A small, densely populated country
Belgium has just over 10.5 million inhabitants, 1.5 million of whom are foreign nationals. The population continues to rise slowly and Belgium has one of the highest population densities in the world, with an average of 340 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Brussels – the capital of Europe
The European Commission and the EU’s Council of Ministers are both permanently located in Brussels. The European Council holds its summits there and the European Parliament meets there on a regular basis. Thanks to its high profile in the field of international relations, Brussels is no longer simply the capital of the federal state of Belgium but has also become the de facto capital of Europe as well as the home base of NATO. Together with Washington DC, Brussels has the highest number of diplomats and foreign press correspondents in the world.
Antwerp – the diamond centre of the world
Over half of the entire world’s trade in diamonds (rough or polished, industrial or gem quality) is conducted in Antwerp. The diamond trade, with all its exchanges and offices, is conducted in a specific area of the city covering approximately 2 square kilometres.
The word “spa” used worldwide to refer to an area for relaxation comes from the Belgian town of Spa, famous for its thermal waters.
Chocolate is a favourite gift for visitors to Belgium, a country which ‘invented’ praline, a filled chocolate morsel perfectly packaged in a ‘ballotin’ (small box). Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate each year and there are more than 2,000 chocolate shops throughout the country.
Belgium has more castles per square kilometre than any other country in the world.
Beer, beer and more beer
There are over 750 types of local beer brewed in Belgium.
Source: The Embassy of Belgium, the Belgian Tourist Office
15. Jun 2009 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff