One of the many fascinating countries in Europe is Belgium. In northwestern Europe lies this country. It is small in size, but there are many people who live in Belgium which makes it one of the most densely populated European counties. It plays an important part in world affairs as NATO is located in its capital of Brussels. Many manufactured goods are produced here, as it is nicknamed the Workshop of Europe. North to south measures about 100 miles and about half is hilly land. Belgium is lower than most European countries. On the north east this county?s boundary is formed by the North Sea, on the south west by France, on the east by Luxembourg and Germany, and on the east by Netherlands. A tiny seven square mile part of Belgium called Baarle-Hertog is located outside of Belgium and is totally surrounded by the Netherlands. Most rivers make regions in Belgium. They use many man made rivers, canals, for travel and trade. Most of the main rivers in Belgium start in France then travel north throw or to Belgium. The main rivers are the Lys, Schedt, Sambre, and Meuse.
This country?s climate is called the marine west coast climate. The winters are mild, however; the summers are cool rather than warm like in the US. Temperatures range from about 350 F in January to about 640 F in July. The weather is rainy and cloudy. Most of the precipitation is in upland areas, with about 30 inches ofrain falling per year.
Industry and farming are very important to the people because this is their way of making money. Jobs in these areas are great in Belgium because of the weather. It is never too hot, nor too cold for industry. Also there is never too much of too little of rain fall. Many years ago mining diamonds and coal employed many people. Trading these goods and other such as linen, leather, crystal, and lace was there major source of income. Today however, with the decline of mining and other industries is much of Belgium?s economy comes from services using it?s railroads, highways, navigable waterways, and NATO?s head quarters in Brussels.
Belgium?s government is different than the government in the US It is called a parliamentary monarchy. The king is the head of the state and also the commander of the army. One may think that the King has great power, but he really has little power in Belgium. Like other monarchies, the King?s successor is his son, but if there is no son, then he will pick a successor himself. His decision must be qualified by Parliament. The King must approve all of the laws passed by Parliament. In Parliament they have a 212 member Chamber of Representatives and 175-184 member Senate which is elected by the people. In Belgium if you are 18, then you are required by law to vote. Any person who does not vote could get a fine. Belgium?s history goes back to the early times of the Roman empire from about 52 BC, however the modern nation of Belgium began in about 1830. In its early history Belgium has been ruled by the Romans, Huns, the Empire of Charlemagne, and France. During the middle ages and up to the 1830?s Belgium was involved in many battles and many wars. Once again, the rule was shared by many famous people and nations. Belgium was a possession of many nations such as Spain, Austria, and France before getting its independence in the 1800?s. Also as a result of the many counties that ruled them, many fortresses and castles were built and are still standing today. Moreover, important battles such as Napoleon?s defeat at Waterloo, were fought on Belgium?s land. Now independent Leopold I wanted Belgium to be strong and stay out of the wars of Europe. The second Leopold ruled in 1865 and he expanded the country. However, in 1914 W.W.I broke out, Germany invaded Belgium, and Belgium fought with the US and Germany was defeated in 1918. After this war they had to rebuild Belgium under King Albert?s rule. Though never recovering from W.W.I, there was next a great depression in 1930. On the political side the rising of Hitler was causing an alarm. Europe was now starting to drift toward war. Belgium once again declared neutrality, but Germany again violated Belgium when they launched an attack against France in 1940. Belgium now helped England and its allies. Germany once again fought on Belgium soil when it broke through allied lines to fight the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes. Again in 1945 Belgium gained its freedom. In the 1960?s Belgium gave independence to Belgium Congo. Now Parliament tried to settle the language problems, but even today Brussels is bilingual.
Points of Interest Gruuthuse Museum Meyer van den Bergh Museum P. P. Rubins?s Home University of Louvain Oude Beurs – old stock exchange Ch?teau of Gasbeek – feudal castle Theatre National Bourschied Castle Hotel de Ville Antwerp?s Cathedral Forests of Ardennes Frahan Ridge Semols Valley Ostend Resort on North Sea Grand? Palace
Interesting People Rubins – artist Cesar Franck – composer Adriaan Willaert – composer Georges Simenon – novelist Hendrik Conscience – novelist Guido Gezell – poet Hubert – painter Jan van Eyck – painter
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