Belgium is the heir of several former Medieval powers, previously named Belgae or Belgica. This is evident as you travel the country. After the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century, the territory that is nowadays Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, was part of Lotharingia.
The “Lower Lotharingia” remained intact in the feudal Empire: this is the origin of the Low Countries, a general term that encompasses present-day Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830. In 1948 Belgium became a co-signatory to the Benelux Customs Union along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. This later became the Benelux Economic Union in 1958 and in 2008 the treaty between the three countries was renewed and revised under the title of the Benelux Union.
Belgium is also a member country of the Schengen Area in which border controls with other Schengen members have been eliminated; while at the same time border controls with non-Schengen countries have been strengthened.
The Belgium terrain is flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, wooded hills and valleys of Ardennes Forest in southeast. The temperature is mild in the winter, cool in the summer, with rainy humid seasons.
Electricity is supplied at 220-230V, 50Hz.
Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, and Switzerland and those many other countries using 230V, 50Hz but using different plugs, you will need a plug adapter to use the appliances in Belgium.
The United States, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V, 60Hz will need a voltage converter.
Some laptops, Mobile Phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V and only require a simple plug adapter. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.
Belgium consists of three federal regions, listed from North to South:
Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.
The northern part of Belgium is a Dutch-speaking region of the country. It includes well known cities like Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. The Flemish provinces are (from west to east): West-Flanders, East-Flanders, Antwerp, Flemish-Brabant and Limburg.
Wallonia is the French-speaking region of the country (southern) with a few German speaking regions in the east next to the German border. The Walloon provinces are : Hainaut, Walloon Brabant, Namur, and Liège.
Belgium has a very high rate of urbanization and has an astonishing number of cities for such a small territory.
The bilingual capital region of the country is Brussels, countries headquarter.
When travelling by train you will notice that the destinations are listed at stations in the language of the locality.
For example, if travelling from a French-speaking area to Antwerp, it will be listed as ‘Anvers’, from a Flemish-speaking area ‘Antwerpen’.
The exception is Brussels, where destinations are listed in both languages. There is a limited number of international trains, which route Brussels National Airport. They announce the stations in English.
The historic center of Brussels is only about 300 by 400 m long. Antwerp is much bigger, but a ride on a horse-pulled coach gives a better view than the subway.
Some hire cars come equipped with satellite navigation but it’s a good idea to request this when you book your car. It’s probably the most reliable way to get from A to B in Belgium.
This way you will get to see some of the sites of Belgium, as flat as it may be, but architecture in the towns is something to be admired.
Once in Belgium you will be pleasantly surprised at just how clean the towns and villages are. In small towns you can feel that small town community feeling in the people. There are lots of castles in their surroundings, that give their villages that movie type of elegance, that you thought was only possible on the big screen.
If you like to hike, bike or go camping the hills of the Ardennes with their forests is the place for you. Caves, cliffs and green landscapes all around.
Some cities are beautifully located along the rivers, an wonder place to walk around.
Travel to Belgium and enjoy yourself.