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Where is Antwerp, Belgium??
(see map
below - click to enlarge)

Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/be.html


 

   Introduction
Background:
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy. Its capital, Brussels, is home to the numerous international organizations including the EU end NATO.
   Geography
Location:
Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Geographic coordinates:
50 50 N, 4 00 E
Area:
total: 30,528 sq km - land: 30,278 sq km - water: 250 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,385 km
border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km
Coastline:
66.5 km
Climate:
temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Terrain:
flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: North Sea 0 m
highest point: Signal de Botrange 694 m
Natural resources:
construction materials, silica sand, carbonates
Geography - note:
crossroads of Western Europe; majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO
   People
Population:
10,444,268 (July 2013 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.78 years
male: 76.62 years
female: 83.08 years (2013 est.)
Ethnic groups:
Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
Religions:
Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%
Languages:
Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
   Government
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
local long form: Koninkrijk België / Royaume de Belgique
conventional short form:
Belgium
local short form: België / Belgique
Government type:
federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch
Capital:
Brussels
Administrative divisions:
10 provinces (Dutch: provincies, singular - provincie; French: provinces, singular - province) [Antwerpen - Limburg - Oost Vlaanderen - Vlaams Brabant - West Vlaanderen - Brabant Wallon - Hainaut - Liège - Luxembourg - Namur] and 3 regions (Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest; French: regions - singular - region); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form) or Bruxelles-Capital (French short form); Flemish Region (flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form) or Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form) or Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form) or Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form) or Wallonie (Dutch short form).

note:
as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities
Independence:
4 October 1830 a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands; 21 July 1831 the ascension of King Leopold I to the throne
National holiday:
21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I
Constitution:
Drafted 25 November 1830; approved by a Belgium National Congress 7 February 1831; entered into force 26 July 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create a federal state; in 1967 an official Dutch version of the constitution was adopted; in 1991 an official German version of the constitution was adopted; in 1993 an official consolidated version of the constitution was adopted
Legal system:
civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note - Belgian law continuous to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts; International law organization participation: accepts compulsory ICCT jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: King Philippe (since 21 July 2013), previously King Albert II (9 August 1993 - 21 July 2013 abdication); Heir Apparent Princess Elisabeth, daughter of the monarch head of government: Prime Minister Elio DI RUPO (since 6 December 2011); Deputy Prime Minister Alexander DE CROO (since 22 October 2012); Joelle MILQUET (since 20 March 2008); Laurette ONKELINX (since 30 December 2008); Didier REYNDERS (since 30 December 2008); Pieter DE CREM (since 5 March 2013)
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members are directly elected by popular vote, 31 are indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held on 13 June 2010 (next to be held no later than June 2014)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - SP.A 9.5%, MR 9.3%, Open VLD 8.2%, VB 7.6%, Ecolo 5.5%, CDH 5.1% Groen! 3.9%, other 7.7%; seats by party - N-VA 9, PS 7, CD&V 4, SP.A 4, MR 4, Open VLD 4, VB 3, Ecolo 2, CDH 2, Groen! 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - N-VA 17.4%, PS 13.7%, CD&V 10.9%, MR 9.3%, SP.A 9.2%, Open VLD 8.6%, VB 7.8%, CDH 5.5%, Ecolo 4.8%, Groen! 4.4%, List Dedecker 2.3%, the Popular Party 1.3%, other 4.8%; seats by party - N-VA 27, PS 26, CD&V 17, MR 18, sp.a 13, Open VLD 13, VB 12, CDH 9, Ecolo 8, Groen! 5, List Dedecker 1, the Popular Party 1

note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments each with its own legislative assembly
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court (12 judges, 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speking, appointed by the King); Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the Government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)
Political parties and their president:

Flemish parties: Christian Democratic and Flemish or CD&V [Wouter BEKE]; Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Gwendolyn RUTTEN]; Groen! [Wouter VAN BESIEN] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); Libertarian, Direct, Democratic or LDD (formerly Dedecker's List) [Jean-Marie DEDECKER]; New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Bruno TOBBACK]; Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Gerolf ANNEMANS]

Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Olivier DELEUZE, Emily HOYOS]; Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Benoit LUTGEN]; Popular Party or PP [ Mischael MODRIKAMEN]; Reform Movement or MR [Charles MICHEL]; Socialist Party or PS [Paul MAGNETTE]; other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Federation of Belgian Industries; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the vertical design was based on the flag of France; the colors are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant  (yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field)
National anthem:
"La Brabanconne" (the song of Brabant) - lyrics/music: Louis-Alexandre DECHET (French) and Victor CEULEMANS (Dutch) / Francois VAN CAMPENHOUT note: adopted 1830. Louis-Alexandre DECHET was an actor at the theater in which the revolution against the Netherlands began. According to the legend, he wrote the lyrics with a group of young people in a Brussels cafe
   Economy
Economy - overview:
This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populous region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries, and Belgium has benefited most from its proximity to Germany. In 2011 Belgian GDP grew by 1.8%, the unemployment rate decreased slightly to 7.2% from 8.3% the previous year, and the government reduced the budget deficit from a peak of 6% of GDP in 2009 to 4.2% in 2011 and 3.3% in 2012. Fourth quarter GDP growth in 2012 was at -0.1%, the third consecutive quarter of negative growth. This brought economic growth for the whole of 2012 to negative 0.2%. It also left Belgium on the brink of a possible recession at the end of 2012. However, at year's end, the government appeared close to meeting its 2012 budget deficit goal of 3% of GDP. Despite the relative improvement in Belgium's budget deficit, public debt hovers around 100% of GDP, a factor that has contributed to investor perceptions that the country is increasingly vulnerable to spillover from the euro-zone crisis. Belgian banks were severely affected by the international financial crisis in 2008 with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government, and the nationalization of the Belgian retail arm of a Franco-Belgian bank.
Unemployment rate:
7.6% (2012 est.)
Industries:
engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Currency:
euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
   Communications
Telephones - main lines in use:
4,631,400 (2011)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
12,541,000 (2011)
Telephone system:
general assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities
domestic: nationwide mobile-cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 32; landing point for a number of submarine cables that provide links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2007)
Internet country code:
.be
Internet hosts:
5,192,000 (2012)
Internet users:
8,113,000 (2009)
   Transportation
Railways:
total: 3,233 km
standard gauge: 3,233 km 1.435-m gauge (2,950 km electrified) (2008)
Roadways:
total: 154,012 km
paved: 120,514 km (including 1,756 km of expressways)
unpaved: 33,498 km (2010)
Waterways:
2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2012)
Pipelines:
gas 2,826km; oil 154 km; refined products 535 km (2010)
Ports and terminals:
Major seaports: Oostende, Zeebrugge
River ports: Antwerp, Gent, Brussels, Liège
Cargo ports (tonnage) : Antwerp (one of the world's busiest ports), Gent, Liège, Zeebrugge
Container ports (TEU) : Antwerp (8,664,243), Zeebrugge (2,207,257) (2011)
Merchant marine:
total: 87 ships
by type: bulk carrier 23, cargo 15, chemical tanker 5, container 4, liquefied gas 23, passenger 2, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 7

foreign-owned: 15 (Denmark 4, France 7, Russia 1, UK 2, US 1)

registered in other countries: 107 (Bahamas 6, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 3, France 7, Gibraltar 1, Greece 17, Hong Kong 26, Liberia 1, Luxembourg 11, Malta 7, Marshall Islands 1, Mozambique 2, North Korea 1, Panama 1, Portugal 8, Russia 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 7, Singapore 1, Vanuatu 1) (2010)

Airports:
43 (2012)
   Military
Military branches:
Belgian Armed Forces: Land Operations Command, Naval Operations Command, Air Operations Command (2012)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; conscription abolished in 1994 (2012)
Military manpower - availability:

males age 16-49: 2,359,232
females age 16-49: 2,291,689 (2010 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 1,934,957

females age 16-49
: 1,877,268 (2010 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:

male: 59,665

female
: 57,142 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:

1.3% of GDP (2005 est.)

   Transnational Issues
Illicit drugs:
growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; despite a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol, and tobacco; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy

Ziegelshiffer Joseph OP4K© 2014 Last updated March 05, 2014