With 97 percent of its 11 million citizens residing in large cities, Belgium is one of the world’s most metropolitan societies. More than half of its population resides in Flanders, the northernmost section of Belgium, and one of Belgium’s three self-governing territories. The other territories are Wallonia and the capital region of Brussels located towards the country’s center.
There are two ethnic groups native to Belgium. In Flanders, the citizens are a Dutch-speaking people of Germanic origins. In Wallonia, residents speak French and are closely intertwined with French culture. Disparities in culture and the histories of either region have contributed to tense unrest in the past.
Belgium has an oceanic climate and experiences significant rainfall throughout the entire year. They enjoy cool, humid summers and moderate winters, though occasional unusual patterns in easterly winds sometimes present Belgium with unbearable winters when daily temperatures are below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
- Belgium is the world’s diamond capital and the second largest petrochemical center. Nearly 90 percent of the world’s raw diamonds are bought and sold in Antwerp, Belgium.
- Belgium became the first country in the world to ban cluster bombs in 2006. This year, it also became the second country to ban coerced marriages.
- Though slightly rare for a government to stipulate, Belgium requires education for children up to the age of 18—one of the highest ages for a government to require mandatory.
- Visible only as a glittering spot due to the lights all along the motorway, the Belgian motorway system is the only man-made element on Earth that can be sighted from the moon.
- One out of every two Belgian households have at least one pet, as Belgians find keeping pets very agreeable.
- In 1990, Belgium’s Cabinet dethroned the king for a day to pass legislation he refused to sign.
- The global record for length of time a democracy has gone without an elected government is held by Belgium. Because of political disagreement, they had no government for 589 days in 2010-2011.
- During World War I, Belgium’s king led and fought alongside his troops despite the Cabinet pressuring him to flee to England for protection. The queen also served amongst her people as a military nurse.
- In Belgium, it is not a crime to escape prison given that you return your jail garb to the jailhouse, as the uniform is property of the state. Authorities will search for those who escape, but they do not receive added punishment for their attempts.
- Beer is a huge part of the social culture. Schoolchildren are given the option to drink beer during mealtimes.
- Belgium is the world’s greatest chocolate producer. They export over 200,000 tons of the candy a year.