Belgium country profile26 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 22 May 2012
Belgium is a founder member of the European Union and a member of the euro zone. It is a hereditary Constitutional Monarchy and a Federal State. The country is divided into three main regions: Flanders, Walloon and Brussels, the capital city.
Belgium is a federal state divided into three regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south where the language is French, and Brussels, the bilingual capital, where French and Dutch share official status. There is also a small German-speaking minority of some 70 000 in the eastern part of the country.
Belgium’s landscape varies widely: 67 kilometres of seacoast and flat coastal plains along the North Sea, hills in the centre and the uplands forests of the Ardennes region in the southeast.
Brussels hosts several international organisations: most of the European institutions are located there as well as the NATO headquarters.
Independent since 1830, Belgium is a constitutional monarchy.The two houses of Parliament are the Chamber of Representatives, whose members are elected for a maximum period of four years, and the Senate or upper house, whose members are elected or co-opted. Given its political make-up, Belgium is generally run by coalition governments.Among the best known Belgians are Georges Rémi (Hergé), creator of Tintin, writers Georges Simenon and Hugo Claus, composer and singer Jacques Brel and cyclist Eddy Merckx. Painters like James Ensor, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte are the modern-day successors of Rubens and the other Flemish masters of yesteryear.
Belgium is famous for its chocolates, which are appreciated the world over. Its favourite dish is mussels and chips (French fries) which, according to legend, are a Belgian invention.
Official name: Kingdom of Belgium
Area (km2): 30 528
Population: 10.44 million (July 2012 est.)
National holiday: 21 July
Currency: Euro (€)
Date of joining: 01 January 1957
Head of state: King Albert II
Head of government: Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (since 6 December 2011)
GDP (millions €): 344 206 (2008); 339 721 (forecast for 2009)
GDP per capita in PPS: € 28 800 (2008); € 28 200 (forecast 2009)
Real growth rate of GDP: 2% (2011 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.7% (2011 est.); 8.3% (2010 est.)
National debt as % of GDP: 99.7% (2011 est.); 100.7% (2010 est.)
Inflation: 3.1% (2011 est.); 2.3% (2010 est.)
Public deficit/surplus as % of GDP: -4.2% (2011 est.)
Head of State: