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Facts about Belgium for Kids


Belgium is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU’s headquarters, and those of several other major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium covers an area of 11,787 sq mi, and it has a population of about 11 million people.

  • Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups, the Dutch-speakers, mostly Flemish (about 60%), and the French-speakers, mostly Walloons (about 40%), plus a small group of German-speakers.
  • Belgium’s two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia.
  • The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region.
  • Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.
  • Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states.
  • From the 16th century until the Belgian Revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the battleground of Europe, a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.
  • The second half of the 20th century was marked by the rise of contrasts between the Flemish and the Francophones fuelled by differences of language and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia.
  • Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region.
  • Since the installation of Leopold I as king on 21 July 1831, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a laicist constitution based on the Napoleonic code.
  • Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957.
  • The latter is now the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament.
  • With the possible exception of the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers is composed of an equal number of Dutch-speaking members and French-speaking members.
  • 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.
  • The overlapping boundaries of the Regions and Communities have created two notable peculiarities: the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region is included in both the Flemish and French Communities, and the territory of the German-speaking Community lies wholly within the Walloon Region.
  • Its total area, including surface water area, is 30,528 square kilometers; land area alone is 30,278 km.
  • Because of its high population density, its location in the center of Western Europe and inadequate political effort, Belgium faces serious environmental problems.