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Belgium Facts
• Introduction
• People
• Government
• Communications
• Transportation
• Military
• Transnational Issues

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Introduction Belgium
Background:
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.
People Belgium
Population:
10,392,226 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 16.5% (male 873,130/female 836,785)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,467,044/female 3,406,030)
65 years and over: 17.4% (male 746,969/female 1,062,268) (2007 est.)
Median age:
total: 41.1 years
male: 39.9 years
female: 42.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.12% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:
10.29 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:
10.32 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:
1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.043 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.703 male(s)/female
total population: 0.959 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 4.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.92 years
male: 75.75 years
female: 82.24 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.64 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
10,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Belgian(s)
adjective: Belgian
Ethnic groups:
Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
Religions:
Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%
Languages:
Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
Government Belgium
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium
conventional short form: Belgium
local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
local short form: Belgique/Belgie
Government type:
federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy
Capital:
name: Brussels
geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:
10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch: provincies, singular - provincie) and 3 regions* (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Brussels* (Bruxelles) capital region; Flanders* region (five provinces): Antwerpen (Antwerp), Limburg, Oost-Vlaanderen (East Flanders), Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant), West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders); Wallonia* region (five provinces): Brabant Wallon (Walloon Brabant), Hainaut, Liege, Luxembourg, Namur
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities
Independence:
4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)
National holiday:
21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I
Constitution:
7 February 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create a federal state
Legal system:
civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993); Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch
head of government: Prime Minister Guy VERHOFSTADT (since 13 July 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers formally appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by parliament
note: government coalition - VLD, MR, PS, SP.A-Spirit
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members are directly elected by popular vote, 31 are indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held 18 May 2003 (next to be held 10 June 2007)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - SP.A-Spirit 15.5%, VLD 15.4%, CD & V 12.7%, PS 12.8%, MR 12.1%, VB 9.4%, CDH 5.6%; seats by party - SP.A-Spirit 7, VLD 7, CD & V 6, PS 6, MR 5, VB 5, CDH 2, other 2 (note - there are also 31 indirectly elected senators); Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - VLD 15.4%, SP.A-Spirit 14.9%, CD & V 13.3%, PS 13.0%, VB 11.6%, MR 11.4%, CDH 5.5%, Ecolo 3.1%; seats by party - PS 25, VLD 25, MR 24, SP.A-Spirit 23, CD & V 21, VB 18, CDH 8, Ecolo 4, other 2
note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments each with its own legislative assembly
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)
Political parties and leaders:
Flemish parties: Christian Democrats and Flemish or CD & V [Jo VANDEURZEN]; Flemish Liberal and Democrats or VLD [Bart SOMERS]; GROEN! [Vera DUA] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); New Flemish Alliance or NVA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Johan Vande LANOTTE]; Spirit [Geert LAMBERT] (new party now associated with SP.A); Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Frank VANHECKE]
Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX, Isabelle DURANT, Claude BROUIR]; Humanist and Democratic Center of CDH [Joelle MILQUET]; National Front or FN [Daniel FERET]; Reform Movement or MR [Didier REYNDERS]; Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]; other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Christian, Socialist, and Liberal Trade Unions; Federation of Belgian Industries; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants
International organization participation:
ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, ONUB, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNITAR, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Dominique STRUYE DE SWIELANDE
chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900
FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
consulate(s): Atlanta
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires William IMBRIE; note - Ambassador-designate Sam FOX may become the new ambassador in early 2007 pending Senate confirmation hearing
embassy: Regentlaan 27 Boulevard du Regent, B-1000 Brussels
mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710
telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111
FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the design was based on the flag of France
Communications Belgium
Telephones - main lines in use:
4.801 million (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
9.46 million (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities
domestic: nationwide cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 32; submarine cables - 5; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2005)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 7, FM 79, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios:
8.075 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
25 (plus 10 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:
4.72 million (1997)
Internet country code:
.be
Internet hosts:
2.871 million (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
61 (2000)
Internet users:
5.1 million (2005)
Transportation Belgium
Airports:
43 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 25
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 7 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 16 (2006)
Heliports:
1 (2006)
Pipelines:
gas 1,561 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2006)
Railways:
total: 3,521 km
standard gauge: 3,521 km 1.435-m gauge (2,927 km electrified) (2005)
Roadways:
total: 150,567 km
paved: 117,442 km (includes 1,747 km of expressways)
unpaved: 33,125 km (2004)
Waterways:
2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2003)
Merchant marine:
total: 66 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,952,159 GRT/6,521,645 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 19, cargo 4, chemical tanker 2, container 10, liquefied gas 15, petroleum tanker 12, roll on/roll off 4
foreign-owned: 10 (Denmark 4, Greece 4, UK 2)
registered in other countries: 113 (Antigua and Barbuda 4, Bahamas 13, Bermuda 4, Cyprus 1, French Southern and Antarctic Lands 6, Georgia 1, Gibraltar 2, Greece 12, Hong Kong 3, Luxembourg 9, Malta 10, Mozambique 2, Netherlands 2, Netherlands Antilles 4, Panama 11, Portugal 8, Russia 4, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Singapore 12, Sweden 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Antwerp, Brussels, Gent, Liege, Oostende, Zeebrugge
Military Belgium
Military branches:
Belgian Armed Forces: Land, Naval, and Air Operations Commands (2005)
Military service age and obligation:
16 years of age for voluntary military service; women comprise approx. 7% of the Belgian armed forces (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,436,736
females age 16-49: 2,369,463 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,998,003
females age 16-49: 1,940,918 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 64,263
females age 16-49: 61,402 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$3.999 billion (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.3% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Belgium
Disputes - international:
none
Illicit drugs:
growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; despite a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol, and tobacco; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy

This page was last updated on 17 April, 2007


 

Source: CIA World Factbook










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