Belgium is well-known for its magnificent Flemish art and Gothic architecture. Its capital, Brussels, is the center of government for the European Union. Belgium is geographically divided into two parts, the Flemish inhabitants of the north and the French-speaking Walloons in the south.
At the early 12th century as commerce grew rapidly in Europe, and the centers of trade grew into powerful cities, Brussels, Ghent, Ypres, Antwerp and Bruges became the focus of a cloth trade between Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and England. Belgium gained its independence from The Dutch colonization in 1830 and made Leopold I as a king. Belgium’s economies flourished throughout the 19th century, but was slowed down by the World War I in 1940.
In 1950s Belgium began its language debate between the Flemings and the Walloons. The constitution was redrawn, creating a federal state with three separate regions Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels.
Language, Capital City and Government
In the north of Belgium, the Flemish have their roots in the Netherlands and Germany while in the Walloons of the south are related to the French. Today Belgium is one of the world’s most popular producers of chocolate and beer. Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium but also of Europe, as the center of government for the European Union. The city lies in the center of the country on the flat, fertile Brabant plain. It’s the best place to start exploring other historic towns such as Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. Train travel is swift and reasonably priced, and there are good bus services int the areas not covered by trains.
Bank and Currency
The currency of Belgium is Euro. Banks are open from 9.00 to 16.00. Most of them are closed for an hour lunch break. Some of them open on Saturdays mornings.
In Belgium, the Tourist and Information Office of Brussels publishes maps and guides and also offers a Brussels Card. This card includes a three-day pass to all public transport in the Brussels region, combined with unlimited access to 30 museums. The Tourist Offices are at Grand Place 1, 1000 Brussels. Visit the Tourist Office Site here.