Brief description of the country
The Kingdom of Belgium is located in Western Europe. The capital is Brussels. The country covers an area of more than 30.5 thousand square kilometers. You can cross it in just a few hours. But there are many attractions in it. Public transport works strictly on schedule. Buses and trains run between cities. About 12 million people live in Belgium. 3 state languages ‒ Dutch, German and French, cash currency ‒ euros were immediately approved. On the territory of the state there are castles from the time of the Middle Ages, historical monuments. Belgium's pride is quality chocolate and freshly brewed beer. There are many comfortable beaches. It is also the homeland of diamonds. Ostend Resort is famous for spa centers.
Brussels is called the unofficial capital of the European Union. This is one of the most multicultural European cities. The second largest city in the country is recognized by Antwerp. Here is a huge Gothic cathedral. Researchers believe that painter Peter Paul Rubens created his masterpieces here.
Bruges is one of the richest medieval cities. People call it northern Venice. There are many channels in this place, and a romantic atmosphere reigns. A great place to spend a honeymoon, finding inspiration or relaxing from the bustle of the city. It is also worth visiting Leuven, a historic city with the Catholic University, known throughout the world. In the city center is St. Peter's Church. The ancient temple has many works of art and precious metal products. Liege has the status of the cultural center of Wallonia. In this multifaceted city, medieval architecture intertwines with modernity. Eclecticism looks aesthetically pleasing and attracts attention.
In general, Belgium can be called a safe country. Increased vigilance should be shown in some areas of Brussels and port Antwerp. The best time to visit is from April to September. It would be a good idea to meet Christmas holidays here.
The Belga tribe of the Celts was the first to settle in the country. In honor of them, the state was named. In the 1st century BC, the Romans conquered it and incorporated it into Gaul. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the lands were conquered by the Franks. Most of the territory belonged to Burgundy. In the 15th century, it became part of the Holy Roman Empire, then subordinated to Spain, and then to France and the Netherlands. This influenced the further development of the country. According to statistics in Brussels, 80% speak French, and the remaining 20% speak Dutch. The Walloon region is compared to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, because the spirit of the Middle Ages is felt here. And the inhabitants of Wallonia are famous for the fact that they know a huge number of different legends and myths.
In 1830, after the revolution, Belgium was declared an independent state. This date is still proudly celebrated in the country. Then it began to be called the Kingdom of Belgium. A year later, a constitutional monarchy was adopted. In the 19th century, Belgium did not enter into wars on principle and remained neutral. At that time, the state was engaged in the development of the industrial and economic complex. But during the First World War, the country turned into an arena for hostilities. Poison gas was used in Ypres and the city was destroyed. During the Second World War, the state was occupied by German troops.
In the post-war years, the country managed to recover. And today it is one of the most developed in Europe and the world. Its advantage lies primarily in political and economic stability. It has a flourishing textile and metallurgical industry. Agriculture is developed, thanks to this, Belgium exports about 40% of its products. Since the 20th century, mechanical engineering has been actively developing. In addition, diamond processing brings profit.
All this together allowed Belgium to become an open country, it is not difficult to obtain citizenship of this country. At the moment, about 15% of the population of the state are immigrants. The largest communities are Portuguese and Italian.
Belgium has a temperate maritime climate, typical of many Western European countries. Summers are cool and it often rains. Heat is rare. Winter is mild, but it also rains at this time of the year, so many people take umbrellas with them when they leave the house. The temperature is kept at +2°C.
The heavy precipitation is due to the wind that blows from the sea. The temperature rarely drops below zero. But, despite the positive air temperature, the weather is damp and windy. You can go skiing in the Ardennes, which is in high Belgium, because the snow falls in small volumes and not as often as in other countries. Almost never in flat areas. It stays warm from April to September.
The most popular month to visit Belgium is July. During this period, the average temperature ranges between +14°C to +18°C. Even in the hottest weather, the temperature does not rise above 30°C, and the heat is easy to bear. The weather is cloudy and rarely changes. Many watch the weather forecast.
Flora and fauna
The nature of Belgium is beautiful, although not very diverse. The country consists of 3 natural regions of the lowlands, the central plateau and the Ardennes. Mount Botrange is recognized as the highest point. The height above sea level is almost 700 meters.
Earlier, Belgium consisted almost entirely of broad-leaved forests. Oak, chestnut trees, junipers grew in large numbers. But the trees were not treated as a value, and over time, the forests were cut down. They survived in the Ardennes. In other areas, artificial plantations, consisting of forest belts and gardens, predominate. To strengthen the seaside dunes, the Belgians plant pine and fir. At the moment, if forest plantations are taken into account, 20% of the Kingdom of Belgium is covered by forests. The country continues to plant trees and carefully monitor that forests are no longer cut down. Dark green meadows predominate in the lowland part of the state. There are trout in the rivers. It is caught for own consumption and for export to nearby countries.
Marshes with characteristic vegetation are also found on the plateau in the foothills of the Ardennes. The fauna of indigenous forests managed to survive only in the Ardennes. In this place, the animal world is represented in foxes, badgers, deer, roe deer, wild boars. Hares, wood mice and squirrels live in the country, partridges, pheasants and ducks fly. Of all the birds, pheasants are the most numerous. Hunting both animals and birds is allowed strictly under a license, if not, it is punishable by law. There are no exceptions.
On the coast of the North Sea, near the Netherlands, there is the Zvin Nature Reserve. It occupies almost 150 hectares. Storks were brought here. The complex has a garden where tropical butterflies fly. The pride of Belgium is the Solar Park. The Belgians call it a tropical town. Exotic fish swim here, parrots live. Ot-Fan Park, occupying 55,000 hectares, is considered the largest protected area. Dense thickets of oak and spruce are under state protection. Deer, roe deer, wild boars and songbirds live in the reserve.
In Belgian national cuisine, you can meet the standards of French, Dutch, German dishes. Food turns into a gastronomic adventure. The menu in restaurants is the most diverse in all of Europe. It is served in several languages. Among the main ingredients are vegetables, meat, seafood. All products are grown in the country.
Popular first courses are mashed soups and fish soups. For the second, you can try french fries with meatballs in tomato sauce. The Belgians are sure that it was their country that became the birthplace of french fries. Many establishments serve Flemish carbonade, rabbit in beer. Desserts are delicious. Locals advise trying Liege waffles and Belgian chocolate. More chocolate is sold at the airport than in the whole country. It is the hallmark of the state. In addition, Belgium is famous for its rich brewing traditions. Beer is considered one of the highest quality, in this direction the country competes with Germany. Cherry and raspberry juices, honey and even rice are added to some varieties according to old recipes.
The most popular restaurants for delicious food are Dinner In The Sky, where the meal takes place at a height of 45 meters above the ground, Bon Bon, decorated with 2 Michelin stars, Comme Chez Soi, a restaurant built in Art Nouveau style. In almost all public institutions you can pay with a bank card, so it is not necessary to have cash with you. Tips are included in the bill. As a rule, they do not exceed 15% of the order amount.
In Belgium, drivers like to drive at high speed, so you need to carefully cross the road. Be sure to look around. The Belgians love flowers, but if you bring carnations to visit, the owners of the house will not show hospitality. In the country, carnations are mourning flowers. And you should never give 13 buds, it will be a symbol of misfortune. In order not to make a mistake when choosing a gift, you can buy sweets and wine. Friendship can begin with this display of attention.
Locals believe in equality. And if one of the interlocutors condemns someone, he will be perceived as an uneducated person. No one will communicate with such a person. You need to carefully choose the topics for jokes. At the same time, the Belgians love to complain. It's not worth it to advise and try to help solve the problem. It's just a habit ingrained in the mentality. In order not to stand out, you can share any of your indignation. For example, the weather or a song on the radio spoiled the mood, the store did not have the right product, and so on. This is how small talk is maintained.
Rent a Car
Belgium has right-hand traffic. The state has very good roads, some of the best in the world. But Belgian drivers are not distinguished by attentiveness or special politeness. Here it is not customary to let each other pass on turns.
Cities are close to each other, you can rent a car and travel around the country without adjusting to the public transport schedule. Rental offices operate at the airport and large cities. Popular car sharing companies include Hertz, Avis, Europcar.
To rent a car, you need to have a passport, a driver's license, a bank card with an international payment system. The deposit is up to 1 thousand euros. There is a large selection of cars, ranging from budget brands to luxury models. Almost all highways are free, with the exception of the passage through the tunnel under the Scheldt. There are surveillance cameras on the road sections, the country monitors compliance with traffic rules. Large fines, persistent violators are deprived of a driver's license.
Visa and customs
Pour franchir la frontière belge, vous devez obtenir un visa et souscrire une assurance maladie. Il n'y a pas de limites établies sur les devises importées et exportées dans les règles douanières. Mais si le montant dépasse 10 000 euros, les fonds doivent être déclarés. Il est impossible de les cacher.
Il est interdit d'importer de la viande non conservée, des graines de plantes, du miel, des chocolats, des fruits, des légumes, des produits pornographiques et toutes sortes de substances narcotiques. Vous pouvez emporter en voyage 10 paquets de cigarettes, 1 litre d'alcool fort, 2 litres de vin, 500 grammes de café et 100 grammes de thé. Les bijoux pesant plus d'un demi-kilogramme ne sont pas soumis à déclaration obligatoire. Si vous partez en Belgique avec vos animaux de compagnie, ils doivent être vaccinés et avoir un certificat de vaccination délivré 10 jours avant le voyage. Dans le cas contraire, l'entrée à la frontière du pays sera interdite. Il est interdit de jeter des ordures sur le territoire du contrôle douanier, cela sera évalué comme un signe d'irrespect. En Belgique, ils aiment la propreté et maintiennent l'ordre.
There are 12 national holidays in Belgium. Among them are New Year, Easter, All Saints Day, Independence Day of Belgium. During their celebration, a day off is declared, but police and medical personnel in hospitals are always on the job.
There are many non-state holiday events. Mother's and Father's Days, Halloween, Valentine's Day are widely celebrated. Festivals occupy a special place in the cultural program. This is a great way to relax and have fun, feel the festive atmosphere of Belgium. The most spectacular events begin in winter, spring and summer.
The key annual holiday is Belgian Day, celebrated on July 21st. There is a parade in Brussels and other cities. Musicians perform at folk festivals. Some museums are waiving entrance fees so that everyone can learn about the history of the country.
The carnival in Binshe is recognized as the most massive folk festival. This is a major European festival lasting 3 days. It is celebrated before Lent. A varied cultural program is being prepared. It consists of demonstration performances and processions. On the second holiday, the Belgians dance in unison. On the final day of the festival, the participants of the carnival show dress up in costumes with wax masks, and then head towards the administration, scattering oranges along the way. There is a belief that if you catch an orange, the year will be happy.
Events in Belgium start on time. It is not customary to be late for informal meetings. The maximum delay is 5 minutes.