Let us tell you some Interesting facts about Belgium. Belgium has the highest level of taxes in all OECD countries; the Royal Palace of Brussels is bigger than Buckingham Palace; a native of Belgium founded the Holy Roman Empire; Belgium (Francophone) creates the most comics per capita in the world; it is a Belgian who founded the city of New York; the first printed newspaper in the world was published in Antwerp Are there other things you do not know about Belgium? Take a look at the surprising or Interesting facts about Belgium below.
50 Interesting facts about Belgium
Food & drinks
- There are around 800 kinds of beer brewed in Belgium.
- Belgians consume on average 100 liters of beer per person per year.
- The first beer academy opened in Herk-de-Stad, Limburg, in 1999.
- Jean Neuhaus invented pralines in Brussels in 1912.
- Belgium produces 220,000 tonnes of chocolate a year. This equates to 22 kg of chocolate per capita annually, or 61 grams per day on average.
- Brussels National Airport is the biggest chocolate point of sale in the world.
- The Belgians say they have fries, and indeed almost every town and village seems to have at least one chip shop.
- There are 3 main types of Belgian waffles: Liège waffles (the most common), Brussels waffles (bigger, lighter, rectangular, and typically eaten with fruit or ice cream), and cakes ( nothing to do with the French pancakes of Brittany, they are like waffles, but finer, softer and usually eaten at breakfast, sometimes with jam).
- Belgium is famous for its bakeries and pastries. Among the local specialties, we find the ceramic (sweet bread with yolks and raisins), cougnou (a Walloon winter specialty), gozettes and pies. The most typical tartrs are cherries, plums, apples, sugar and, above all, rice (a specialty from Verviers, near Liège ).
- Belgium has the lowest proportion of McDonald’s per capita in developed countries, with only 0.062 restaurants per 10,000 people, 7x less than in the United States, 4x less than Japan, and half as much as in France or in Germany.
- The Libramont Fair is the largest agricultural, forestry and agri-food fair in Europe.
Politics & Government
- Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, and same-sex marriage in 2003.
- In 2006, Belgium became the first country in the world to ban cluster munitions, and the second to ban forced marriages.
- In March 2003, Belgium was the first country, along with Italy, to introduce the use of electronic identity cards. It was also the first European country to give electronic identities (e-ID) to the entire population.
- Belgium was the first country in the world to issue e-passports in line with the recommendations of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization).
- Belgium is the country with the highest proportion of women ministers in the world (55% in 2000) and one of the first to elect a woman in Parliament (in 1921).
- Belgium is one of the few countries where education is compulsory until the age of 18 (the highest minimum age in the world).
- Belgium is one of a handful of countries in the world where political voting is mandatory (with sanctions).
- Possession of up to 3 grams of cannabis is legal in Belgium.
- 24 million ecstasy pills are consumed in Belgium each year.
- Taxes in Belgium are among the highest in the world, with around 40% of gross income being taxed for a single-earner family. A 2005 study showed that Belgium had the highest average income tax rate of the 30 OECD countries. Total taxes represent 45.6% of the country’s GNP. Inheritance tax can reach up to 80%. The royal family alone receives 12 million euros from taxpayers each year.
- Belgium is the country with the most naturalisations per capita in the world after Canada.
- Belgium has been elected 9 times to the UN Security Council (in 1947, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1971, 1972, 1991, 1992, and 2007), the 9th highest score in the world. Belgium has been elected more than Germany, Spain, Mexico, Australia or Indonesia.
Construction & Transportation
- The Belgian motorway system is the only visible human structure of the moon (at night, at least, because of the lighting along the network).
- Belgium is the third country in the world with the most vehicles per km2, after the Netherlands and Japan. However, it has the highest density of roads and railways in the world.
- Only 12% of trucks passing through Belgium are registered in Belgium.
- A 2006 survey revealed that only 11% of commuters traveling to Brussels by car would take the train if it was free.
- The largest boat lift in the world is the funicular lift Strepy-Thieu (73.15 m high) in the province of Hainaut .
- The first skyscraper in Europe was built in Antwerp in 1928 (the “Torengebouw”).
- The longest tramway line in the world is the Belgian Coast Tram ( kusttram in Dutch), which opened in 1885 and connects the 68 km between De Panne and Knokke-Heist, from the French border to the Dutch border.
- The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is the longest and second oldest Formula 1 circuit yet in use (its first Grand Prix was held in 1924, two years after the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Italy).
- The world acceleration record from 0 to 100 km / h (in 3,266 seconds) is held by the Vertigo , the only Belgian sports car.
- Europe’s first modern hot springs opened in Spa in the 18th century.
The first casino in Europe, La Redoute, opened in 1763 at Spa .
- The St Hubert Galleries in Brussels opened in 1847, making it the oldest shopping arcade in Europe.
- The Brussels Courthouse is the largest courthouse in the world with a built area of 26,000 m² on the ground, more than the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome (21,000 m²).
- The Association of European Airports announced in a report in 2006 that Brussels National Airport (Zaventem) was the most punctual of the 27 largest European airports.
- The Royal Palace in Brussels , built in a neoclassical style similar to that of Buckingham Palace in London, has a façade 50% longer than its British counterpart.
80% of billiard players around the world use Belgian-made balls.
- Belgium produces the largest variety of bricks in the world.
People & Society
- The biggest man in Europe is Belgian (Alain Delaunois, 2m30).
- The richest girl in the world lives in Brussels (Athina Onassis Roussel de Miranda, granddaughter and only heiress of Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis).
- In 2003, there were 884 series of Belgian comic strips recorded, compared to 104 in 1985 (an increase of 750%).
- Belgium has more comic artists per square kilometer than any other country, even Japan.
- In 70 years of existence, 200 million copies of “Adventures of Tintin” have been sold worldwide.
- Half of Belgian households have at least one pet. There are more than 2 million dogs and domestic cats in the country, for 10 million inhabitants.
- 97% of Belgian households receive cable TV – the highest percentage in the world. The remaining 3% are mainly foreigners, who prefer the satellite.
- Belgians are the most avid consumers of discount coupons, just in front of the United States.
- Durbuy is considered the “smallest city in the world”. Although it has only 500 inhabitants today, it was granted the title of “city” in the Middle Ages, which it has not lost since.
- Belgium has the highest density of art collectors in the world.
- There are several carnivals in Wallonia, including those of Binche , Aalst , Fosse-la-Ville and Malmedy .
- There is not only one Manneken Pis in Belgium. In addition to the famous statue in Brussels , Grammont has a similar statue of a little boy relieving himself in front of the Hôtel de Ville, which dates back to the 15th century, thus predicting its 160-year-old Brussels look-alike.
- 1.6 million people in Belgium are immigrants, or (grand-) children of immigrants, or 15% of the total population. This includes 280,000 people of Italian origin and 240,000 of Moroccan origin.
- A 2007 UNICEF report on the well-being of children in rich countries ranked Belgium in first place for the educational well-being of children.
History & Culture
- Clovis (466-511), the Frankish king who conquered Roman Gaul and is often considered the first king of France, was born and raised in Tournai (a city founded by the Romans in 50 BC), as the were his father Childebert and his grandfather Merovee, founder of the Merovingian dynasty.
- Charles Martel (686-741) saved Europe from Islamization by defeating the Muslim invaders at the Battle of Poitiers in 732. He is also the founder of the Carolingian dynasty. He was born at Herstal, near Liege .
- Charlemagne (742-814), king of the Franks and founder of the Holy Roman Empire, was born and raised near Liège in Wallonia. He established the capital of his empire in Aachen (Aachen), 40km from his hometown of Liège .
- In 1066, Huy became the first European city to obtain a charter, making it the oldest free city on the continent.
- Belgian painters invented oil painting in the 15th century (probably Jan van Eyck ).
- Several of the 191 persons consecrated to the Walhalla temple (memorial of the great men of the German nation) in Regensburg, are native of Belgium, including 5 Flemish painters and 5 Frankish monarchs born in Wallonia (Clovis, Charles Martel, Pepin of Herstal, Pépin le In short, and Charlemagne).
- Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, King of Spain and Spanish America, of Naples and Sicily, and monarch of the Burgundian territories (especially the Netherlands), was born and raised in Ghent , with French as a language of education.
- The greatest ruler of the Renaissance, famous for having declared “the sun never sets over my empire”, was perhaps very international, but Belgian by birth and education.
The term “gas” was proposed by the Flemish chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont (1577-1644) from the phonetic writing of the Dutch pronunciation of the Greek word “chaos”.
- The first two printed newspapers in the world were published in 1605, one in Strasbourg (then in Germany), and the other (the Nieuwe Tijdingen ) in Antwerp .
- The Belgian Jesuit missionary Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688) founded the Beijing Observatory. He was the secretary of the Chinese Emperor Kang-Hi, for whom he also built 400 guns.
- The paternal ancestors of Ludwig van Beethoven are from Mechelen , and before that from the adjacent villages of Boortmeerbeek and Kampenhout.
- The saxophone was invented in the early 1840s by Adolphe Sax in Dinant .
- The body mass index (BMI), still used today to find its ideal weight, was designed by the Belgian statistician and anthropologist Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874).
- Karl Marx (1818-1883) wrote his famous Manifesto with Engels during his exile in Brussels , between 1845 and 1848.
- Victor Hugo (1802-1885) lived in exile in Brussels in 1851-52, 1861 and again from 1866 to 1870. He completed his masterpiece Les Miserables on a trip to Waterloo in 1861.
- Brussels was also the temporary residence of other famous French in exile, such as Jacques-Louis David (from 1815 to 1825), Alexandre Dumas (1851), Charles Baudelaire (1864 to 1867), Napoleon IV (1870), Auguste Rodin (from 1870 to 1886) and Paul Verlaine (1872 to 1873).
- Baron Édouard Empain (1852-1929), a Belgian financier and industrialist, founded a group that built the urban electric tramway lines in Europe, Russia, China, the Belgian Congo, and Cairo. In 1906, Empain established the Heliopolis Oasis Company, conceived as a “city of luxury and leisure”, which became the modern city of Heliopolis in the suburbs of Cairo. The place is well known for its Hindu temple, as well as the Heliopolis Palace Hotel (now serving as the presidential palace in Hosni Mubarak) and the Heliopolis House.
- It is the Belgian Jean Jadot (1862-1932) who built the 1200km railway line connecting Beijing to Hankou in 1900. He also directed the construction of the Cairo tramway, as well as railway lines in Lower Egypt.
- The last empress of Mexico was Charlotte of Belgium (1840-1927), daughter of King Leopold I of Belgium, himself uncle of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
- The first cinematographic performance in Belgium took place on March 1, 1896 at the Galeries Saint-Hubert in Brussels , just a few months after the first film ever released in Paris in 1895.
- In 1920, Belgium became the 6th country in the world (out of 21 so far) to organize the Olympic Games (in Antwerp ).
- Belgium supplies the uranium of the atomic bomb launched by the Americans on Hiroshima. He came from the colony of the Belgian Congo.
- The famous Club Med was created in 1950 by former Belgian water polo champion Gérard Blitz. The company is now based in Paris.
- In 1966, the singer (native of Sicily) Salvatore Adamo (1943-) reached the second best record sale in the world after the Beatles. He has sold more than 80 million copies of his albums in the world until today.
- The Belgian physicist and mathematician Ingrid Daubechies (1954-) developed the mathematical model used by the FBI to store digital borrows.
- The Queen Elisabeth Competition , founded in 1957 and taking place in Brussels , is considered one of the mo