Looking for some fun facts about Belgium? You've come to the right place!
There's much more to Belgium than beer, chocolate, and waffles. This treasure trove of Belgium facts is proof of that.
Note: this list only contains facts. I created a separate list with famous Belgians. So no worries, I didn't forget about Adolphe Sax.
Listed below are the top fun facts about Belgium.
- Belgium independent in 1830. Belgium's independency was declared in 1830. It's located in Western Europe and consists of three federal regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussel.
- Belgium has another official name and a king. The official name is “Kingdom of Belgium” and King Philippe of the Belgians is the monarch.
- Belgium has 3 official languages. These are Dutch, French, and German.
- Spa came from Belgian city. The city of Spa, Belgium is located in the province of Liège.
- Napoleon defeated at Waterloo. Waterloo is a city in south of Brussels,
- Brussels hosts diplomats. Brussels and Washington D.C., hosts the most of diplomats and press correspondents of all the countries in the world.
1. Belgium independent in 1830
Belgium became an independent country in 1830. It's located in Western Europe and consists of three federal regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, and Brussels in the center.
2. Belgium has another official name and a king
Its official name is the “Kingdom of Belgium” and King Philippe of the Belgians is the current monarch.
3. Belgium has 3 official languages
Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. Contrary to what many people think, Flemish is not a language. It's a dialect cluster or simply the way people from the Northern part of Belgium – Flanders – speak Dutch.
4. Spa came from Belgian city
One fun fact about Belgium many people don’t know about is that the word “spa” comes from the Belgian city of Spa, located in the province of Liège. Spa is world-famous for its many natural mineral springs, and over time the name of the city became synonymous with any health resort with therapeutic baths, hot springs, or wellness treatments.
5. Napoleon defeated at Waterloo
Napoleon was defeated in Waterloo, a city south of Brussels.
6. Brussels hosts diplomats
Looking for some interesting facts about Belgium? Brussels, together with Washington D.C., has the highest number of diplomats and foreign press correspondents in the world.
7. Big agricultural fair held in Belgium
The largest agricultural, forestry and agri-food fair in Europe, the Foire de Libramont, is held in Belgium.
8. Belgium has many castles
Belgium is the country with the most castles per square kilometer in the world. A famous example is the Gravensteen in Ghent.
9. Belgium's high income taxes
Belgium has some of the highest income and social contribution tax rates in the world. For single people without children, it has the highest income tax rates.
10. Famous Belgian comics
Three famous Belgian comics are Tintin, The Smurfs and Lucky Luke.
11. The Snorks are Belgian
The Snorks are also Belgian.
12. First international football in Belgium
The very first international football game was played in Brussels in 1904.
13. Football still popular in Belgium
Football is still one of the most popular sports in Belgium.
14. Belgian king briefly dethroned
In 1990, the Belgian king Baudouin was dethroned for 36 hours. He was against the abortion law that the government wanted to pass, so they dethroned him, signed the law, and made him king again.
15. Belgium's long government formation
Little weird Belgium holds the world record for the longest government formation in history. The country was without a government for 541 days and then it took another 200 days to divide the highest 65 administrative jobs.
16. Belgium has the most translated books
The most translated books in the world, after the Bible, are those about Inspector Maigret by author Georges Simenon from Liège.
17. Belgium got a TV in 1953
Television was introduced in Belgium in 1953 with two channels, one in Dutch and one in French.
18. Education compulsory until 18 in Belgium
Another interesting fact about Belgium is that it's one of the rare countries where education is compulsory until you're 18 years old.
19. Belgium has two living kings
Aside from Spain, Belgium is the only country in the world to have two living kings. Current King Philippe's father Albert continues carrying the title “king” after his abdication.
20. Antwerp is diamond capital
Antwerp is the world's diamond capital, as over 80% of the world's rough diamonds pass through there. There are lots of diamond stores outside Antwerp's central train station.
21. Brussels airport big on chocolate
Brussels International Airport is the world's largest chocolate selling point.
22. Belgium's early newspapers
There are a lot of interesting things about Belgium when you look at its history and culture. For example, the country can claim to be the place where the world's two first printed newspapers were printed – both in 1605. One was printed in Strasbourg, and the other (the Nieuwe Tijdingen) was printed by Abraham Verhoeven in Antwerp in northern Flanders.
23. First Belgian car made
The first Belgian car, called the Vincke, was built in 1894. Automobiles Vincke produced a handful of models until it stopped production in 1905.
24. Belgium's highest point
Signal de Botrange (694 m) is the highest point in Belgium.
25. Belgium's lowest point
The North Sea is the lowest point in Belgium.
26. Belgium has long tram line
The Belgian coastal tram, which stretches for 68 km, is the longest tram line in the world. It opened in 1885 and operates between De Panne and Knokke-Heist, which is from the French border to the Dutch border.
27. Belgium's first railroad
The first railroad on the European mainland opened in Belgium in 1835. It connected Brussels and Mechelen.
28. Belgium's first gay PM
Belgium had the first openly gay Prime Minister in Europe. His name is Elio Di Rupo.
29. Ghent hosts big festival
Ghent hosts the biggest cultural festival in Europe, the Gentse Feesten. It's a great event if you don't mind the crowds.
30. Belgium has equal pay
Belgium has the lowest salary gap between men and women in the EU.
31. Belgium's translated authors
The two French-speaking authors who have been the most translated are both Belgian: the comic book author Hergé and George Simenon, an author mostly known for his detective novels. The Hergé Museum is located in Belgium as well.
32. Famous billiard balls from Belgium
80% of billiard players use the Aramith pool balls made in Belgium.
33. Belgians invented fries
Belgians invented fries (and a ton of other delicious things). That's that. Why everyone insists on calling them French fries is beyond me ;-)
34. Leuven is oldest university city in Belgium
Leuven has the oldest university city in the Low Lands.
35. Belgium's tallest building
The tallest building in Belgium is the Zuidertoren (“South Tower”) in Brussels.
36. First stock exchange in Belgium
The first stock exchange building was built in Bruges.
37. Belgium has big fruit region
Haspengouw is the largest fruit region in Western Europe and the second largest one in all of Europe after South Tyrol.
38. Music tape invented in Belgium
The music tape was invented by the Belgian department of Philips in Hasselt in 1963.
39. Peter Pan inspiration buried in Belgium
George Llewelyn Davies, the adopted son of the Scottish “Peter Pan” author James Barrie and the direct inspiration for the character of Peter Pan, was buried in Belgium.
40. Belgium hosts sand sculpture festival
Belgium hosts the world's largest sand sculpture festival.
41. Big music festival in Belgium
Tomorrowland is the world's largest Electronic Dance Music festival and festivals in Belgium are a really big deal.
42. Belgian founded New York
New York City was founded by the Belgian Pierre Minuit (1589-1638). He bought the island of Manhattan in 1626 from its original inhabitants.
43. Belgium's uranium for US bomb
Belgium supplied the Americans with the uranium that was used for the atom bomb they dropped on Hiroshima. It came from Congo, at that time a colony of Belgium.
44. Origin of “Belgium” is Roman
The name “Belgium” dates back to the Romans. They called their province in the north of Gaul Gallia Belgica after its previous inhabitants, the Celtic and German Belgae.
45. Belgium imports lots of coffee
Small Belgium is the sixth largest importer of coffee with 4.3 million bags/year.
46. Belgium has 800 kinds of beers
Over 800 kinds of beer are made in Belgium. Some claim it's over 1,000 kinds
47. Belgium's first beer academy
The world's first beer academy opened in Herk-de-Stad, in the province of Limburg, in 1999.
48. Belgium famous for chocolate
Chocolate is one of the most famous Belgian things and pralines are a typical Belgian specialty. They were invented by Jean Neuhaus in Brussels in 1912, and they're still one of the most famous chocolate brands around.
49. Lots of chocolate from Belgium
Belgium produces over 220,000 tonnes of chocolate each year.
50. Belgium banned cluster bombs
The Kingdom of Belgium was the first country in the world to ban cluster bombs.
51. Belgium pioneered digital IDs
Belgium was the first country in the world to issue electronic passports complying with the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and, along with Italy, was the first to issue electronic ID cards in March 2003.
52. Voting is compulsory in Belgium
Belgium is one of the few countries in the world with compulsory voting.
53. Belgium has world's largest ship lift
The world's largest ship lift is the counterweight lift of Strepy-Thieu (73.15 m high) in the Belgian province of Hainaut.
54. Belgium's first skyscraper
Europe's first skyscraper was built in Antwerp between 1928 and 1932. It's called “De Boerentoren” (“Farmer's Tower”) and is still the second-tallest structure in the city, after the Cathedral of Our Lady.
55. Brussels sprouts from Belgium
Brussels sprouts have been grown in Belgium for over 400 years. Brussels sprouts is considered one of the most popular Belgian food.
56. Belgium grants many citizenships
Belgium grants the largest number of new citizenships per capita in the world.
57. Belgium's oldest shopping arcades
The Galeries St Hubert in Brussels opened in 1847, which makes them Europe's oldest shopping arcades. They're located just one street away from the famous Grand Place.
58. Belgium has large court
The Law Courts of Brussels is the largest court of justice in the world. It has a built land area of 26,000 m2 at ground level, which makes it bigger than the Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome (21,000 m2).
59. Belgium produces many bricks
Belgium produces the greatest variety of bricks in the world.
60. Belgium's large Masonic temple
The largest Freemason temple on the European continent is the Great Temple in the capital of Brussels (at 79, Rue de Laeken).
61. Large brewer located in Belgium
Anheuser-Busch, the largest beer brewer in the world, is located in Belgium. Belgium is famous for its beer and has hundreds of different kinds of beer.
62. Belgium's influential scientists
Belgium produced some of the world's most influential scientists in the 16th century, including Gerardus Mercator, the famous cartographer, and the anatomist Andreas Vesalius.
63. Belgium's many comic artists
Belgium has more comic bookmakers per square kilometer than any other country in the world (even Japan).
64. Belgium's smallest city claim
Durbuy dubs itself the smallest city in the world. Although it now has less than 500 inhabitants, it was granted the rank of city in medieval times, which it hasn't lost since then.
65. Belgium has high art collector density
The Kingdom of Belgium has the highest density of art collectors of any country.
66. Neanderthal skulls found in Belgium
Neanderthal skulls were first discovered in the Belgian village of Engis (a suburb of Liege), in 1829, although the name comes from the Neander Valley in Germany (the site of a later find in 1856).
67. Belgium's first city charter
In 1066, Huy became the first European city to receive a charter of city rights, making it the oldest free city on the continent.
68. Oil painting invented in Belgium
Belgian painters are credited to have invented oil painting in the 15th century. It's unsure who exactly the inventor was, but scientists presume it was Jan van Eyck.
69. Brussels founded in Belgium
Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, was founded in the 13th century.
70. Charles V born in Belgium
Charles V of Habsburg, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain (and colonies), Naples and Sicily, and ruler of the Burgundian territories, was born and raised in Ghent, with French as his first language.
71. Belgium's bigger royal palace
The royal palace of Brussels is 50% longer than Buckingham Palace.
72. Many festivals in Belgium
There is no other country in Europe with as many street and music festivals all year round as Belgium.
73. First casino in Belgium
The Belgian city of Spa had the first casino in Europe.
74. Belgium has dense rail network
Belgium has the densest rail network in the world with 4,078 kilometers of track.
75. Most cable TV in Belgium
Belgian households have the highest percentage of cable TV in the world, at 97%.
76. First lottery held in Belgium
The world’s first recorded lottery took place in Belgium. It was held to raise money for the poor.
77. Belgium's fast car
The only Belgian race car, the Vertigo, once held the Guinness World Record for fastest acceleration from 0-100km/h in 3.266 seconds.
78. Belgian company helped build Burj Khalifa
Besix, a Belgian construction company, was one of four contracted to construct the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
79. Famous racetrack in Belgium
The Belgian Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps is the longest and the second oldest F1 Grand Prix Circuit still in use.
80. Belgium has tallest horse
The tallest living horse is a Belgian Gelding Horse. His name is Big Jake and he's 210.19 cm tall (6 feet and 2,75 inches).
81. Early National Geographic photo from Belgium
The first natural-color picture in National Geographic Magazine was of a flower garden in Ghent. This was in July 1914. The photo was printed on page 49.
82. Only lunar art is Belgian
Fallen Astronaut by the Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck is the only piece of art on the Moon.
83. Belgium's long “bar”
The longest “bar” in the world is Leuven's Oude Markt. It has around 40 cafés on one square.
84. First aerial bombing in Belgium
Luik/Liège was the first city in the world to get bombed from the sky by a German zeppelin.
85. Many heritage sites in Belgium
Belgium has 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
86. Belgium proposed Euro name
The name for the Euro currency was proposed by Belgium, as was the design for the € symbol.
87. Brussels hosts NATO and EU
The capital of Brussels is home both to NATO and the European Union.
I've done some thorough research compiling these fun facts about Belgium, but it's always possible that I missed something. Are there other facts about Belgium that you think I should've mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!
What are the most historical facts about Belgium?
Listed below are the most historical facts about Belgium.
- Kingdom of Belgium. Kingdom of Belgium is the official name of Belgium.
- Belgium has 3 official languages. Belgium's official languages are Dutch, French, and German.
- Waterloo was defeated in Napoleon. Waterloo, was the Belgian city that Napoleon was finally defeated.
- The word “Spa”. The word “Spa” comes from the city of Spa in Belgium.
- Belgium banned cluster bombs. The Kingdom of Belgium was the first country in the world to ban cluster bombs.
How did Belgium got it's name?
Belgium got its name from the Belgae, one of the early Celtic tribes that settled in the region. The Belgae lived in the northern part of Gaul, which the Romans conquered around 100 BC. When the Romans organized the region as the province of Gallia Belgica, they derived the name from the Belgae people. Centuries later, the territory that became Belgium was still called the Low Countries or the Netherlands. But after the Southern Netherlands seceded from the Northern Netherlands in 1830, the new nation was called Belgium, reviving the old Roman name.
What language do they speak in Belgium?
Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. Dutch has a dialect known as Flemish, is spoken by about 60% of Belgians, mostly in northern Flanders. French is spoken by about 40% of the population, mainly in southern Wallonia. Only about 1% of Belgians speak German, in a small community bordering Germany. The capital Brussels is officially bilingual, with both Dutch and French spoken. Most people in Brussels now speak French as their first language. But Belgium's language communities often overlap, with bilingualism common in border regions.
What is the symbol of Belgium?
The national symbol of Belgium is the Belgian lion. It appears on the Belgian coat of arms and on the flag, where it is shown in profile view facing the hoist. The black lion on a yellow field has been associated with Belgium for centuries, originally used by rulers of Flanders. It represents strength, courage, and nobility. The lion is depicted on Belgian coins and stamps, and at monuments and public buildings around the country. For Belgians, it is a powerful symbol of nationhood and independence.
Why should you visit Belgium?
Belgium is a country with a rich history and diverse cultural heritage. It offers a wide range of attractions and experiences for visitors. Belgium has something for everyone, plenty of historic sites and marvelous architecture to delicious cuisine and small pretty cities. Belgium is a destination worth visiting, whether you're interested in exploring medieval castles, tasting world-famous chocolates or experiencing the lively atmosphere of Brussels. So, if you're looking for a unique and memorable travel experience, Belgium should definitely be on your list.
What are some things to do in Belgium?
Listed below are some things to do in Belgium.
- Have a waffle: Indulge in the delightful experience of tasting Belgian waffles, such as the Liège and Brussels waffles.
- Visit a castle: Explore the abundance of castles in Belgium, with more per square kilometer than any other nation. A visit to the renowned Gravensteen in Ghent is a must.
- Have a beer and visit a brewery: Immerse yourself in Belgium's extensive beer culture by trying unique brews and visiting breweries like the Halve Maan in Bruges.
- Visit a beguinage: Discover the tranquil beguinages, historical communities of women, which offer a glimpse into Belgium's rich cultural heritage.
- Commemorate the World Wars: Pay tribute to the history and sacrifices of the World Wars by visiting significant sites and memorials.
What are the best Belgian food to try?
Listed below are some of the must-try Belgian food to try.
- Mussels: Moules-frites is a classic Belgian dish of mussels and fries. The mussels are commonly steamed in white wine with ingredients like shallots and parsley, creating a flavorful and satisfying meal.
- Fries: Belgian fries, a point of national pride, are uniquely double-fried for a soft inside and crispy exterior. The best place to enjoy them is at genuine “friteries” or “frietkots”.
- Meatballs: Belgian meatballs, known as “boulettes”, are often made with a mixture of beef and pork. They are typically served with a rich tomato sauce and accompanied by fries.
- Flemish Stew: Also known as “carbonade flamande”, this hearty stew features tender beef cooked in beer, along with onions and spices. It's a comforting dish that pairs perfectly with a Belgian beer.
What are the best Christmas markets in Belgium?
Belgium hosts some of Europe's best Christmas markets, with cities across the country offering festive markets that attract millions of visitors each year. The best Christmas markets in Belgium include:
- Brussels Christmas Market. The huge Winter Wonders market transforms the Grand Place into a sparkling winter wonderland from late November to December. Over 200 chalets sell gifts and decorations, plus there are fairground rides, an ice rink, and light shows on the beautiful historic buildings.
- Bruges Christmas Market. Bruges Christmas Market makes the most of the city's medieval charm. Located in the main Markt square beside the Belfry, it offers traditional crafts, food, and ice skating. Bruges' “Winter Glow” illuminates landmarks and canals, creating a magical atmosphere.
- Ghent Christmas Market. Ghent Christmas Market is an authentic, lively Christmas market has over 150 stalls showcasing international food and gifts. It features a ferris wheel and skating rink overlooking the picturesque old town.
- Antwerp Christmas Market. Antwerp Christmas Market is a 100-stall market that stretches across central squares and has a skating rink, rides, and music performances.
- Leuven Christmas Market. This compact market hosts 140 stands selling crafts and food, plus concerts and a candlelight parade. It has a cozier student vibe.
The Christmas markets in Belgium are quite popular and offer a festive atmosphere. There are plenty of options to explore and enjoy the holiday spirit in Belgium. Abundant lights, festive vibes, traditional eats like waffles and glühwein, plus activities for all ages.
What are the most popular cities in Belgium?
Listed below are the most popular cities in Belgium.
- Brussels. Brussels is the capital and largest city in Belgium. It is a major center for international politics, culture, media, and cuisine. Brussels has ornate medieval and baroque architecture and hosts the headquarters for the European Union and NATO. Brussels has lively Christmas markets starting in late November.
- Bruges. Bruges is a picturesque, well-preserved medieval city crisscrossed with canals. It is sometimes called the “Venice of the North.” Bruges is renowned for its belfry tower, medieval architecture, and churches. Bruges hosts magical Christmas markets throughout December.
- Antwerp. Antwerp is Belgium's second largest city and a major port city. It has an impressive Gothic cathedral, ancient streets, and is a center for fashion and diamond trade. Antwerp has popular Christmas markets starting in late November.
- Ghent. Ghent is filled with medieval towers, buildings, bridges, and cathedrals. It has famous Christmas markets in mid-November through December.
- Leuven. Leuven is a vibrant university city with a historic town center and Gothic-style buildings. Leuven has Christmas markets starting late November.
What are the most famous Belgian people?
there are quite a few notable Belgians who have made their mark in various fields. Listed below are the most famous Belgians:
- René Magritte: A renowned surrealist artist known for his thought-provoking paintings, such as “The Son of Man” and “The Treachery of Images.”
- Audrey Hepburn: Although born in Belgium, Audrey Hepburn became an iconic actress and fashion icon, starring in classic films like “Breakfast at Tiffany's” and “Roman Holiday.”
- Eddy Merckx: Considered one of the greatest cyclists of all time, Eddy Merckx has won numerous prestigious races, including the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.
- Hergé: The creator of the beloved comic series “The Adventures of Tintin,” Hergé's work has captivated readers of all ages with its engaging storytelling and distinctive art style.
- Jacques Brel: A highly influential singer-songwriter, Jacques Brel's emotionally charged songs, such as “Ne me quitte pas” and “Amsterdam,” have left a lasting impact on the music world.
These are just a few examples of the many famous Belgians who have achieved international recognition in their respective fields.
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