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Belgium (2004)

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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

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
Age structure 0-14 years: 17.1% (male 901,486; female 863,092)

15-64 years: 65.6% (male 3,424,438; female 3,364,057)

65 years and over: 17.3% (male 739,479; female 1,055,724) (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk
Airports 42 (2003 est.)
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 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways total: 18

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 16 (2004 est.)
Area total: 30,528 sq km

land: 30,278 sq km

water: 250 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 10.59 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Budget revenues: $151.6 billion

expenditures: $151.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.56 billion (2003)
Capital Brussels
Climate temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Coastline 66.5 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 10.2 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Debt - external $28.3 billion (1999 est.)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission: Ambassador Tom C. KOROLOGOS

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, Los Angeles, and New York
Disputes - international none
Economic aid - donor ODA, $1.072 billion (2002)
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 because of 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)
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-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, 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 - 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999)
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 formally appointed by the monarch

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.A-Spirit
Exports 6.712 billion kWh (2001)
Exports $182.9 billion f.o.b. (2003 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 19.5%, France 17.4%, Netherlands 11.7%, UK 9%, US 6.7%, Italy 5.4% (2003)
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 - $299.1 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector agriculture: 1.9%

industry: 26.3%

services: 71.8% (2003)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $29,100 (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 1.1% (2003 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 (2003 est.)
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; despite a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol and tobacco
Imports 15.82 billion kWh (2001)
Imports $173 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports 15.4 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Imports 1.042 million bbl/day (2001)
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products
Imports - partners Germany 17.7%, Netherlands 16.5%, France 13.2%, UK 7.5%, US 5.9%, Ireland 5.7% (2003)
Independence 4 October 1830 (a provisional government declares independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King Leopold I ascends to the throne)
Industrial production growth rate -1.5% (2003 est.)
Industries engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Infant mortality rate total: 4.76 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.36 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 4.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 1.6% (2003 est.)
International organization participation ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, MONUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, ONUB, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
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 Government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)
Labor force 4.73 million (2003)
Labor force - by occupation agriculture 1.3%, industry 24.5%, services 74.2% (2003 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: 23.28%

permanent crops: 0.4%

other: 76.32%

note: includes Luxembourg (2001)
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 May 2003 (next to be held no later than 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: 78.44 years

male: 75.26 years

female: 81.75 years (2004 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 territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit

continental shelf: median line with neighbors
Merchant marine total: 50 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 1,146,301 GRT/1,588,184 DWT

by type: bulk 1, cargo 8, chemical tanker 11, container 6, liquefied gas 18, petroleum tanker 6

foreign-owned: Denmark 6, Finland 1, France 2, Netherlands 3

registered in other countries: 69 (2004 est.)
Military branches Army, Naval, and Air Operations Commands
Military expenditures - dollar figure $3.999 billion (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 1.3% (2003)
Military manpower - availability males age 15-49: 2,509,538 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service males age 15-49: 2,068,221 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually males: 61,270 (2004 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 along rivers and in areas of reclaimed coastal land, protected from the sea by concrete dikes
Natural resources coal, natural gas, construction materials, silica sand, carbonates
Net migration rate 1.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Pipelines gas 1,485 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2004)
Political parties and leaders Christian Democrats and Flemish or CD & V [Jo VANDEURZEN]; Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX, Evelyne HUYTEBROECK, Claude BROUIR]; Flemish Liberal Democrats or VLD [Bart SOMERS]; Flemish Socialist Party.Alternative or SP.A [Steve STEVAERT]; Francophone Humanist and Democratic Center of CDH [Joelle MILQUET]; Francophone Reformist Movement or MR [Didier REYNDERS]; Francophone Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]; GROEN! (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens) [Vera DUA]; National Front or FN [Daniel FERET]; New Flemish Alliance or NVA [Bart DE WEVER]; Spirit [Els VAN WEERT]; note - new party now associated with SP.A; Vlaams Belang or VB [Frank VANHECKE]; other minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders Christian, Socialist, and Liberal 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 10,348,276 (July 2004 est.)
Population below poverty line 4% (1989 est.)
Population growth rate 0.16% (2004 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: 3,518 km

standard gauge: 3,518 km 1.435-m gauge (2,631 km electrified) (2003)
Religions Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%
Sex ratio at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

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

65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2004 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: country code - 32; 5 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Eutelsat
Telephones - main lines in use 5,120,400 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular 8,135,500 (2002)
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 1.64 children born/woman (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate 8.1% (2003 est.)
Waterways 2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2003)
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