1988-90, slowed to 1% in 1991-92, dropped by 1.5% in 1993, recovered with moderate 2.3% growth in 1994 and 1995, and fell off again to 1.4% in 1996, with continued substantial unemployment. Belgium's public debt has risen to 140% of GDP, and the government is trying to control its expenditures to bring the figure more into line with other industrialized countries.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $259.2 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 4.1% (2000 est.) GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $25,300 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.4% br>industry: 26%
services : 72.6% (2000 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 2.2% (2000 est.)

Labor force:
total: 4.34 million (1999)
by occupation: services 73%, industry 25%, agriculture 2% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: 8.4% (2000 est.)

Budget:
revenues : $114.8 billion
expenditures: $117 billion, including capital expenditures of $7.6 billion (1999)

Industries: engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum, coal

Industrial production growth rate: 5.5% (2000 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 13.59 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 79.829 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 75.089 billion kWh (1999)

Agriculture - products: sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk

Exports:
total value:$181.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000) Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU)
commodities: iron and steel, transportation equipment, tractors, diamonds, petroleum products
partners : EU 76% (Germany 18%, France 18%, Netherlands 12%, UK 10%) (1999)

Imports:
total value: $166 billion (c.i.f., 2000)
commodities: fuels, grains, chemicals, foodstuffs
partners:EU 71% (Germany 18%, Netherlands 17%, France 14%, UK 9%) (1999)

Debt - external: $28.3 billion (1999 est.)

Economic aid:
donor:ODA, $764 million (1997)

Currency: 1 Belgian franc (BF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Belgian francs (BF) per US$1 - 33.067 (January 1997), 30.962 (1996), 29.480 (1995), 33.456 (1994), 34.597 (1993), 32.150 (1992)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones: 4.769 million (1997)

Telephone system: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities
domestic: nationwide cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network
international : 5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Eutelsat

Radio broadcast stations:FM 79, AM 7, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: 8.075 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 25 (plus 10 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 4.72 million (1997)

Transportation

Railways:
total: 13,472 km
standard gauge : 13,472 km 1.435-m gauge (2,517 km electrified; 2,563 km double-tracked) (2001)

Highways:
total: 145,774 km
paved: 116,182 km (including 1,674 km of expressways
unpaved: 29,592 km (1999)

Waterways: 2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use)

Pipelines: crude oil 161 km; petroleum products 1,167 km; natural gas 3,300 km

Ports and harbors: Antwerp (one of the world's busiest ports), Brugge, Gent, Hasselt, Liege, Mons, Namur, Oostende, Zeebrugge

Merchant marine:
total: 21 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 32,912 GRT/53,161 DWT
ships by type: cargo 6, chemical tanker 9, petroleum tanker 6 (2000 est.)

Airports: 42 (2000 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 24
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m : 6 (2000 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under:914 m: 16 (2000 est.)

Heliports: 1 (2000 est.)

Military

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie

Military manpower - military age: 19 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49 : 2,517,596 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 2,079,624 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males : 63,247 (2001 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $2.5 billion (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.2% (FY99)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

Illicit drugs: source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe