Overview of Belgium for Travelers by Richard Monk
Located on the European mainland,
Belgium often is short-shifted in discussions of Europe. Following is an
overview of Belgium for travelers.
An Overview of Belgium
Belgium is located on the
coast of the North Sea between Holland, German and France. The name comes
from the Belgae, a celtic tribe.
Belgium's 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
|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.
The official 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 residents.
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.
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