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Belgium  Geography, Climate and Population

  • Geography :

Belgium is situated between The Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, France to the southwest, Luxembourg to the south and the North Sea to the northwest.

It is a small country of some 30.518 km 2 that can be crossed in three or four hours.

Belgium can be divided into three areas:

a) Lower Belgium (up to 100 m):

It begins to the west with a stretch of sea, 65 km long . Behind the coastline there are polders, a flat and very fertile area which in former times was regularly flooded by the sea, but has now been protected against the strong tides by dikes. The Flemish plains, a sandy area which now and then becomes hilly, lies between the western polders, the Leie and the Scheldt. To the east lies the Stet, a region with poor soil, moors, lakes and swamps.

b) Central Belgium ( 100 - 200 m):

It lies beyond the Flemish plains and the Kempen, gently rising to the valleys of the Sambre and the Meuse. This low plateau is the most fertile area of Belgium. Part of the heavily urbanized Brabant region is covered by the "Forêt de Soignes".

c) Upper Belgium ( 200 to over 500 m ):

This is the most sparsely populated and most wooded area in the country, begins south of the Sambre and Meuse with the Condroz Plateau, a fertile area and continues south through the Fagne and Famenne up to the Ardennes.

  • Climate :

The sea and the influence of Gulf Stream winds combined, give Belgium a climate best described as grey.

Summers are damp and cool with temperatures seldom ranging above 27 °C during the day and averaging
15 °C (night and day).

Winters are damp and cold, temperature averages around 5 °C (night and day)

Average rain fall: 200 days a year.

  • Population :

Flemish North:
57,5 % of the population (5,8 MIO)

Walloon South:
32,3 % of the population (3,3 MIO)

Brussels Region:
9,5 % of the population (0,9.MIO)

German-speaking
0,7 % of the population (0,68 MIO)


Economy

Belgium is the 10 th biggest trade nation of the world.

Compared to the total size of the population (10 Mio), the trade volume/capita is 4 times higher than in Japan and 6 times higher than in the USA.

Government spending deficit: 123 % of the GDP.

Average density of population/km²: 325

Active population: 2,5 % agriculture; 28 % industry; 69,5 % service sector

  • Flanders :

Having few natural resources, the economy is based on grey cells, importing raw materials and exporting intermediate or finished goods.

Export accounts for 65 % of Flanders GNP

Most important trading partners: Germany, France, UK and The Netherlands

Economic growth originates from the establishment of foreign multinational companies, form a number of large Flemish companies (Bekaert, Petrofina) and from numerous small and medium sized companies.

Major strengths in export: chemicals, petrochemicals, food, textiles (gobelins), diamonds and metal products, e.g. car assembly (Volvo, Ford, General Motors)

With its four major ports (Antwerp, Ghent, Seabruges and Ostend) they handle together the highest volume of general cargo in the world.

  • Wallonia :

A land of iron and coal, Wallonia has been the site of intense industrial activity, the economic motor being the heavy industry.

Inspired by industrial barons as Cockerill (iron and steel making) and Solvay (chemistry), Wallonia spreads its know-how to the four corners of the globe. While these traditional sectors have remained the most important parts of the regional industry in terms of the absolute numbers of jobs, Wallonia has turned its attention to new technologies. Through reorganizations, these sectors have retooled with highly sophisticated computer and robot equipment and have diversified. (Val Saint Lambert)

Two main economic centers:

Liège: space exploration, software, telecommunications

Charleroi: aeronautics, computer graphics and petrochemical industries.