Belgium is a country in Western Europe with a common border with the Netherlands, Germany, France and Luxembourg. It is bordered to the northwest by the North Sea. In its longest axis, it covers some 290 kilometers northwest to southeast.
Belgium is abundantly endowed with rivers (the Yser, the Scheldt and the Meuse which originate in France and flow in the North Sea). The climate is mild, temperate and humid. Belgium belongs to the same time zone as France.
Official name: Kingdom of Belgium
Type of government: federal state – constitutional monarchy
Head of State: His Majesty King Philip I (since July 21, 2013)
Head of government: Charles Michel (MR – Francophone Liberal Party) since October 11, 2014
Area: 30,528 km2
Capital: Brussels (171,459 hab 1 August 2013; 1,119,088 for the Brussels Capital Region on 1 January 2011.)
Main cities: Antwerp (493,517 hab.), Ghent (247,486 hab.), Charleroi (203,464 hab.), Liège (194,715 hab.)
Official languages: Dutch, French, German
National Day: July 21
Population: 11,150,516 (1 January 2014)
Density: 367 people per km2
Population growth: 0.038% in 2013
Life expectancy (2012): 77.8 years for men and 83.1 years for women
Literacy rate: 99%
Religions: Roman Catholic (81%), Muslims (400,000 followers), Protestants (250,000 followers) and Jews (12,000 followers).
Human development index: 0.881; 21th rank (UNDP 2013 report)
(Sources: DGTPE, European Commission, UNDP, National Bank of Belgium)
GDP (2014): 401.9 billion euros
GDP per capita (2014): 35,998 euros
growth rate (2014): 1% (1.1% in 2015 – European Commission forecasts)
Unemployment rate (2014): 8.5%
Inflation rate (2014): 0.5%
Budget balance (2014): – 3.2% of P.I.B. (forecast 2015: -2.6%)
Debt (2014): 106.4% of GDP
Trade balance (2013): 12.8 billion euros
Main clients (2013): Germany (16.9%), France (15.6%), the Netherlands (12.3%), UK (7.5%), USA (5.1% ), Italy (4.4%)
Major suppliers (2013): Netherlands (20.5%), Germany (13.5%), France (10.6%), USA (7%), UK (5.3%), China (3.8%)
Share of main sectors in GDP:
Exports from France to Belgium (2014): 31.1 billion euros
French imports from Belgium (2014): 39.8 billion Euros
For more information www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr
Consulate General of France: Brussels
French Community in Belgium: 117 782 registered (December 2014)
Belgian community in France: 65,000 (estimate)
The name of Belgium comes from the Latin “Gallia Belgica” denominating the northern province of the Roman Gaul.
Until the founding of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830, the history of Belgium is linked to the ones of its neighbors.
Belgium was part of the Roman Empire.
Then, this region was where the first Frankish Kingdom was established with the city of Tournai as a capital. At the end of the fifth century, Clovis, King of Franks, moved his court to Paris.
Belgium then was part of Charlemagne’s empire. Starting at the tenth century, the region started to develop. Belgium is on the trade routes and has access to the see. Industry grows, in particular the wool imported from England.
The cities grow rapidly. The region of Belgium becomes rapidly the economic center of Europe.
But Belgium is also the place where the Latin and Germanic worlds meet or confront. The very dichotomy of the country, already split between Germanic Dutch and French speaking populations, extends to religions, dividing Catholics and Protestants.
The flat lands are ideal for battles. As of the 17th century, what will be Belgium becomes the “battlefield of Europe”.
From the end of the “Hundreds Years War”, Belgium and the current Netherlands have belonged, and changed hands, between the French Burgundy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg of Spain then the Habsburg of Austria.
In 1795, as a result of the Revolutionary Wars, the “Low Countries” become part of the first French Republic. After the fall of Napoleon, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands is founded.
Throughout the years a strong sentiment of what it meant to be from Belgium had emerged.
In 1830, the Belgian Revolution finally separated the Southern Provinces.
Leopold Ier, a German Price, became the first King of Belgium on June 4th 1831. Ever since, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy based on the Napoleonic civil code.
In these days of colonial expansion, Leopold II, son of the former, realized the importance for his Kingdom to own foreign lands. He managed to convince the other European nations to grant to himself the rights on what was going to become the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1885, he became the owner of a land 76 times the size of his country. At his death in 1908, the “Congo Belge” was transferred to the Kingdom of Belgium, until its independence in 1960.
In 1914, Germany, at war with France, enters Belgium. This violation of the neutrality of Belgium triggered the entry into war of the UK, warrant, with France of the freedom and independence of the Kingdom.
Between the two World Wars, the Flemish gained political power. Belgium started to take some distance with France.
In 1940, again, the German forces invaded Belgium to attack France.
After the liberation in 1945, King Leopold III was forces to abdicate, as being perceived a bit too close to the Nazis during the war. His son Baudoin Ier succeeded him. The current King is Philippe.
Belgium is a founding member of Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), the first example of Economic community of Europe.
Belgium is a member of NATO and one of the first nations to have joined the European Union.
Good to know
Belgium uses the Euro (€)
The Euro (€) is the currency of the Economic and Monetary Union, inside the European Union.
19 countries of the European Union have chosen Euro as their currency, thus creating the Eurozone.
Four European micro-states, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican City, are authorized to use Euro as well.
Two countries, non-members of Economic and Monetary Union, namely the Kosovo and the Montenegro, are also using it besides their national currencies.
The Euro has been circulated since January 1st 2002, replacing the national currencies of the member-countries.
The Euro is the second most used currency, behind the US Dollar, for the number of transactions.
The Euro is managed by the European Central Bank and the Eurosystem that comprises the 19 Central Banks of the member-countries.
Even if each member prints its own banknotes or mints its own coins, they are usable indiferently within the Eurozone.
Where to go?
How to settle there?
To do business
Personal income tax
Belgium applies a progressive rate.
|Taxable income (€)||Rate (%)|
|From 0 to 10,860||25|
|From 10861 to 12,470||30|
|From 12,471 to 20,780||40|
|From 20,871 to 38,080||45|
|Above de 38,080||50|
Corporate income tax
Belgium applies a rate of 33 % on the profit of the companies.
The standard rate 21 %.
The reduced rate of 12 % applies in particular to production means supporting the agricultural industry.
The super reduced rate of 6 % applies, in particular, to first necessity products.
Some activities, such as hospitalization, are not subject to VAT.
|Type||In service||On order|
|Sea King 48||2|