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 INFORMATION STATION
Facts at a GlanceEnvironmentEconomic Profile
Facts for the TravelerMoney & CostsWhen to Go

Facts at a Glance
 Full country name: Kingdom of Belgium

Area: 30,518 sq km

Population: 10.2 million

Capital city: Brussels (pop: 980,000)

People: 55% Flemish (of Teutonic origin), 33% Walloons (French Latin) and about 10% foreigners.

Language: Flemish, French and German. Most Belgians also speak English.

Religion: 75% Roman Catholic

Government: constitutional parliamentary monarchy

Prime Minister: Guy Verhofstadt


Environment
 

Squeezed between the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, Belgium is one of Europe's tiddlers. The north is flat, the south dominated by the picturesque Ardennes and the 65km North Sea coastline monopolised by resorts, except for a few patches of windswept dunes. Lower Belgium is criss-crossed by a network of canals. Seasons are mild, but the warmest months (July and August) are also the wettest.




Economic Profile
 GDP: US$259.2 billion

GDP per head: US$25,300

Annual growth: 2.8%

Inflation: 2.2%

Major industries: Services, agriculture, chemicals, engineering, metal products, car manufacturing, iron and steel, textiles and food

Major trading partners: EU (esp. Germany, France, Netherlands, UK), USA

Member of EU: yes

Euro zone participant: yes


Facts for the Traveler
 Visas: EU citizens can enter on an official identity card. Travellers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, the USA and many other countries just need a valid passport (no visa). Unless you're a citizen of a developing country, you can probably stay up to three months.

Health risks: None, except the cost of medical care.

Time: GMT/UTC +1 (+2 in summer)

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric

Tourism: 13 million visitors annually


Money & Costs
 Currency:euro (EUR), formerly Belgian franc
Relative Costs:
Meals

  • Budget: US$7-10
  • Mid-range: US$10-25
  • Top-end: US$25+




  • Lodging

  • Budget: US$20-50
  • Mid-range: US$50-110
  • Top-end: US$110+
  • Being a pocket-size sort of country, Belgium is cheap to get around in, but budget hotels are both rare and heavily booked - especially in summer. On the food front, eating out is far better for your palate than it is for your wallet. Travelling modestly, you could survive on $30 per day. But if you don't fancy sleeping in public toilets, figure on at least $50 per day.

    Banks are the best place to change your money, charging around US$4 commission on travellers' cheques. Out of hours, there are the less generous exchange bureaus. All major credit cards are widely accepted. Tipping isn't obligatory, and haggling is not exactly a national pastime.




    When to Go
     

    You're unlikely to encounter extremes in weather during an average Belgian year. April to September is the warmest time, but be prepared for grey skies and soggy streets no matter what time of year you go. Visitors may be forgiven for assuming umbrellas and raincoats are part of the Belgian national dress.


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     LINKS FOR BELGIUM
     • Activities & Events
     • Attractions
     • Destination Belgium
     • Getting There, Getting Around
     • History & Culture
     • Information Station
     • Off the Beaten Track
     • Recommended Reading

    © 2003 Lonely Planet Publications Pty. Ltd. All rights reserved Although we've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities before you travel. This includes information on visa requirements, health and safety, customs, and transportation.