Belgium is mostly known for its delicious chocolates, its fries, and a wide array of beers. Before making a trip to this country, you have to look for facts about it. Here are some interesting facts about Belgium you may not know.
- Interesting Facts about Belgium
- 1. Belgians speak French and Dutch
- 2. The Big Bang theory originated in Belgium
- 3. Belgium holds the world record for the longest time without a government
- 4. Belgians pay among the highest tax rates in Europe
- 5. Europe’s first skyscraper was built in Belgium
- 6. Belgians love to party
- 7. Belgium is a diamond capital
- 8. Belgian Food
- 9. The longest tramway in the world
- 10. Home to stunning castles
Interesting Facts about Belgium
1. Belgians speak French and Dutch
Belgium can be divided into two geographical regions: French-speaking Wallonia in the south and a dialect of Dutch known as Flemish in the Flanders region in the North. Brussels sits right in between these two regions and therefore is bilingual: people there speak both French and Dutch. Interestingly, Belgium is a trilingual country, because there is a small part in the south of Wallonia that is dedicated to German speakers.
2. The Big Bang theory originated in Belgium
It was a Belgian, the priest and physicist (apparently not a contradiction in terms) Georges Lemaitre, who first came up with what is now called the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe in 1927. The theory is often attributed to Edwin Hubble, although records show Lemaitre published a similar theory two years before Hubble.
3. Belgium holds the world record for the longest time without a government
Belgium holds the modern world record for the longest period of time without an official government. After 541 days, Belgium swore in a new government headed by Elio Di Rupo. Of course, Belgians made a whole celebration out of this, offering free beer and fries.
4. Belgians pay among the highest tax rates in Europe
This amount to some 57.8 percent for the highest earners, according to the CGI report, which ranked Belgium’s tax rates as fourth highest in Europe after France (66.6 percent), Italy, and Spain, while OECD ranks Belgium third-highest for tax rates out of its 34 members. Belgium’s tax revenue is among the highest in Europe representing around 48 percent of the country’s GDP.
5. Europe’s first skyscraper was built in Belgium
Known as the Torengebouw in 1928 in Antwerp. It is still the tallest building in Antwerp today at around 96m (26 floors). The art-deco edifice, now known as Boerentoren or KBC Tower, was the tallest building on the continent until 1940 when Terazza Martini Tower opened in Genoa, Italy. Belgium is also attributed to having Europe’s oldest shopping arcades, The Galeries St Hubert, which opened in Brussels in 1847.
6. Belgians love to party
Tomorrowland is the biggest and most sought-after electronic festival in the world. It takes place in the town of Boom, near Antwerp. However, Tomorrowland is only one of the many festivals held in Belgium; some other popular festivals include Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop, and Couleur Café.
7. Belgium is a diamond capital
Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city, is the diamond capital of the world. More than half of the diamonds sold around the world pass through this sparkling city. Antwerp is the most populous city in Flanders, and its port is the second biggest in Europe.
8. Belgian Food
The Belgian cuisine is famous for waffles, chocolate, and beer as well as moules frites, which means mussels with french fries.
Here some typical Belgian food:
- Frites or Frietjes: the Belgian fried potato sticks are slightly thicker and crunchier than French fries and usually served with mayonnaise.
- Crevettes/Garnalen: tiny grey shrimps from the Atlantic are popular snacks along the coast
- Carbonnade a la Flamande/Stoofvlees: Flemish-style beef stew is cooked with beer and served with potato fries or mashed potatoes.
- Gaufres/Wafels: the Belgian waffles are less doughy and more crispy and are usually topped with cream, chocolate, or fresh fruits
- Chocolates: Belgian chocolate is a treat, it comes in many forms. In Belgium, chocolate pralines must consist of a minimum 35% of cocoa. In Antwerp, you can visit the world’s largest chocolate museum.
Belgium is also known for the many varieties of beer. The world’s largest brewery is Belgian company Anheuser-Busch. This beer and soft drinks company is based in Leuven.
9. The longest tramway in the world
One of the interesting facts about Belgium is that it is the longest tramway in the world. It is called ‘The Belgian Coast Tram’ and stretches 68 km between Knokke-Heist and De Panne, from the Dutch border to the French border. This tram makes 69 stops and usually runs every ten minutes during peak hours.
10. Home to stunning castles
Belgium has the world’s greatest number of castles per square meter. Some regions even have two castles per village! Gravensteen Castle, situated in Ghent, is one of the most beautiful and historic castles in Belgium. From the rooftop, there’s a breathtaking view of the city of Ghent.