Brief Facts About Belgium

See Brief Facts About Belgium Below….

  • There are over 800 kinds of beers made in Belgium.
  • Belgians consume in average 150 liters of beer per person per year.
  • The world’s first beer academy opened in Herk-de-Stad, in the Belgian province of Limburg, in 1999.
  • Jean Neuhaus invented the pralines chocolate in Brussels in 1912.
  • Belgium produces 220,000 tonnes of chocolate per year. This amounts to 22 kg of chocolate per inhabitant annually, i.e. 61 grammes per day in average.
  • The world’s biggest chocolate selling point is Brussels National Airport.
  • Belgians claim to have invented chips (French fries), and indeed about all towns and villages have their own friterie/frituur (chips seller).
  • There are 3 main sorts of Belgian waffles : Liege waffles (the most common), Brussels waffles (bigger, lighter, rectangular, and eaten with toppings such as strawberries or ice cream), and galettes (thinner, softer, and typically eaten for breakfast, sometimes with jam – nothing to do with French galettes from Little Brittany, which are a kind of pancake).
  • Belgium is renowned for its bakeries. Local specialities include cramique (bread cooked with egg yolks and raisins), cougnou (a speciality from Wallonia eaten mostly in winter), gozettes(turnovers) and tarts. The most typical tarts are cherry tart, plum tart, apple tart, sugar tart, and especially rice tart (originally from Verviers, near Liege).
  • Belgium has one of the lowest proportion of McDonald’s restaurants per inhabitant in the developed world, with only 0.062 per 10,000 people, or 7x less than the USA, 4x less than Japan, and twice less than France or Germany.
  • The Foire de Libramont is the largest agricultural, forestry and agri-food fair in Europe.

Law & Government

  • Belgium became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia in 2002 (although the Netherlands decriminalised it a few months before), and the second to legalise gay marriage in 2003 (2 years after the Netherlands).
  • Belgium became the world’s first country to ban cluster bombs, and second to ban forced marriages in 2006.
  • Belgium was the world’s first country, along with Italy, to introduce electronic ID cards in March 2003. It will also be the first European country to issue e-ID’s to the entire population.
  • Belgium was the first country in the world to issue electronic passports complying with the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
  • Belgium is the country with the highest proportion of female ministers in the world (55% in 2000) and one of the earliest to have a female parliamentarian (in 1921).
  • Belgium is one of the rare countries with compulsory education up to 18 years old (highest in the world).
  • Belgium is one of the few countries worldwide with compulsory voting (and enforced).
  • Possession of up to 3 grammes of cannabis is legal in Belgium.
  • 24 million tablets of ecstasy are consumed in Belgium each year.
  • Tax levels in Belgium are among the highest in the world, with about 40% of gross earnings given up in tax for a single-income family. A study for 2005 showed that Belgium had the highest average income tax rate out of 30 OECD countries. Total taxation represents 45.6 % of the country’s GDP. Inheritance tax can reach up to 80%. The Royal family alone receives 12 million € of tax-payers’ money each year.
  • Belgium is the country that grants the most new citizenships per capita in the world after Canada.
  • Belgium was elected 9 times at the UN Security Council (1947, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1971, 1972, 1991, 1992, 2007), the 9th highest score worldwide. Belgium has been elected more times than Germany, Spain, Mexico, Australia or Indonesia.

Construction &Transportation

  • The Belgian motorway system is the only man-made structure visible from the moon (at night, due to the lights all along the motorway network).
  • Belgium is the world’s 3rd country with the most vehicles per square kilometres after the Netherlands and Japan. It has the highest density of roads and the highest density of railroads in the world.
  • Only 12% of trucks and lorries using Belgian roads are immatriculated in Belgium.
  • A 2006 survey revealed that only 11% of car commuter to Brussels would choose to use the train if it was free.
  • The world’s largest ship lift is the counterweighted lift of Strepy-Thieu (73.15 m high) in the Belgian province of Hainaut
  • Europe’s first skyscraper (“Torengebouw”) was built in Antwerp in 1928.
  • The longest tramway line in the world is the Belgian coast tram (68 km), which opened in 1885 and operates between De Panne and Knokke-Heist, from the French border to the Dutch border.
  • The Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps is the longest and the second oldest F1 Grand Prix circuit still in use (first Grand Prix held in 1924, two years after the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy).
  • The world record of acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (in 3.266 seconds) is held by the Vertigo, the only Belgian sports car.
  • Europe’s first modern health resort opened in Spa in the 18th century.
  • Europe’s first casino, “la Redoute”, opened in 1763 in Spa.
  • The Galeries St Hubert in Brussels opened in 1847 and are Europe’s oldest shopping arcades.
  • The Law Courts of Brussels is the largest court of justice in the world with a built land area of 26,000 m² at ground level – bigger than Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome (21,000 m²).
  • The Association of European Airports reported that Brussels National Airport (Zaventem) was the most punctual of the 27 largest European airports in 2006.
  • The Royal Palace of Brussels, built in a similar neoclassical style as Buckingham Palace, has a façade 50% longer than its British equivalent.
  • 80% of billiard players use Belgian-made balls.
  • Belgium produces the greatest variety of bricks in the world.
  • The largest Freemason temple on the European continent is the Great Temple in Brussels (at 79, Rue de Laeken).
  • Nemo33, in the Brussels neighbourhood of Uccle, is the world’s deepest swimming pool, reaching 35 metres in depth. It is a famous place to practice scuba diving.
  • The Belgian construction company Besix is one of the four contractors of the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest man-made structure (636m), due for completion in September 2009.
  • The man behind the construction of the world-famous Sydney Opera House was Sir Eugene Goossens (1893-1962), an English conductor and composer of Belgian origin, who was director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music at the time.

People & Society

  • Europe’s tallest man is Belgian (Alain Delaunois, 2m30)
  • The biggest newborn baby ever recorded was Samuel Timmerman, born in the Ter Linden Hospital in Knokke, weighing 5.4 kg and 57 cm in length. (December 2006)
  • The world’s richest girl lives in Brussels (Athina Onassis Roussel de Miranda, granddaughter and sole heir of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis)
  • Many super-rich French and Dutch people have moved to Belgium (and often taken Belgian citizenship) in order to avoid wealth taxes in their country. Wealthy French people prefer Brussels, while most Dutch millionaires have elected Antwerp as their home.
  • In 2003, there were 884 registered Belgian comic series, up from 104 in 1985 (i.e. a 750% increase).
  • Belgium has more comic makers per square kilometer than any other country in the world (even Japan).
  • In 70 years of existence, 200 million books of “The Adventures of Tintin” have benn sold worldwide.

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