is located in Western Europe, bordered by the Netherlands, the Federal
Republic of Germany, Luxembourg, France, and the North Sea.
Although generally flat, the terrain
becomes increasingly hilly and forested in the southeast (Ardennes) region.
Climate is cool, temperate, and rainy;
summer temperatures average 77°F, winters average 45°F. Annual
extremes (rarely attained) are 10°F and 90°F.
Geographically and culturally, Belgium
is at the crossroads of Europe, and during the past 2,000 years has witnessed
a constant ebb and flow of different races and cultures. Consequently,
Belgium is one of Europe's true melting pots with Celtic, Roman, Germanic,
French, Dutch, Spanish, and Austrian cultures having made an imprint.
Today, the Belgians are divided ethnically
into the Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons, with a
mixed population in Brussels representing the remainder. About 70,000
German speakers reside in the east.
The population density is the second-highest
in Europe, after the Netherlands.
Population : 10,213,752; urban--69%.
Annual population growth rate : 0.4%.
Density : 861 per sq. mi.
Linguistic regions : Dutch-speaking 58%; French-speaking 32%; legally
bilingual (Brussels) 9.3%; German-speaking 0.7%.
Religions : Predominantly Roman Catholic (although 5%-20% practicing);
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, Anglican, Greek and Russian Orthodox
recognized, as well as secularism.
Languages : Dutch, French, German.
Literacy : 98%.
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