Little Belgium plays a major role
internationally with both the EU and NATO headquarters
located in Brussels. But the nation is plagued by
contradictions between the Flemish and French-speaking
parts of the country. The threat of a division of land
makes the federal state difficult to control.
Brief profiles of Belgium, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Belgium is located in Western Europe and has
a coast of almost seven miles to the North Sea. On the
surface, it is about the same size as Småland. The
country consists of three distinct geographical areas,
from the coast via a small hilly plain landscape in the
middle parts to the wooded mountain area of the
Ardennes in the southeast.
Along the coast, which faces south-east England,
there are dunes and marshlands that have previously been
the seabed. Some land areas are below the current sea
level and are protected by embankments. Flooding is
common in low-lying parts of Flanders, the northern half
of the country (see further Political system). Inside
the coast, a fertile plateau landscape rises and in the
south-east reaches the Ardennes almost 700 meters above
One fifth of Belgium is covered by forest. The
deciduous forest that originally grew in large parts of
the country is now only found in the mountains, but even
there it has to a large extent given way to implanted
The rivers Schelde (Escaut in French) and Maas (Meuse)
flow through the country from France in the south to the
Netherlands in the north. At Schelde lies Antwerp,
Europe's second largest port, well protected close to
nine miles from the sea. There are also tributaries and
a large number of channels.
The proximity to the Atlantic characterizes the
climate, which is humid with cool summers and mild
winters. The abundant rainfall is evenly distributed
throughout the year. The Brussels region receives an
average of 850 millimeters of precipitation per year,
while the Ardennes can get up to 1,400 millimeters.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
30 528 km2 (2018)
Adjacent country (s)
The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France
Capital with number of inhabitants
Brussels 1.2 million (in the metropolitan region,
Other major cities
Antwerp (523,000 inv), Ghent (235,000), Charleroi
(213,000), Liège (203,000), Bruges (118,000), Namur
(102,000) (estimated 2018)
Botrange (694 m asl)
Schelde / Escaut, Meuse / Meuse
Average Precipitation / month
Brussels 94 mm (July), 53 mm (March)
Average / day
17.5 °C (July), 2 °C (Jan)
Violence in Liège
Belgium is shocked when a lone perpetrator kills four people, including an
infant. The perpetrator uses hand grenades and automatic weapons and then takes
his own life.
New government takes office
After 18 months of government crisis, the French-speaking socialist Elio Di
Rupo finally has a majority government. Six parties are part of the coalition,
which consists of Christian democrats, liberals and socialists from both
language groups. The two environmental parties that have previously participated
are not included. Elio Di Rupo becomes Belgium's first socialist prime minister
in almost four decades.
Breakthrough in government formation
The political parties that negotiate government formation manage to reach
agreement on a budget and after a few days there is a government program. The
budget settlement comes the day after Belgium's credit rating was lowered.
Reduced credit rating
The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's changes Belgium's credit rating
from AA + to AA, in the first reduction in 13 years.
Still deadlock on the government issue
After the two Liberal parties rejected Elio Di Rupo's budget proposal for
2012, he again asks to be released from his assignment. However, he is urged to
Settlement on decentralization
Eight parties conclude a deal to give the regions more power, a reform that
can help to form a new government. The Flemish nationalist party N-VA stands
outside the settlement.
The government crisis is getting worse
When Prime Minister Yves Leterme announces that he is resigning to start a
new job for the OECD in Paris, the situation becomes acute. The message gets
King Albert to return home early from a vacation trip. The next day, Socialist
leader Elio Di Rupo warns of collapse in government negotiations. But shortly
thereafter, he states that a breakthrough has been reached: the eight parties
now participating in the negotiations must have agreed on the distribution of
power between the language areas at the municipal level.
Veil prohibition comes into force
The ban on comprehensive clothing begins to apply (see April 2010).
Belgium becomes the second country in Europe with such a ban, after France where
it entered into force earlier in the year.
No compromise on government
The Flemish separatists say no to a governmental proposal from the
French-speaking socialists. This means that Belgium will be closer to a new
election. Governor Elio Di Rupo asks to leave, but King Albert does not agree.
Government assignment again to the socialist leader
The leader of the French-speaking socialists Elio Di Rupo is again
commissioned to form a government.
World record in time without government
When Belgium has been without government for 249 days, a record is reached
among the countries of the world. Protesters call for a "french fries
revolution" against politicians.
Protest against government failure
When Belgium has been without a regular government for 208 days, more than
30,000 people take part in a protest against politicians' conflicts and demand
that a government be formed.