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between 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 traditions.

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 cosmopolitan cities, 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 everywhere.

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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