FACT FILE Belgium — Belgique- België -

Belgium is a varied and charming country to visit with the swift rivers and rocky gorges of the Ardennes, contrasting with the rolling plains of the rest of the country. It is a kingdom no bigger than Maryland USA, is Europe in a nutshell, multicultural and multilingual. Flanders in the north, a flatland criss-crossed by canals, is proud of its great art cities, Antwerp, Bruges a city on canals and Ghent.

The country is bordered by France,to the west, The Netherlands to the north east, Luxembourg to the south and to the east, Germany. To the south in Wallonia, you will find the rolling hills of the Ardennes, numerous castles, and the cities of Liege, Namur, and Tournai. Its capital city of Brussels — Bruxelles- Brussel is one of the world's great cosmopolitan cities, home to both the European Union (EU) and NATO, as well as a wealth of international trade and finance companies. The famous old square in the centre is the Grande Place / Grote Markt.

The coastline accommodates the car ferry ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge. Ostend — Oostende — Ostende is also a lively resort.

Other cities are

Bruges — Brugge , famous for its canals and also its Grand-Place.

Tournai with its cathedral.

Antwerp — Antwerpen - Anvers is a major port.

Charleroi located in the Belgian province of Hainaut.

Ghent — Gent — Gand is located in Flanders.

Liège - Lîdje — Luik is located in the province of Liège and it is the capital of the province. It is situated in the valley of the Meuse River near Belgium's eastern borders with the Netherlands and Germany,

Mons — Bergen Very confusing for foreign visitors trying to follow the motorway when you move from one part of the country that speaks French where the sign is "Mons" to the Flemish part where it becomes "Bergen". Most of the other Belgian towns and cities have similar names in different languages, so take care in case you become lost. The city is located in the province of Hainaut and is the capital of the province.

Leuven — Louvain — Löwen is the capital of the province of Brabant. is the capital of the Wallonia region in the south of the country.

Belgium's history has always been linked to both commercial and cultural exchange, and much of its character is due to its role as the great meeting place of Western Europe. Traces of the Austrians, Spanish, French and Dutch can still be seen in its architecture and in the lifestyle of its people. You will see superb examples of art and architecture past and present — Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Nouveau. Cities full of museums, historical buildings, theatre, music and festivals.

Much has been said about Belgium's hospitality and it's all true. Because of the country's location as an international centre of commerce and culture, Belgians are at ease with travellers from all over the world. They are proud of their homeland, and anxious to help get to know it better. You'll find them always personable, cooperative and courteous. The Flemish speak Dutch and the Walloons speak French. In Brussels, the capital, both languages are spoken. But to make it easy, nearly everybody speaks English, albeit with an accent.

The country is famous worldwide for its beers and the cuisine is also excellent.

The Country is a founder member of the EU — European Union (formerly the EEC - European Economic Union)

Currency: — Euro (€)

Population 2006: 10,364,388

Land Area: 30,528 Km2

Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card.

GENERAL DRIVING TIPS: See also Driving in Belgium at insurance4carrental.com

Some of this information supplied by HOLIDAY AUTOS Worlwide Car Hire

Vehicles drive on the RIGHT and overtake on the left.

Speed limits Built-up areas: 50kmh/31mph major roads outside towns: 90kmh/56mph motorways: 120kmh/74mph

Drink and driving: Blood alcohol limit is 50mg — barely 1 unit of alcohol

A 'blue zone' parking system operates in major towns. Discs are available from police, garages and tobacconists.

Seat belts are compulsory in both the front and rear

It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle.

Reflective vests are also complusory

Dipped headlights should be used between dusk and dawn.

Driving on side lights only is illegal.

Motoring offences attract an on-the-spot fine. An official receipt should be issued.

Do not park within 50 feet (15m) of a bus, tram or trolleybus stop or in the immediate vicinity of train and tram lines crossing the road.

Traffic entering roundabouts has priority except where signs say 'cedez le passage' or 'vous n'avez pas la priorité', where the traffic on the roundabout has priority

Enjoy your visit to Belgium

See also

Tips and Topics in Belgium CLICK HERE

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