Belgium lies in Western Europe and borders the North Sea as well as the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France. Belgium is a founding member of European Economic Community, today’s European Union (EU), whose main institution is based in its capital, Brussels. Together with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Kingdom of Belgium forms the association of the Benelux countries.
Apart from the mountains of the Ardennes in the south-east, Belgium is largely a flat country. Tthe tourism plays a major role in Belgium. The seaside resorts on the Belgian North Sea are particularly popular. The most important are Knokke-Heist, Bredene, De Panne, Nieuwpoort and Oostende. Hikers and nature lovers are drawn to the Ardennes, which are also a popular holiday region. From the Belgian North Sea coast you can take many day trips, including to the neighboring countries of France, the Netherlands or Great Britain. Also city tours to Brussels, Hasselt, Ghent, Antwerp are in high demand. However, the city of Bruges, which is nicknamed “Venice of the North”, is outstanding.
Tourism is very important for Belgium as an economic factor. Mostly Luxembourgers, Germans, Dutch and French, but also British visit the country, especially the capital Brussels. This is hardly surprising, because Brussels is an international city and a cultural center of Europe.
In addition, the seaside resorts on the North Sea coast are particularly popular with bathers. Knokke-Heist, Bredene and Oostende are the most frequently visited regions. The Ardennes are ideal for day trips, and the Belgians also like to come here for hiking. Nice bike rides, hiking tours or simply a long walk, this is particularly possible in the Ardennes in summer and spring.
Day trips to neighboring countries are also possible from the Belgian regions on the North Sea. Several excursion boats go to France, the Netherlands and Great Britain every day.
According to bridgat, Belgium has a generally mild, maritime climate with many gray and rainy days. That weather is often fickle.
Best travel time for Belgium
In the period between May and September (late spring to early autumn) it is not too humid and cold. These months should be chosen for travel, especially for hiking and outdoor activities in the Ardennes. The disadvantages of the high season include numerous visitors to the sights and, in some cases, a lack of accommodation. Both are particularly true of Bruges. It is quieter in Brussels from mid-July to mid-September, and hotels often lower their prices at this time. On weekends you get cheaper prices in hotels.
Winter from November to March is usually mild with gray, wet days and an occasional little snow. With the right clothes, it can make perfect sense to travel to Belgium during this time, as the museums and cafes are much quieter than in high season.
Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Ostend, Ghent and Leuven are very suitable for a weekend trip. These cities can be reached quickly by train, especially from western German cities. If you want to add another day to your weekend getaway, choose Friday, not Monday. Many museums are closed on Mondays and shops do not open until noon on Monday.
Most events and festivals in Belgium take place in summer.
Belgium key data
Area: 30,528 km² (of which land: 30,278 km², water: 250 km²)
Population: 10.4 million people (2011 estimate, CIA). Composition: Flemings 58%, Walloons 31%, others 11%.
Population density: 342 people per km²
Population growth: 0.071% per year (2011, CIA)
Capital: Brussels (148,900 residents, 2009)
Highest point: Signal de Botrange, 694 m
Lowest point: North Sea, 0 m
Form of government: Belgium declared itself part of the Netherlands on October 4, 1830 independent, this was internationally recognized on April 19, 1839. Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy since 1831. The constitution dates from the same year, last amended in 1993. The bicameral parliament consists of the House of Representatives with 150 members and the Senate with 71 members. The House of Representatives has the function of the national legislature, the Senate is responsible for issues between the Belgian regions. Since the constitutional amendment in 1993, Belgium has been a federal state with the three autonomous regions of Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels. All three regions have a government and parliament. In addition, a council has been set up for each Belgian community (Flemish, French and German), which is responsible for cultural and social issues. The federal government of Belgium is primarily responsible for tax, foreign and security policy. On April 18, 1951, Belgium was one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community, which formed the core of what would later become the European Union (EU).
Administrative division: 3 regions with 10 provinces
Brussels Capital Region
Flanders region with 5 provinces: Antwerp, Limburg, Oost-Vlaanderen, Vlaams-Brabant and West-Vlaanderen
R.egion Wallonia with 5 provinces: Brabant Wallon, Hainaut, Liege, Luxembourg and Namur
Head of State: King Albert II, since August 9, 1993
Head of Government: Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, since December 6, 2011
Language: there are three official languages in Belgium; Dutch (first language for 60%), French (40%) and German (less than 1%).
Religion: Roman Catholic 75%, Others (including Protestant) 25%
Local time: CET. Between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October there is summer time in Belgium (CET + 1 hour).
The time difference to Central Europe in both winter and summer 0 h.
International phone code: +32
Mains voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz