The Kingdom of Belgium lies on the North Sea and is bordered on the land side by France, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands. With its total area of 30,520 square kilometers, Belgium is one of the smaller European countries, but it has a fairly high population density. Although the country has a rather small base area in contrast to its neighboring states, it has a variety of rock types that come from different geological times.
According to its surface shape Belgium was divided into Lower, Central and High Belgium when viewed from north to south. Lower Belgium is bordered by a strip of dunes in the westNorth Seashielded. The former marshland behind it turned into fertile polders after the drainage, which is followed by an initially flat, then gently undulating and rising plain, which is framed in the west by the Flanders Geest and in the east by the Kempenland. While the Kempenland, overgrown with poor heathland, cattle pastures and pine forests, is relatively sparsely populated, the Flemish Geest has had a high population density since the Middle Ages.
In contrast, Central Belgium, which stretches south from Brussels to the Ardennes and is crossed by the Maas and Sambre rivers, is the most fertile region in Belgium. Here the hill country begins and the soil is no longer sandy and barren, but consists of fertile loess. The settlement of Central Belgium is rather sparse and consists mainly of widely scattered farms. This area is also known as the country’s “granary” and “fruit plantation” and the Hageland in between could accordingly be called the “vegetable garden” of Belgium.
The border region with France is characterized by industry, as the large coal and iron ore deposits are processed directly here, which made Belgium one of the first industrial nations in Europe.
High Belgium is determined by the Ardennes and is undoubtedly the most beautiful region in the country. The approximately 200 to 700 meter high Ardennes massif is practically the “continuation” of the Eifel; it is divided into Niederardennen and Hochardennen, the latter mainly consisting of the approximately 500 meter high plateau of the High Fens. The Lower Ardennes include the landscapes of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, Fagne, Condroz, the Famenne valley and the Herve region. In between, the rivers Lesse, Ourthe and Maas cut deep into the rock and in some places large limestone caves have emerged. Sandstone and slate are also the common types of rock in this region.
In contrast to Germany and France, Belgium has hardly any significant bodies of water, and you will look in vain for lakes. The Westerschelde could pass as such, but it is not called a lake. One of the two main Belgian rivers is the Scheldt, which flows into the Westerschelde with its tributaries Escant, Dender and Nete. No less important is the Meuse, with its tributaries Meuse, Ourthe, Semois and Sambre, which flows into the North Sea not far from the Westerschelde.
Belgium was originally covered with extensive deciduous forests, but most of them were replaced by meadows, arable land and fast-growing conifers. Efforts are being made to restore the former state at least in protected areas, which also leads to a return of animals and plants believed to have disappeared. The vegetation of the coastal region ranges from sea mustard to beach grass to sea buckthorn, where animals such as crayfish, flat mussels and cockles as well as over 15 species of seagulls find an optimal habitat.
Population distribution in Belgium
This map of the population distribution in Belgium was created by the Worldmapper team. Densely populated areas appear bloated, the area of sparsely populated areas is reduced. The shape of the grid has been preserved; an underlying map with the original geographic extent helps with the interpretation of the cartogram. The distorted map is intended to help present abstract statistical information clearly.
The energy consumption per resident is relatively high at 4.81 tonnes of crude oil units (2014). The largest share of primary energy consumption (2017) was made up of fossil fuels with 49.2%, above all crude oil, followed by nuclear energy (seven reactor blocks) with 9.5% and renewable energies with 3.6%. Around three quarters of the electricity demand is covered by nuclear and natural gas power plants (2014). Belgium has decided to phase out nuclear energy by 2025. The country wants to completely dispense with fossil fuels by 2050. The last coal-fired power plant ceased operations in 2016. Visit weddinginfashion for Economy of Europe.
The industry has a long tradition. Wool and linen have been produced mainly in Flanders since the Middle Ages. Walloon coal mining began in the Middle Ages and was expanded significantly as early as the 18th century. The Walloon glass industry and metal processing are also very old. In the 19th century, a dense heavy industrial area emerged in the Maas-Sambre basin between Liège and Mons. However, the importance of Walloon heavy industry has declined considerably in recent decades, both in relation to Flemish steel and non-ferrous metal production and within the overall economic framework of Belgium. Today, Flanders has more than twice as many industrial workers as Wallonia. The old economic areas of Wallonia in particular are suffering from de-industrialization processes, which also affect other sectors besides the steel industry. Important industrial locations in Belgium are the seaports of Antwerp and Ghent as well as the regions of Brussels, Liège and Charleroi.
Antwerp is one of the most important chemical industrial centers in the world. The auto industry is represented in Antwerp, Genk and Gent. Other important industries are: metallurgy and metal processing, food and beverages, electrical and electronic devices, machines and textiles.
The size of the service sector, which had a share of the gross domestic product of 77% in 2017, is due to the EU’s headquarters in Brussels and Belgium’s transit function in central Western Europe.
Tourism: The main tourist attractions are the North Sea coast, the Ardennes and the cultural centers, especially Ghent, Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp.
In addition to the dense railway network of the Belgian railways (Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges, SNCB / Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen, NMBS) – Brussels and Liège are integrated into various European high-speed rail networks (Eurostar, Thalys, TGV, ICE) – and the well-developed Roads there is a significant inland waterway system (1,528 km) of canals and canalized rivers. It also has connections to France and, above all, to the Netherlands. Important waterways are: Albert Canal, Scheldt-Rhine Canal, Seeschelde, Oberschelde, Maas, Gent – Terneuzen Canal, Brussels – Rupel Canal, Ghent Ring Canal, Sambre, Leie. The pipelines (3 828 km) for natural gas and oil from the Netherlands and from the Belgian ports inland are important for the energy supply.
Among the seaports (commercial and industrial ports), Antwerp is the largest (208.4 million tons of cargo, second largest port in Europe). Ghent, Zeebrugge and Ostend (ferry traffic) have other important ports. The most important international airport is that of Brussels-Zaventem. Other airports are located near Antwerp, Ostend, Charleroi and Liège. SABENA was the national airline until bankruptcy in 2001.