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Belgium (2008)

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Belgium 2008 year

Administrative divisions 10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch: provincies, singular - provincie) and 3 regions* (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Brussels* (Bruxelles) capital region; Flanders* region (five provinces): Antwerpen (Antwerp), Limburg, Oost-Vlaanderen (East Flanders), Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant), West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders); Wallonia* region (five provinces): Brabant Wallon (Walloon Brabant), Hainaut, Liege, Luxembourg, Namur

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: 16.5% (male 873,130/female 836,785)

15-64 years: 66.1% (male 3,467,044/female 3,406,030)

65 years and over: 17.4% (male 746,969/female 1,062,268) (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products sugar beets, fresh vegetables, fruits, grain, tobacco; beef, veal, pork, milk
Airports 43 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways total: 27

over 3,047 m: 6

2,438 to 3,047 m: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 9 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways total: 16

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 15 (2007)
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; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country 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 10.29 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Budget revenues: $217 billion

expenditures: $217.4 billion (2007 est.)
Capital name: Brussels

geographic coordinates: 50 50 N, 4 20 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Climate temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
Coastline 66.5 km
Constitution 7 February 1831; amended many times; revised 14 July 1993 to create 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
Death rate 10.32 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Debt - external $1.313 trillion (30 June 2007)
Diplomatic representation from the US chief of mission: Ambassador Sam FOX

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 Dominique STRUYE DE SWIELANDE

chancery: 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 333-6900

FAX: [1] (202) 338-4960

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York

consulate(s): Atlanta
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 more than 85% of GDP. On the positive side, the government has succeeded in balancing its budget, and income distribution is relatively equal. Belgium began circulating the euro currency in January 2002. Economic growth in 2001-03 dropped sharply because of the global economic slowdown, with moderate recovery in 2004-07. Economic growth and foreign direct investment are expected to slow down in 2008, due to credit tightening, falling consumer and business confidence, and above average inflation. However, with the successful negotiation of the 2008 budget and devolution of power within the government, political tensions seem to be easing and could lead to an improvement in the economic outlook for 2008.
Electricity - consumption 82.99 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports 8.024 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports 14.33 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production 80.84 billion kWh (2005)
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-Persistent Organic Pollutants, 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, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Ethnic groups Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
Exchange rates euros per US dollar - 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003)
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); note - is head of an interim government until the end of March when it is hoped a new government will be formed

cabinet: Council of Ministers are formally appointed by the monarch

elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; 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 formation talks have been prolonged, but the current interim goverment consists of French and Flemish Christian Democrats or CD&V and CDh, Liberals or Open VLD and MR, and French Socialists or PS
Exports 8.024 billion kWh (2005)
Exports $328.1 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Exports 523,400 bbl/day (2004)
Exports - commodities machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, metals and metal products, foodstuffs
Exports - partners Germany 19.7%, France 16.9%, Netherlands 12%, UK 7.9%, US 6.2%, Italy 5.2% (2006)
Fiscal year calendar year
Flag description three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red

note: the design was based on the flag of France
GDP - composition by sector agriculture: 1%

industry: 24.4%

services: 74.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 2.7% (2007 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 (2007)
Household income or consumption by percentage share lowest 10%: 3.4%

highest 10%: 28.1% (2000)
Illicit drugs growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; 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; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy
Imports 14.33 billion kWh (2005)
Imports $320.9 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports 17.27 billion cu m (2005)
Imports 1.109 million bbl/day (2004)
Imports - commodities machinery and equipment, chemicals, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment, oil products
Imports - partners Netherlands 18.3%, Germany 17.3%, France 11.2%, UK 6.6%, Ireland 5.7%, US 5.4% (2006)
Independence 4 October 1830 (a provisional government declared independence from the Netherlands); 21 July 1831 (King LEOPOLD I ascended to the throne)
Industrial production growth rate 3% (2007 est.)
Industries engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass, petroleum
Infant mortality rate total: 4.56 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.13 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 1.7% (2007 est.)
International organization participation ACCT, ADB (nonregional members), AfDB, Australia Group, Benelux, BIS, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 9, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Irrigated land 400 sq km (2003)
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 5.03 million (2007 est.)
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: 27.42%

permanent crops: 0.69%

other: 71.89%

note: includes Luxembourg (2005)
Languages Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
Legal system based on 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; to 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 10 June 2007 (next to be held no later than June 2011)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - CDV/N-VA 19.4%, Open VLD 12.4%, MR 12.3%, VB 11.9%, PS 10.2%, SP.A-Spirit 10%, CDH 5.9%, Ecolo 5.8%, Groen! 3.6%, Dedecker List 3.4%, FN 2.3%, other 2.8%; seats by party - CDV/N-VA 9, Open VLD 5, MR 6, VB 5, PS 4, SP.A-Spririt 4, CDH 2, Ecolo 2, Groen! 1, Dedecker List 1, FN 1 (note - there are also 31 indirectly elected senators); Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - CDV/N-VA 18.5%, MR 12.5%, VB 12%, Open VLD 11.8%, PS 10.9%, SP.A-Spirit 10.3%, CDH 6.1%, Ecolo 5.1%, Dedecker List 4%, Groen! 4%, FN 2%, other 2.8%; seats by party - CDV/N-VA 30, MR 23, VB 17, Open VLD 18, PS 20, SP.A-Spirit 14, CDH 10, Ecolo 8, Dedecker List 5, Groen! 4, FN 1

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
Life expectancy at birth total population: 78.92 years

male: 75.75 years

female: 82.24 years (2007 est.)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99%

male: 99%

female: 99% (2003 est.)
Location Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between France and the Netherlands
Map references Europe
Maritime claims territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: geographic coordinates define outer limit

continental shelf: median line with neighbors
Merchant marine total: 68 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,786,089 GRT/6,074,664 DWT

by type: bulk carrier 20, cargo 5, chemical tanker 2, container 9, liquefied gas 16, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 10, roll on/roll off 5

foreign-owned: 9 (Denmark 3, France 1, Germany 1, Greece 4)

registered in other countries: 123 (Bahamas 15, Bermuda 3, Cyprus 1, France 6, Gibraltar 3, Greece 16, Hong Kong 4, Liberia 1, Luxembourg 9, Malta 10, Marshall Islands 1, Mozambique 2, Netherlands 2, Netherlands Antilles 1, Panama 11, Portugal 9, Russia 6, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 8, St Kitts and Nevis 1, St Vincent and The Grenadines 9, Vanuatu 4) (2007)
Military branches Belgian Armed Forces: Land Operations Command, Naval Operations Command, Air Operations Commands (2005)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 1.3% (2005 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 construction materials, silica sand, carbonates
Net migration rate 1.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Pipelines gas 1,562 km; oil 158 km; refined products 535 km (2007)
Political parties and leaders Flemish parties: Christian Democratic and Flemish or CDV [Etienne SCHOUPPE]; Dedecker List [Jean-Marie DEDECKER]; Flemish Liberals and Democrats or Open VLD [Bart SOMERS]; Groen! [Mieke VOGELS] (formerly AGALEV, Flemish Greens); New Flemish Alliance or N-VA [Bart DE WEVER]; Social Progressive Alternative or SP.A [Caroline GENNEZ]; Spirit [Geert LAMBERT] (new party now associated with SP.A); Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) or VB [Bruno VALKENIERS]

Francophone parties: Ecolo (Francophone Greens) [Jean-Michel JAVAUX, Isabelle DURANT, Claude BROUIR]; Humanist and Democratic Center or CDH [Joelle MILQUET]; National Front or FN [Michel BELACROIX]; Reform Movement or MR [Didier REYNDERS]; Socialist Party or PS [Elio DI RUPO]; 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 10,392,226 (July 2007 est.)
Population below poverty line 15% (2007 est.)
Population growth rate 0.12% (2007 est.)
Radio broadcast stations AM 7, FM 79, shortwave 1 (1998)
Railways total: 3,536 km

standard gauge: 3,536 km 1.435-m gauge (2,950 km electrified) (2006)
Religions Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%
Sex ratio at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.043 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.018 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.703 male(s)/female

total population: 0.959 male(s)/female (2007 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; landing point for a number of submarine cables that provide links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat - 3) (2007)
Telephones - main lines in use 4.719 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular 9.66 million (2006)
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 (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate 7.6% (2007 est.)
Waterways 2,043 km (1,528 km in regular commercial use) (2006)
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