Countries Facts

15 Interesting facts about Belgium

facts about belgium
Written by Alizay Khan

We’re looking at fifteen things facts about Belgium. Today’s topic covers royalty, chocolate and blends the historic with the new and a perfectly balanced way. Today, we’re talking about Belgium, a country that has everything to offer from countless castles to medieval battle fires to innovative art museums and hip cafes.

Belgium plays an important role in the political scene being one of the six founding members of the European Union, a founding member of NATO and the eurozone and is also part of the Shan Gan area. At the moment, the country holds the official seats to the European Council and European Commission and the country’s capital, Brussels. Brussels is home to the European Parliament.

If you’re a dessert lover, especially chocolate, Belgium is your place to be. Also, beer has a cosy home. There was brewing being an almost mystical art in Belgium and many types of ale are still created traditionally in monasteries. That’s enough with the intro. Let’s begin, shall we? Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Belgium. 

facts about belgium

Bruges is considered to be the Venice of the north 

Bruges is the capital of West Flanders in the Flemish region of facts about Belgium, and it’s known as the Venice of the North. Thanks to its many picturesque canals, the symbols of the city are little statues of bears clasping the coat of arms. Venetian merchants must have arrived in Bruges centuries ago and the way the shops and their handmade things look to take the visitors back in time to a faraway Italian era ahead of you’re in search of love.

Bruges is your place to be like men Water like a lake of love. Men mean love in Flemish on which the city was built is known for its powers to help people find the love of their life. 

facts about belgium

The border with the Netherlands crosses a restaurant’s patio

Belgium and the Netherlands are the definitions of friendship when it comes to sharing borders. Maybe you know this by now but the borders between the two are just some symbolic white crosses on the pavement. Yes, you heard that right. Nobody’s guarding them if you’re trying to be in two places at the same time. Belgium is the country for it.

There you can find a city that is half part of Belgium and the other half the Netherlands. This is also the case with a restaurant built on the border where you can dine in two countries at the same time and something funny happened a while ago when the closing hours were different because of specific laws in the two countries and the side on the Netherlands had to close earlier.

What did clients do? Simply changed their tables to the Belgian side and continued enjoying their meals. See the facts about Belgium.

facts about belgium

French fries may indeed come from Belgium

Believe it or not, the French fry is not French. It looks like historians claim that the origin of the French fry dates back to late 1600 when poor Belgian villagers eight fried fish but when winter came, the rivers were frozen and they had to find other sources of food. So they chose potatoes, preparing them the same way they prepared the fish.

There’s even an old 1781 family manuscript which recounts that potatoes were deeply fried before 1680. Nowadays, Belgians prefer to eat a fried egg on top of French fries or even French fries with cooked mussels in America. French fries were introduced when American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War One. 

facts about belgium

Belgium is sliding the gender pay gap for a long time now 

Belgium has been trying to defeat the gender pay gap and the good news is they’re making substantial progress. But how are they doing it? In Belgium, transparency on how much men and women are paid has been standard for years. Their solution was to introduce an agreed framework for who is paid what based on what they do without any prior negotiation.

This strict framework for setting salaries makes it impossible to pay women less for the same job. In 2017, Belgian men had bigger salaries with 3.3 per cent than women had. Also, 2017 was the year dedicated to ending violence against women. So we couldn’t be more proud of Belgium fighting the right fights. 

facts about belgium

Albert Frere is the richest person in Belgium with a net worth of 6.1 billion dollars

Albert Frio is a Belgian businessman born on the 4th of February 1926 and grew up as a son of a male merchant. And he got involved in the business from an early age because his father passed away when he was 17. He had to leave school and run the family business by himself.

He started investing in Belgian steel factories at the age of 30 and by the age of 45, he controlled the whole steel industry in the region of Charlebois. Later, he made some moves in the finance sector, investing through his own company, Parg. His career’s biggest coup, though, was in 2008, when he helped push through the merger of European energy giants. As of March 2018, the Belgian magnate has a net worth of six point one billion dollars. 

facts about belgium

King Leopold II was a wicked ruler for the Congo Free Republic

 Belgium’s past is haunted by the genocidal colonial legacy. Belgian King Leopold, the second was one of history’s most brutal rulers during the dark 19th century. He successfully transformed the entire Congo, a land from the Baltic to the Black Sea into his private domain, but did so with immense casualties from 1885 to 1988.

There was an estimation of death that ranged from 10 million to 15 million Africans, and many Congolese Belgian people are still discriminated against in Belgium after the king’s death and transfer of his private colony to Belgium. People tended to forget about the horrific atrocities that he took part in, facts about Belgium.

Many Belgians nowadays remember Leopold as the builder king for his extensive public works projects but many of them remain unaware of his role in the atrocities in Congo. 

facts about belgium

Prince Laurent was almost sent into social isolation 

Prince Laurent is the younger brother of King Felipe of Belgium. He caused a diplomatic incident when he visited a celebration honouring the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army on July 19th at the Chinese embassy in Brussels because nobody authorized him to be there on behalf of Belgium. So he kind of crashed the party, facts about Belgium.

The Belgian royal and government circles were really mad about it. After this, Prince Laurent almost lost his entire stiffen but eventually, the prime minister and his brother, King Felipe, agreed to a 15 per cent cut. It was stated that banning Prince Laurent from seeing foreign dignitaries could lead to social isolation. 

facts about belgium

A lot of people seek asylum in Belgium

Belgium received approximately 1435 applications from asylum seekers in 2017, which was 215 fewer than in 2016, according to the latest figures released by the European Union’s statistical office. The three main nationalities seeking international protection in Belgium are Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians. Even the Catalans ex-president Carla Puy Schimmel was invited to apply for asylum in Belgium and it is 100 per cent legal.

In 2018, Belgian families invited migrants who came to Brussels is guardino or to stay in their homes because there are no available places for them to stay at the moment. They’re all full. This just goes to show how many people come to Belgium since it’s a very progressive country with a lot of opportunities. Some refugees even camped out in Brussels, facts about Belgium

facts about belgium

Belgium was the world’s second country to legalize same-sex marriage

Facts about Belgium, same-sex marriage has raised a lot of controversies and problems since the early 60s but it was a taboo subject. No one dared to speak of it, as a lot of people were arguing due to this fact. Belgium took initiative in 2003, Belgium was the world’s second country to legalize gay marriages, providing gay individuals with the same tax and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples.

Well, the Netherlands was the first to do so in 2000. There’s more, Belgium offered limited rights through registered partnerships. Since 1998 and since 2006, couples have been permitted to adopt children. According to the Belgian official journal, approximately 300 same-sex couples got married between 2003 and 2004 alone. 

facts about belgium

The most expensive house in the world, belonged to a Belgian king 

A luxurious mansion in the south of France is now going on sale for about 410 million dollars. The mansion sits on 35 acres, has 14 bedrooms and an Olympic sized swimming pool. Velar last see today was a holiday home for Belgian King Leopold, the second when he bought the property with loot from Congo in 1984.

After his death, the money left Stull family who makes Grand Marnier Laqueur owned the property and they grew exotic plants such as oranges to help create their product for decades. The property has one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, with 15,000 plants and 20 special greenhouses. Close neighbours include British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. 

facts about belgium

One of the first skyscrapers in Europe was built in Belgium 

The Borin Tauren or Farmers Tower was constructed between 1929 and 1932. And it’s 95.8 meters high. The Boran Toren was the second skyscraper to be built in Europe, with the first one being the Rotterdam’s White House. The Borin Turin was designed by yond Vanhoenacker.

Currently, it’s ranked as the 22nd tallest building in Belgium. Unfortunately, according to specialists, nowadays it can’t be called a skyscraper anymore with its architectural height. There’s also good news. It’s got the status of a protected monument ever since July 17th, 1981. Nowadays, the Belgian KBC bank uses this building as an office is the facts about Belgium.

facts about belgium

Belgium has a broad history with chocolate in Belgium

The art of chocolate making started in the 17th century and get a port city in northwest Belgium. Even if the raw materials used in chocolate production do not originate in Belgium, more than 320 chocolatiers in Belgium produce over 725 thousand tons of chocolate each year. In 1912, John Newhouse Junior invented the first chocolate with a soft filling the frailing.

Three years later, Louise Agostini, the wife of Sharni House Junior developed a box in which pralines were packed. Famous chocolate companies strictly follow traditional and even secret recipes for their products to this day. Facts about Belgium there is also a city named Darbee, which attracts more than 30,000 visitors each year at the Chocho Palace Festival. 

facts about belgium

Antwerp is the world’s diamond capital

A diamond can be the symbol of pure and eternal love. The perfection of a diamond has always been associated with the city of Antwerp that had the advantage of being a port city. The thing that facilitated diamond trading five hundred years ago at some point because of the attention to detail and exuberant selection, facts about Belgium.

Even the king of France, France while the first started ordering his diamonds from Antwerp. Thanks to its strategic location, Antwerp had become a primary diamond centre by the end of the 15th century. Last year, the total profits of the Antwerp diamond trade were about 36 billion dollars US, accounting for seven per cent of Belgium’s total exports. 

facts about belgium

Belgium’s divorce rate is the highest in Western Europe 

Marriage is one of the most important parts of many of our lives but sometimes life can be really tough. People don’t take it seriously when problems come up and sometimes they tend to choose the easier and faster solution. Unfortunately, Belgium has the highest rate of divorce in Western Europe, 70 per cent.

The only explanation specialists could find is the Catholic Church had a major impact on society in the past and now people are no longer influenced by that factor. A survey showed that from 2006 to 2016, the number of divorces in Belgium averaged out to approximately 27,000 cases per year. This means that three out of four marriages in the country end with a separation, facts about Belgium. 

facts about belgium

International presence in Brussels is second only to New York

The planned expansion of a company’s business activities in different countries is a hard thing to achieve. Global expansion implies more than just making investments in nations outside of the company’s home. They need a presence in those countries as well. Even if Brussels is the seat of many international institutions, more than 2,000 multinational organizations. It’s also home to representations of institutions headquartered elsewhere.

Two of the organizations headquartered in Brussels are NATO, the World Customs Organization and Euro Control. On the other hand, there are more organizations with an office in Brussels like the Council of Europe, the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Hundred original Belgian beers brewed in Belgium

Brewing in Belgium dates back to at least, the 12th century. Back then, locals of Belgium brewed and distributed beer under the Catholic Church’s permission as a fundraising method for types of fermentation methods are used in Belgium. Spontaneous fermentation, warm fermentation, mixed fermentation and cool fermentation.

Despite the brewing methods, Belgian beers have a range in color and alcohol levels, even though there are at least 1,000 to 1200 types of beer in Belgium. They account for only one percent of all beer produced in the world. And on top of all that, every Belgian beer has its own special glass that it served in. How cool is that?

For more information on facts about Belgium, check out our Youtube.

About the author

Alizay Khan

Leave a Comment