Belgium

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About

Ghent

  • Belgium is a country in Western Europe.
  • Belgium’s two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia.
  • Belgium sits with France to the southwest, Luxembourg to the southeast, Germany to the east and the Netherlands to the north.
  • The terrain in Belgium is generally flat but becomes increasingly hilly and forested in the southeast, Ardennes region.
  • Belgium’s population density is the second highest in Europe
  • Belgium is known for its art, cathedrals, medieval cities and castles, fine chocolates, beers and gourmet food.

 

HISTORY

  • Belgium derives its name from the Belgae, a Celtic tribe.
  • For about 300 years after that, what is now Belgium flourished as a province of Rome.
  • About 100 years later, the Germanic tribe of the Franks invaded and took possession of Belgium.
  • The northern part of present-day Belgium became a much Germanic-Frankish-speaking area, while in the southern part people continued to speak derivatives Latin.
  • From 1519-1713 Belgium was occupied by the Spanish and 1713-1794 by the Austrians.
  • Germany’s invasion of Belgium in 1914 set off World War I.
  • Leopold III succeeded Albert, king during World War I, in 1934.
  • In World War II, Belgium was overwhelmed by Nazi Germany, and Leopold III was held prisoner.
  • He returned in 1950, was abdicated in 1951, and his son, Baudouin, became king.
  • Since 1958, Brussels became the capital of the European Union.
  • The constitution was revised in 1994, which turned Belgium into a federal state.


FACTS

    • Belgium produces 220,000 tonnes of chocolate every year.
    • Euthanasia and gay marriages have been legalized in Belgium since 2002 and 2003.
    • The world’s first country to ban cluster bombs was Belgium and it was also the second country in the world to ban forced marriages in the year 2006.
    • The highest proportion of female ministers in the world is in Belgium and this country also has the credit for being one of the earliest countries to have a female Parliamentarian, way back in 1921.
    • Education is compulsory in Belgium up to the age of 18, which makes it the highest in the world and also one of the rare countries to have such a law.
    • The only man-made structure visible from the moon is the Belgian motorway system, which is visible as a small glittering spot due to the lights all along the motorway network.
    • Belgians are fond of keeping pets and almost half of Belgian households have at least a single pet
    • After US, Belgians are the most enthusiastic collectors of discount coupons in the world.
    • The highest density of collectors of various art forms is in Belgium. The oil painting in fact was invented in the 15th century by famous Belgian painters.
    • The world’s main diamond centre and second largest petrochemical center is Belgium. Almost 90% of raw diamonds in the world are negotiated and distributed in Antwerp.
    • Belgium is known as the “Essence of Europe”. This country is famous for different flavors of beer, chocolates, and waffles.
    • A Belgian, Adolphe Sax, invented the saxophone.
    • Herge, the author of the famous comic series “Tintin”, is a Belgian.

Avg. Costs

Canal of Bruges

  • There are public trains and buses that you can ride for travelling. The one-way ticket costs around €1.30. Try getting a monthly pass worth €40 which takes you anywhere.
  • Taxis on the other hand may cost around €15 for a 5km drive
  • For groceries alone, you can set a budget around €150 per month for all the things that you need for home including food and drinks
  • Eating out, you can expect around €20 to €35 per meal in a regular restaurant
  • Fast food prices are at €6 to €10 per meal
  • Visits to doctors will cost you around €55 per consultation

 

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Currency

Information is coming soon.

Safety

Grand Palace, Brussels

  • Charleroi and Liège are the regions that boast the highest crime rates in Southern Belgium.
  • Belgium is a safe country except for certain neighborhoods in central Brussels and the outer edge of Antwerp.
  • The emergency phone number in Belgium for fire, police, and paramedics is 112.

 

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Climate

Night shot of Bridge in Bruge

  • The climate in Belgium is cool, temperate, and rainy.
  • The average daily temperatures range between 4 degrees in winter and 22 degrees in the summer.
  • Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year. Snowfalls are also frequent.
  • Recommended Clothing – Medium weight clothing all year, with a jacket or pullover for the cooler summer evenings. Waterproof clothing is useful at any time of year. Men are requested to wear a jacket in most good restaurants. Heavier clothing is advisable in the winter months.

Places to See

Old Castle in Ardennes Mountain

Gruuthuse Museum

  • The building is a former 15th century palace (House of Gruuthuse) of the Lords of Gruuthuse.
  • They made their fortune through the monopoly of “gruut”, blend of spices and herbs used in making beer.
  • This kind of beer, where gruut is used instead of hops, is called Witbier or White Beer or Witte and was mainly brewed in Belgium.
  • The Archeological Society of Bruges started the current exhibit in 1865.
  • In 1955 it was acquired by the city of Bruges which expanded the collection and the museum.

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Flanders Fields

  • Flanders Fields was the site of around half a million deaths in the horrific trenches of World War I.
  • There are numerous military cemeteries and ‘Missing Memorials’ in the region commemorating those of all nationalities who fell in battle.

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Historic Centre of Bruges

  • The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
  • The historic centre of Bruges is regarded as a testimony of the exchange of influences in the development of architecture, in particular the brick Gothic style.
  • It is also lauded for the innovative artistic influences in medieval painting.
  • The structures within the centre of Bruges are an outstanding ensemble illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe.

 

 

 

Castle of Harze

  • Harzé Castle is a castle in the village of Harzé in the municipality of Aywaille, province of Liège, Belgium.
  • During World War II the castle was the headquarters of the US 18th Airborne Corps under the command of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway during the Battle of the Bulge.

 

 

 

Grand Place, Brussels

  • The Grand Place is the central square of Brussels.
  • It is surrounded by guildhalls, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse.
  • The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels.
  • It measures 68 by 110 meters (223 by 360 ft), and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Etiquette

Country Customary Information:
• Strong emphasis on family life

Communication Etiquette:
• A good introduction is a brief handshake
• Appearance is very important in Belgian culture
• Cleanliness is considered a matter of national pride
• Gifts can be given, in the form of flowers or chocolates
• Very direct, and prefer communication to be logical and based upon reason
• Avoid being confrontational as it is considered rude
• Must always be polite and well mannered no mater how well you know each other
• They keep their private and public life separate, you are not really their friend until you are invited into their home

Business Etiquette:
• Relationships are a important part of the business culture in Belgium.
• Dress as formal as possible with being conservative.
– Dark suits and ties for the men
– Nice dresses or suits for the women
– Polished Shoes
– Do not remove jacket during meeting
• First meeting is more social, Belgians like to know the person their doing business with
• Have one side of your business card translated into French or Dutch to show respect
• Meetings are formal, arriving late may leave an impression that you are unreliable
• Most companies operate from the top down in a hierarchy

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