Surface area : 30 528 km2 (136th biggest in the world)
North-South 220 km, West-East 260 km

Belgium is a part of West-European region. It is located on the coast of La Manche canal (English Channel) and shares frontiers with Netherlands on the North, with the Germany and Luxembourg on the East, and France on the South. Local Time Zone is GMT + 1 hour(summer + 2 hours).

Inhabitants: 10 millions

Belgium is one of the countries with a highest population density – 328 inhabitants / Km2. Most of them live in the middle of the country and on the coast. Population is stable with natural increase 0,2% per annum.

  • 97% of local population lives in the larger cities .
  • 57% of population are Germanic Flemings (Flemish) who speak Dutch dialect, 33% are Romance Valons who speak French, 9% are Italian, French and Moroccan minorities, 1% is a German minority.
  • Official languages are French and Dutch
  • 85% of the population are Roman Catholics.



Macroeconomic statistics

  2004 2005
Economic growth 2,6 % 1,2 %
GDP/inhabitant 118,4 117,5
Inflation rate 1,9 % 2,5 %
Unemployment rate 8,4 % 8,4 %
Public debt 94,7 % in relation with GDP 93,3 % in relation with GDP
Public budget deficit 0,0 % in relation with GDP 0,1 % in relation with GDP
Average income   2 690 Euro

Commodity structure of imports and exports is characterized by economic maturity of Belgium and its interests in international business. Belgium occupies 11th place in the world of international business. Main exports are high value addend goods like: engineering, energy, transport, chemical and pharmaceutical products and also agricultural and food-processing products. Most important export articles in the year of 2004 were: chemical and pharmaceutical goods 23%, transports goods14% and machinery and electrical equipment 13%. Most important imports were: chemicals and pharmaceuticals 21%, machines and electrical equipment 15% and transports12%.

800 000 BC. – the first pugs of people occured in the territory of today Belgium

500 BC – Celtic tribes settled here, from their name – lat. Belgae – comes contemporary name of the state and people

150 BC – the first coins were made

57 BC – Julius Caesar and his army occupied the land of Belgae – new Roma province Gallia Belgica.

5th century – Belgium is a part of Frankish Empire and than a part of Holy Roman Empire.

977 - foundation of Brussels

981 - Vikings were defeated in 981 by Arnulf of Carinthia

11th and 12th century – Belgium is divided into 7 historical lands:

County of Flanders

Marquisate of Namur

Duchy of Brabant

County of Hainaut

Duchy of Limburg


Bishopric of Liège

13th and 14th century - the golden age of Flanders: „By importing wool from England and weaving it into fine cloth for sale on the continent, the Flemish cities became exceedingly wealthy, populous, and powerful. By 1300, Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres, in particular, had gained virtual autonomy from aristocratic rule, developing the proud civic culture that still distinguishes them today."

The Kingdom of France tried to control the Flanders – it was successful in 1329.

14th-15th century – in the end of the Hundred Year War (1337-1453) between France and England, Philip the Bold of Burgundy became the ruler of Flanders in 1384 – the beginning of the Burgundian Period

1482 – 1795 – the rule of Habsburg Dynasty – the lands of Belgium are united with Spain (until 1715) and then with Austria

1795-1815 – French occupation

1815 - Belgium became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

1830 – Belgium was separated from the Netherlands – independent Kingdom of the Belgium

Belgian Revolution 1830

Belgian Revolution 1830 - source

1914-18 – First World War – first German occupation

1940-44 – Second World War - Nazi occupation – second German occupation

1944 – Belgium, together with Luxemburg and Netherlands becomes a commonwealth of states - Benelux

1949 - Belgium becomes a member of the NATO

1952 – Belgium is one of the constituent members of the European Union, Brussels is a capital city of the European Union

1977 - the country was divided into three administrative regions: Flanders (Flemings), Valonia (Valons), and Brussels

1980 - new Belgian constitution

1993 - Belgium becomes a federation

Belgium is today at risk of disintegration, due to the nationalism of Valons and Flemings

Fleming Belgians will often prefer to answer visitors in English rather than French, even if the visitor’s French is good. It is customary to bring flowers or a small present for the hostess, especially if invited for a meal.

Belgians accept a degree of familiarity once relationships have been established. This does not however extend to the use of the more intimate second person unless specifically proposed by the person concerned. In meetings it will normally not be advisable in any case, as familiarity with just one representative of the other side may be felt inappropriate by his or her colleagues.
In practice, Belgians are less respectful of the rules than other nationalities. Provincial people, both the Flemings when speaking French, and the Valons, have no inhibitions about addressing strangers with the familiar you ("tu"). Likewise they will use the formal "uw " and "vous" as a sign of respect when addressing senior family members and colleagues.

It is good practice in Belgium to make an appointment at least a few days in advance.

If you later have a conflict of priorities, explain the situation to your Belgian partner and he or she will certainly understand and find an alternative arrangement.

The most suitable time for a business meeting is probably about 10 a.m. If the proceedings are positive, it may lead to a lunch, when the agenda may range from a continuation of the business discussion to purely social affairs. This will help build the sense of mutual trust that is important to Belgians.

Belgians are pragmatic and relatively non-hierarchical people. Many Belgian managers can be approached direct for an appointment. Only occasionally you will deal with a secretary or personal assistant.
There may be no formal agenda for the meeting as many Belgians prefer to ’feel their way’ and leave themselves with the flexibility to work around to a sensible compromise.
It may be appropriate to start a business meeting with not too long informal conversation.

Punctuality is generally appreciated in Belgium and meetings will not normally be allowed to run on too long. In the case of social events, plan to arrive 5-10 minutes after the time indicated in the invitation.

Negotiations and decisions are usually open and flexible. Your Belgian counterparts will favor a win/win approach.

Official Languages of Belgium are French, Dutch and German. French (Wallon) is used by 33% of population. Flemish, the local variant of Dutch, is used by more than 60% of the population, and is spoken in the northern part of the country. The languages learned at school are officially labeled French and Dutch. German, spoken by 1% of population can be found in the cantons in the east of the Wallon region. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has two official languages: French and Dutch. Luxembourgish is spoken by around 0.5% of the population, but the language has no official status. About 10% of the Belgian population are non-native, and languages spoken include Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arabic and Turkish. - Belgium country profile - French phrases - Dutch phrases - German phrases