100 Facts About Belgium

Belgium, a country in Western Europe, is known for its medieval old towns, Flemish Renaissance architecture and international headquarters of the European Union and NATO. The bilingual capital, Brussels, is home to ornate guildhalls at Grand-Place and an art nouveau-influenced European Quarter. Here are 100 facts about Belgium.

  1. 1

    Belgians consume in average 150 liters of beer per person per year.

    Source: pinimg.com
  2. 2

    Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and gay marriage in 2003.

  3. 3

    A 2006 survey revealed that only 11% of car commuter to Brussels would choose to use the train if it was free.

  4. 4

    Brussels was a famous hideout for Europeans in Exile. Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engles between 1845 and 1848. Victor Hugo was also exiled here and completed Les Misérables while visiting Waterloo in 1861.

  5. 5

    Belgium has compulsory education up to 18 years old. This is one of the highest in the world.

    Source: www.xpats.com
  6. 6

    Europe's first casino, "la Redoute", was opened in 1763 in Belgium.

  7. 7

    Belgium grants the most new citizenships per capita in the world after Canada. 1.6 million people in Belgium are immigrants or children or grandchildren of immigrants. That’s 15% of the population.

  8. 8

    Cable TV penetration is the highest in Belgium at 97 percent of households.

  9. 9

    The world's largest ship lift is the counterweighted lift of Strepy-Thieu (73.15 m high) in the Belgian province of Hainaut

  10. 10

    There are over 800 kinds of beers made in Belgium.

    Source: the7eme.aup.edu
  11. 11

    Belgium was the world's first country, along with Italy, to introduce electronic ID cards in March 2003. It will also be the first European country to issue e-ID's to the entire population.

  12. 12

    The world's biggest chocolate selling point is Brussels National Airport.

  13. 13

    Belgium is renowned for its bakeries. Local specialities include cramique (bread cooked with egg yolks and raisins), cougnou (a speciality from Wallonia eaten mostly in winter), gozettes (turnovers) and tarts. The most typical tarts are cherry tart, plum tart, apple tart, sugar tart, and especially rice tart (originally from Verviers, near Liege).

    Source: canalblog.com
  14. 14

    Belgium has the smallest gap in pay equality throughout the European Union at a rate of 8.6%.

  15. 15

    Belgians are credited with inventing oil painting in the mid-1700’s, with Jan van Eyck believed a major pioneer.

    Source: afremov.com
  16. 16

    Brussels sprouts really do come from Belgium and have grown in the Brussels area for over 400 years.

    Source: www.foodofy.com
  17. 17

    80% of billiard players use Belgian-made balls.

  18. 18

    Belgium is also home to Europe’s oldest shopping arcades, the Galeries St Hubert in Brussels, opened in 1847.

  19. 19

    Belgians pay some of the highest tax rates in the world, around 40% of their gross earnings. Taxation represents 45.6 % of the country’s GDP.

  20. 20

    Belgium has one of the lowest proportions of McDonald’s in the developed world. It has 7 times fewer McDonald’s restaurants than the USA and 2 times less than France.

  21. 21

    Belgium also has enforced compulsory voting.

  22. 22

    The life expectancy for the Belgian population is anywhere between 78-81 years of age.

  23. 23

    Almost all of Belgium’s citizens like in cities. The urban population is well over 95% total.

  24. 24

    The comic strip was born in Belgium. It was instantly a success.

    Source: nocookie.net
  25. 25

    The Belgium flag is commonly mistaken for Germany’s flag as they use a similar color scheme. Belgium’s flag runs vertically while Germany’s run horizontal.

  26. 26

    Belgium was the scene of Napoleon’s final defeat, at Waterloo, south of Brussels.

  27. 27

    The Law Courts of Brussels is the largest court of justice in the world (26,000 m² at ground level). It is bigger than Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

  28. 28

    Belgium produces 220,000 tons of chocolate per year. That’s about 22kg of chocolate per person in Belgium.

  29. 29

    The record for most waffles eaten in 10 minutes is held by Patrick Bertoletti: 29 waffles. And he didn’t just eat them in the privacy of his home and then called Guinness Book to tell them all about it. This happened at the World Waffle Eating Championship. Yes folks; there is a waffle eating championship.

  30. 30

    People celebrate 2 National Waffle Days : one is on August 24th and it is meant to celebrate the first patented waffle iron. The second is on March 25th and it has its origin in Sweden.

  31. 31

    Some of the breweries in Belgium are operated by monks, who create a unique style known as Trappist beer.

  32. 32

    Belgian beer is world renowned for its distinct flavorings and unfiltered characteristics. The style actually dates back to the very first crusades, around the 1100’s.

  33. 33

    The Euro got its name and symbol thanks to the Belgian people.

  34. 34

    You’ll find the oldest Catholic university in existence here. The Catholic University of Leuven was first established in 1425 by Pope Martin V.

  35. 35

    The city of Antwerp is also recognized as the diamond capital of the world, accountable for 80% of the diamond trade. Diamonds began trading in this Belgian city as early as 1447.

  36. 36

    Belgium was the 6th country to ever host the Olympics in Antwerp during 1920.

  37. 37

    Antwerp is hailed locally by residents as the “capital of cool” due to its dynamic nightlife.

  38. 38

    During the 17th century, a Belgian town named Spa was known for its splendid healing waters. Thus, spas first began in Belgium.

  39. 39

    The first lottery in history was organized in Belgium as a means to raise income for the poor.

  40. 40

    Belgium is the producer of the highest assortment of bricks in the world.

  41. 41

    Durbury in Belgium is the smallest town in the world.

    Source: squarespace.com
  42. 42

    Belgium has the highest density of art collectors of any country.

  43. 43

    The world's first beer academy opened in Herk-de-Stad, in the Belgian province of Limburg, in 1999.

  44. 44

    Belgians claim to have invented chips (French fries), and indeed about all towns and villages have their own friterie/frituur (chips seller).

  45. 45

    Belgium is the world's 3rd country with the most vehicles per square kilometres after the Netherlands and Japan. It has the highest density of roads and the highest density of railroads in the world.

  46. 46

    Europe's first skyscraper ("Torengebouw") was built in Antwerp in 1928.

    Source: catawiki.nl
  47. 47

    The Foire de Libramont is the largest agricultural, forestry and agri-food fair in Europe.

  48. 48

    Belgium became the world's first country to ban cluster bombs, and second to ban forced marriages in 2006.

  49. 49

    The man behind the construction of the world-famous Sydney Opera House was Sir Eugene Goossens (1893-1962), an English conductor and composer of Belgian origin, who was director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music at the time.

    Source: www.smh.com.au
  50. 50

    In 1066, Huy, Belgium became the first European city to receive a charter of rights, making it the oldest free city on the continent.

  51. 51

    There isn't only one Manneken Pis in Belgium. Apart from the world-famous statue in Brussels, Geraardsbergen has had a similar boy peeing continuously in front of its townhall since the middle of the 15th century.

  52. 52

    Half of Belgian households have at least one pet. Domestic cats and dogs alone are over 2 million in the country, for 10 million people.

    Source: pinimg.com
  53. 53

    There are several famous carnivals in Belgium, including Binche, Aalst, Fosse-la-Ville and Malmedy.

  54. 54

    A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked Belgium as the best country for children's educational well-being.

  55. 55

    The world's two first printed newspapers were both published in 1605. One was printed in Strasbourg, the other (the Nieuwe Tijdingen) was printed by Abraham Verhoeven in Antwerp.

  56. 56

    The Body Mass Index (BMI), still used today to know one's ideal weight, was developed by the Belgian statistician and anthropometrist Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874).

    Source: dietuni.com
  57. 57

    The first cinematographic performance in Belgium took place on 1 March 1896 in the Galeries Saint-Hubert in Brussels, only a few months after the first movie picture ever commercialised, in Paris in 1895.

  58. 58

    Belgian physicist and mathematician Ingrid Daubechies (1954-) developed the mathematical model used by the FBI to stock finger prints.

  59. 59

    Belgium has the highest density of roads and railroads in the world. It is the country with the 3rd most vehicles per square kilometre (after the Netherlands and Japan).

  60. 60

    Belgium's official name is the Kingdom of Belgium – or to put that in the country's three official languages: Koninkrijk België (Dutch), Royaume de Belgique (French) and Königreich Belgien (German). King Philippe of Belgium is the current monarch.

    Source: thesun.co.uk
  61. 61

    The name ‘Belgium' dates back to the Romans – when they called their province in the north of Gaul, Gallia Belgica, after its previous inhabitants, the Celtic and German Belgae.

  62. 62

    Belgium is bordered by four countries, with some places split over borders – to the north by the Netherlands, to the south and west by France and to the east by Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

    Source: nocookie.net
  63. 63

    Belgium is the 5th smallest country in the EU – with Belgium covering a total area of 30,528 square kilometres, only Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Slovenia are smaller.

  64. 64

    The highest point in Belgium is lower than the world's tallest building – the Signal de Botrange on the High Fens plateau in the far east of the country, is the highest point in Belgium at just 694 metres high, shorter than the tallest building in the world, Dubai's Burj Khalifa at 828m. No wonder Belgium (along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg) was historically known as the one of the Low Countries.

  65. 65

    The Belgian divorce rate is the highest in Western Europe – only Latvia and Lithuania surpass its 58 percent rate. Around two-thirds of all marriages are between first-time couples, while in the remaining third, at least one person has been divorced.

  66. 66

    Belgium's population is highly educated – seventy percent of adults aged 25–64 possess the equivalent of a high school diploma, with men and women scoring equally. Belgium ranks eighth in the world for expenditure on education.

  67. 67

    Brussels is a multicultural and international finance centre – home to the European headquarters of more than 2,000 multi-national organisations

  68. 68

    Despite its small size, Belgium is a big world export player – Belgium's exports amount to more than 80 percent of its GDP, and in 2012, according to the World Trade Organisation, it was the 13th most important exporting nation in the world, with exports worth EUR 201 billion.

  69. 69

    How would you like to receive your Christmas presents early? In Belgium they do! Children get presents on 6th December from Saint Nicholas. If they are lucky then Santa Claus will visit them on Christmas Eve too!

  70. 70

    Belgium's population is aging – according to the Global AgeWatch Index 2013, there are 2.6 million people over 60 and although Belgium is a high-income country, just under 13 percent of older people live with an income of less than half the country's average income.

  71. 71

    Belgium is largely secular – unlike other EU countries such as Cyprus, Romania and Greece, where more than 80 percent of people are active or non-active believers.

  72. 72

    Belgians are crazy for coffee – with rain all year around, on those grey days you can slink into the warmth of one of Belgium's many cafes and enjoy a coffee. Everyone else does, which explains why Belgium is the world's 6th largest importer of coffee (4.3 million bags a year).

  73. 73

    Jean Neuhaus invented the pralines chocolate in Brussels in 1912.

  74. 74

    The Association of European Airports reported that Brussels National Airport (Zaventem) was the most punctual of the 27 largest European airports in 2006.

  75. 75

    The Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps is the longest and the second oldest F1 Grand Prix circuit still in use (first Grand Prix held in 1924, two years after the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy).

  76. 76

    The Big Bang Theory was originally conceived by Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître.

  77. 77

    Belgium has more comic makers per square km than any other country in the world. Famous comic book series to come out of Belgium include, The Adventures of Tintin, The Smurfs and Asterix (originally a French creation for French-Belgian audiences).

  78. 78

    Football (soccer) is one of the most popular sports in Belgium along with cycling, tennis, judo and swimming.

  79. 79

    Belgium has the most cycling Tour de France victories of any country except France, famous Belgian tour winners include Eddy Merckx and Philippe Thys.

  80. 80

    There are more castles per square kilometre in Belgium than in any other country.

    Source: pinimg.com
  81. 81

    It is one of the first countries to have a female parliamentarian in 1921.

  82. 82

    The central square of Brussels, the Grote Markt or Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  83. 83

    It has the highest density of Michelin star-rated restaurants in Europe.

  84. 84

    Have you heard of the Smurfs? They are Belgian and created by a man called Peyo!

  85. 85

    Do you like visiting castles? There are more castles per square mile in Belgium than there are anywhere else in the whole entire world!

    Source: www.belgium.net
  86. 86

    Food is delicious in Belgium – diversity, quality, freshness of ingredients.

  87. 87

    The beer is strong, much stronger than you expect, and flavorful.

    Source: wikimedia.org
  88. 88

    The Royal Palace of Brussels is one of the most beautiful structures in the world and is much larger than the Buckingham Palace in U.K.

  89. 89

    After US, Belgians are the most enthusiastic collectors of discount coupons in the world.

  90. 90

    Belgium is renowned for its bakeries. Local specialties include Cramique (bread cooked with egg yolks and raisins), Cougnou (a specialty from Wallonia eaten mostly in winter), Gozettes (turnovers) and Tarts. The most typical tarts are cherry tart, plum tart, apple tart, sugar tart, and especially rice tart.

    Source: tripadvisor.com
  91. 91

    The country imports nearly five million bags of coffee annually, making them one of the biggest java exporters anywhere in the world.

  92. 92

    Just outside of Galeries Royales St Hubert is this sexy cat, dressed in spandex shorts and a hot pink crop-top who happens to be riding a bike! This work of art created by Alain Séchas cost the city of Brussels approximately 100,000 euros. The feline is also quite popular with tourists who stop for cheesy photo opportunities.

  93. 93

    Also known as the Venice of the North, Bruges gets its name from the multiple canals that surround the city centre with more than 80 bridges, making it easy to explore on foot or by bicycle as well as on one of the boat tours.

  94. 94

    When you ask for water in a restaurant, expect that they will serve you a bottle of water (which is a bit costly). Apparently, it’s a cultural thing or a habit of Belgians to not serve service or tap water. No Belgian even asks for it when dining. But certainly, when you explicitly ask for ‘free tap water’ they can and will serve you that, but it would come off as a bit odd to them

    Source: iamaileen.com
  95. 95

    Other than the frituurs, Belgium also has Quick, their own popular fast food chain founded in 1970 (so it’s like the equivalent of our Jollibee in the Philippines that continually tries to bring down McDonalds, but in Belgium’s case, they’re winning a whole lot more).

  96. 96

    Belgian motorways or highways are said to be the best lit in the world and that they even pioneered the use of high-mast lighting for roadways.

  97. 97

    In Brussels’ vibrant and hipster Ixelles neighbourhood, you can play chess with others at the Chess Cafe.

    Source: www.notey.com
  98. 98

    Much like it’s neighbor, the Netherlands, Belgium is a land of ‘cyclists’. Everyone has their own bike and most short-distanced trips are done with it instead of a car.

  99. 99

    At the Royal Palace of Belgium, you see this historical and beautiful building and then rest outside on these gaudy brightly coloured circular shaped benches surrounded by dead plants.

  100. 100

    Brussels is infamous for their peeing boy statue, the Manneken Pis. Strange but true, this tourist attraction brings people from all around the world. Funnier yet is that he’s dressed up in different costumes throughout the year and sometimes even hooked up to a keg so that he pees … beer.

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