Although such a small country, Belgium has been a major battleground in Europe for centuries.
Occupied by Germany during both world wars, it experienced an economic boom after the war and became a model of liberal democracy in Western Europe.
But the divide between the predominantly Dutch-speaking north and the predominantly French-speaking south has also widened, and there are concerns about growing Islamic extremism among immigrant communities in the capital, Brussels.
Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and is home to a multilingual international diplomats and civil servants.
Kingdom of Belgium: facts
- capital: Brussels
- area: 30,528 square kilometers
- population: 11.5 million
- language: Dutch, French, German
- Average life: 79 years old (male) 84 years old (female)
Head of State: King Philip
King Philippe succeeded to the throne in July 2013 after his father, Albert II, abdicated due to health reasons.
Respect for the monarchy is one of the few factors that can overcome social divisions in Belgium, and King Albert used his constitutional powers to provide political guidance on forming a government during the 2010-2011 parliamentary deadlock. advised the person.
Prime Minister: Alexander de Croo
Finance Minister de Croo took over in October 2020 from the caretaker government led by Sophie Wilmes, who later served as foreign minister.
De Croo is a liberal Flemish politician who has served as deputy prime minister since 2012 and has held various other responsibilities. He heads a seven-party coalition of Liberals, Socialists, Greens and Christian Democrats.
Belgian broadcasting reflects the country’s unique political and linguistic nature. Cultural communities, not federal authorities, are responsible for regulating radio and television.
Important dates in Belgian history:
1830 – Declaration of independence from the Netherlands.
1914-1918 World War I: When Germany invaded and conquered much of the country, the Belgian army withdrew and remained behind the River Iser until 1918.
1920 – Belgium renounces neutrality and concludes a military alliance with France.
1930 – Flanders and Wallonia become legally monolingual regions.
1940 – Second World War. Germany invades Belgium and the Netherlands. The Belgian government evacuates to London. King Leopold surrenders to the German army.
1944 – Allied forces liberate Belgium.
1948 – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg form the Benelux Customs Union to facilitate the free movement of workers, goods and services within the region.
1949 – Belgium is a founding member of NATO.
1950 – Belgian voters vote for Leopold’s return, but after strikes and riots, Leopold appoints his eldest son, the Duke of Baudouin, as his temporary successor.
1951 – Baudouin officially assumes the throne.
1951 – Belgium becomes one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community
1957 – Belgium signed the Treaty of Rome as one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (EEC), now the European Union.
1960 – The Belgian government grants independence to the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
1962 – Luanda Urundi – the independence of present-day Rwanda and Burundi.
1992 – Belgium ratifies the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union.
1993 – The constitution was changed to allow the country to be divided into three administrative regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels.
King Baudouin dies and is succeeded by his younger brother Albert II.
1996 – The arrest of Marc Dutroux on suspicion of child murder and rape sparked mass protests against police incompetence in handling the case.
2002 – The Euro will be replaced by the Belgian Franc.
2003 – Belgium is required by law to close seven nuclear reactors by 2025 and ban the construction of new reactors. Government pledges to invest in renewable energy sources and gas.
2004 – Child murderer Marc Dutroux was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of several girls. His conviction came eight years after his arrest and after a complex investigation.
The High Court has ruled that the far-right racist Vlaams Blok group will be stripped of its funding and television rights and forced to disband. The party was re-founded under the new name Vlaams Beran (Flemish Interests).
2007 – Belgium without government for 100 days.
2008 – As the global financial crisis worsens, Fortis Financial Group’s holdings in Belgium and Luxembourg are rescued by French bank BNP Paribas, which buys 75% of the group’s shares and makes it one of Europe’s largest savings banks. was born.
2010 – Belgium’s Catholic Church is shaken by the findings of an official investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children by clergy over several decades.
2013 – King Albert II abdicates in favor of his son Philippe.
2015 – Two suspected Islamic extremists were shot dead by police during an operation to dismantle a jihadist cell in the eastern town of Verviers.
2016 – Islamic State suicide bombers attack Brussels’ Zaventem airport and Maalbeek metro station. 32 people were killed and over 300 injured.
2021 – Catastrophic floods hit parts of Western Europe. More than 100 people have died in Germany and 22 in Belgium.
2023 – More than seven years after the suicide bombings, a Brussels court has convicted six men of terrorist murder.