Major Locations BrugesAntwerp Liege Namur Charleroi Brussels
History The name 'Belgium' is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that, before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan to attack France and much of the Western Front fighting of World War I occurred in western parts of the country. Belgium took over the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi (modern day Rwanda and Burundi) during the war, and they were mandated to Belgium in 1924 by the League of Nations. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority. The country was again invaded by Germany in 1940 and was occupied until its liberation by the Allies in 1944. After World War II, a general strike forced king Leopold III, who many viewed as collaborating with Germany during the war, to exile in 1951.
Population With a population of just over 10 million people, and a population density of 342 people per square kilometre, the country is extremely short on space. The largest city (and the capital city) is Brussels, with a count of 1,892,000, making it the primate city also. The next city is terms of size and population is Antwerp (961,000), directly north of Brussels. Along with the capital, it’s also a cultural and economic hub. After that come the cities of Charleroi and Namur in the southern regions.
Politics Politics in Belgium takes place in a framework of a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy. The current leader of Belgium is King Albert II, a constitutional monarch. Belgium’s politics is a complex affair; most political power is organised around the need to represent the main cultural communities. Since around 1970, the significant national Belgian political parties have split into distinct components that mainly represent the political and linguistic interests of these communities. The major parties in each community, though close to the political centre, belong to three main groups: Christian Democrats, Liberals and Social Democrats. Elio Di Rupo is the current prime minister, and head of the Socialist Party. Di Rupo describes himself as an "atheist, rationalist, and (irregular) Freemason.“ He is fluent in three languages: Italian, French and English. He is taking classes to improve his Dutch due to it being Belgium's most widely spoken language.
Demographics Age structure -0–14 years: 16.1% (male 857,373/female 822,303) - 15–64 years: 66.3% (male 3,480,072/female 3,419,721) -65 years and over: 17.6% (male 760,390/female 1,047,477) (2009 est.) - Almost all of the Belgian population is urban—97% in 2004. The population density of Belgium is 342 per square kilometre (886 per square mile). Brussels: the capital city with the largest population >
Economic Activity - With a GDP of €325 billion, Belgium is obviously a strongly globalised economy, with countless multinational corporations found in any of the highly industrial areas of Antwerp and the many high-tech modern companies found in many of Liége. - Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 19th century. Liège and Charleroi rapidly developed mining and steelmaking, which flourished until the mid-20th century in the Sambre and Meuse valley and made Belgium among one of the three most industrialized nations in the world from 1830 to 1910. However, by the 1840s the textile industry of Flanders was in severe crisis, and the region experienced famine from 1846 to 1850. - After World War II, Ghent and Antwerp experienced a rapid expansion of the chemical and petroleum industries. The 1973 and 1979 oil crises sent the economy into a recession; it was particularly prolonged in Wallonia, where the steel industry had become less competitive and experienced serious decline. In the 1980s and 1990s, the economic centre of the country continued to shift northwards and is now concentrated in the populous Flemish Diamond area.
More Economic Activity Despite its political and linguistic divisions, the region corresponding to today's Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had tremendous influence on European art and culture. Nowadays, to a certain extent, cultural life is concentrated within each language Community, and a variety of barriers have made a shared cultural sphere less pronounced. Since the 1970s, there are no bilingual universities or colleges in the country except the Royal Military Academy and the Antwerp Maritime Academy, no common media and no single large cultural or scientific organisation in which both main communities are represented.
Cuisine Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, waffles and french fries. Contrary to their name, french fries are claimed to have originated in Belgium, although their exact place of origin is uncertain. The national dishes are "steak and fries with salad", and "mussels with fries". Belgium is commonly known for its chocolate. Belgian chocolate is considered to be the gourmet standard by which all other chocolate confections are measured. Even the Swiss, known for their own high quality chocolate, imported the basic recipe from French and Belgian chocolatiers.