Your comprehensive travel guide to Belgium - All in one place!
Belgium may be a small country in Western Europe, but it packs a lot of history within its borders: knights who went on crusades, the place where Napoleon met his Waterloo and which felt the effects of World War I and II. Because it’s so small, visitors can get to almost any of the tourist attractions in Belgium with three or four hours of train travel. Belgium is also the place that gave the world Belgian waffles.
Belgium is situated between France and the plains of northern Europe, and it borders the North Sea. Because of its geographic position as a crossroads of Europe, Belgium has been a major commercial center since the Middle Ages. The North Sea has been the country’s outlet for trade with the rest of the world. Belgium’s geographic location has also given it strategic importance, and many battles have been fought for control of the area. Belgium became an independent country in 1830. Belgium is divided into three regions—Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels. In Flanders, which consists of the provinces to the north and west of Brussels, most of the people speak Dutch (Flemish) and are known as Flemings.
In Wallonia, the provinces south and east of Brussels, most of the people speak French and are known as Walloons. The population of the Brussels region comes from both language groups. Each region has a great deal of autonomy, but friction between Flemings and Walloons continues to the present day.
Any attempt at a general overview of Belgian culture will fall short of the reality, due to the division of the little country into three linguistic groups and the cultural influxes seeping across its borders from the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Luxembourg. Within the three regions of Wallonia, Flanders, and Brussels-Capital, individual cultures flourish, each with their own traditions, folklore, gastronomy, and priorities.
Belgium’s incredibly rich artistic tradition extends from its artworks to its architecture, music, literature, and traditionally authentic folkloric festivals, with all forming a strong part of the people’s cultural awareness in the present day. Museum and art gallery visits are very popular, and the many medieval old towns are a great source of pride.
The Western European country of Belgium hosts a population of around 11,570,762 individuals. 75% of the population is represented by ethnic Belgians. The country has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. Although Dutch (60%) and French (40%) are spoken by large sections of the population, German is spoken by only 1% of the population. Christianity is the religion of the majority in Belgium. About 50% of the population adheres to Roman Catholicism. A large section of the country’s residents (32.6%) do not believe in any religion.