Things You Should Know About Belgium

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Belgium, a small country in northwestern Europe, is known throughout the world for its delicious, creamy chocolates and fluffy, sugar coated waffles, but did you know the following fact about this European gem?

Fact 1: Although when we speak of beer we don’t often think of Belgium as a place famous for this alcoholic beverage, it has several hundred kinds of local beer, anywhere between 800 and 1000 depending on sources. Its citizens, on average, consume 150 liters of beer per person per year.

Fact 2: Belgium chocolate, on the other hand, we are all familiar with. This country produces 220,000 tons of chocolate per year!

Fact 3: Origins of French fries have been traced to Belgium. Historians claim that potatoes were first fried in Belgium in the late 1600s. Why the name? „French fries“, refers to the manner in which the potato is cut or sliced into slivers.

Fact 4: Belgium has three official languages: French, Dutch (also called Flemish) and German.

Fact 5: Its city Antwerp is known as the diamond capital of the world. It is believed that eighty percent of all rough and 50% of all polished diamonds pass through this region.

Fact 6: Forests cover 22% of the area of Belgium according to the World Bank.

Fact 7: Belgium was the first continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century.

Fact 8: Belgium is particularly known for its waffles, which have been around since the Middle Ages. There are two types of Belgium waffle the Brussels waffle – dusted with sugar or topped with chocolate, fruits and whipped cream – and the Liege waffle – chewier and sweeter and comes in three flavors, plain vanilla and cinnamon.

Fact 9: The country’s highest point is Signal de Botrange, only 694 m high, and is shorter that the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa which stands at 828 m.

Fact 10: Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1832.

Fact 11: The widely disliked vegetable Brussels sprout is actually named after Belgium’s capital city. Records show that this green, round vegetable was first eaten in Belgium in 1587, but that it was probably part of the local diet a lot earlier.

Fact 12: Belgium’s population is aging due to low birth and low death rates, but Belgium is still the second-most densely populated country in Europe.

Fact 13: Divorce is at an exceptional high in Belgium, the highest in Western Europe.

Fact 14: Belgium is a large exporter with exports accounting for more than 80% of its GDP. According to the World Trade Organization, Belgium was the 13th most important exporting nation in the world in 2012.

Fact 15: Euthanasia was legalized in Belgium in 2002 and it was the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003.

Fact 16: Although Belgium children are believed to be hardworking and well disciplined, a statistic in 2005 revealed that 40% of Belgians had tried marijuana by the age of 18.

Fact 17: One of the most famous British actresses during the Hollywood Golden Age, Audrey Hepburn, was born in Belgium’s capital Brussels.

Fact 18: The world famous action movie superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme was also born in Belgium.

Fact 19: The word „spa“, comes from the Belgium town of Spa. It is believed that people, as far back as the Roman times, used to come to Spa to bathe in its mineral springs.

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