Form of Government: Federal constitutional monarchy
Area: 30 689 sq km
Population: 11 507 163 inhab. (estimate 2021)
Density: 374.96 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 51° - 50° N; long. 3° - 6° E
Capital: Brussels=Bruxelles/Brussel (capital) 185 316 inhab. (2021); Brussels 2 041 000 inhab. (2020), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.931 (rank: 14)
Sovereign: King Philippe, since 21 July 2013
Prime Minister: Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), since 1 October 2020
House of Representatives: seats based on the elections of 26 May 2019: N-VA (New Flemish Alliance, centre-right), 24; Ecolo-Groen (Ecologists, Walloon-Flemish), 21; PS (Socialist Party, Walloon), 19; Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest, right-wing separatist), 18; MR (Reformist Movement, liberal, Walloon), 14; CD&V (Flemish Christian Democrats), 12; Open VLD (Liberal Democratic Party, Flemish), 12; Workers’ Party of Belgium (far-left, national party), 12;Vooruit (Socialist Party Differently, Flemish), 9; CDH (Humanist Democratic Centre, Walloon), 5; DéFI (liberal, Walloon), 2; independents, 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

Belgium had to deal with two new waves of COVID-19 (autumn 2020 and 2021), adopting restrictions and enforcing two lockdowns. There have been numerous protests by anti-vax and right wing extremists. After repeated death threats, the eminent virologist Marc Van Ranst was placed under protection. The vaccination drive got underway on 27 December 2020.

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).
In 2020, following the wave of global protests against racism, a reflection began on the colonial past in Congo and the role played by King Leopold II (1865-1909).


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
Homicides1.5per 100 000 pop.2018
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Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Cities
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Antwerp=Antwerpen/Anvers527 629inhab.2021
Ghent=Gent/Gand263 419inhab.2021
Urban agglomerations
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Brussels2 041 000inhab.2020
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Population

Population by age and gender (% - 2020)
75+
60-74
45-59
30-44
15-29
0-14
MALEAGEFEMALE
Demographic statistics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Birth rate9.92020
Death rate11.12020
Foreigners
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Foreigners, total1 426 651units2020
French170 324units2020
Ethnic groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Belgian87.6%2020
other5.3%2020


Religions
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Catholic57.1%2018
nonreligious/atheist29.3%2018


Languages
DESCRIPTION
Dutch (Flemish) (official)
French (official)
Population by selected age groups
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
0-14 years17.2%2020
15-29 years17.5%2020


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Economy


Economic situation.
After the negative 6.4% slump in GDP in 2020, caused by the restrictive measures adopted to cope with the pandemic and the global slowdown, the economy is expected to grow in 2021 (+4%).

Economy - General data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)101.08index2016
Agricultural prod. index (2014-16=100)101.71index2019
Economy - Employment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Active population5 085 000units2020
Active population, Females46.7%2020
Economy - Unemployment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Unemployment rate5.6%2020
Unemployment rate, Females45$%2020
Economy - State budget
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Expenses141 609.3M LCU2020
Revenues109 098.5M LCU2020
Employment by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture0.929%2020
industry20.41%2020
GDP by economic activity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
agriculture0.803%2020
industry21.442%2020
Financial data
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Currency in circulation49.549BN LCU2020
International reserves33 296.228M US$2020
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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 land28.864%2018
forests22.764%2018
Agriculture - products - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley401.061000 t2019
cereals, total2 814.391000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes4 027.621000 t2019
roots and tubers, total4 027.621000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
asparagus5.411000 t2019
cabbages135.781000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry0.5551000 t2018
beans, green95.351000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grapes2.8811000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
rapeseed33.431000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0.3771000 t2018
sugar beet5 071.851000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Flax
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
flax fibre and tow94$1000 t2019
linseed11$1000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples259.841000 t2019
blueberries0.81000 t2019
Agriculture - products - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
walnuts0.3641000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Others
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
mushrooms28$1000 t2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
barley46.761000 ha2019
maize48.641000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
potatoes98.191000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cabbages4.121000 ha2019
carrots and turnips5.631000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beans, dry0.121000 ha2018
beans, green9.341000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
grape0.381000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
rapeseed9.261000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hops0.21000 ha2019
sugar beet57.611000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Flax
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
flax fibre and tow14.831000 ha2019
linseed0.061000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fiber plants
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hemp tow waste0.11000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
apples5.811000 ha2019
blueberries0.171000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Nuts
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
hazelnuts0.011000 ha2019
walnuts0.11000 ha2019
Agriculture - areas harvested - Others
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
mushrooms0.011000 ha2019
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Forests-Livestock-Fishing

Forestry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
timber5 212 1402019
Livestock - Cattle
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cattle2 373.11000 heads2019
cattle and buffaloes2 373.11000 heads2019
Livestock - Pigs
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
pigs6 085.11000 heads2019
Livestock - Sheep
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
sheep86.6721000 heads2018
Livestock - Goats
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
goats90.4041000 heads2018
Livestock - Equines
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
asses0.0021000 heads2018
asses and mules0.0021000 heads2018
Livestock - Poultry
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
birds32 3271000 heads2018
Livestock - Livestock products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
butter83.531000 t2018
cheese153.3631000 t2018
Fishing
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
crustaceans and molluscs3 962t2019
freshwater fishes263t2019
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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.
Seven nuclear reactors are active in two power stations at Doel and Tihange (whose closures were already planned for 2022-25), which generate almost 40% of the national electricity. For the rest, the country remains dependent 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 (bidirectional) and Norway converge near Zeebrugge, one of the main energy hubs for north-western Europe, where a regasification terminal is also active, for which a new long-term agreement was signed in 2019 to import natural gas from Qatar. 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. At the Pfizer factory in Puurs, currently being expanded, 400 million doses of vaccines are produced each year, including the anti-COVID vaccine. 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
arsenic1$1000 t2020
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Energy

Electric energy - Generated
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- nuclear41 422M kWh2019
- thermal26 590.72M kWh2019
Electric energy - Installed capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
- other renew.9 3861000 kW2019
- thermal7 131.71000 kW2018
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
total net generation87 580.05M kWh2019
total installed capacity22 790.71000 kW2018
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Industry

Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
aluminium0.11000 t2011
bismuth0.51000 t2011
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bikes48 051no.2019
cars237 057no.2020
Industry - Electrical and electronics
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
air conditioners346 700no.2007
computers2 747 999no.2015
Industry - Petrochemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
bitumen3951000 t2017
petrol7 051.11000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
ammonia8701000 t2019
artificial and synthetic tow193.51000 t2020
Industry - Textiles
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
carpets195 091.71000 m²2020
cotton fabrics8.9M m²2020
Industry - Clothing and footwear
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
footwear153 100pairs2007
Industry - Food and beverages
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
beer of barley2 1001000 t2018
coconut oil2.4611000 t2018
Industry - Tobacco
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cigarettes14 713M units1999
tobacco5 188.2t2020
Industry - Paper and wood products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemical pulp279.491000 t2019
chemi-mechanical pulp515.011000 t2019
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
cement6 7371000 t2018
Industry - Various
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
chemicals production19 371.4M US$2018
food, beverages and tobacco production10 067.343M US$2018
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Trade


Tertiary sector.
The services sector is worth more than 75% of the country’s GDP. A considerable part of the added value of Brussels is generated by the presence of European institution, around which revolves 16.7% of the capital’s workforce.
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


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
manufactures76.292% of goods exports2019
food products9.834% of goods exports2019
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Germany49 655M US$2020
France39 511M US$2020
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Netherlands57 390M US$2020
Germany43 346M US$2020
Merchandise Export
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2020419 340M US$ -
2019446 944M US$ -
Merchandise Import
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
2020394 637M US$ -
2019427 708M 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
Expenditures20 964M US$2019
Number of arrivals9 343 000units2019
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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 carried14 279.21000 units2019
Communication - Media and telecommunication
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Broadband subscribers397.831per 1000 pop.2019
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 schooling19.561years2018
Gradautes, percentage40.67%2019
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Students, primary level821 236units2018
Students, secondary level1 179 334units2018
Social statistics - Social protection
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Social protection spending37.206% of total expenses2019
Social protection spending28.902% of GDP2019
Social statistics - Health
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Hospital beds5.58per 1000 pop.2019
Physicians3.13per 1000 pop.2018
Social statistics - Diseases
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
HIV0.3% of adults2011
HIV, total0.08%2001
Research
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Research and development spending2.89% of GDP2019
Other social indicators
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2019
Access to electricity100%2019
Household consumption expenditure
DESCRIPTIONVALUEUNITSYEAR
clothing, footwear4.7%2019
education0.4%2019
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