Photos of Belgium

At the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival in Brugge. The festival runs from the end of November until the middle of January and is located on Station Square.

Introduction

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. In recent years, political divisions between the Dutch-speaking Flemish of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy. The capital city of Brussels is home to numerous international organizations including the EU and NATO.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands

Geographic coordinates

50 50 N, 4 00 E

Area

total: 30,528 sq km

land: 30,278 sq km

water: 250 sq km

country comparison to the world: 140

Area - comparative

about the size of Maryland

<p>about the size of Maryland</p>

Land boundaries

total: 1,297 km

border countries (4): France 556 km, Germany 133 km, Luxembourg 130 km, Netherlands 478 km

Coastline

66.5 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit

continental shelf: median line with neighbors

Climate

temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Terrain

flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

Elevation

highest point: Botrange 694 m

lowest point: North Sea 0 m

mean elevation: 181 m

Natural resources

construction materials, silica sand, carbonates, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 44.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 27.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 16.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 22.4% (2018 est.)

other: 33.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

230 sq km (2012)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Seine 78,919 sq km), Rhine-Maas (198,735 sq km)

Population distribution

most of the population concentrated in the northern two-thirds of the country; the southeast is more thinly populated; considered to have one of the highest population densities in the world; approximately 97% live in urban areas

Natural hazards

flooding is a threat along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes

Geography - note

crossroads of Western Europe; most West European capitals are within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Belgian(s)

adjective: Belgian

Ethnic groups

Belgian 75.2%, Italian 4.1%, Moroccan 3.7%, French 2.4%, Turkish 2%, Dutch 2%, other 10.6% (2012 est.)

Languages

Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%

major-language sample(s):
Het Wereld Feitenboek, een omnisbare bron van informatie. (Dutch)

The World Factbook, une source indispensable d'informations de base. (French)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

French audio sample:

Religions

Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant and other Christian 2.5%, Muslim 5%, Jewish 0.4%, Buddhist 0.3%, atheist 9.2%, none 32.6% (2009 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.22% (male 1,033,383/female 984,624)

15-24 years: 11.2% (male 670,724/female 642,145)

25-54 years: 39.23% (male 2,319,777/female 2,278,450)

55-64 years: 13.14% (male 764,902/female 775,454)

65 years and over: 19.21% (male 988,148/female 1,263,109) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Belgium. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 57

youth dependency ratio: 26.7

elderly dependency ratio: 30.2

potential support ratio: 3.3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 41.6 years

male: 40.4 years

female: 42.8 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Birth rate

11.03 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

Death rate

9.71 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Net migration rate

4.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 25

Population distribution

most of the population concentrated in the northern two-thirds of the country; the southeast is more thinly populated; considered to have one of the highest population densities in the world; approximately 97% live in urban areas

Urbanization

urban population: 98.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.38% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

2.096 million BRUSSELS (capital), 1.048 million Antwerp (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

29.2 years (2019 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

5 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 164

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.24 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 3.68 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 2.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81.65 years

male: 79.02 years

female: 84.4 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

3.07 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

5.7 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 20 years

male: 19 years

female: 21 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 14.2%

male: 16%

female: 12.3% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 102

Environment

Environment - current issues

intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Heavy Metals, Air Pollution-Multi-effect Protocol, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 12.88 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 96.89 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 7.78 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy

Land use

agricultural land: 44.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 27.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 16.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 22.4% (2018 est.)

other: 33.5% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 98.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.38% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 65

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 4.708 million tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 1,614,985 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 34.3% (2015 est.)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Seine 78,919 sq km), Rhine-Maas (198,735 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 739 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 3.21 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 45 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

18.3 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium

conventional short form: Belgium

local long form: Royaume de Belgique (French)/Koninkrijk Belgie (Dutch)/Koenigreich Belgien (German)

local short form: Belgique/Belgie/Belgien

etymology: the name derives from the Belgae, an ancient Celtic tribal confederation that inhabited an area between the English Channel and the west bank of the Rhine in the first centuries B.C.

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

etymology: may derive from the Old Dutch "bruoc/broek," meaning "marsh" and "sella/zele/sel" signifying "home" to express the meaning "home in the marsh"

Administrative divisions

3 regions (French: regions, singular - region; Dutch: gewesten, singular - gewest); Brussels-Capital Region, also known as Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest (Dutch), Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (French long form), Bruxelles-Capitale (French short form); Flemish Region (Flanders), also known as Vlaams Gewest (Dutch long form), Vlaanderen (Dutch short form), Region Flamande (French long form), Flandre (French short form); Walloon Region (Wallonia), also known as Region Wallone (French long form), Wallonie (French short form), Waals Gewest (Dutch long form), Wallonie (Dutch short form)

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; the 2012 sixth state reform transferred additional competencies from the federal state to the regions and linguistic communities

Independence

4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)

National holiday

Belgian National Day (ascension to the throne of King LEOPOLD I), 21 July (1831)

Constitution

history: drafted 25 November 1830, approved 7 February 1831, entered into force 26 July 1831, revised 14 July 1993 (creating a federal state)

amendments: "revisions" proposed as declarations by the federal government in accord with the king or by Parliament followed by dissolution of Parliament and new elections; adoption requires two-thirds majority vote of a two-thirds quorum in both houses of the next elected Parliament; amended many times, last in 2019

Legal system

civil law system based on the French Civil Code; note - Belgian law continues to be modified in conformance with the legislative norms mandated by the European Union; judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Belgium

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: King PHILIPPE (since 21 July 2013); Heir Apparent Princess ELISABETH (daughter of the monarch, born 25 October 2001)

head of government: Prime Minister Alexander DE CROO (since 1 October 2020); Deputy Prime Ministers Vincent Van Quickenborne (since 1 October 2020), Sophie Wilmes (since 1 October 2020), Vincent Van Peteghem (since 1 October 2020), Frank Vandenbroucke (since 1 October 2020), Pierre-Yves Dermagne (since 1 October 2020), Petra De Sutter (since 1 October 2020), Georges Gilkinet (since 1 October 2020)

cabinet: Council of Ministers formally appointed by the monarch

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and approved by Parliament

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate or Senaat (in Dutch), Senat (in French) (60 seats; 50 members indirectly elected by the community and regional parliaments based on their election results, and 10 elected by the 50 other senators; members serve 5-year terms)
Chamber of Representatives or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers (in Dutch), Chambre des Representants (in French) (150 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

elections:

Senate - last held 26 May 2019 (next to be held in 2024)

Chamber of Representatives - last held on 26 May 2019 (next to be held in 2024); note - elections coincided with the EU elections

election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition men 33, women 27, percent of women 45%
Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - N-VA 16.0%, VB 11.9%, PS 9.5%, CD&V 8.9%, PVDA+/PTB 8.62%, Open VLD 8.5%, MR 7.6%, SP.A 6.7%, Ecolo 6.1%, Groen 6.1%, CDH 3.7%, Defi 2.2%, PP 1.1%, other 20.1%; seats by party - N-VA 25, VB 18, PS 20, CD&V 12, PVDA+PTB 12, Open VLD 12, MR 14, SP.A 9, Ecolo 13, Groen 8, CDH 5, Defi 2; composition - men 86, women 64, percent of women 42.7%; note - overall Parliament percent of women 43.8%

note: the 1993 constitutional revision that further devolved Belgium into a federal state created 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; changes above occurred since the sixth state reform

Judicial branch

highest courts: Constitutional Court or Grondwettelijk Hof (in Dutch) and Cour Constitutionelle (in French) (consists of 12 judges - 6 Dutch-speaking and 6 French-speaking); Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) and Cour de Cassation (in French) (court organized into 3 chambers: civil and commercial; criminal; social, fiscal, and armed forces; each chamber includes a Dutch division and a French division, each with a chairperson and 5-6 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Constitutional Court judges appointed by the monarch from candidates submitted by Parliament; judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 70; Supreme Court judges appointed by the monarch from candidates submitted by the High Council of Justice, a 44-member independent body of judicial and non-judicial members; judges appointed for life

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; regional courts; specialized courts for administrative, commercial, labor, immigration, and audit issues; magistrate's courts; justices of the peace

Political parties and leaders

Flemish parties:
Christian Democratic and Flemish or CD&V [Joachim COENS]
Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Egbert LACHAERT]
Groen or Green [Meyrem ALMACI] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens)
New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]
Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Conner ROUSSEAU]
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Tom VAN GRIEKEN]
Francophone parties:
Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Marc NOLLET, Rajae MAOUANE]
Francophone Federalist Democrats or Defi [Olivier MAINGAIN]
Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Maxine PREVOT]
People's Party or PP [Mischael MODRIKAMEN]
Reform Movement or MR [George-Louis BOUCHEZ]
Socialist Party or PS [Paul MAGNETTE]
Workers' Party or PTB [Peter MERTENS]
other minor parties

International organization participation

ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CD, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EITI (implementing country), EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, G-9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Jean-Arthur REGIBEAU (since 17 September 2020)

chancery: 1430 K Street NW, Washington DC 20005

telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900

FAX: [1] (202) 338-4960

email address and website:
Washington@diplobel.fed.be

https://unitedstates.diplomatie.belgium.be/en

consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Nicholas BERLINER (since 20 January 2021)

embassy: 27 Boulevard du Regent [Regentlaan], B-1000 Brussels

mailing address: 7600 Brussels Place, Washington DC  20521-7600

telephone: [32] (2) 811-4000

FAX: [32] (2) 811-4500

email address and website:
uscitizenBrussels@state.gov

https://be.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the vertical design was based on the flag of France; the colors are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant (yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field)

National symbol(s)

golden rampant lion; national colors: red, black, yellow

National anthem

name: "La Brabanconne" (The Song of Brabant)

lyrics/music: Louis-Alexandre DECHET[French] Victor CEULEMANS [Dutch]/Francois VAN CAMPENHOUT

note: adopted 1830; according to legend, Louis-Alexandre DECHET, an actor at the theater in which the revolution against the Netherlands began, wrote the lyrics with a group of young people in a Brussels cafe

Economy

Economic overview

Belgium’s central geographic location and highly developed transport network have helped develop a well-diversified economy, with a broad mix of transport, services, manufacturing, and high tech. Service and high-tech industries are concentrated in the northern Flanders region while the southern region of Wallonia is home to industries like coal and steel manufacturing. Belgium is completely reliant on foreign sources of fossil fuels, and the planned closure of its seven nuclear plants by 2025 should increase its dependence on foreign energy. Its role as a regional logistical hub makes its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with EU trading partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's trade is with other EU countries, and the port of Zeebrugge conducts almost half its trade with the United Kingdom alone, leaving Belgium’s economy vulnerable to the outcome of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU.

Belgium’s GDP grew by 1.7% in 2017 and the budget deficit was 1.5% of GDP. Unemployment stood at 7.3%, however the unemployment rate is lower in Flanders than Wallonia, 4.4% compared to 9.4%, because of industrial differences between the regions. The economy largely recovered from the March 2016 terrorist attacks that mainly impacted the Brussels region tourist and hospitality industry. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL's center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressure to decrease Belgium's high public debt of about 104% of GDP, but such efforts would also dampen economic growth. In addition to restrained public spending, low wage growth and higher inflation promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption.

The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness, including changes to labor market rules and welfare benefits. These changes have generally made Belgian wages more competitive regionally, but have raised tensions with trade unions, which have called for extended strikes. In 2017, Belgium approved a tax reform plan to ease corporate rates from 33% to 29% by 2018 and down to 25% by 2020. The tax plan also included benefits for innovation and SMEs, intended to spur competitiveness and private investment.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$557.11 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$594.47 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$584.05 billion note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 36

Real GDP growth rate

1.41% (2019 est.)

1.49% (2018 est.)

1.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156

Real GDP per capita

$48,200 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2020 est.)

$51,700 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2019 est.)

$51,100 note: data are in 2017 dollars (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 31

GDP (official exchange rate)

$533.028 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.4% (2019 est.)

2% (2018 est.)

2.1% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 83

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AA- (2016)

Moody's rating: Aa3 (2011)

Standard & Poors rating: AA (2011)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 22.1% (2017 est.)

services: 77.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 51.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 23.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.3% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 85.1% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -84.4% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar beet, milk, potatoes, wheat, pork, lettuce, poultry, maize, barley, pears

Industries

engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, base metals, textiles, glass, petroleum

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.3%

industry: 18.6%

services: 80.1% (2013 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.4%

highest 10%: 28.4% (2006)

Budget

revenues: 253.5 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 258.6 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

103.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

106% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions; general government debt is defined by the Maastricht definition and calculated by the National Bank of Belgium as consolidated gross debt; the debt is defined in European Regulation EC479/2009 concerning the implementation of the protocol on the excessive deficit procedure annexed to the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Maastricht) of 7 February 1992; the sub-sectors of consolidated gross debt are: federal government, communities and regions, local government, and social security funds

country comparison to the world: 13

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$1.843 billion (2019 est.)

-$4.135 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

Exports

$414.79 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$436.3 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$451.25 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Exports - partners

Germany 17%, France 14%, Netherlands 13%, United Kingdom 8%, United States 6%, Italy 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

cars and vehicle parts, refined petroleum, packaged medicines, medical cultures/vaccines, diamonds, natural gas (2019)

Imports

$412.85 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2020 est.)

$433.04 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2019 est.)

$452.53 billion note: data are in current year dollars (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Imports - partners

Netherlands 16%, Germany 13%, France 10%, United States 8%, Ireland 5%, China 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cars, refined petroleum, packaged medicines, medical cultures/vaccines, diamonds, natural gas (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$26.16 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$24.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 54

Debt - external

$1,317,513,000,000 (2019 est.)

$1,332,358,000,000 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.82771 (2020 est.)

0.90338 (2019 est.)

0.87789 (2018 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

0.7634 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 3,930,410

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33.78 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 11,509,573

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 98.92 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Belgium has a highly developed, technologically advanced telecom system; LTE is nearly universal; ongoing investment in 5G with services to dozens of cities and towns; competition between the DSL and cable platforms with investment in fiber networks; 5G; operators accelerating fiber roll-out program; Brussels Airport collaborating with operator to deploy 5G and IoT solutions; international connections through satellite and submarine cables; importer of broadcast equipment from EU neighbors (2021)

domestic: 34 per 100 fixed-line, 100 per 100 mobile-cellular; nationwide mobile-cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network (2019)

international: country code - 32; landing points for Concerto, UK-Belgium, Tangerine, and SeaMeWe-3, submarine cables that provide links to Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

a segmented market with the three major communities (Flemish, French, and German-speaking) each having responsibility for their own broadcast media; multiple TV channels exist for each community; additionally, in excess of 90% of households are connected to cable and can access broadcasts of TV stations from neighboring countries; each community has a public radio network coexisting with private broadcasters

Internet users

total: 10,258,638

percent of population: 88.66% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 51

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 4,590,707

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 39.45 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 33

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 7 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 117

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 13,639,487 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,285,340,000 mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 26

over 3,047 m: 6

2,438 to 3,047 m: 9

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 8 (2019)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 15

under 914 m: 15 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

3139 km gas, 154 km oil, 535 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 3,592 km (2014)

standard gauge: 3,592 km 1.435-m gauge (2,960 km electrified) (2014)

country comparison to the world: 55

Roadways

total: 118,414 km (2015)

paved: 118,414 km (includes 1,747 km of expressways) (2015)

country comparison to the world: 41

Waterways

2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2012)

country comparison to the world: 41

Merchant marine

total: 203

by type: bulk carrier 21, container ship 5, general cargo 16, oil tanker 25, other 136 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 68

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Oostende, Zeebrugge

container port(s) (TEUs): Antwerp (11,860,204) (2019)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Zeebrugge

river port(s): Antwerp, Gent (Schelde River)

Brussels (Senne River) Liege (Meuse River)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Belgian Armed Forces: Land Component, Marine (Naval) Component, Air Component, Medical Service (2021)

Military expenditures

1.07% of GDP (2020 est.)

0.89% of GDP (2019)

0.89% of GDP (2018)

0.88% of GDP (2017)

0.89% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 124

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Belgian Armed Forces have approximately 26,000 active duty personnel (11,000 Land Component; 1,500 Marine Component; 5,000 Air Force Component; 1,500 Medical Service; 7,000 other, including joint staff, support, and training schools) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Belgian Armed Forces have a mix of weapons systems from European countries, Israel, and the US; since 2010, France, Germany, and Switzerland are the leading suppliers of armaments; Belgium has an export-focused defense industry that focuses on components and subcontracting (2020)

Military deployments

125 France (contributing member of EuroCorps); 100 Mali (EUTM/MINUSMA); 200 Lithuania (NATO) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; conscription abolished in 1995 (2019)

Military - note

Belgium is a member of NATO and was one of the original 12 countries to sign the North Atlantic Treaty (also known as the Washington Treaty) in 1949

in 2018, the Defense Ministers of Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the creation of a Composite Special Operations Component Command (C-SOCC); the C-SOCC was declared operational in December 2020

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Qods Force; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 16,693 (Syria), 5,515 (Iraq) (2020)

stateless persons: 1,264 (2020)

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