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Introduction - Belgium:

BackgroundBelgium 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. 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.

Location - Belgium:
LocationWestern Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands

Geographic coordinates50 50 N, 4 00 E

Map referencesEurope

Areatotal: 30,528 sq km
land: 30,278 sq km
water: 250 sq km

Area comparativeabout the size of Maryland

Land boundariestotal: 1,385 km
border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km

Coastline66.5 km

Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit
continental shelf: median line with neighbors

Climatetemperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Terrainflat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

Elevation extremeslowest point: North Sea 0 m
highest point: Signal de Botrange 694 m

Natural resourcesconstruction materials, silica sand, carbonates

Land usearable land: 27.42%
permanent crops: 0.69%
other: 71.89%
note: includes Luxembourg (2005)

Irrigated land400 sq km (2003)

Natural hazardsflooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Environment current issuesthe environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) have slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges

Environment international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography notecrossroads of Western Europe; majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO

People - Belgium:
Population10,392,226 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure0-14 years: 16.5% (male 873,130/female 836,785)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,467,044/female 3,406,030)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 746,969/female 1,062,268) (2007 est.)

Median agetotal: 41.1 years
male: 39.9 years
female: 42.4 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate0.12% (2007 est.)

Birth rate10.29 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate10.32 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.043 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.703 male(s)/female
total population: 0.959 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality ratetotal: 4.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 78.92 years
male: 75.75 years
female: 82.24 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate1.64 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate0.2% (2003 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids10,000 (2003 est.)

Hiv aids deathsless than 100 (2003 est.)

Nationalitynoun: Belgian(s)
adjective: Belgian

Ethnic groupsFleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%

ReligionsRoman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%

LanguagesDutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)

Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

Government - Belgium:
Country nameconventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
conventional short form: Belgium
local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
local short form: Belgique/Belgie

Government typefederal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

Capitalname: Brussels
geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch: provincies, singular - provincie) and 3 regions* (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Brussels* (Bruxelles) capital region; Flanders* region (five provinces): Antwerpen (Antwerp), Limburg, Oost-Vlaanderen (East Flanders), Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant), West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders); Wallonia* region (five provinces): Brabant Wallon (Walloon Brabant), Hainaut, Liege, Luxembourg, Namur
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities

Independence4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)

National holiday21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I

Constitution7 February 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create a federal state

Legal systembased on civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branchchief 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 monarch
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; 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 parliament
note: government coalition - Open VLD, MR, PS, SP.A-Spirit

Legislative branchbicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members are directly elected by popular vote, 31 are indirectly elected; to serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held 10 June 2007 (next to be held June 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - CDV/N-VA 19.4%, Open VLD 12.4%, MR 12.3%, VB 11.9%, PS 10.2%, SP.A-Spirit 10%, CDH 5.9%, Ecolo 5.8%, GROEN! 3.6%, List Dedecker 3.4%, FN 2.3%, other 2.8%; seats by party - CDV/N-VA 9, Open VLD 5, MR 6, VB 5, PS 4, SP.A-Spririt 4, CDH 2, Ecolo 2, GROEN! 1, List Dedecker 1, FN 1 (note - there are also 31 indirectly elected senators); Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - CDV/N-VA 18.5%, MR 12.5%, VB 12%, Open VLD 11.8%, PS 10.9%, SP.A-Spirit 10.3%, CDH 6.1%, Ecolo 5.1%, List Dedecker 4%, GROEN! 4%, FN 2%, other 2.8%; seats by party - CDV/N-VA 30, MR 23, VB 17, Open VLD 18, PS 20, SP.A-Spirit 14, CDH 10, Ecolo 8, List Dedecker 5, GROEN! 4, FN 1
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments each with its own legislative assembly

Judicial branchSupreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)

Political parties and leadersFlemish parties: Christian Democrats and Flemish or CDV [Jo VANDEURZEN]; Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Bart SOMERS]; GROEN! [Vera DUA] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); List Dedecker [Jean-Marie DEDECKER]; New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Johan Vande LANOTTE]; Spirit [Geert LAMBERT] (new party now associated with SP.A); Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Frank VANHECKE]
Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX, Isabelle DURANT, Claude BROUIR]; Humanist and Democratic Center of CDH [Joelle MILQUET]; National Front or FN [Daniel FERET]; Reform Movement or MR [Didier REYNDERS]; Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]; other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leadersChristian, Socialist, and Liberal Trade Unions; Federation of Belgian Industries; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants

International organization participationACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, ONUB, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNITAR, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the uschief of mission: Ambassador Dominique STRUYE DE SWIELANDE
chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
consulate(s): Atlanta

Diplomatic representation from the uschief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge dAffaires William IMBRIE; note - Ambassador-designate Sam FOX may become the new ambassador in early 2007 pending Senate confirmation hearing
embassy: Regentlaan 27 Boulevard du Regent, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710
telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111
FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725

Flag descriptionthree equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the design was based on the flag of France

Economy - Belgium:
Economy overviewThis 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 more than 90% 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 2004-06.

Gdp purchasing power parity $342.8 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate $369.6 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate3% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp $33,000 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sectoragriculture: 1%
industry: 24%
services: 74.9% (2005 est.)

Labor force4.89 million (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupationagriculture: 1.3%
industry: 24.5%
services: 74.2% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate8.1% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line4% (1989 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 23% (1996)

Distribution of family income gini index25 (1996)

Inflation rate consumer prices 2.1% (2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed 19.4% of GDP (2006 est.)

Budgetrevenues: $195.7 billion
expenditures: $195.5 billion; including capital expenditures of $1.56 billion (2006 est.)

Public debt90.3% of GDP (2006 est.)

Agriculture productssugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk

Industriesengineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum

Industrial production growth rate3% (2006 est.)

Electricity production80.22 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption82.41 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports6.8 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity imports14.6 billion kWh (2004)

Oil production10,690 bbl/day (2004)

Oil consumption641,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports523,400 bbl/day (2004)

Oil imports1.109 million bbl/day (2004)

Oil proved reserves0 bbl

Natural gas production0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption17.06 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas exports0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas imports16.88 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance$6.925 billion (2006 est.)

Exports$335.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Exports commoditiesmachinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs

Exports partnersGermany 19.9%, France 17%, Netherlands 12%, UK 7.9%, US 6.1%, Italy 5.2% (2006)

Imports$333.5 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commoditiesmachinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products

Imports partnersNetherlands 18.4%, Germany 17.5%, France 11.3%, UK 6.6%, Ireland 5.9%, US 5.3% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$9.626 billion (August 2006 est.)

Economic aid donorODA, $1.072 billion (2002)

Debt external$1.053 trillion (30 June 2006 est.)

Currency code euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries

Exchange rateseuros per US dollar - 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002)

Communications - Belgium:
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Telephones main lines in use4.719 million (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular9.66 million (2006)

Telephone systemgeneral assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities
domestic: nationwide cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 32; submarine cables - 5; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2005)

Radio broadcast stationsAM 7, FM 79, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations25 (plus 10 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code.be

Internet hosts2.871 million (2006)

Internet users4.8 million (2005)

Transportation - Belgium:
Airports43 (2006)

Airports with paved runwaystotal: 25
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 7 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runwaystotal: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 16 (2006)

Heliports1 (2006)

Pipelinesgas 1,561 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2006)

Railwaystotal: 3,536 km
standard gauge: 3,536 km 1.435-m gauge (2,950 km electrified) (2006)

Roadwaystotal: 150,567 km
paved: 117,442 km (includes 1,747 km of expressways)
unpaved: 33,125 km (2004)

Waterways2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2006)

Merchant marinetotal: 66 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,952,159 GRT/6,521,645 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 19, cargo 4, chemical tanker 2, container 10, liquefied gas 15, petroleum tanker 12, roll on/roll off 4
foreign-owned: 10 (Denmark 4, Greece 4, UK 2)
registered in other countries: 113 (Antigua and Barbuda 4, Bahamas 13, Bermuda 4, Cyprus 1, French Southern and Antarctic Lands 6, Georgia 1, Gibraltar 2, Greece 12, Hong Kong 3, Luxembourg 9, Malta 10, Mozambique 2, Netherlands 2, Netherlands Antilles 4, Panama 11, Portugal 8, Russia 4, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Singapore 12, Sweden 2) (2006)

Ports and terminalsAntwerp, Brussels, Gent, Liege, Oostende, Zeebrugge

Military - Belgium:
Military branchesBelgian Armed Forces: Land Operations Command, Naval Operations Command, Air Operations Commands (2005)

Military service age and obligation16 years of age for voluntary military service; women comprise approx. 7% of the Belgian armed forces (2001)

Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,436,736
females age 16-49: 2,369,463 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,998,003
females age 16-49: 1,940,918 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annuallymales age 18-49: 64,263
females age 16-49: 61,402 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp1.3% (2005 est.)

Disputes internationalnone

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>