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Belgium (2003)

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Belgium 2003 year

Administrative divisions 10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch: provincies, singular - provincie) and 3 regions* (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Antwerpen, Brabant Wallon, Brussels* (Bruxelles), Flanders*, Hainaut, Liege, Limburg, Luxembourg, Namur, Oost-Vlaanderen, Vlaams-Brabant, Wallonia*, West-Vlaanderen
Age structure 0-14 years: 17.2% (male 905,856; female 865,589)

15-64 years: 65.6% (male 3,400,419; female 3,346,182)

65 years and over: 17.2% (male 725,162; female 1,045,880) (2003 est.)
Agriculture - products sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk
Airports 42 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways total: 25

over 3,047 m: 6

2,438 to 3,047 m: 8

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 7 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways total: 17

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 15 (2002)
Area total: 30,510 sq km

land: 30,230 sq km

water: 280 sq km
Area - comparative about the size of Maryland
Background Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830 and was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.
Birth rate 10.45 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Budget revenues: $113.4 billion

expenditures: $106 billion, including capital expenditures of $7.17 billion (2000)
Capital Brussels
Climate temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Coastline 66 km
Constitution 7 February 1831, last revised 14 July 1993; parliament approved a constitutional package creating a federal state
Country name conventional long form: Kingdom of Belgium

conventional short form: Belgium

local long form: Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie

local short form: Belgique/Belgie
Currency euro (EUR)

note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Death rate 10.07 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Debt - external $28.3 billion (1999 est.)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission: Ambassador Stephen Franklin BRAUER

embassy: Regentlaan 27 Boulevard du Regent, B-1000 Brussels

mailing address: PSC 82, Box 002, APO AE 09710

telephone: [32] (2) 508-2111

FAX: [32] (2) 511-2725
Diplomatic representation in the US chief of mission: Ambassador Franciskus VAN DAELE

chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900

FAX: [1] (202) 333-3079

consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
Disputes - international none
Economic aid - donor ODA, $764 million (1997)
Economy - overview This modern private enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the populous Flemish area in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets. Roughly three-quarters of its trade is with other EU countries. Public debt is about 100% of GDP, and the government has succeeded in balancing its budget. Belgium, together with 11 of its EU partners, began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth in 2001-03 dropped sharply due to the global economic slowdown. Prospects for 2004 again depend largely on recovery in the EU and the US.
Electricity - consumption 78.18 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports 6.712 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports 15.82 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production 74.28 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source fossil fuel: 38.4%

hydro: 0.6%

nuclear: 59.3%

other: 1.8% (2001)
Elevation extremes lowest point: North Sea 0 m

highest point: Signal de Botrange 694 m
Environment - current issues the environment is exposed to intense pressures from human activities: urbanization, dense transportation network, industry, extensive animal breeding and crop cultivation; air and water pollution also have repercussions for neighboring countries; uncertainties regarding federal and regional responsibilities (now resolved) have slowed progress in tackling environmental challenges
Environment - international agreements party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Ethnic groups Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
Exchange rates euros per US dollar - 1.06 (2002), 1.12 (2001), 1.09 (2000), 0.94 (1999), 36.3 (1998)
Executive branch chief of state: King ALBERT II (since 9 August 1993); Heir Apparent Prince PHILIPPE, son of the monarch

head of government: Prime Minister Guy VERHOFSTADT (since 13 July 1999)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch and approved by Parliament

elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by Parliament

note: government coalition - VLD, MR, PS, SP, AGALEV, and ECOLO
Exports 6.712 billion kWh (2001)
Exports $162 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports 0 cu m (2001 est.)
Exports 450,000 bbl/day (2001)
Exports - commodities machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Exports - partners Germany 18.6%, France 16.3%, Netherlands 11.6%, UK 9.6%, US 7.9%, Italy 5.4% (2002)
Fiscal year calendar year
Flag description three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the design was based on the flag of France
GDP purchasing power parity - $299.7 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector agriculture: 1.3%

industry: 24.4%

services: 74.3% (2001)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $29,200 (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 0.7% (2002 est.)
Geographic coordinates 50 50 N, 4 00 E
Geography - note crossroads of Western Europe; majority of West European capitals within 1,000 km of Brussels, the seat of both the European Union and NATO
Heliports 1 (2002)
Highways total: 148,216 km

paved: 116,687 km (including 1,727 km of expressways)

unpaved: 31,529 km (2000)
Household income or consumption by percentage share lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 23% (1996)
Illicit drugs growing producer of synthetic drugs; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; money laundering related to trafficking of drugs, automobiles, alcohol, and tobacco
Imports 15.82 billion kWh (2001)
Imports $152 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports 15.4 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Imports 1.042 million bbl/day (2001)
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Imports - partners Germany 17.2%, Netherlands 15.6%, France 12.8%, UK 7.3%, Ireland 7%, US 6.4%, Italy 4% (2002)
Independence 4 October 1830 a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands; 21 July 1831 the ascension of King Leopold I to the throne
Industrial production growth rate 4.5% (2000 est.)
Industries engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum, coal
Infant mortality rate total: 4.57 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.16 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 1.7% (2002 est.)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 61 (2000)
Irrigated land 40 sq km (includes Luxembourg) (1998 est.)
Judicial branch Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life by the monarch, although selected by the Government)
Labor force 4.44 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation services 73%, industry 25%, agriculture 2% (1999 est.)
Land boundaries total: 1,385 km

border countries: France 620 km, Germany 167 km, Luxembourg 148 km, Netherlands 450 km
Land use arable land: 25%

permanent crops: 0%

other: 75%

note: includes Luxembourg (1998 est.)
Languages Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
Legal system civil law system influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Legislative branch bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members are directly elected by popular vote, 31 are indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held 18 June 2003 (next to be held in NA May 2007)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - SP.A-Spirit 15.5%, VLD 15.4%, CD & V 12.7%, PS 12.8%, MR 12.1%, VB 9.4%, CDH 5.6%; seats by party - SP.A-Spirit 7, VLD 7, CD & V 6, PS 6, MR 5, VB 5, CDH 2, other 2 (note - there are also 31 indirectly elected senators); Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - VLD 15.4%, SP.A-Spirit 14.9%, CD & V 13.3%, PS 13.0%, VB 11.6%, MR 11.4%, CDH 5.5%, Ecolo 3.1%; seats by party - VLD 25, SP.A-Spirit 23, CD & V 21, PS 25, VB 18, MR 24, CDH 8 Ecolo 4, other 2

note: as a result of the 1993 constitutional revision that furthered devolution into a federal state, there are now three levels of government (federal, regional, and linguistic community) with a complex division of responsibilities; this reality leaves six governments each with its own legislative assembly; for other acronyms of the listed parties see the Political parties and leaders entry
Life expectancy at birth total population: 78.29 years

male: 74.97 years

female: 81.78 years (2003 est.)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 98%

male: NA%

female: NA%
Location Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Map references Europe
Maritime claims continental shelf: median line with neighbors

exclusive economic zone: median line with neighbors (extends about 68 km from coast)

territorial sea: 12 NM
Merchant marine total: 20 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 32,215 GRT/55,725 DWT

ships by type: cargo 6, chemical tanker 10, petroleum tanker 4, includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Finland 1, Netherlands 3 (2002 est.)
Military branches Army, Navy, Air Components, Federal Police
Military expenditures - dollar figure $3.077 billion (FY01/02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 1.4% (FY01/02)
Military manpower - availability males age 15-49: 2,497,423 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service males age 15-49: 2,059,131 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - military age 19 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually males: 60,921 (2003 est.)
National holiday 21 July (1831) ascension to the Throne of King Leopold I
Nationality noun: Belgian(s)

adjective: Belgian
Natural hazards flooding is a threat in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes
Natural resources coal, natural gas
Net migration rate 0.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Pipelines gas 1,485 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2003)
Political parties and leaders AGALEV (Flemish Greens) [Dirk HOLEMANS]; Christian Democrats and Flemish or CD & V [Yves LETERME]; note - used to be the Flemish Christian Democrats or CVP; Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUK, Evelyne HUYTEBROECK, Claude BROUIR]; Flemish Liberal Democrats or VLD [Karel DE GUCHT]; Francophone Humanist and Democratic Center of CDH (used to be Social Christian Party or PSC) [Joelle MILQUET]; Francophone Reformist Movement or MR (used to be Liberal Reformation Party or PRL) [Antoine DUQUESNE]; Francophone Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]; National Front or FN [Daniel FERET]; New Flemish Alliance or NVA [Geert BOURGEOIS]; note - new party that emerged after the demise of the People's Union or VU; Social Progressive Alternative Party or SP.A [Steve STEVAERT]; note - was Flemish Socialist Party or SP; Spirit [Els VAN WEERT]; note - new party that emerged after the demise of the People's Union or VU; Vlaams Blok or VB [Frank VANHECKE]; other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders Christian and Socialist Trade Unions; Federation of Belgian Industries; numerous other associations representing bankers, manufacturers, middle-class artisans, and the legal and medical professions; various organizations represent the cultural interests of Flanders and Wallonia; various peace groups such as Pax Christi and groups representing immigrants
Population 10,289,088 (July 2003 est.)
Population below poverty line 4%
Population growth rate 0.14% (2003 est.)
Ports and harbors Antwerp (one of the world's busiest ports), Brugge, Gent, Hasselt, Liege, Mons, Namur, Oostende, Zeebrugge
Radio broadcast stations FM 79, AM 7, shortwave 1 (1998)
Railways total: 3,471 km

standard gauge: 3,471 km 1.435-m gauge (2,631 km electrified) (2002)
Religions Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%
Sex ratio at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Telephone system general assessment: highly developed, technologically advanced, and completely automated domestic and international telephone and telegraph facilities

domestic: nationwide cellular telephone system; extensive cable network; limited microwave radio relay network

international: 5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Eutelsat
Telephones - main lines in use 4.769 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular 974,494 (1997)
Television broadcast stations 25 (plus 10 repeaters) (1997)
Terrain flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast
Total fertility rate 1.62 children born/woman (2003 est.)
Unemployment rate 7.2% (2002 est.)
Waterways 1,570 km (route length in regular commercial use) (2001)
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