Apart from being the centre of European politics, Brussels has a fascinating and old history that dates back to the 11th century when it began as a small dukedom the size of the current downtown area. In 1830 Belgium became independent and Brussels became the capital of Belgium under a new king and parliament. Find out more about the interesting facts of Belgium through a mixture of facts, history, cultural traditions and political infrastructure.
Quick Facts about Belgium
Belgium became an independent state in 1830 after protests against the policies of King William of the Netherlands. Since then, Belgium has created its own Constitution and proclaimed its own sovereign – King Leopold of Saxe-Coburg was the first king of the Kingdom of Belgium.
An interesting fact is that Belgium is separated into 3 regions mainly due to differences in language – French and Dutch speakers. The regions are Flanders in the north (Dutch), Wallonia in the south (French) and Brussels in the centre (Bilingual). There is a small area called Ardennes that also speaks German but it is not an official region.
Conventional name: Kingdom of Belgium
Local name: Belgique (French) / Belgie (Dutch)
Capital city: Brussels
Population: 10.5 million (UN, 2008)
Area: 30,528 sq km (11,787 sq miles)
Location: Western Europe, bordered between the Netherlands, Germany, France and the North Sea
Time zone: GMT +1 (daylight savings time from end of March until end of October)
Official languages: French, Dutch (dialect called Flemish) and German
International dial code: +32
Internet domain: .be
Monetary unit: Euros (€)
Quick Facts about Brussels
Brussels region is made up of 19 separate communes; the City of Brussels is one of these communes has about 150,000 inhabitants and dates back to the original city built in the 13th century. Some fun facts about Brussels include the fact that on last count there are 249 butchers, 874 hairdressers and 647 pharmacies. This can be noticed almost immediately when you walk down the streets, you will see at least 1 hairdresser and 1 or 2 pharmacies, which are marked by giant neon green cross signs.
Brussels is one of the most international cities in the world. 27% of the population is made up of foreigners, not including those who have taken Belgian citizenship. In following with its status as the Capital of Europe (the seat of the European Union), Brussels is the location for 40,000 EU employees, 4,000 NATO employees and hosts about 300 permanent representations: lobby groups, embassies and press corporations.
Conventional name: Brussels Capital-Region / Region de Bruxelles-Capitale
Local name: Bruxelles (French) / Brussels (Dutch)
Area: 161.4 sq km (62.2 sq mi)
Location: An enclave at the south of Flanders Region above the Language Frontier
Official languages: French and Dutch (Flemish)
Brussels dial code: (0)2
Regional symbol: Iris
Belgium has a rich tourism industry and its cities are small and culturally diverse. There are many interesting facts about Belgium that travellers may be interested to find out. Some frequently questions include: What do Belgians speak? Why are the beers, waffles and chocolates so famous? How do I get to Belgium?
History of Brussels
Dating back to the 11th century the city of Brussels has evolved countless times throughout history but some of the monuments, buildings and streets still exist today. Throughout the ages Brussels city has been the home of kings, the hub of activity for trade and enterprise from porcelain to tapestries and to this day you can still see the outline of the original city walls built into the modern cityscape.
Weather and Climate
Brussels’ climate is temperate and mild with winter lows of about 1°C and summer highs of around 23°C. There is rain all-year round so it pays to always have an umbrella or a waterproof jacket when touring around. The rains with the least amount of rain are April and May. On the sunny days, Brussels has a magnificent blue sky which is perfect for taking walks.
Also known as the Brussels Treaty (17 March 1948) or the Treaty of Brussels, it is the historical initiation of a European cooperation that set the basis for the current European Union. The Brussels Pact was signed after the end of World War II by representatives of five countries: France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. It was an international contract to build Western European economic, social and cultural cooperation and collective self-defence.
It is an interesting fact about Belgium that Belgians do not share one common language. There are three official languages in Belgium: French, Dutch (Flemish) and German. Language is such an important part of the political and cultural infrastructure that the country created an official language border between the north and south and also a third region which is Brussels. In Brussels people mostly speak French but it is official bilingual so all public signage and documents are in both languages.
After being appointed the seat of the European Union, Brussels has become hub of European Union activity. The following institutions are now operating from Brussels: the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). In recent times the European Council has started to hold all quarterly summits in Brussels.
Apart from the European institutions in Brussels, in view of democracy, Brussels has a regional government (Brussels Region) and 19 communes handling the activities of each area of the city. Each commune has its own mayor and cabinet.
Beer, waffles and chocolate are usually the first trades that come to mind when talking about Belgium or Brussels. There are many other enterprises in Brussels which make up this economy as it handles its role as capital of Belgium and an international hub for foreign dignitaries, diplomats and expatriates.
Local Customs and Traditions
Every visitor to Brussels should know the facts about Belgium, facts about Brussels and of course some handy tips on local customs. It would make your travelling experiences better if you understand what is going on around you and how people will act or react.
Brussels is a city with centuries of history. Today, it continues to take part on the international stage. But there are a few curious things that have originated in Brussels that have inspired food, photographers, vegetables and animal lovers around the world to be named after it. In this section you will find some real life examples of how Brussels is going down in history in all parts of the world.