Located on the
European mainland, Belgium often is short-shifted in discussions
of Europe. Following is an overview of Belgium for travelers.
of Belgium for Travelers
Belgium is located
on the coast of the North Sea between Holland, German and France.
The name comes from the Belgae, a celtic tribe.
geographic location places it at the crossroads of much of Europe,
particular in relation to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe.
As a result, the country has been heavily influenced by the powers
that be in Europe during certain periods of times. You can find
aspects of Romans, Celtics, Germanic, French and Spanish influences.
Ruled by various
European empires, the cities of Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp were
major commercial trading posts. They also produced some of the more
spectacular artists in Europe, including Eyck and Rubens.
In modern times,
the country is really three separate states with significant autonomy.
The country is divided up into Flemish, Walloon and a smaller Germanic
area. The Flemish are Dutch speaking while the Walloon are oriented
to French. The divisions between these areas are significant and
they have significant autonomy from the federal government. One
might argue they are countries unto themselves.
name of Belgium is the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is located
in Western Europe and covers approximately 12,566 square miles.
Brussels is the capital of the country and has a population of approximately
922,000 people. The second largest city is Antwerp with 452,000
The people of
Belgium are known as Belgians. Total population for the country
is 10.4 million with a paltry annual growth rate of less than one
half of one percent. The country is divided into three linguistic
regions, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. French is the dominant
language in Wallonia, Dutch in Flanders and German in the Brussels
area. Most people of Belgium claim Roman Catholic as their faith,
but Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Anglican communities exist. The
literacy rate is 95 percent.
Belgium is an
odd hodgepodge of influences. That being said, everyone seems to
get along in these modern times and Brussels is a major financial
center in the Europe.
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