Kingdom of Belgium

Dutch: Koninkrijk België; French: Royaume de Belgique

CAPITAL : Brussels (Brussel, Bruxelles)

FLAG : The flag, adopted in 1831, is a tricolor of black, yellow, and red vertical stripes.

ANTHEM : La Brabançonne (The Song of Brabant), named after the Duchy of Brabant.

MONETARY UNIT : The euro replaced the Belgian franc in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro; and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. As of May 2003, €1 = $1.0977 (or $1 = €0.911).

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 21 July; Assumption Day, 15 August; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Armistice Day, 11 November; Dynasty Day, 15 November; and Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays are Easter Monday, Ascension, and Whitmonday.

TIME : 1 PM = noon GMT.


Belgium's active armed forces in 2002 numbered 39,260, including 3,230 women and a 1,860-member medical service. Army personnel numbered 26,400, equipped with 132 main battle tanks. Army reserves included 100,500 individuals. The air force, with 8,600 personnel, operated 90 combat aircraft. The navy numbered 2,400. In 2001–02 Belgium spent $3.1 billion on defense, or 1.4% of GDP.


The chief fishing ports are Zeebrugge and Ostend (Oostende, Ostende), from which a fleet of 156 boats (with a combined 23,262 GRT) sail the North Atlantic from the North Sea to Iceland. The total catch in 2000 was 29,800 tons, whose exports were valued at $469 million. Principal species caught that year were plaice, sole, turbot, and cod.


Belgium has no territories or colonies.


American University. Area Handbook for Belgium. 2d ed. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1984.

Bond, Brian. Britain, France, and Belgium, 1939–1940, 2nd ed. London and Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1990.

Coppieters, Bruno and Michel Huysseune, eds. Secession, History and the Social Sciences. Brussels, Belgium: VUB Brussels University Press, 2002.

De Vries, André. Brussels: A Cultural and Literary History. New York: Interlink Books, 2003.

Dutt, Ashok K. and Frank J. Costa (eds.) Perspectives on Planning and Urban Development in Belgium. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992.

Fitzmaurice, John. The Politics of Belgium: A Unique Feudalism. London: Hurst, 1996.

Gagnon, Alain-G. and James Tully, eds. Multinational Democracies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Hilden, Patricia. Women, Work, and Politics: Belgium 1830– 1914. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

The History of Painting in Belgium: From the 14th Century to the Present Day. Brussels: Renaissance du Livre, 1995.

Hooghe, Liesbet. A Leap in the Dark: Nationalist Conflict and Federal Reform in Belgium. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991.

International Smoking Statistics: A Collection of Historical Data from 30 Economically Developed Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Krewson, Margrit B. (Margrit Beran). The Netherlands and Northern Belgium, a Selective Bibliography of Reference Works, Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1989.

Murphy, Alexander B. The Regional Dynamics of Language Differentiation in Belgium: A Study in Cultural-political Geography. Chicago: University of Chicago, Committee on Geographical Studies, 1988.

OECD. Belgium-Luxembourg. OECD Economic Surveys. Paris (annual).

Picard, Leo. Geschiedenis van de Vlaamsche en Groot-Nederlandsche Beweging. 2 vols. Antwerp: De Sikkel, 1942–59.

Warmbrunn, Werner. The German Occupation of Belgium: 1940–1944, New York: P. Lang., 1993.

Wee, Herman van der. The Low Countries in Early Modern Times. Brookfield, Vt.: Variorum, 1993.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: