Belgien

 

                     

 

Belgium

 

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Country

Identification

Kingdom of Belgium

Language(s)

French, Dutch, German

Dialects: Wallonish and Flemish

Religion(s)

Roman Catholic: 75 % , Protestant 17 %, Jews and Muslims 8 %

Political System

Federal Parliamentary Democracy under a constitutional monarch

Chief of the State: King Albert II

Currency

Euro

Geographical Information

Area: 30.510 sq km

Border countries: France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands,

Coast: 66 km

10 provinces and 3 regions (Walloonia, Brussels and Flanders)

Seat of the European Union and the NATO

From the coast till Brussels : flat plains (mainly agriculture)

In the south part of Walloonia: valleys, rolling hills and nice forests (Ardennes)

In the east part of Walloonia: valleys, hilly countryside with herd of cattle (cows) and agriculture and higher hills along the border to Germany

Climate: temperate, mild winters, mild summers, rainy, often cloudy

Typical Food and drinks

Beers in every variations. Spirits.

Pommes frites and mussels, chicory, Brussels sprouts, light meat dishes with sauces, large choice of vegetables, fish and shrimps dishes and large range of soups.

Ardennes ham and sausages.

Cheese specialities.

Chocolate and praline.

Verviers rice tart, sugar tart, fruits tarts and different cakes

Holidays and Festivals

21st of July - Ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I (1831)

Christmas - New Year - Roman Catholics Days (e.g. Easter)

History

Population: originally Celts and Germans till the Roman conquest in 57

In the 5th and 6th centuries the Francs invaded the country

Division in 2 parts ( Verdun Agreement - 843) then in a number of counties.

Through the years and till the foundation of the Kingdom of Belgium, the country belonged to Burgundy, France, the Habsburg family, Spain and the Netherlands.

Belgium became independent from the Netherlands on the 4th of October 1830.

Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg was the first king of the constitutional monarchy (1831). The actual King Albert II is the 7th King of Belgium.

Belgium tried to stay neutral during World Wars I and II but was occupied by Germany.

The tensions between the Dutch-speaking part (Flemings) and the French-speaking one (Walloons) have led to some amendments of the constitution and given these regions and Brussels new economical and cultural competence.

Belgium played an important role in the construction of the EU, was member of the Benelux, then of the CECA. Brussels is the seat of the EU and the capital of the NATO in Europe. Belgium belongs to the NATO since 1949.

Art and culture

Arts: Very famous old Flemish painters like Hugo van der Goes, Adam Frans Van der Meulen, Rogier de la Pasture, Antoine Van Dyck and Hubert Van Eyck

Modern arts: Constantin Meunier and George Minne (sculptures) , Félicien Rops, James Ensor, René Magritte and Paul Delvaux (painters),…

Architecture :Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde ( modern style)….

Literature: Charles de Coster, Camille Lemonier, Emile Vehaeren, Maurice Maeterlinck, Guido Gezelle, Henri Michaux, Maurice Carême, Jean Ray, Georges Simenon, Françoise Mallet-Joris, Amélie Nothomb,…

Movies: Henri Storck, André Delvaux, Jean-Jacques Andrien….

Singers: Jacques Brel, Annie Cordy, Salvator Adamo, Guy Harmel, Fabienne Coppens,..

Important comic industry

Dos and don´ts for visiting the country

It is sometime difficult to know in which language one should talk to somebody in Belgium but English is neutral. You might have problems if you speak French to a Flemish person.

Belgians enjoy jokes and eating well. If you go to a good restaurant, it would not be suitable to drink a coke (better ask for water if you do not want to drink any alcohol).

By private invitations the time you should arrive depend from the relation you have to the person. Don´t wear casual clothes if it is not specify before.

Hierarchy should be respected.

Politeness and good behaviour are expected.

Be aware that Flemish people are often more conservative ( and more religious) than the Walloons.

If you are in a bar with some Belgians and they order a "tournée" (a drink for each of you), you are expected to do the same in return, too.

Population and

% of foreign population /minorities

8,5 % (01.01.03) = 850.077 foreigners

187.021 Italian , 113.037 French, 96.643 Dutch, 127.671 African (1.2 %), 34.380 Asian (0.3 %),24.565 Americans and 891 Australian/New Zealand and Islands, etc…

Dutch, English, Turkish people mostly live in the Flemish part of the country. Italian, French, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French speaking North African people mostly live in the French part of Belgium, German at the border to Germany.

Asian people are everywhere.

Black Africans are mostly in big towns and mostly in Brussels.

Main Integration Problems

The language and the choice of the language (French or Dutch)

Mistrust of non-European or East European people

Criminality

Lack of education

Unemployment

Religion

Way of life of some foreign communities

 

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Latest update of this page: 2005-07-15 
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