Map of Belgium

FUNNY & BELGIUM RELATED

* In 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Belgium is a fictional curse word.

* In the league of extraordinary gentlemen, Allan Quatermain asks ' Automatic rifles. Who in God's name has automatic rifles? ' An elderly hunter replies: ' Dashed unsporting, probably Belgian '.

* In Episode 5 of Series 1 of the wonderful BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley David Horton is re-elected as district councilor and announces in his victory speech: "Dibley will be twinned with every single country in Europe" which is followed by applause. Then he says "Except Belgium!"

* In 2010, then 'UK Independence Party MEP' Nigel Farage called Belgium a 'non-country' in European Parliament.

* In the extremely funny 'Austin Powers' trilogy, Dr. Evil explains: my father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy..., and that he would womanize; he would drink; he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes, he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.
Dr. Evil also stated at one point that his twin-brother Dougie was raised by Belgians in Bruges, situated in the Dutch-speaking Flemish Region of Belgium. He claims to not know how to speak 'freaky-deeky Dutch'.

* In January 2016 Donald Trump called Brussels a 'hellhole', but in June 2016 he said that 'Belgium is a beautiful city', during a rally in Atlanta, Georgia.

BELGIAN CELEBRITIES

Matthias Schoenaerts, known from 'Our Souls at Night' (with Robert Redford), 'A bigger splash' (with Ralph Fiennes), 'The Danish girl' (smaller part), 'Far from the Madding Crowd' (with Carey Mulligan), 'The Drop' (with James Gandolfini), and many more! Also, search for one of the movies with his dad Julien Schoenaerts, who was rightfully regarded as one of the finest actors in the Dutch language, both on stage and screen. Look for films such as 'De huisbewaarder', 'De dame en de marskramer', 'Daens', 'De mantel der Liefde' and 'De Leeuw van Vlaanderen'. Jean-Claude Van Damme, known from 'The Expendables 2', 'Bloodsport', 'Kung Fu Panda 2' and many more. Did you know he is ranked number 14 on the 'The All-Time Greatest Action Stars'? Jacques Brel, singer and actor who wrote songs that were covered by many artists, including David Bowie, Marc Almond, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and many more. Georges Simenon, one of Belgium's most prolific authors with his world-famous detective series about Commissaire Maigret, the most translated books in the world after the Bible. Jean-Baptiste 'Django' Reinhardt, who invented the technique for playing guitar with two fingers. Jean 'Toots' Thielemans, arguably the world's most famous harmonica player. Number one hit 'Pump up the Jam' was written and performed by Technotronic. Sir Eugene Goossens, a conductor of Belgian origin, gave the idea for the construction of the opera house in Sydney. Eddy Merckx, five-time winner of the Tour de France. Tennis fans know Kim Clijsters, who was ranked number 1 in the World, in both singles and doubles.

BELGIAN INVENTIONS

Here are only a few Belgian inventors and celebrities. A simple search on the net and you will find many, many more. This said, Belgium is Waffles, Beer, Surrealism and Chocolate (which is one of the most famous Belgian things). Pralines were invented by Jean Neuhaus in Brussels in 1912 and the country produces over 220,000 tonnes of chocolate each year! The very first international football game was played in Brussels in 1904. And everybody knows Tintin, created by Hergé (real name was Georges Remi) and The Smurfs by Péyo (real name Pierre Culliford). Roller skates were invented by Belgian horologist John Joseph Merlin in 1760. The word 'SPA', used to talk about places to relax and get wellness treatments, comes from the Belgian city 'Spa'. The World Wide Web (www) is credited to British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, but Belgian informatics engineer and computer scientist Robert Cailliau is also considered a co-inventor due to his role in creating the proposal that led to the invention of the www (they both worked at CERN in Switzerland at the time). Cailliau subsequently played a large part in getting funding and seeing the project to fruition. Belgian Karel Van de Poele was a famous inventor with more than 240 patents to his name, including the electric tram.

EVEN MORE BELGIANS

Adolphe Sax invented the Saxophone in 1846. Rudy Beckers invented the parking sensors for cars. Mathematician Lambert Adolphe Quetelet invented the Body Mass Index. Physicist Ingrid Daubechies developed the mathematical model used by the FBI to stock fingerprints. 'The Big Bang Theory of Physics' was presented for the first time in 1927 by Belgian priest and scientist Georges Lemaitre. Adrien de Gerlache was the commander of the first scientific expedition to Antarctica. The painter Peter Paul Rubens was Belgian, and so were de Breughel-family, van Dijck, Jacob Jordaens, Jan van Eyck and Paul Delvaux. 'Fallen Astronaut' by the Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck is the only piece of art on the Moon.

THE COUNTRY

The Kingdom of Belgium in Western Europe, which became independent in 1830, is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the west, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of around 12 million. When starting your journey in Brussels, you will be in the centre of Amsterdam, Paris, London or Koln in a mere couple of hours. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liege, Bruges, Namur, and Leuven. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community in the North, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community in the South, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. There's also a small German-speaking Community in the East Cantons in the South-East of the country.

GOVERNMENT

The King of the Belgians is the head of state, and the Prime Minister of Belgium is the head of government. King Philippe, born 15 April 1960, is the current ruler, having ascended the throne on 21 July 2013, following his father's abdication. He married Jonkvrouw Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz in 1999, with whom he has four children. The country also has 6 governments and 55 Ministers: The Federal government consists of 20 Ministers and secretaries of State. The Flemish government consists of 9 Ministers. The Walloon Government consists of 9 Ministers. The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region consists of 8 Ministers. The Government of the French Community consists of 5 Ministers. The Government of the German-speaking Community consists of 4 Ministers. A Belgian employee’s 'real tax rate' (including VAT) is now 56.7%, compared to an EU average of 44.8%. But some positive change is coming their way due to the tax-shifts, although the (financial) effects of Corona may slow these down. For tax year 2021 the federal government decided to freeze 'the standard expense deduction' for at least one year.