Belgium – prosperous country
The Kingdom of Belgium is a small, prosperous country in northwestern Europe. Its area is 30,510 square kilometers. Belgium is bordered by The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. It lies on the banks of Senne River. There is much to see in this historic city known for its lace and chocolate. One of the most beautiful old buildings there is the Town Hall. It has a tower with the statue of St. Michael, the patron saint of Brussels. Opposite the Town Hall across the square is the King’s House, a history museum. One of the most popular sights in Brussels is a small bronze fountain in the shape of a naked little boy.
An unusual and interesting structure in Brussels is the Atomium. It shows how the atoms of a molecule of iron fit together.
Brussels is the headquarters of two major international organizations—the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The city of Antwerp is a center of diamond cutting and dealing.
Belgians are divided into two main groups. More than half of the people are Flemings, who live mostly in the north. About one third are Walloons, who live mostly in the south.
Belgium takes its name from the Belgae, a group of Celts who settled in the region during prehistoric times. In 57 BC Julius Caesar conquered the area. And in the AD 400s Germanic Franks took control of the area. In the 1300s Belgium came under the control of Burgundy. The Hapsburgs ruled Belgium for most of the 1500s through the 1700s. In 1795 France seized Belgium. The Belgians proclaimed the independent Kingdom of Belgium in 1831.
In the late 1800s Belgian king Leopold II gained control of a colony in the Congo region of Africa and ruled there until 1960. During World War II the Nazis sent hundreds of thousands of Belgians to Germany and forced them to work.
– Mt. Botrange is the highest point (694 m).
– Meuse is the longest river (933 km).
– Belgium is one of Europe’s smallest and most densely populated countries.
– More than 800 kinds of beer are produced in Belgium.
– Every year, Belgium produces 220 thousand tons of chocolate. The Brussels Airport is the largest selling point of chocolate not only in Belgium, but in the whole world!
– In 2002, euthanasia was legalized in Belgium.
– Belgium is the first country in the world to introduce electronic identity cards for its citizens. This decision was made in 2003.
– The first casino in Europe was opened in the city of Spa in 1763.
– Saxophone was invented in Belgium in the early 1840s by the famous musician and designer Adolf Sachs.
– The first printed newspapers in the world were published in 1605 in the city of Antwerp – the famous tourist center of Belgium.
– The highest person in Europe is the citizen of Belgium, Alain Delanois. He is 2 m 30 cm tall!
– The famous artist of Belgium Jan van Eyck is one of the inventors of oil painting.
– The Belgian motorway system is the only artificial structure visible from the Moon.