The government of Belgium is a constitutional hereditary monarchy with a bicameral parliament. The King is the head of state and appoints the government’s ministers, with the approval of parliament. The Prime Minister is the head of government, with the King exercising federal legislative powers. The country has two Houses of Parliament: the Chamber of Representatives, with 150 members, and the Senate, which has 60 members. Voting is mandatory.
The name of Belgium comes from a region of medieval Gaul, called Gallia Belgica, which was inhabited by Celtic tribes. Belgium was historically part of the Low Countries, which also included the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Once a vibrant center of commerce and culture, Belgium was known as the Southern Netherlands. It has been called “the battleground of Europe.”
The climate of Belgium is very similar to other parts of Western Europe. The location along the coast helps to make the climate mild and humid. Because of the sea, Belgium receives a moderate amount of rain throughout the year. The average temperature in Belgium ranges from fifteen to twenty-four degrees in the summer and from -2 to five degrees in the winter. The country is renowned for its festivals, music and food. No matter what time of year you decide to visit Belgium, you’ll find a place that suits your lifestyle.
The current climate of Belgium is presented on the Belgian climatology context page. This page provides a visualisation of current climate conditions and can be used to build an understanding of the seasonal cycle and time series. The current climatology for Belgium is displayed as a national average, but you can also view data for specific local coordinates from the Data Download page. In addition, you can find the full list of references on the climatological data for Belgium.
Despite being a country of mild climate, Belgium can experience snow during the winter. The country experiences relatively few natural disasters, with the exception of flooding along rivers and on reclaimed coastal land. However, some flooding and mudslides have occurred across Belgium in recent years, causing several deaths and flooding. While rare, such events should not be overlooked. While winter in Belgium is the wettest season, the country has five school holidays throughout the year.
The languages of Belgium are Dutch, French, and German. Dutch is the primary language of the Flemish Community (which is also known as Flanders) and the Brussels-Capital Region. There are three main dialects: Brabantian, West Flemish, and Limburgish. Depending on where you live, you might be able to hear a subdialect. For example, the original dialect of Brussels is heavily French-influenced, but today the language is spoken by a minority of the capital city.
In addition to the three official languages, French and German are widely spoken, with French being the most common language for citizens of these countries. English is not officially the official language of Belgium, but it is widely used and is taught throughout the education system. Although the country is renowned for its language multiculturalism, about half of the population is non-native. Because English is widely used in Brussels, many Belgians have pushed for the language to be officially recognized. This would allow people to communicate with both native Belgians and foreign residents.
The Roman Catholic Church is the dominant religion in Belgium. The government funds and supports the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, as well as the Jewish and Muslim faiths. The Catholic Church holds sway over many institutions, including the important network of public schools and two of the country’s largest universities. While religion is widely accepted in Belgium, the number of believers decreased significantly during the twentieth century. Today, 65 percent of Belgians identify with a faith, and many do not practice religion, but nonetheless participate in religious rituals, such as the Easter and Christmas celebrations. Other minor religions include Muslims, Protestants, and Jews.
The country’s borders are shaped by geological conditions. The coastal plain lies in the northwest, while the central plateau stretches further inland. The coastal plain is mostly flat and is covered in sand dunes. Some areas have been reclaimed from the sea and developed into industrial areas. These areas are called polders and are protected by canals and dikes. In contrast, the central plateau is a smooth, slowly rising region with fertile valleys and numerous waterways. The region also includes caves and small gorges.
The current level of investment in the Belgian economy is relatively low, especially compared to other countries in Europe. However, the Belgian government does offer incentives and subsidies for foreign investors to invest in the country. According to the Quest III model developed by the European Commission, a permanent increase in government investment of 0.5% of GDP would result in significant growth in private consumption and investment. This model also takes into account alternative financing mechanisms and suggests that a shift in government investment towards infrastructure could lead to significant benefits to GDP in the medium term.
Although the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is promising, the country has to address fragmentation in the labor market. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belgium experienced accelerated job growth – a cyclical rebound and the impact of past reforms. Nevertheless, large regional disparities remain in Belgium, and there is a significant skills mismatch in several key sectors. Ultimately, Belgium must address the issues associated with labor market fragmentation to enhance its long-term prosperity.
A country in Western Europe, Belgium is home to medieval towns, Renaissance architecture, NATO headquarters, and the European Union. Its distinct regions include the Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, with a German-speaking community in the east. Its capital city, Brussels, has ornate guildhalls on the Grand Place and elegant art-nouveau buildings throughout. Whether you are visiting for business or pleasure, Belgium is sure to have something to suit your needs.
Weather-wise, Belgium has mild temperatures throughout the year, with a comparable difference between summer and winter temperatures. The average temperature in January is only about nine degrees Fahrenheit, while the highest temperatures are recorded in July. The country’s climate is maritime-type, with very little variation in temperature from month to month. Average precipitation in Belgium is acceptable. During the off-season, the weather is even more pleasant. And you can even ski downhill!