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Belgium: country overview

22 May 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 21 September 2021

Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. In recent years, political divisions between the Dutch-speaking Flemish of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy. The capital city of Brussels is home to numerous international organizations including the EU and NATO.


Belgian flag

Year of EU entry: Founding member (1952)

Member of Schengen area: Yes

Political system: Constitutional monarchy

Capital city: Brussels

Total area: 30,528 km²

Population: 11,258 million (2015)

Population as % of total EU: 2.2 % (2015)

Gross domestic product (GDP): € 409.407 billion (2015)

Official EU language(s): Dutch, French and German

Political system: federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

EU member country since: 1 January 1958

Seats in the European Parliament: 21

Currency: Euro. Member of the eurozone since 1 January 1999

Schengen area member?: Yes, Schengen Area member since 26 March 1995.

Belgium map

Political System

Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy in which the king is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government in a multi-party system. Decision-making powers are not centralised, but divided between 3 levels of government: the federal government, 3 language-based communities (Flemish, French and German-speaking) and 3 regions (Flanders, Brussels Capital and Wallonia). Legally they all are equal, but have powers and responsibilities for different fields. Brussels is, together with Luxembourg City and Strasbourg, one of the three official seats of the European institutions.

Trade and economy

The most important sectors of Belgium's economy in 2018 were public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (22.1%), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (19.4%) and industry (16.7%).

Intra-EU trade accounts for 73% of Belgium's exports (Germany 18%, France 14% and the Netherlands 12%), while outside the EU 5% go to the United States and 2% to both India and China.

In terms of imports, 64% come from EU Member States (the Netherlands 18%, Germany 13% and France 9%), while outside the EU 7% come from the United States and 4% from China.

Useful links

The Commission's Representation in Belgium

European Parliament office in Belgium portal

Tourist information

Source: European Commission, CIA - The World Factbook