A Map of Belgium


Background: Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has 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.
Location: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands Area: Total: 30,510 sq km land: 30,230 sq km water: 280 sq km Area - comparative: About the size of Maryland Land boundaries: Total: 1,385 km border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km Coastline: 66 km
Climate and Terrain: 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: Coal, natural gas
People: Population: 10,274,595. Ethnic groups: Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%. Religions: Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%. Languages: Dutch 60%, French 40%, German less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French.). Government type: Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch.
Government: Capital: Brussels. Independence: 4 October 1830 a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands.
Economy overview: This modern private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. About three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Belgium's public debt is expected to fall to about 100% of GDP in 2002, and the government has succeeded in balancing its budget. Belgium, together with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating euro currency in January 2002. GDP - composition by sector: Agriculture: 1.4% industry: 24% services: 74.6%.
Statistics: Telephones - main lines in use: 4.769 million. Telephones - mobile cellular: 974,494. Radio broadcast stations: FM 79, AM 7. Radios: 8.075 million. Television broadcast stations: 25. Televisions: 4.72 million. Internet users: 2.807 million. Railways: Total: 3,422 km. Highways: Total: 145,774 km paved: 116,182 km, unpaved: 29,592 km. Airports: 42. Airports - with paved runways: 24, with unpaved runways: 18.

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