Belgium is a country in Europe that lies in its northwestern region. It is a small yet densely populated country with an interesting history. Belgium is also widely popular for its medieval towns and distinct Renaissance architecture. You might be surprised to discover that the headquarters of esteemed organizations such as NATO and the European Union are also situated in Belgium. From art museums to wonderful accomplishments in science, Belgium is a country full of spectacular things to learn.
Keep reading to find out more captivating facts about Belgium
1. Belgium has three official languages
Belgium has three official languages, namely: Dutch, French, and German. The population of Belgium consists of Flemings, Walloons, and a German-speaking population. The Flemish language is similar to Dutch, and the Walloons speak French. The majority of the people of Belgium have knowledge about both languages. Eastern parts of Belgium have a German-speaking population. Brussels has a community of bilingual individuals who speak both Dutch and French, but French is a more commonly spoken language in the country.
2. Belgium is a monarchy
Belgium is a constitutional monarchy that is headed by a King. The country is ruled by six governments. The governments consist of a federal government and five regional governments. Even though the country of Belgium was recognized as independent in 1830, Leopold I took the constitutional oath in 1831 to become the first King of the Belgians. King Phillipe of Belgium is the current monarch of the country.
3. Belgium is home to Europe’s first skyscraper
The first skyscraper in Europe was built in Belgium in 1928. It is called the Torengebouw and is situated in the city of Antwerp. Still standing as the second tallest building in Antwerp, it is about 96 meters and has 26 floors. The Antwerp tower has surpassed it as the tallest building in the city, with a height of about 100 meters. The KBC Tower or the Boerentoren was the tallest building in Europe until the Terazza Martini Tower opened in Italy. Belgium is also known to have the oldest shopping arcades in Europe called The Galeries St Hubert, which opened in 1847 in Brussels.
4. The ‘Communist Manifesto’ was written in Brussels
The capital of Belgium called Brussels, has given refuge to Europe’s most famous exiles. When Karl Marx was exiled from France, he got together with Friedrich Engles to write the widely popular Communist Manifesto in Brussels. The world-renowned author of the book Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, also wrote his book while living in exile in the city of Brussels in 1851.
5. Comics are highly appreciated in Belgium
Every person in Belgium has a fondness for comic books. The popular characters from Smurfs, Spirou and Fantasio, Tintin, Asterix, Blake and Mortimer, Gaston, and Thorgal are all from Belgium. Belgium has more comic strip artists than anywhere in the world. The adventures of Tintin and Smurfs are the most popular Belgian comics that have been translated into 100 different languages for audiences all over the world. The Brussels comic strip trail is a great attraction for visitors.
6. Brussels is the birthplace of the beautiful Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn, the epitome of class and elegance, was one of the most iconic Hollywood actresses of the 20th century. Her performances have wowed people all over the globe and have captivated cinephiles for decades. Audrey Hepburn was a polyglot and was born in the multicultural and multilingual country of Belgium (in Brussels). Although Audrey had a British passport and worked in the United States of America, she was very European, perhaps owing to her roots.
7. Belgium has a diamond capital
Antwerp is also known as the world’s diamond capital. Almost 20 billion euros worth of profit is expected from diamond trades in the city, which is almost thrice its competitor, the USA. The diamond trade has been active in the region since 1447. Almost 80% of rough diamonds of the world and 50% of cut diamonds are traded in Belgium. The first pear-cut diamond and the polishing wheel are both Belgian inventions. The polishing wheel can be used to achieve more precise and complex cutting. Both of these inventions can be accredited to Lodewyk van Bercken whose statue is present in Antwerp’s district.
8. Belgium has one of the highest taxes in all of Europe
Most Belgians will not stop talking once the conversation shifts to taxes in the country. This is with good reason too, as Belgium has one of the highest taxes in Europe. Almost 57.8 percent of taxes applied to high earners in the country, the tax rates of Belgium are ranked as the fourth-highest in all of Europe after France. The revenue from the country’s taxes makes up almost half the GDP of Belgium.
9. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium
Belgium has one of the most liberal laws regarding assisted suicide with the help of expert physicians. The euthanasia practices in Belgium are not just for the terminally but can also be availed by patients suffering from psychiatric conditions and even children. Euthanasia was legalized in the country after a study published in 2002 showed that most of the people who died from euthanasia were young, male, cancer patients who opted to die in their homes. Unbearable physical suffering was reported in most cases which helped legalize the practice of assisted suicide.
10. Belgians are crazy about football
Belgians are extremely enthusiastic about football. The Red Devils are the football team of Belgium, and the country wears red whenever there is a major football event. Football is the one uniting factor in all of the country and can bring together all people no matter what the differences may be.
11. Belgium has many music festivals and parades
Belgium has one of the best music festivals in all of Europe. In addition to that, Belgians love parades and dressing up. Tomorrowland, I Love Tecno, and Rock Werchter are some of the most popular music festivals that take place in Belgium. There are so many festivals and parades in the summertime.
12. French Fries are a Belgian invention
The world-famous french fries were invented in Belgium. The french fries in Belgium are supposed to be the best in the world, even surpassing the ones available in France. Fries are easily available anywhere in Belgium and are more popularly sold at a ‘fritkot’- a kiosk or a type of van serving Belgium fries. Belgium fries are served with an unusual condiment, mayonnaise. Although it might sound weird, fries with mayonnaise are popular in Belgium, and people who try Belgium fries with mayo can’t ever go back to eating fries with ketchup again.
13. There are 1000 different types of beer brewed in Belgium
Belgium is a country that is popular due to its love for beer and other types of alcohol. Although the exact number of beers brewed in Belgium varies from different sources, it is certain that around 1000-1200 types of different Belgian beers are brewed in the country. Not only that, but Belgium also has different glasses for different types of beers.
14. Belgium doesn’t have a Santa Claus
Belgium does not have a Santa Claus for Christmas. Belgian children do not wait for Santa Claus to bring their present around Christmas but believe in Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. Belgian children put their shoes near the fireplace on the fifth of December for Sinterklaas. There is even a Sinterklaas celebration in Belgium.
15. Belgium has the world’s smallest city
Belgium also holds the record of having the smallest city in the world. The city is called Durbuy and has a population of just about 500 people. It is more of a picturesque small town rather than a city. Durbuy has significant historical importance. The Count of Luxembourg gave this town the rank of city in the 14th century.
10 Best Places to Visit in Belgium – Travel Video
Traveling in Belgium brings forth images of medieval rooftops, lovely canals, tasty beer, and even more indulgent chocolates. However, there is much for one to see in this remarkable European country, where time seems to move at a slower pace, and the people are welcoming to tourists. From modern cities boasting designer shops to cobblestone streets laden with museums, here are the best places to visit in Belgium.
Belgium is a European country with amazing people and interesting medieval historical importance. It is the home of many fun and exciting inventions and discoveries such as the saxophone, french fries, and even the big bang theory. We hope that these facts about Belgium helped you learn more about the wonderful country, and you can surprise your friends with your knowledge next trivia night.
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