Gallia Belgica was the Romans' name for
the northern part of Gaul, the northern limit
of their empire. In early modern times, the
name was used as an erudite synonym for
the Low Countries. After the 1830
revolution and the establishment of an
independent kingdom, Belgium became
the official name of the country.
Location and Geography
Location and Geography. The country is
located at the western end of the northern
European plain, covering an area of
11,780 square miles (30,510 square
kilometers); the neighboring states are
France, Luxembourg, Germany, and the
Netherlands. The two main rivers are the
Schelde and the Meuse, both of which
begin in France and flow toward the
The land rises progressively toward the
south. Flanders (northern part of the
country) is less hilly than Wallonia
(southern part). The German-speaking
population lives at the borders with
Germany and Luxembourg. Discoveries
of coal in the hills of northern Wallonia led
to the early industrialization of the area.
Location and Geography
Western Europe, bordering the North Sea,
between France and the Netherlands
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist
side), yellow, and red; the design was based
on the flag of France
Yellow - a symbol of generosity
Red - hardiness, bravery, strength &
Black - Determination
BRUSSELS THE CAPITAL Antwerp City Hall in the center
of Grote Market
4 October 1830 (a provisional government declares
independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King
Leopold I ascends to the throne)
The independence of Belgium received the approval of the European
powers at the London Conference of 1830-31. The Independence Day of
Belgium commemorates the formal establishment of the independent
kingdom and the crowning of Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg. Prince Leopold I
of Saxe-Coburg was appointed king of the Belgians on his willingness to
support the constitution drawn up by the National Congress.
chief of state: King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993);
Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch
head of government: Prime Minister Guy
VERHOFSTADT (since 13 July 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers formally appointed by the
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; following
legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or
the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed
prime minister by the monarch and then approved by
Western Europe. It is a founding member
of the European Union and hosts the EU's
headquarters, and those of several other
major international organizations such as
Belgium is home to two main linguistic
groups, the Dutch speakers, mostly
Flemish, and the French speakers,
mostly Walloons, plus a small group
Belgium's linguistic diversity and related
political and cultural conflicts are reflected
in the political history and a complex
system of government.
The name 'Belgium' is derived from Gallia
Belgica, a Roman province in the northern
most part of Gaul that, before Roman
invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by
the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic
The population of
Belgium is 10,403,951 as
of July 2008.
The capital city Brussels
classes as well as along the linguistic border and around
Brussels. The presence of important Francophone minorities in
some parts of Flanders has been the source of political conflicts
and led in the 1980s to the resignation of several central
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was
occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in
the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European
state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-
speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of
the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments
granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. Although the name of the modern
state refers to the original Celtic inhabitants after the Roman
conquest in 44 B.C.E. , the population was Romanized and adopted the Latin
language. Latin gave rise to a series of dialects including, in the southern part of the
country, the Walloon dialects. The name "Walloon" derives from a Germanic word
meaning "foreign," and refers to the Roman Empire.
Flemish culture came to northern Belgium as a consequence of the Germanic invasions of the fourth
century. In the central and southern regions, the Germanic invaders formed small kingdoms and adopted
their subjects' culture.
Until the eighth century, conquests and divisions modified the borders of these kingdoms. The last division
took place at the treaty of Verdun (843) between the grandsons of Charlemagne, who divided the Holy
Roman Empire into three parts, of which the central part, Lotharingia, encompassed the territories between
the Netherlands and Italy, including present-day Belgium. However, Lotharingia was absorbed into the
German Empire, and the idea of a state between France and the German Empire did not resurface until the
fourteenth century. The Burgundian princes inherited, conquered, bought, or received in dowry most of the
fiefs constituting the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern and eastern France. They established their court in
Brussels and brought the French language to their states. The possessions of the dukes of Burgundy were
inherited by the Habsburg dynasty in 1477.
In the middle of the sixteenth century, a religious civil war led to the division of the Low Countries into two
parts. The north became the Netherlands, a Dutch-speaking, Protestant state. The south remained Catholic
and was associated with the Habsburg dynasty until the French conquest in 1794. Under the Habsburg
rulers, the use of Flemish progressively declined, but the position of French was reinforced during the
French administration (1794–1814).
Belgium's cultural heritage includes the
paintings of Pieter Breugel the Elder (c.
1515 or 1530–69), Jan van Eyck (1395–
1441), and Peter Paul Rubens (1577–
1640), and the music compositions of
Orlando di Lasso (1532–94) and César
Franck (1822–90). Modern Belgians writers
include the Nobel Prize-winning dramatist
Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949), and the
popular detective novelist Georges Simenon
(1903–89), who was born in Liège.
Prominent modern painters include
expressionist James Ensor (1860–1949)
and surrealist René Magritte (1898–1967).
Belgian Family Values
. Family plays a central role in most
. The obligation to the family is a person's
. Many people remain in the town in which
they were raised, which creates close
. Appearances are important to Belgians.
. They can often be seen washing the pavement or steps in front of their
house or even sweeping the street.
. Cleanliness is a matter of national pride.
. Belgians take great pride in their houses. To have overgrown hedges
or untidy gardens would disgrace the family and insult their neighbours.
. Belgians take pride in their personal appearance too. They dress well
and are concerned with the impression they make on others.
Equalities in Belgian Society
. Belgium is on the whole an egalitarian
. Women are not expected to change their
name when they marry.
. There are laws governing paternity as
well as maternity leaves and laws
forbidding sexual harassment in the
Linguistic Affiliation. The main languages are Dutch and French; they are
also the joint official languages. Although German is also recognized as the
third national language, it is not used frequently in the national administration.
French was introduced as the language of the political elite by feudal lords of
French origin, particularly the dukes of Burgundy, who choose Brussels as
their main city of residence. In the eighteenth century, French was widely
adopted by the bourgeoisie, and in 1830, it was adopted as the official
language. Through education and social promotion, French replaced the local
dialects in Wallonia and Brussels, but it was not as widely adopted in
In Wallonia, a series of Romance dialects rather than a single language were
widely spoken but never had official status. Brussels was originally a Flemish
city, but the influence of French has always been strongest here, and only a
tenth of the population speak Dutch.
The language spoken in Flanders is Dutch, which is commonly called Flemish. The
Taalunie, an official institution, guarantees the international unity of the Dutch
language. There is a great diversity of Flemish dialects which differ in vocabulary
and pronunciation. French is still spoken in Flanders by some people in the upper
and upper middle
French, Dutch, and
German are the
There are hundreds
of different dialects
coming from French
Many of Belgium's colorful festivals are based on local
myths. One is the famous Cat Festival of Ypres. According
to legend, medieval Ypres was overrun by rats, and cats
were brought in to kill them. But the cats multiplied too
fast, and people took to throwing them off the tops of
buildings. (Today this action is imitated during the festival
with toy cats.) Folklore also surrounds Belgium's
traditional puppet theater, whose marionettes are based
on characters from the tales of their particular cities.
RITES OF PASSAGE
Belgium is 75 %
Roman Catholic and
Religion has been
another source of
division in Belgium's
Catholicism is the main religious faith. The
government financially supports the Catholic and
Protestant churches as well as the Jewish and
Muslim faiths. The Catholic Church controls an
important network of schools with 70 percent of the
pupils in secondary education and two main
universities. Religious beliefs and practice declined
during the twentieth century, but approximately 65
percent of Belgians believe in God. Many people
who say they do not believe in God take part in
religious rituals for major events such as baptisms,
weddings, and funerals. Minority faiths include
Muslims, Jews, and Protestants.
This modern private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central
geographic location, highly developed transport network, and
diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated
mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural
resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw
materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its
economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets.
Roughly three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public
debt is nearly 100% of GDP. On the positive side, the government
has succeeded in balancing its budget, and income distribution is
relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro currency in
January 2002. Economic growth in 2001-03 dropped sharply because
of the global economic slowdown, with moderate recovery in 2004.
Economy - overview:
There are not many interactions in the streets, as
residential, working and leisure areas tend to be distinct.
Among young people, especially Francophones,
A stone bridge crossing a canal in Bruges. The north
part of Belgium consists of isolated farms between
villages, while the south tends to contain larger groups of
girls rarely shake hands but kiss other girls and boys.
Greetings entail a degree of formality. A brief handshake is the common greeting
among people who do not know each other.
. Once a relationship is developed, three kisses on the cheek may replace the
handshake. This is more a kissing of the air near the person's cheek. Start with the left
cheek and alternate.
. Men never kiss other men; they always shake hands.
Gift Giving Etiquette
. If you are invited to a Belgian's house, bring flowers or good quality chocolates for
. Older Belgians may expect flowers to be unwrapped.
. Do not give white chrysanthemums as they signify death.
. Flowers should be given in an odd number, but not 13.
. Liquor or wine should only be given to close friends.
. Gifts are opened when received.
. Belgians socialize in their homes and restaurants.
. If you receive a written invitation, the response must be written as well.
. Wait for your host or hostess to introduce you to the other guests.
Arrive on time. Punctuality demonstrates respect.
. Wait for your host to tell you where to sit.
. Women take their seats before men.
. Table manners are Continental -- the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the
right while eating.
. Keep your wrists above the table when eating.
. Wait to see if your host offers a toast before sipping your drink.
. The guest of honour may also give a toast.
. Women may offer a toast.
. It is polite to stand for a toast.
. The Flemish raise their glasses twice during a toast. The glass is initially raised during
the toast and then at the completion of the toast.
. Never leave food on your plate. It is seen as both rude and wasteful.
. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate,
tines facing upwards, with the handles facing to the right.
. Belgians take pride in their cuisine, so praising a meal is a sincere compliment.
"Belgian musical instruments and music"
The music of Belgium is a cultural crossroads where Flemish Dutch-speaking
and Walloon French-speaking traditions mix with those of German minorities and of
immigrant communities from Democratic Republic of the Congo and other distant
1 Classical Music
2 Blues and jazz
3 Folk and other traditional music
6 Pop and Rock
6.1 Indie Rock
8 Electronic Music
9 African music
. Men should wear dark coloured,
conservative business suits with
white shirts and silk ties.
. Women should wear business
suits or conservative dresses.
. Men should only wear laced
shoes, never loafers or other slip-
ons, as they are too casual.
. Polished shoes are an integral
part of a professional image.
Belgians, especially those in the cities,
wear modern Western-style clothes.
Men who work in offices are expected to
wear suit jackets to work. It is generally
acceptable for women to wear slacks to
work. The ethnic costumes of the
Flemings and Walloons are seldom
worn today. On some farms women still
wear the traditional dark-colored
clothing and white aprons, and men
wear the old-fashioned caps.
Ancient Belgium Dressing Style
Modern Belgium Dressing Style
Modern Wedding in belgium
Ancient Wedding in Belgium
Parliamentarium Brussels The Cube Brussels Cheval Noir Brussels
Rue de la Loi Brussels
Mormont House Grand Hotel Casselbergh
Its government is a
democracy with a
Belgium is divided
ethnically into the
Flemings and French-
Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other
Centuries of tradition make for great festivals. Belgium is
home to hundreds of festivals, pageants and carnivals
throughout the year. In fact, it would be difficult to find a
time in Belgium when there isn't some kind of organized
revelry taking place whether it be themed on music, art,
film or exuberant historic processions that have taken
place yearly since medieval times. A few are simple, but
most are elaborate, with old customs re-enacted and
locals dressed in ornate costumes. At the end of the day,
however, they're all about having a great time. Below are
a few Festival Highlights that take place throughout
Ommegang Festival -Brussels
Carnival de Binche – Binche ,
Stavelot (Mid-lent Carnival) - Stavelot
Zinneke Parade - Brussels .
Belgium enjoys its fine arts and it has
many historical museums
Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de
Belgique is one of the most famous
museums located in Brussels.
The Royal Museum contains over 20,000
drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which
date from the early 15th century to the
Belgium has a great
It has a produced
which have done well
Cycling is also very
popular in Belgium
Belgium Cuisine is
very popular in
The most famous dish
in Belgium is the
Bread and potatoes are the traditional staple foods. Most meals include,
pork, chicken, or beef, and Seafood is popular in the northern part of the
country. The national drink is beer, but wine is imported in large quantities.
In northern cities, popular dishes include mussels with fries and waterzooi
a broth of vegetables and meat or fish. Throughout the country, French
fries are eaten with steaks or minced raw meat. Cooking is traditionally
done with butter rather than oil; there is also a high consumption of dairy
products. Immigration has ensured a diversity of "ethnic" restaurants and
is gradually changing the eating habits of the residents in culturally mixed
Christmas is an occasion for large family meals with grandparents
and cousins. There are many other occasions for long meals at public
and private celebrations, such as weddings, funerals, and the days
devoted to city and parish saints. Pastries are associated with
religious and civil occasions. At Christmas, people eat sweet bread in
the form of the child Jesus; at Easter, children are told that eggs are
dropped in the gardens by flying churchbells; and sugar beans are
distributed to those who visit a young mother.
Food in Daily Life.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
Belgium culture is
very unique and
Belgium is a great
If you are looking
for something new
you should go