Belgium – wait, is that the capital of the Netherlands? No, it’s a country. What do you know about Belgium? Ehm, they speak French? No, not just French. Oh, but they have delicious waffles. That part is true. Today, I’ll give you 25 facts about this small country.
1. Belgium is divided into three big parts (four actually) and three languages. There’s Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels (because they speak Dutch and French here) and a German part. The languages are Dutch, French and German.
2. It has one of the biggest varieties of food in the world. You can find anything from French food to Italian food and even Greek food.
3. Fries are a Belgian invention. For once and for all: yes, they’re called French Fries but no, they are NOT French.
4. It has the greatest diversity of beer styles on the planet. I’m sure you’ve heard of Westmalle Tripel, Duvel, Stella Artois and many more.
5. It’s famous for its comic books. You’ve heard about Tintin, The Smurfs (of course) and Lucky Luke (perhaps?) but there are many others. There’s also a comic strip walk in Brussels.
6. The city of Antwerp is the world’s capital of the diamond industry. The city handles more than 80 percent of the world’s rough diamonds and 50 percent of all cut diamonds.
7. The tax rate is one of the highest in Europe. Not good and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
8. Voting is compulsory. You could call this a benefit but it’s also a bit annoying. Personally, I’m not into politics at all.
9. Belgian men are the second tallest in the world. Looking for a tall guy? You might find him over here. The average height is 182 cm.
10. The divorce rate is the highest in Western Europe. As mentioned before, you could find a tall guy but you have to stay together first.
11. The word ‘spa’ comes from the Belgian town Spa. It’s the place where Europe’s first health resort was opened in the 18th century.
12. Tomorrowland in Belgium is the largest electronic dance festival in the world. TomorrowWorld in Georgia (USA) is the American equivalent.
13. The first skyscraper in Europe was built in Belgium. It’s called “De Boerentoren”. It’s located in Antwerp and was opened in 1932.
14. Belgium was without a government for 541 days. Yes, you’ve heard it right. 541 days. That’s how well the politicians get along.
15. It was the world’s second country to legalize gay marriage and euthanasia. This happened in 2002 and 2003.
16. The Law Court of Brussels is the world’s largest court of justice. It’s even bigger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
17. The highest point in Belgium is lower than the world’s tallest building. It’s called Signal de Botrange (694 m).
18. Belgium has more castles than any other country in the world. They’re not all medieval castles and most of them are individual properties.
19. Together with Washington D.C., Brussels has the highest number of diplomats in the world. It’s a small country but it’s important for its international relations.
20. The salary gap between men and women is one of the lowest in Europe. Women in Belgium are lucky to have the same rights (or about 99.9% – there’s always room for improvement) as men.
21. New York City was founded by a Belgian. Pierre Minuit bought the island of Manhattan in 1626 from its original inhabitants.
22. Pralines were invented in Belgium. One of the most famous chocolate brands “Neuhaus” was invented by Jean Neuhaus in Brussels in 1912.
23. Belgium can be seen from the moon. At night, it’s one of the most enlightened countries in the world.
24. Euro was invented in Belgium. The name for the Euro currency was proposed by a Belgian, as was the design for the Euro symbol.
25. There are three types of Belgian waffles. The Liège waffles are the most common, Brussels waffles are the most famous (with a lot of different toppings) and the galettes (they are a lot thinner).