Much like neighboring countries in Europe, Belgium has a rich yet volatile history. What is modern day Belgium was once split into two separate regions, the north-western portion, or Flanders, which was controlled by the French and the south-eastern portion went to Germany. Much of Flanders flourished during this time, due to having many commercial cities such as Ghent, Ypres and Bruges being part of the region. The French were able to capitalize on the wealth of this region, which upset the country across the English Channel, the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom witnessed the growth and prosperity that France was experiencing, partly due to the Flanders region, and the Hundred Year War ensued. Eventually the war ended with an ally of the United Kingdom obtaining control over Flanders. This King brought about many centuries worth of peace and successes for the region. By the middle of the 16th century, the peace began to falter and a very long period of instability was experienced in Belgium. Finally, after a lengthy revolution, Belgium was granted its independence from the Netherlands in 1831.
During the following century, the countryside of Belgium would be destroyed by two separate World Wars. Much of World War I was fought exclusively upon Belgian soil. After the end of World War II, the King of Belgium took a head political role in the European community, and co-founded the European Community (now called the European Union). Belgium is also the current headquarters of NATO.
Belgium is located in Western Europe, bordering the North Sea and is located between France and the Netherlands. The country is approximately 30,500 square kilometers. Belgium borders France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.
The climate of Belgium is typically temperate with mild winters, cool summers and typically is quite rainy and humid. The terrain is flat along the coast in the northwest, rolling hills in the central part of the country, and mountainous in the southeast.
There are approximately a little over 10 million residents in Belgium (est. 2005). Belgium still maintains a royal monarchy. The country is separated into 10 provinces. With over 65 kilometers of coastline, one of the major attractions of this country are the beaches. Some of the major cities to visit in Belgium are Bruges, Ghent, Liege and Antwerp. The capital of Belgium is Brussels. The country of Belgium is multilingual, with official languages including Dutch, French and German. Famous landmarks of this European country are the Tresor du Prieure d’Oignies, Bastogne historical center, the Museum of Musical Instruments and the Grand Palace.
In addition to the beautiful landscape of Belgium, the country has a rich history of brewing beer. Hundreds of different varieties are brewed in this country and tasting and tours of breweries are popular tourist destinations. The cuisine is Belgium is rich and colorful, often including seafood, meats, and poultry. Known worldwide and enjoyed by many are the delectable chocolates that are created in Belgium. Famous Belgians include Eddy Merckx, Audrey Hepburn, Rene Magritte, and Herge.
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