Form of Government: Federal constitutional monarchy
Area: 30 528 sq km
Population: 11 322 088 inhab. (estimate 2017)
Density: 370.88 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 51° - 50° N; long. 3° - 6° E
Capital: Brussels=Bruxelles/Brussel (capital) 176 545 inhab. (2017); Brussels 1 997 349 inhab. (2015), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.896 (rank: 22)
Sovereign: King Philippe, since 21 July 2013
Prime Minister: Charles Michel (MR), since 11 October 2014
House of Representatives: seats on the basis of the elections of 25 May 2014: N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), 33; PS (Socialist Party, Walloon), 23; MR (Reformist Movement, liberal, Walloon), 20; CD&V (Flemish Christian Democrats), 18; Open VLD (Liberal Democratic Party, Flemish), 14; SP.A (Social Progressives, Flemish), 13; CDH (Humanist Democratic Centre, Walloon), 9; Ecolo (Ecologists, Walloon), 6; Groen! (Ecologists, Flemish) 6; others, 8
Internet: //statbel.fgov.be (Statistics Belgium)
Member of Benelux, Council of Europe, EBRD, EU, NATO, OAS observer, OECD, OSCE, UN, WTO

Belgium

Belgique, België, Belgien, Royaume de Belgique, Koninkrijk België, Königreich Belgien
Useful information

International license plate code B
International dialling code 0032
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 230
Driving side rigth
Internet code .be

GMT  +1
DST  +2
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October

Annual average temperature (°C) Bruxelles 10
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Bruxelles 1.5/17.5
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Bruxelles 7/1
Annual average precipitation (mm) Bruxelles 785
Days of rainfall (annual average) Bruxelles 224

Politics and current affairs

On 22 January 2018, the government, led by Charles Michel (MR), lowered its national threat level, which had been raised following terrorist attacks in recent years. However, on 29 May 2018, in Liège, a man stabbed two policemen and used their gun to kill a civilian, which Europol declared to be a terrorist attack. Security forces were criticized, given that the perpetrator was known for being radicalized during his time in prison and was freed just a few hours before the attack.

Geography.
Belgium is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, by Germany and Luxembourg to the east and by France to the south-west. It lies on the North Sea to the north. The coast is low and fringed by a series of sand dunes. Inland the country is flat or slightly hilly (Brabant and Limburg), reaching as far as the valleys of the River Sambre and River Meuse. Following long negotiations, on 28 November 2016, Belgium and the Netherlands signed a treaty that slightly redefined the borders between the two countries which traces the course of the Meuse River.
The south-eastern part of the country comprises the hilly areas of the Ardennes. The main rivers are the River Scheldt and the River Meuse. The climate is Atlantic.

Government


According to the much-modified Constitution of 7 February 1831, Belgium is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, in which the government is responsible before parliament.
The institutions were modified on 14 July 1993 with the transformation of the country into a federal state, made up of three regions (the Flemish region, the Walloon region and the capital, Brussels) and of three communities (French, Flemish and German, the latter being joined administratively to the Walloon region), all possessing their own administrative and executive bodies. The repercussions of tensions between the Walloon and Flemish communities reflect on the country’s political stability.
The Federal Parliament is made up of the House of Representatives (150 members, elected by direct suffrage for four years on a federal level) and the Senate (60 members in office for four years, 50 of whom elected by the regions and linguistic communities and 10 co-opted from those elected); such a system ensures that the senators are distributed in proportion to the three communities (35 Flemish-speaking, 24 French-speaking, 1 German-speaking). The next federal elections will take place in 2019, the same day as the regional and European vote.
The Muslim Executive of Belgium was established in 1999, playing a consultative role towards the government.


Defence.
Defence is based on four main commands: the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Police Force. Military personnel are all professionals.


Justice.
The legal system is of the continental European type. The law courts may proceed against Belgian residents (including foreigners) for war crimes and crimes against humanity wherever they may have been committed.
Euthanasia – limited by stringent regulations – was authorized in 2002. The validity of marriage between homosexual couples was recognized in 2003. Homosexual couples have also been able to adopt since 2006.

Defence
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Air force19.5%2015
Army36.7%2015
Justice
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Crimes9 729.8per 100 000 pop.2012
Homicides1.9per 100 000 pop.2015
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Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Cities
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Antwerp=Antwerpen/Anvers520 504inhab.2017
Ghent=Gent/Gand259 083inhab.2017
Urban agglomerations
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Brussels1 997 349inhab.2015
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Population

Population by age and gender (% - 2017)
75+
60-74
45-59
30-44
15-29
0-14
MALEAGEFEMALE

Urbanized areas and population density are particularly high.

Demographic statistics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Birth rate10.72016
Death rate9.62016
Foreigners
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Foreigners, total1 327 776units2017
French164 410units2017
Ethnic groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Belgian88.3%2017
other3.5%2017


Religions
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Catholic60%2010
nonreligious/atheist31%2010


Languages
DESCRIPTION
Dutch (Flemish) (official)
French (official)
Population by selected age groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
0-14 years17.2%2017
15-29 years17.8%2017


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Economy


Economic situation.
Economic growth is predicted to remain stable in 2018 at around the levels reached in 2017 (1.7%). Unemployment should drop to 6%, while the signing of a new collective work contract should favour an uptick in incomes, and, as a result, internal consumption. Private and public investments in the building sector and in defense and infrastructure nevertheless remain fundamental.

Economy - General data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)101.08index2016
Balance of trade26 429M US$2017
Economy - Employment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Active population4 991 500units2017
Active population, Females46.2%2017
Economy - Unemployment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Unemployment rate7.1%2017
Unemployment rate, Females46%2017
Economy - State budget
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expenses116 928.3M LCU2017
Revenues111 233M LCU2017
Employment by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture1.2%2017
industry20.7%2017
GDP by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture0.7%2017
industry22.1%2017
Financial data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Currency in circulation39.3BN LCU2017
International reserves26 151.4M US$2017
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Agriculture


Primary sector

Agriculture in Belgium boasts particularly good yields thanks above all to intensive cultivation techniques. The main crops are cereals, potatoes, sugar-beet and early greenhouse-grown vegetables and fruits. Livestock farming mainly concerns cattle for beef and milk, pigs and poultry. The rearing of large draught horses is traditionally undertaken in Brabant. Fish is of little importance.

Land use
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
arable land28.14%2015
forests22.57%2015
Agriculture - products - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley345.5591000 t2016
cereals, total2 287.7741000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes3 402.7871000 t2016
roots and tubers, total3 402.7871000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
asparagus4.7371000 t2016
cabbages108.8951000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry0.5411000 t2016
beans, green110.9251000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grapes2.2541000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
rapeseed39.4521000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0.3271000 t2016
sugar beet4 021.111000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Flax
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
flax fibre and tow87.1621000 t2016
linseed91000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples238.2441000 t2016
cherries5.6471000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts0.3951000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Others
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
mushrooms29.451000 t2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley55.4041000 ha2016
maize52.0761000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes89.1641000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cabbages3.4411000 ha2016
carrots and turnips5.851000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry0.1251000 ha2016
beans, green91000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grape0.2361000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
rapeseed11.4551000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0.1741000 ha2016
sugar beet55.5041000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Flax
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
flax fibre and tow15.0951000 ha2016
linseed141000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples6.4911000 ha2016
cherries1.3231000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts0.1771000 ha2016
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Forests-Livestock-Fishing

Forestry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
timber5 412 1402016
Livestock - Cattle
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cattle2 501.3491000 heads2016
cattle and buffaloes2 501.3491000 heads2016
Livestock - Pigs
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
pigs6 176.5761000 heads2016
Livestock - Sheep
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
sheep107.321000 heads2016
Livestock - Goats
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
goats40.361000 heads2016
Livestock - Equines
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
asses0.0021000 heads2016
asses and mules0.0021000 heads2016
Livestock - Poultry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
birds36 9451000 heads2016
Livestock - Beekeeping
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
honey2.651000 t2013
Livestock - Livestock products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
butter30.0661000 t2014
cheese76.531000 t2014
Fishing
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
crustaceans and molluscs4 285t2016
freshwater fishes221t2016
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Minerals


Secondary sector
Minerals.
Belgium has steadily abandoned the mining of coal since it has increasingly become less economically viable. The coal deposits in the Walloon region have been closed for more than two decades.
Energy and industry.
69% of the energy requirement is met by imported energy, oil and natural gas in particular. Gas pipelines from the United Kingdom and Norway converge near Zeebrugge, one of the main energy hubs for north-western Europe. Four refineries are located in Antwerp, connected to the Netherlands by the RAPL pipeline. Nuclear energy is sizeable: the country has two power plants with seven active reactors that supply approximately 20% of the need, but which should be shut down by 2022-2025.
Industry is highly diversified. The electro-technical, electronic, and telecommunications sectors are relevant. The steel industry and metal working (in the Walloon region) are still important, despite having to rely on other countries for the supply of ore (lead, tin, zinc). Oil refineries are concentrated around Antwerp.
The chemical industry produces ammonia, synthetic rubber, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, nitrogenous fertilizers, pharmaceutical products, dyes and polymers.
In the mechanical sector, the car industry is concentrated around Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent and the aerospace industry is based in Brussels, Charleroi and Liege. There is an important weapons industry in Herstal. The glass crystal factories of Val Saint-Lambert are the most renowned sectors of the glass industry, and there are glass factories at Gompel, Jumet, Gilly, Houdeng, Zeebrugge, Moustier, Jumet and Auvelais (mirrors), as well as at Merksem, Jumet and Donk.
Diamond-cutting is important in Antwerp. The textile industry is steadily decreasing in size. Textiles are linked with the clothing industry, developed by way of traditional, high-quality products in Brussels and especially in Flanders. The paper industry is centred on the area between Dyle and the Senne. Turnhout specializes in playing cards, religious publications and wallpaper. The food-processing industry is not as important as elsewhere with the exception of the saccharine industry with refineries in Brabant (Tienen), in Hainaut, in Liège, Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp.

Mineral resources - Non-metal ores
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barite0.031000 t2011
Mineral resources - Rocks
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
kaolin3001000 t2013
Mineral resources - Other minerals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
arsenic11000 t2017
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Energy

Electric energy - Generated
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- thermal25 636.62M kWh2015
- nuclear24 825M kWh2015
Electric energy - Installed capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- thermal7 3691000 kW2015
- other renew.6 4421000 kW2015
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
total net generation66 073.62M kWh2015
total installed capacity21 1461000 kW2015
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Industry

Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
aluminium0.11000 t2011
bismuth0.51000 t2011
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bikes82 432no.2015
cars336 000no.2017
Industry - Electrical and electronics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
air conditioners346 700no.2007
computers2 747 999no.2015
Industry - Petrochemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bitumen1 0951000 t2015
petrol7 051.11000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
ammonia8601000 t2016
artificial and synthetic tow236.11000 t2015
Industry - Textiles
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
carpets277 280.21000 m²2015
cotton fabrics20.3M m²2015
Industry - Clothing and footwear
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
footwear153 100pairs2007
Industry - Food and beverages
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beer of barley1 8001000 t2014
coffee71.61000 t2007
Industry - Tobacco
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cigarettes14 713M units1999
tobacco8 920.7t2015
Industry - Paper and wood products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemical pulp271.3421000 t2016
chemi-mechanical pulp500.0011000 t2016
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cement6 3001000 t2015
Industry - Various
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemicals production18 693.3M US$2014
food, beverages and tobacco production10 414.5M US$2014
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Trade


Tertiary sector.
The services sector is worth more than 75% of the country’s GDP.
Foreign trade.
Two-thirds of business is carried out with EU countries. Belgium imports oil, chemical products, industrial raw materials, wheat and foods.


Main exports (M US$ - 2017)
medicinal and pharmaceutical products 43 179, chemicals 40 075, cars 33 088, machinery 30 383, plastics 29 654, petroleum products 26 589, iron and steel 22 559, vehicles and parts thereof 16 540, diamonds 15 262, optical and electro-medical appliances 14 641, electric and electronic equipment 14 537, apparel and accessories 8 590, footwear 6 591, natural gas 6 495, fruit and vegetables 5 463, rubber 4 672, paper and paperboard 4 484, fruit & vegetable juices and preserves 4 030, dyes and paints 3 881, meat 3 870, baked food products 3 825, cocoa preparations 3 810, beer and beverages 3 699, cheese and dairy products 3 654, soap and detergents 3 472, aluminium 3 101


Finance and banking.
Restrictions on bank secrecy were reduced in 2009. The Brussels Stock Exchange is part of the Euronext Group, along with Amsterdam, Lisbon and Paris.

Composition of goods exports
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
manufactures76.661% of goods exports2016
food products10.137% of goods exports2016
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Germany71 403M US$2017
France64 007M US$2017
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Netherlands69 905M US$2017
Germany56 265M US$2017
Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2017429 528.094M US$ -
2016398 033.491M US$ -
Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2017403 098.989M US$ -
2016372 637.220M US$ -
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Tourism


Tourism.
The most popular destinations are the country’s heritage cities, the coast and the Ardennes region.

International Tourism
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expenditures21 575M US$2016
Number of arrivals7 481 000units2016
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Communications


Transport.
As well as the maritime ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, Belgium also has a significant inland navigation system that connects the country to the River Seine and the River Rhine basins and to the port of Rotterdam.

Communication - Transport
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Civil aviation, km flown125 300 000km flown2004
Civil aviation, passengers carried13 676.81000 units2017
Communication - Media and telecommunication
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Broadband subscribers383.134per 1000 pop.2017
Computers417.1per 1000 pop.2006
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Social and welfare


Education and research.

The school system is under the jurisdiction of the Flemish and Walloon federal communities. Full-time education is compulsory from the ages of 6 to 16 and, on a part-time basis, until 18 years of age.


Social security and health.
The public social security and healthcare system provides cover for illness, accidents at work and unemployment. The pension system is financed by contributions from workers and employers.

Social statistics - Education
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expected years of schooling19.8years2015
Gradautes, percentage37.5%2016
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Teachers, primary level69 681units2015
Teachers, secondary level129 222units2015
Social statistics - Social protection
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Social protection spending36.1% of total expenses2014
Social protection spending30.3% of GDP2015
Social statistics - Health
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Hospital beds5.7per 1000 pop.2017
Physicians3.1per 1000 pop.2016
Social statistics - Diseases
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
HIV0.3% of adults2011
HIV, total0.08%2001
Research
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Research and development spending2.49% of GDP2016
Other social indicators
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2016
Access to electricity100%2016
Household consumption expenditure
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
clothing, footwear4.3%2016
education0.4%2016
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