Belgique Belgium

 
Carte Belgique
 
  • Accession to the EU: 1957 founder member
  • Accession to the Council of Europe: 1949
  • Surface area: 30 515 km2
  • Population: 10,8 million(Eurostat-January 2010)
  • Capital city: Brussels (1,1 million inhabitants)
  • Official languages: Dutch, French, German
  • Main religion: Catholic
  • Currency: Euro
  • Political system: Constitutional monarchy
  • Head of state : King Albert II (since 1993) - Prince Philip from July 20, 2013
  • Head of government: Elio Di Rupo since December 5th, 2011.
  • International code: + 32
  • National holiday: 21 July
  • The Belgian members of the European Parliament
 

History

 
Grand Place Bruxelles
Grand Place, Brussels
©TBFB
 
Over the course of the centuries, from the invasion of the Franks in the fifth century up until the arrival of the Dukes of Burgundy in the 14th century, Belgium has been the scene of many conflicts. Divided on many occasions and placed under numerous regimes, it was only in 1830 that Belgium finally found its own identity following the declaration of its independence.
 
  • 1831 Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg becomes the first sovereign
  • 1865-1909 Reign of Leopold II, marked by colonial conquest in Africa.
  • 1914 Despite its neutrality, Belgium is invaded by Germany.
  • 1925 Locarno agreements: Belgium’s border with Germany is guaranteed.
  • 1940-1945 The country is once again occupied by German troops.
  • 1944 Customs union signed with Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
  • 1949 Belgium joins NATO.
  • 1951 Highly criticized for his early surrender to the Germans, Leopold III abdicates in favour of his son Baudouin I.
  • 1957 Belgium becomes a founder member of the EEC.
  • 1977 The Egmont pact sees Belgium divided into three relatively independent regions.
 
  • 1993 The new Constitution officially establishes a federal country comprising three regions: the flemish region, the Wallonian region and the Brussels/capital region.
  • 1993 Death of Baudouin I. His brother Albert becomes king.
  • 1999 The president of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD), Guy Verhofstadt, is the new Belgian Prime Minister, a post he continues to hold following the 2003 parliamentary elections.
  • 2007 Guy Verhofstadt explained his resignation in June in succession of the parliamentary election. Since then Belgium had no government. The political parties of Flanders and Wallonia negotiated the formation of a new government.
  • 2008 Yves Leterme became prime minister and arranged a great coalition.
  • 2010 26.04.2010: demission of government Leterme, Leterme rests managing Head of Government
    13.06.2010: snap elections, won in Flanders by the Flemish Nationalists under Bart de Wever (28%), in Wallonia the Socialists under Elio di Rupo (35%).
    03.09.2010: the prenegotiations for the forming of government are declared to have failed for the present.
    21.10.2010: King Albert appoints Johann Vande Lanotte as new mediator.

 

Brussels

 
Atomium, Bruxelles
Atomium, Brussells
©TBFB
With a history dating back more than a thousand years, Brussels is located at the meeting point of some of western Europe’s major communications routes. With its 1.1 million inhabitants, and thanks to its huge number of shops and services, Brussels today accounts for more than 20% of Belgium’s active population. As a capital city, it is naturally home to most of the country’s economic, financial or administrative centres, in addition to other public, private or international organizations. A number of the European Union’s institutions are based in Brussels. Among others, it is home to the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. It also includes the headquarters of the Secretariat General of NATO. Brussels is also a town of art and culture, simply brimming with treasures such as its superb Grand-Place (great square), its Saint-Hubert royal galleries, its famous Manneken Pis or its strange Atomium. This is a city of contrasts. From the flea market in the Place du Jeu de Balle to the Palais de Justice (law courts), not forgetting its astonishing Chinese pavilion and its Japanese tower, Brussels skilfully combines a large number of different styles, and visitors can look forward to plenty of surprises.
 

Cartoon Books

 
Centre belge de la bande dessinée
Belgian Comic Centre
©TBFB
 
The history of Belgian cartoon books started in 1929 when Georges Rémi (Hergé) sketched out the rough outline of Tintin for the very first time. Tintin was a valiant reporter who was destined to turn up in every corner of the globe... even becoming the first man on the moon! In 1938, the Belgian publisher Dupuis launched the weekly cartoon “Spirou”. This was another decisive step in the history of cartoon books, as this publication became something of a training ground for Belgian cartoonists. Its huge success soon saw this concept being adopted by others, including Franquin and his “Gaston”, Peyo and “Les Schtroumpfs” (the Smurfs), Morris and “Lucky Luke”. In 1946, Raymond Leblanc created the “Journal de Tintin”. This included contributions from writers such as Edgar P. Jacobs, the creator of “Blake et Mortimer”, Jacques Martin, the man behind “Alix”, Greg, the author of “Achille Talon”, Tibet and André-Paul Duchâteau, the brains behind “Ric Hochet”, or Jean Roba who wrote “Boule et Bill”. Today, Belgian cartoons remain as exciting and varied as ever. Among the country’s many talented cartoonists and scriptwriters we should mention: Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq with “Largo Winch”, Tome and Janry with “Le petit Spirou”, Yves Swolfs with “Durango” or Philippe Geluck and his hilarious “Chat” (The Cat). Brussels is the undisputed cartoon capital, and is also home to the Belgian cartoon centre and a large number of on show throughout the city.
 
 
Praline belge
The famous Belgian pralines
©Neuhaus chocolat
 
Around 1850, Jean Neuhaus left his native Neuchâtel to move to Brussels where, along with his brother in law (a chemist), he set up a pharmaceutical confectionery business” at No.23 Galerie de la Reine. Neuhaus made extensive use of chocolate when making his products. As he enjoyed working with chocolate and seeing its popularity increasing, along with his son Frédéric he set up the “Confiserie et Chocolaterie Neuhaus-Perrin” (Neuhaus-Perrin chocolate and confectionery) in 1895. Following Frédéric’s death, his grandson (who was also named Jean) took over the confectionery business, and in 1912, thanks to a technique that he invented himself, he finally succeeded in marketing the very first filled chocolates which he called “praline”. In 1915, along with his wife Louise Agostini he developed another new product: the box of pralines. This was the famous “ballotin”, a revolutionary new way of packing pralines avoiding the use of paper bags, which had often led to the confectionary getting damaged. Even today, it is impossible to stroll through Brussels without admiring the shop windows of the famous chocolate makers such as Neuhaus, Godiva, Léonidas, Côte d’Or, Galler or Marcolini, each of which has made its own small contribution to the history of chocolate.
 

Did you know ?

 
Diamonds
Les diamants
Diamonds
©TBFB
 
That marvellous gemstone the diamond is particularly important for Belgium. Indeed, nine tenths of the world’s rough diamonds are traded and distributed in Antwerp, in Belgium.
 
Belgian Beer
Bières belge
Belgian beer
©TBFB
 
Belgium produces more than 500 different beers including white beer, lager beer, and amber, brown, fruity, mild, strong or bitter beers. Annual production is more than 10 million hectolitres.
 
Three linguistically different communities
The European slogan “United in diversity” also perfectly describes Belgium, as the country comprises three linguistically different communities: a French speaking community, a Dutch speaking community, and a German speaking community.
 
 
 

Photo of the month

Photo of the month: Propose a photo

European diary


    • From 1 january 2015 to 30 june 2015

      Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

    • From the 1st of January to the 30th of June 2015, the presidency of the Council of the European Union is held by Latvia. Latvia succeeds Italy and precedes Luxembourg.

      For 6 months, Latvia will preside over the work of the Council of ministers of the member countries of the EU.
    • From 1 january 2015 to 31 december 2015

      Mons and Plzen - European cultural capitals

    • After Sweden and Latvia in 2014, it is now up to Belgium and the Czech Republic to shed light on the cultural influence of their two cities. Mons and Plzen were designated European cultural capitals for 2015. These two cities will offer a vast range of cultural events.

      For further information
    • From 1 january 2015 to 31 december 2015

      European year of development

    • With a focus on informing citizens of the EU and member states' development cooperation.