the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, Belgium occupies 30,518
square kilometres and is home to 10.2 million people. Belgium is Europe
in a nutshell, multicultural and multilingual.
Flanders in the north, a flatland criss-crossed by canals, is proud of
its great art cities, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent. To the south in
Wallonia, you will find the rolling hills of the Ardennes, numerous
castles, and the cities of Liege, Namur, and Tournai.
Belgium is a small country (11,730 square
Miles, the size of Maryland) with a population of slightly less than 10
million. It has been a constitutional monarchy since 1830. There are
three languages (Dutch, French and German). However, English is widely
spoken. Many people think that "Flemish" is a separate and
independant language. It's not. Flemish is just another name for the
Dutch language, spoken with a "Belgian" accent. The three regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) have
self-government in many spheres. Belgium has retained its old-world
charm in the preservation of its ancient buildings and historical
Belgium's history has always been
linked to both commercial and cultural exchange, and much of its
character is due to its role as the great meeting place of western
Europe. While much of
the rest of Europe remained in the so-called Dark Ages, Flemish towns
experienced remarkable social and economic development from the 12th
through the first half of the 15th century. Present-day Belgium boasts
an extraordinary array of art and architectural treasures and other
attractions in a compact area.
With its flat, open
landscape and crossroads location, the country has been vulnerable for
centuries to invasion by vying European empire builders—Spain, France,
Austria, and Germany—and, for better and worse, has thus found itself at
the heart of European history. Traces
of the Austrians, Spanish, French and Dutch can still be seen in its
architecture and in the lifestyle of its people. The country was invaded
twice by Germany, once in 1914 and again in 1940. The constitution was
redrawn in 1980 on a federal basis. It recognized three separate
entities: the Flemish North, Walloon South and Brussels, which is
officially bilingual.Today, its capital city of
Brussels is one of the world's great
home to both the European Union and
NATO, as well as a wealth of
international trade and finance companies.It boasts Europe’s most
beautiful central square, the Grand Place.
Art treasures abound
in this small country. The museums bare witness to the great art of the
Belgians: painting. The
work of such artists as Van Eyck, Brueghel and Rubens are world famous.
The country is also renowned for such diverse activities as
chocolate and lace-making, beer and comic strips.
Herge, the creator of the well-known comic strip Tintin, was Belgian.
Belgium is also the country of food. Good to excellent restaurants are
The Lonely Planet Guide : " ...This country has
more history, art, food and architecture per square centimetre than many
of its bigger, louder neighbours ".
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