Form of Government: Federal constitutional monarchy
Area: 30 688 sq km
Population: 11 376 070 inhab. (estimate 2018)
Density: 370.70 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 51° - 50° N; long. 3° - 6° E
Capital: Brussels=Bruxelles/Brussel (capital) 179 277 inhab. (2018); Brussels 2 039 227 inhab. (2018), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.916 (rank: 17)
Sovereign: King Philippe, since 21 July 2013
Prime Minister: Charles Michel (MR), since 11 October 2014
House of Representatives: seats based on the elections of 26 May 2019: N-VA (New Flemish Alliance, centre-right), 25; PS (Socialist Party, Walloon), 20; Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest, right-wing separatist), 18; MR (Reformist Movement, liberal, Walloon), 14; Ecolo (Ecologists, Walloon), 13; CD&V (Flemish Christian Democrats), 12; Open VLD (Liberal Democratic Party, Flemish), 12; Workers’ Party of Belgium (far-left, national party), 12; sp.a (Socialist Party Differently, Flemish), 9; Groen! (Ecologists, Flemish) 8; CDH (Humanist Democratic Centre, Walloon), 5; DéFI (liberal, Walloon), 2
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 26 May 2019, Belgians voted in local, national and European elections. The vote resulted in the unexpected success of the Flemish separatist party, Vlaams Belang, which took 18 seats, becoming the second party in Flanders and the third in the nation. While Flanders shifted to the right, left-leaning parties won in Wallonia, like Groen (13 seats) and the Workers’ Party of Belgium (12 seats).
Despite still being the strongest, traditional parties lost some of their seats, like the New Flemish Alliance (25 seats) and the Socialist Party (20 seats). In a divided country and a fragmented Parliament, it is difficult to form a new government coalition. Prime Minister Charles Michel, who in the meantime was nominated President-elect of the European Council, has remained in his role in a caretaker capacity since December 2018.

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.
There are four main commands: Army, Navy, Air Force (4 billion euros were allocated to buy new F-35 fighter jets) and 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
Homicides2per 100 000 pop.2015
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Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Cities
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Antwerp=Antwerpen/Anvers523 248inhab.2018
Ghent=Gent/Gand260 341inhab.2018
Urban agglomerations
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Brussels2 039 227inhab.2018
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Population

Population by age and gender (% - 2018)
75+
60-74
45-59
30-44
15-29
0-14
MALEAGEFEMALE

Urbanized areas and population density are particularly high.

Demographic statistics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Birth rate10.52017
Death rate9.72017
Foreigners
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Foreigners, total1 357 556units2018
French165 486units2018
Ethnic groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Belgian88.1%2018
other3.6%2018


Religions
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Catholic60%2010
nonreligious/atheist31%2010


Languages
DESCRIPTION
Dutch (Flemish) (official)
French (official)
Population by selected age groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
0-14 years17.2%2018
15-29 years17.7%2018


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Economy


Economic situation.
Belgian has a small open economy, and so growth (1.4% in 2018) continues to feel the effects of the slowdown of economic partners, dropping to 1.2% in 2019-20. Belgium is also amongst the EU countries exposed to potential negative effects of Brexit. Unemployment should continue to drop to around 5%.

Economy - General data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)101.08index2016
Balance of trade16 608.4M US$2018
Economy - Employment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Active population5 055 900units2018
Active population, Females46.6%2018
Economy - Unemployment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Unemployment rate6%2018
Unemployment rate, Females43.5%2018
Economy - State budget
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expenses120 070.4M LCU2018
Revenues119 322M LCU2018
Employment by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture1%2018
industry21.1%2018
GDP by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture0.8%2018
industry22%2018
Financial data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Currency in circulation41.33BN LCU2018
International reserves26 856.8M US$2018
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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, poultry and pigs. The rearing of large draught horses is traditionally undertaken in Brabant.

Land use
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
arable land28.14%2015
forests22.57%2015
Agriculture - products - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley381.1281000 t2017
cereals, total2 764.3921000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes4 416.6651000 t2017
roots and tubers, total4 416.6651000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
asparagus4.8321000 t2017
cabbages145.241000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry0.5451000 t2017
beans, green123.1131000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grapes2.41000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
rapeseed46.091000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0.361000 t2017
sugar beet5 941.7831000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Flax
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
flax fibre and tow69.3411000 t2017
linseed7.7221000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples86.2361000 t2017
cherries4.31000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts0.391000 t2017
Agriculture - products - Others
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
mushrooms281000 t2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley45.2841000 ha2017
maize49.0051000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes92.8551000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cabbages3.9471000 ha2017
carrots and turnips5.651000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry0.121000 ha2017
beans, green9.531000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grape0.2511000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
rapeseed10.8191000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0.1921000 ha2017
sugar beet62.471000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Flax
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
flax fibre and tow15.9571000 ha2017
linseed11.61000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples6.1641000 ha2017
cherries1.4021000 ha2017
Agriculture - areas harvested - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts0.1761000 ha2017
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Forests-Livestock-Fishing

Forestry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
timber5 412 1402017
Livestock - Cattle
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cattle2 385.9881000 heads2017
cattle and buffaloes2 385.9881000 heads2017
Livestock - Pigs
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
pigs6 108.0771000 heads2017
Livestock - Sheep
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
sheep85.391000 heads2017
Livestock - Goats
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
goats641000 heads2017
Livestock - Equines
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
asses0.0021000 heads2017
asses and mules0.0021000 heads2017
Livestock - Poultry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
birds27 1901000 heads2017
Livestock - Beekeeping
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
honey2.651000 t2013
Livestock - Livestock products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
butter30.0661000 t2014
cheese76.531000 t2014
Fishing
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
crustaceans and molluscs4 404t2017
freshwater fishes252t2017
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Minerals


Secondary sector
Minerals.
The coal deposits in the Walloon region have been closed for more than two decades because they were no longer profitable.
Energy and industry.
The temporary shutdown in Autumn 2018 of six of the seven active nuclear reactors at the country’s two power stations (whose closures were already planned for 2022-25) raised the problem of Belgium’s dependence on energy imports. A power cable connected to the United Kingdom was activated in 2019. Investments in offshore wind power have increased. 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.
Industry is highly diversified. The electro-technical, electronic, and telecommunications sectors are relevant. Metal working (in the Walloon region) is still important, despite having to rely on other countries for the supply of ore (lead, tin, zinc). The steel industry is considerable. The chemical industry produces ammonia, synthetic rubber, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, nitrogenous fertilizers, pharmaceutical products, dyes and polymers.
In the mechanical sector, there are automotive and aerospace industries, and important weapons industries (Herstal). The crystal glass factories and the glassware factories are the most renowned sectors of the glass industry. 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 specializes in playing cards, religious publications and wallpapers. The food-processing industry is of lesser importance, with the exception of the sugar industry.

Mineral resources - Non-metal ores
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barite0.031000 t2011
Mineral resources - Rocks
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
kaolin3001000 t2013
Mineral resources - Other minerals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
arsenic11000 t2018
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Energy

Electric energy - Generated
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- nuclear41 430.45M kWh2016
- thermal23 442.66M kWh2016
Electric energy - Installed capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- thermal7 4271000 kW2016
- other renew.6 7891000 kW2016
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
total net generation79 831.11M kWh2016
total installed capacity21 5551000 kW2016
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Industry

Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
aluminium0.11000 t2011
bismuth0.51000 t2011
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bikes70 860no.2016
cars265 958no.2018
Industry - Electrical and electronics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
air conditioners346 700no.2007
computers2 747 999no.2015
Industry - Petrochemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bitumen1 2711000 t2016
petrol7 051.11000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
ammonia7551000 t2016
artificial and synthetic tow232.61000 t2017
Industry - Textiles
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
carpets206 4921000 m²2016
cotton fabrics16.9M m²2017
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
tobacco7 945.4t2017
Industry - Paper and wood products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemical pulp271.3421000 t2017
chemi-mechanical pulp500.0011000 t2017
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cement6 2551000 t2016
Industry - Various
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemicals production17 446.2M US$2016
food, beverages and tobacco production9 346.6M US$2016
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Trade


Tertiary sector.
The services sector is worth more than 75% of the country’s GDP. The Chinese company Alibaba launched a major logistical project to make the country an e-commerce hub.
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


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
manufactures76.485% of goods exports2018
food products9.663% of goods exports2018
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Germany82 906M US$2018
France67 372M US$2018
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Netherlands80 681M US$2018
Germany58 525M US$2018
Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2018466 724M US$ -
2017430 554M US$ -
Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2018450 116M US$ -
2017408 915M 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
Expenditures22 995M US$2017
Number of arrivals8 385 000units2017
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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 schooling19.7years2016
Gradautes, percentage40.3%2017
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Teachers, primary level70 530units2016
Teachers, secondary level130 790units2016
Social statistics - Social protection
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Social protection spending37% of total expenses2016
Social protection spending28.9% of GDP2018
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 spending2.58% of GDP2017
Other social indicators
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2016
Access to electricity100%2017
Household consumption expenditure
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
clothing, footwear4.2%2017
education0.4%2017
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