The Kingdom of Belgium has existed as an independent kingdom since 1930. Belgium has a population of about 11 million people and three official languages: Dutch, French and German. The Flemish Region, sometimes referred to as Flanders, occupies the northern part of the country and its official language is Dutch. The Walloon Region, or Wallonia, is in the southern part of Belgium. French is the predominant language with some German-speaking communities. The Brussels Capital Region consists of the capital city of Brussels and is the most densely populated region.
Due to its central location, Belgium has become a melting pot of different cultures along with economic and technological activities. As home to a number of European Union (EU) institutions, many important European political decisions are made in Belgium, and the country is host to international organisations like NATO, the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
Often quoted as having the best cuisine in Europe, Belgium’s food specialties extend far beyond waffles, beer and chocolate. For such a small country, it has rich local resources with fish and mussels being harvested from its North Sea coastline; pheasant, rabbit and venison from the forested hills of the Ardennes; and first-class beef and lamb from the fertile Flemish polders.
Beer is a major part of Belgium and the country produces a variety of beers, the largest per capita than anywhere else in the world. Belgian beer culture is so significant that it was included on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Belgium is also famous for its chocolate, with more than 170,000 tonnes produced each year.